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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Frein Search Halts Hunting in NEPA

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has temporarily closed all hunting and trapping seasons within seven townships in northeastern Pennsylvania, where the search continues for a fugitive wanted in the shooting death of a state police trooper.

Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough today issued an executive order to close temporarily the hunting and trapping seasons within Price, Barrett and Paradise townships in Monroe County; and Blooming Grove, Porter, Lehman and Greene townships in Pike County.

The townships all are within Wildlife Management Unit 3D.

The closure affects all private and public lands, including the portions of State Game Lands 180, 183 and 221 located within those townships. Those portions of game lands are closed to all public access while the executive order is in effect.

Hunting and trapping seasons will remain closed in the identified townships until the executive order is lifted, which will be announced by the Game Commission in a statewide news release that will be posted on the agency’s website at the time it is issued.

The closure was initiated after the Pennsylvania State Police advised on Tuesday that troopers who are part of the search for fugitive Eric Frein had uncovered explosive devices that apparently were left behind in wooded areas by the fugitive, and would pose an obvious danger to anyone who would encounter them.

Hough said the discovery of the devices, and the danger associated with the search effort in general, would pose too great a risk to hunters, trappers and members of the general public.

“While we realize this temporary closure might disappoint some of the hunters and trappers it affects, we’re certain, too, they understand the gravity of the situation, as well as the danger in allowing the seasons to continue as scheduled, given this new information,” Hough said. “Plenty of good hunting and trapping opportunities remain outside of the temporarily closed area, and we need hunters to readily adjust their plans to help bring resolution to this case and see that justice is served.”

Frein is wanted in the Sept. 12 ambush-shooting death of Pennsylvania State Police Cpl. Bryon Dickson II outside the state police barracks in Blooming Grove, Pike County. Trooper Alex Douglass was wounded in the attack. The search for Frein has continued since, and police recently discovered explosive devices – at least one of which was attached to a trip wire – in the area they were searching.

The Pennsylvania Game and Wildlife Code authorizes the Game Commission to close any hunting or trapping season, or otherwise take necessary action, to assure the purposes of the code, including assuring the health and safety of the persons who hunt or take game and wildlife.

The Game Commission earlier this week issued an advisory to those who might be planning to hunt in the area of the search, and indicated that the seasons would continue as scheduled, but the recent findings by state police changed the circumstances.

Game Commissioner James J. Delaney Jr. , who represents Pike, Monroe and other northeastern Pennsylvania counties as part of the eight-member board that sets policy for the Game Commission, said the temporary closure is supported in full by the commissioners and is necessary given the totality of circumstances.

By closing the hunting seasons in the area of the search, the Game Commission hopes to remove risks to human safety, and ensure there will be no interference in the effort to apprehend Frein.

“The suspect has demonstrated a disregard for human life,” Delaney said, “The safety of the law-enforcement officers who are part of the search, as well as that of the sporting public, must take precedence here.”

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