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The Department of Environmental Conservation has the authorization to legalize crossbow use for hunting in New York State and a public comment period is now in place until July 21.

Basically, the device will be allowed for big game hunting during the last two weeks of the Southern Zone, which includes all of Western New York. Also, crossbows will be legal hunting gear for the taking of small game mammals, wild turkey and upland game birds.

To submit comments via email, write to: wildliferegs@gw.dec.state.ny.us">wildliferegs@gw.dec.state.ny.us with “crossbow regulations” in the subject line. To mail input via U.S. Post, write to: Bryan L. Swift, NYSDEC, Bureau of Wildlife, 624 Broadway, Albany NY 12233-4754.

Pond stocking

The Erie County Soil & Water Conservation District’s Fish Stocking Program has set Saturday, July 19, for distribution of warm-water species fish and forage for pond owners/maintainers.

This year the focus is on stocking largemouth bass, with fathead minnows as a forage base for the growing bass.

For complete details, check with James Sroka, water quality technician, at the district’s office at 50 Commerce Parkway in East Aurora at 652-8480, Ext. 5.

Mustard winners

Area teams gather each year in an ecological effort to cut the most garlic mustard, a wild, invasive plant species, from Western New York fields and forests.

Teams competed in Garlic Mustard Challenge events at four sites and these winners received recognition: At Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve, first place went to Riptide Plus, Buffalo (168.75 pounds) and the runner-up team, Pack 592, Orchard Park, gathered 123.75 pounds.

At Buffalo Audubon Society/Beaver Meadow Center first place team Olivia’s Mustard, Lancaster, gathered the top overall total with 1,113 pounds; the runner-up East Pembroke Grange logged a respectable 769 pounds.

At Kenneglenn Preserve scout troops prevailed. Boy Scout Troop 513, East Aurora, brought in 1,016 pounds and the runner-up team of Cub Scout Pack 514, East Aurora weighed in 348 pounds.

At Lewiston Plateau Habitat Area coordinators took fewer but substantial numbers during its “Super Pull.” First place honors went to Unicorn Troop, Kenmore with 151.5 pounds and runner-up Daemen YALT, Daemen College amassed 55 pounds by contest end. Early removal of garlic mustard at ground level reduces growth and seed production. For more details on this invasive plant, go to for-wild.org/download/garlicmustard.

Educators honored

The New York Sea Grant Extension Office at Cornell University announced that New York Sea Grant Coastal Community Development Specialist Mary Penney received the 2014 Great Lakes Sea Grant Network Mid-Career Award and New York Sea Grant Coastal Education Specialist Helen Domske received the 2014 Great Lakes Outstanding Outreach Programming Award.

Penny and Domske provide teachers with field experiences to improve watershed education in the classroom.

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