Original Document
Original Document
William T. Hornaday, "State Game Preserves in the United States: Pennsylvania," 1913.

The proposition that every state, territory and province in North America and everywhere else, should establish a series of state forest and game preserves, is fairly incontestable. As a business proposition it is to-day no more a debatable question, or open to argument, than is the water supply or sewer system of a city. The only perfect way to conserve a water supply for a great human population is by acquiring title to water sheds, and either protecting the forests upon them, or planting forests in case none exist.

In one important matter the state of Pennsylvania has been wide awake, and in advance of the times. I will cite her system of forest reserves and game preserves as a model plan for other states to follow; and I sincerely hope that by the time the members of the present State Game Commission have passed from earth the people of Pennsylvania will have learned the value of the work they are now doing, and at least give them the appreciation that is deserved by public-spirited citizens who do large things for the People without hope of material reward. At this moment, Commissioner John M. Phillips and Dr. Joseph Kalbfus are putting their heart's blood into the business of preserving and increasing the game and other wild life of Pennsylvania; and the utter lack of appreciation that is now being shown in some quarters is really distressing....

The game sanctuary scheme that Pennsylvania has developed is so new that as yet only a very small fraction of the people of that state either understand it, or appreciate its far-reaching importance.

To begin with, Pennsylvania has acquired up to date about one million acres of forest lands, scattered through 26 of the 67 counties of the state. These great holdings are to be gradually increased. These wild lands, including many sterile mountain "farms" of no real value for agricultural purposes, have been acquired, first of all, for the purpose of conserving the water supply of the state; and they are called the State Forest Reserves.

Next in order, the State Game Commission has created, in favorable localities in the forest reserves, five great game preserves. The plan is decidedly novel and original, but is very simple withal. In the center of a great tract of forest reserve, a specially desirable tract has been chosen, and its boundaries marked out by the stringing of a single heavy fence wire, surrounding the entire selection. The area within that boundary wire is an absolute sanctuary for all wild creatures save those that prey upon game, and in it no man may hunt anything, nor fire a gun. The boundary wire is by no means a fence, for it keeps nothing out nor in.

Outside of the wire and the sanctuary, men may hunt in the open season, but at the wire every chase must end. If the hunted deer knows enough to flee to the sanctuary when attacked, so much the better for the deer. The tide of wild life ebbs and flows under the wire, and beyond a doubt the deer and grouse will quickly find that within it lies absolute safety. There the breeding and rearing of young may go on undisturbed.

In view of the fact that hunting may go on in the forest reserve areas surrounding these sanctuaries, no intelligent sportsman needs to be told that in a few years all such regions will be teeming with deer, grouse and other game. Where there is one deer to-day there will be twenty ten years hence,—because the law of Pennsylvania forbids the killing of does; and then there will be twenty times the legitimate hunting that there is to-day. For example, the Clinton County Game Preserve of 3,200 acres is surrounded by 128,000 acres of forest reserve, which form legitimate hunting grounds for the game bred in the sanctuary reservoir. In Clearfield County the game sanctuary is surrounded by 47,000 acres of Forest Reserve.

The game preserves created in Pennsylvania up to date are as follows:
In Clinton County 3,200 acres
In Clearfield County 3,200 acres
In Franklin County 3,200 acres
In Perry County 3,200 acres
In Westmoreland County 2,500 acres
It is the deliberate intention of the Game Commission to increase these game preserves until there is at least one in each county.

It is the policy of the Commission to clear out of the game sanctuaries all the mammals and birds that destroy wild life, such as foxes, mink, weasels, skunks and destructive hawks and owls. This is accomplished partly by buying old horses, killing them in the preserves and poisoning them thoroughly with strychnine.

Each preserve now contains a nucleus herd of white-tailed deer, some of them imported from northern Michigan. Ruffed grouse are breeding rapidly, and in the Clearfield County Preserve there are said to be at least three thousand. The Game Commission considers it a patriotic duty to preserve the wild turkey, ruffed grouse and quail, rather than have those species replaced at great expense by species imported from the old world. In their work for the protection, preservation and increase of the game of Pennsylvania—partly for the purpose of providing legitimate hunting for the mechanic as well as the millionaire,—the State Game Commissioners are putting a great amount of thought and labor, and whenever their efforts are criticized, their motives impugned or their honesty questioned by men who are not worthy to unlace their shoes, it makes me tired and angry.

Credit: William T. Hornaday, Our Vanishing Wild Life (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913), 345-47. 
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