Sunday, September 27, 2015

Appearance of chronic wasting disease in wild deer herd to impact hunters.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has tested more than 40,000 deer for chronic wasting disease since 1998. It's been found in just more than a dozen animals in the wild, all since 2013.

The heat is on

Anyone who shoots a deer at this time of year — in a disease management area or elsewhere — faces a more familiar challenge.

Beat the heat.

Archery season opened in wildlife management units 2B, which surrounds Pittsburgh, and 5C and 5D in southeastern Pennsylvania on Sept. 19. The statewide season begins Saturday.

Warm weather has been the norm so far and likely will be for a while. Shoot a deer under those conditions, and bacteria become a threat to the quality of venison.

“Spoilage is going to start immediately. And the warmer the temperature is, the faster that spoilage is going to occur,” said Jonathan Campbell, extension meat specialist for Penn State.

There are things hunters can do to ensure their deer remains fit for the table.

For starters, they need to collect the animal as quickly as possible, said Sharon Karas of G. Karas Meat Packing in Export.

“If you shoot one in the evening, you have to find it right away. If you wait until morning, it won't be any good,” she said.

Campbell agreed, saying a deer lost for even one night at this time of year will probably be unsalvageable.

Hunters should field dress a deer, being sure to remove all organs, wash it out with water from a canteen or water bottle and get it out of the woods as quickly as possible, he said.

Don't wrap the deer in plastic or a tarp, Karas said. Some hunters do to keep it or their trunk clean, but that holds in heat, she said.

“By the time they get their deer to us, it's spoiled,” she said.

Instead, pack the inside of the deer with bags of ice until getting it to a processor, said Kip Padgelek of Kip's Deer Processing in Carnegie. That cools the carcass and ultimately leads to better-tasting meat, he said.

“It helps immensely,” Padgelek said. “It's a very little bit of money you'll spend to make sure that your venison comes out the best it can be.”

— Bob Frye

By Bob Frye
Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, 9:00 p.m.
Updated 15 hours ago

This is the new reality.

In years past, a hunter who shot a deer could take it home intact, regardless of where he killed it and where home was. That's no longer true, at least not everywhere.

Across parts of Southwestern Pennsylvania this year, hunters who shoot a deer will have to check road maps before knowing what deer parts they can move where.

Chronic wasting disease is to blame.

The always-fatal ailment has been found in several places across the state. Pennsylvania Game Commission officials want to confine it to those locations.

To do so, it has created three “disease management areas” or containment zones. The largest — the nearly 1,700-square-mile disease management area 2 — recently was expanded into parts of Somerset and Cambria counties. It also takes in all of Bedford and Blair and parts of Huntingdon and Fulton.

A map outlining it is on page 39 of this year's hunting digest.

Hunters who shoot a deer within its boundaries can't take it out, at least not intact.

Say, for example, a hunter from New Kensington shoots a 10-point buck on state game land 82 in southeastern Somerset County. Under the new rules, that hunter will have to take the deer to a butcher within the disease area so as to avoid moving “high risk” parts — brains, spinal columns, lymph nodes and spleens — and potentially spreading the disease. If he wants to get the deer mounted, he'll have to choose a taxidermist within the disease area.

The commission is maintaining a list of processors and taxidermists on its website.

Hunters who live inside the disease area can shoot a deer there and take it home, but even they are asked to dispose of its parts in their household trash or in one of several dumpsters to be set up on state game lands.

Those rules will inconvenience some, said Justin Brown, the commission's wildlife veterinarian. But if the agency is going to manage the disease, it needs hunters' help, he said.

“Managing CWD, a huge part of that falls on you, the sportsmen out in the field,” he told a crowd of about 150 at an informational meeting in Berlin Borough on Thursday.

“Our goal is to keep it in as small an area as possible and keep the number of infected deer as small as possible. You're our boots on the ground we can manage this disease with.”

The rules will be in place for years.

Brown said Pennsylvania's wasting disease response plan calls for maintaining the rules for at least five years after the last positive detection. That clock hasn't started yet. CWD-positive deer have been found in disease management area 2 every year since 2013, Brown said, including three in June and July.

History says that's unlikely to change. Since being discovered in Colorado in the 1960s, wasting disease has spread to 23 states and three Canadian provinces. Only one, New York, has eradicated it, and it was “probably just extremely lucky,” Brown said.

Some hunters asked if it's safe to eat deer from the area.

Craig Schultz, veterinarian with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, said there's no evidence humans can contract the disease, though he also advised against eating sick-looking animals.

Hunters can have their deer tested for wasting disease. But that involves driving the head to the Pennsylvania Veterinary Laboratory in Harrisburg, paying $75 and waiting weeks for results, Schultz said.

In a state where hunters take more than 300,000 deer annually, the number of people taking that step each year “is probably in the dozens,” Brown said.

No CWD-positive deer have been found in Somerset or Cambria counties. They're partially in the disease area because of their proximity to positive cases elsewhere and the commission's need to use roads as easily identifiable disease management area boundaries, Brown said.

Hunters need to cooperate if they want to try to keep the disease away, said Tom Fazi, a supervisor in the commission's southwest region office. He stressed that when asked about the fine for moving high-risk deer parts out of the disease area. Commission officers have encountered that violation in other parts of the state. There were two citations issued in 2012, four in '13 and 53 last year.

Fazi didn't say what the fine would be. Instead, he said hunters should obey the law not because it's economical but because they should want to spread disease unnecessarily.

“You don't want to be that guy,” Fazi said

Scouting report : Steelers vs. Rams.

September 27, 2015 12:00 AM

Alex Brandon/Associated Press
Rams quarterback Nick Foles, left, and receiver Kenny Britt celebrate their touchdown connection last week against Washington.

By Gerry Dulac / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
When Steelers have the ball …

Key performers: DT Aaron Donald, DE Robert Quinn, DE Chris Long, LB Alec Ogletree, LB James Laurinaitis, CB Janoris Jenkins

Who’s hot: The defensive line features five No. 1 draft picks — Donald, Quinn, Long, Michael Brockers and Nick Fairley — and they are most effective when they get opponents in typical pass-rush situations. Since the start of the 2012 season, they have 145 sacks, second most in the league behind Buffalo (147).

What’s been working: Ogletree had 18 tackles against the Redskins, the most by a Rams player since London Fletcher had 21 versus the 49ers in 2001, and leads the team with 29. He has developed into a productive outside linebacker who ranks second in the league in forced fumbles since 2013 (10). Quinn, his teammate, is first with 13.

Game plan: The Rams will try to pressure Ben Roethlisberger, who wasn’t sacked by the 49ers and did a good job getting rid of the ball quick. He will need to do more of that against the pressure supplied by the Rams’ defensive front. Because of their upfield pursuit, the Rams will leave themselves open to long runs by Le’Veon Bell.

Keep an eye on: Right OLB Akeem Ayers has been slowed by injury and appeared for just nine plays against the Seahawks. So the Rams will use former Tampa Bay safety Mark Barron off the bench and employ him like a linebacker in their nickel defense.

When Rams have the ball …

Key performers: QB Nick Foles, RB Todd Gurley, WR Tavon Austin, WR Kenny Britt, TE Jared Cook, RT Greg Robinson

Who’s hot: Nick Foles completed eight passes of 20 yards or longer in his debut against the Seattle defense, the most by a Rams quarterback since Marc Bulger had 11 against the Steelers in 2003. However, it was just the opposite in the loss to Redskins when the Rams had just 213 yards offense and only one play longer than 16 yards.

What’s been working: The Rams have tried to get their running game working by drafting five running backs in the past four years, including Todd Gurley of Georgia with the 10th overall pick this year. But Gurley has been hurt and yet to play for the Rams. Tavon Austin has 57 yards on eight plays.

Game plan: Jeff Fisher-coached teams ideally like to be power running teams, but the Rams are very young on the offensive line. They start two rookies — G Jamon Brown and RT Rob Hevenstein — and left tackle Greg Robinson was the No. 2 player in the draft in 2014. Their offensive line has a combined 76 career starts, fewest in the league. The Steelers, even without Maurkice Pouncey, have 200.

Keep an eye on: Jared Cook is a big target (6-5, 254) who can get downfield. He leads the team with 10 catches. But they will also use TE Lance Kendricks, who has a 37-yard touchdown among his three catches.


This is a good and productive unit for the Rams. Yes, they gave up a 57-yard punt return for touchdown to Seattle’s Tyler Lockett in the first quarter of the opener. But Austin is one of the most dangerous returners in the league and had a 75-yard punt return for touchdown against the Seahawks. K Greg Zuerlein has a strong leg and has 14 career field goals of 50+ yards, including as 52-yarder against Washington. Punter Johnny Hekker’s net average of 40.7 yards — he averages 47.5 yards total — is testament to the coverage. But keep this in mind: Fisher loves trick plays on special teams and Hekker is a good passer.

To win, the Rams must ...

1. Swarm the B’s. They have to have success against Brown, Bell and Ben and slow an offense that averages 458.5 yards per game.

2. Blast Ben. Roethlisberger had five completions of 35 yards or longer against the 49ers, the most by an NFL QB in 10 years.

3. Pile up the plays. Opponents have run 44 more plays than the Rams, the largest disparity in the league. St. Louis is last in the league in plays per game.

To win, the Steelers must ...

1. Hit Britt. Kenny Britt had the only play longer than 16 yards against the Redskins — a 40-yard touchdown — and averages 20.3 yards on four catches.

2. Foil Foles. Nick Foles had the highest passer rating (115.8) by a Rams quarterback in a season opener in 23 years in his most recent outing at home.

3. Trump Donald. The Redskins trapped the former Pitt and Penn Hills star several times and had runs of 25, 35 and 39 yards last week.

Key matchup. Steelers WR Antonio Brown vs. Rams CB Janoris Jenkins.

September 27, 2015 12:00 AM

John Heller/Post-Gazette

Antonio Brown might be the best receiver in the NFL, so anything Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins can do to slow him would be a bonus.

By Gerry Dulac / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Antonio Brown thinks he is the best receiver in the National Football League, and he certainly has the numbers to prove it.

After having one of the greatest seasons by a wide receiver in NFL history in 2014, Brown is right back where he left off, torturing opposing defenses and posting numbers that are ahead of his record pace from last year.

Brown had nine catches for 195 yards against the San Francisco 49ers — his career best is 199 yards — and he did any number of ways against a defense that tried every which way to stop him. It didn’t help that the 49ers, who played a lot of nickel run defense, never sacked Roethlisberger or hurried him into a throw.

“If you’re a receiver and play the game, everyone should think they’re the best,” Brown said. “I do feel I’m the best, but that’s only my word. My actions will speak louder than anything I say. I got to go out and prove it.”

Brown does that game after game, with seemingly no end in sight. After catching 129 passes (second most in NFL history) and gaining 1,698 receiving yards (sixth most in league history) last season, the three-time Pro Bowl receiver is already ahead of the pace that allowed him to be the first Steelers player to lead the league in receptions and receiving yards in the same season.

With 18 catches for a league-best 328 receiving yards after two games, Brown would be on pace for 144 catches — one better than Marvin Harrison’s NFL single-season record (143) — and a whopping 2,624 yards that would blow away Calvin Johnson’s record of 1,964 yards in 2012.

Granted, it’s only two games and Brown isn’t always going to have days like he did against the 49ers when he had catches of 28, 56 and 59 yards. But his ability to continue to get open and be productive against all kinds of defensive coverages seem to make anything possible with him.

“I saw a little bit of everything [against the 49ers],” Brown said. I saw some press coverage, I saw double coverage, I saw them trying to blitz and get back to double coverage. We saw a variety of things and we were able to exploit some of that.

“It was fun to be a part of. Anytime you get Ben slinging the ball down the grass and me catching passes, it’s a fun day at work.”

The Rams will hope to change that. They will try to pressure Roethlisberger with their talented defensive line and hope cornerback Janoris Jenkins can keep Brown under some semblance of control.

Jenkins, 26, has seven career interceptions and more defensive touchdowns (6) than any NFL player since he came into the league in 2012 as a second-round draft choice. But that larcenous style comes at a price, too.

Jenkins likes to sit on routes and jump throws, sometimes leaving him susceptible to doubles moves and big pass plays. A perfect example came last week against the Redskins when he got beat for a 35-yard catch by receiver Ryan Grant that set up a field goal.

“They’re a team trying to disrupt your timing with their pass rush,” Brown said. “I think it’s going to be a catch-and-run week. We’re going to have to get open and catch the football and run for some extra yards. We’ll have to get the ball out quick and keep Ben clean.”

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Saturday, September 26, 2015

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The cost of driving away with the gas pump.

The Cost of Driving Away With the Gas Pump
By JENNIFER SARANOW SCHULTZ  NOVEMBER 10, 2010 1:34 PM November 10, 2010 1:34 pm

Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

Driving off with a gas nozzle in your car can be costly.
After filling up her car’s tank with gas, a friend of Bucks recently started to drive away  with the gas nozzle still in the car.

She made it about five feet and then the hose came off the pump. She stopped the car, put the hose back by the pump and started driving away. The gas station attendant then came after her and took her insurance information.

Nearly a week after the incident, our friend still hadn’t heard from the gas station about any possible charges, but she said she learned from a quick search online that such incidents are relatively common and that the charges can vary from nothing (when gas stations never follow up) to a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. “Apparently these ‘drive-offs’ happen at least once a month at any given station,” she said.

Intrigued, Bucks decided to investigate the costs of driving away with the gas nozzle in your car and who is responsible for them, checking with everyone from gas station representatives to insurance companies. Here’s what we found.

According to Paul Fiore, executive vice president of the service station association Service Station Dealers of America and Allied Trades, how the situation is handled often depends on the gas station. “The policies in place will be as varied as the owners’ and managers’ personalities,” he said. “Each company will have their own approach to this delicate situation. Is it a good customer? Did the customer get an ‘attitude’ right away as if it was the gas station’s fault? Every little thing is a factor in deciding how an owner or manager handles a customer that has damaged store property, and I would imagine it is no different across the retailing spectrum.”

A spokesman for BP, who said Arco stations contract with it to buy gasoline, similarly said each gas station operator or owner “would handle the situation as they deem appropriate.” Our friend’s incident occurred at an Arco station.

The manager of the gas station where our friend’s incident occurred, meanwhile, said the station’s policy is to ask the driver for contact and insurance information. Then, the  station calls in someone who handles maintenance, who then checks the pump, replaces what is damaged and sends a bill to the station’s main office. The office would then file a claim with driver’s insurance company for the cost of the repairs. The station manager estimated that replacing a damaged nozzle would cost about $350.

Next, to find out if auto insurance covers the cost of such damages, I asked a number of insurers what their policy is on these claims. Their answer was that yes, auto insurance, and liability coverage, in particular, will generally cover damage to a gas pump.

“A person who drives off from a gas pump with the hose still attached to the vehicle is generally going to liable for the damages caused by their negligence,” said Kip Diggs, a spokesman for State Farm Insurance. “The damage to the pump would be covered under the liability portion of the driver’s auto policy. We would determine the damages through the normal claims process.”

The gas station would file a claim with the driver’s auto insurance company or with its own insurance company, which would then file a claim with the driver’s auto insurance company. After the claim is reported, the insurance company would investigate it, assess the damage and settle the claim, said Leah Knapp, a spokeswoman for Progressive. “The claims process is the same as any other claim,” she said.

According to Christina Tyler Loznicka, a spokeswoman for Allstate Insurance Company, liability coverage is usually required, “but policy limits may vary and if you just carry the minimum coverage limits, you could be left paying the difference, making it a very expensive fill-up.”

As for the exact amount of the claim, that varies. “It is hard to say how much damage is generally done to the pump,” said Rick Ward, director of auto claims for MetLife Auto & Home. “In addition to repairing the pump, a gas station may claim other damages, such as loss of revenue while the pump is out of service,” and “the operator of the vehicle is responsible for the damages.”

According to Mr. Ward, “If there is only damage to the pump itself, the average claim would likely be $1,000 to $2,000. However, if there is damage to the tank below the pump or loss of revenue, the claim cost can increase significantly.” He said the insurer sees less than a dozen such claims annually, probably because of new regulations that stop consumers from setting the pump to automatic and walking away from it, he said. Or there’s also the chance that drivers are paying the costs out of pocket.

Others estimate much lower costs. Mr. Fiore of the service station association estimated that the damage can run from $100 to $500, but generally is on the lower end. It seems that driving away with the nozzle may not necessarily cause any serious or expensive damage in some cases, especially if the hose is detachable and can easily be snapped back on. In this situation, consumers may just be charged the cost of labor. That’s why some consumers recommend asking to see the damaged parts.

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Monday, September 14, 2015

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