Begin Main Content Area

Other Wildlife Management

DCNR lands host many different wildlife species, some are common, others are rare, still others are important game species.

DCNR manages these wildlife resources through planning, inventory, and review, and close coordination with partner agencies:

  • Pennsylvania Game Commission
  • Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Wildlife Species on DCNR Lands

Wildlife species have special management needs based on their habitat and food requirements.

Whether wildlife is rare or is a popular game species, species have specific management and conservation needs developed to enhance or maintain their habitat and food on DCNR lands.

Below are some of the activities DCNR is doing to benefit these species or their habitat on state forest or park lands.

Brook Trout

Pennsylvania native brook trout is the state’s official fish, and they:

  • Are indicators of superior water quality
  • Provide recreational angling opportunities
  • Are a symbol of our state’s outdoor traditions

Trout fishing at DCNR state park and forests is a popular pastime.

Activities that benefit brook trout also improve habitat for other cold water stream fish. DCNR and the Pa. Fish and Boat Commission work to benefit trout on DCNR lands:

  • DCNR implements stream habitat improvement projects, such as placement of large woody debris and riparian plantings, to benefit trout and other fish.

  • DCNR’s Brook Trout Conservation Plan (PDF) details the conservation measures the Bureau of Forestry will take to benefit the habitat of this species on state forest land.


Several species of bats use habitat on DCNR lands, including:

  • Caves
  • Rock crevices
  • Under bark of trees
  • Old buildings

The Indiana bat and northern long-eared bat are federally-listed species that requires special protection measures. Other bat species are listed by the Pa. Game Commission.

Learn about bats by visiting state parks, such as Canoe Creek, that host interpretive programs on bats to help the public understand bat biology, habits, and the importance of bats.

DCNR and the Pa. Game Commission manage a combined 3.8 million acres of mostly forested public lands for many uses and values, including wildlife habitat.

Some management activities may impact bats while others benefit them.

Working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, DCNR and the Pa. Game Commission are developing a Pa. State Game Lands, State Forests, and State Parks Habitat Conservation Plan for Indiana and Northern Long-Eared Bats (PDF) to avoid and mitigate impacts to bats.

Game Birds

DCNR benefits these popular game birds through forest management and specific habitat improvement projects.

DCNR works with the Pa. Game Commission and non-profits such as National Wild Turkey Federation. Some of the projects include:

  • Grouse habitat improvement by promoting shrubby young forests
  • Turkey habitat improvement by using native seed mixes with preferred food sources
  • Woodcock habitat improvement by improving young forests and removing invasive species


Elk are important large mammals on the landscape. They were almost extinct from Pennsylvania in the past, but have been re-introduced by the Pa. Game Commission in the elk management area in northeast Pennsylvania.

Elk viewing areas are available at the Elk Country Visitor Center, the Quehanna Wild Area, and the Elk Scenic Drive, part of the Pennsylvania Wilds.

Elk hunting is permitted on state forest and park lands in designated elk hunt zones and with an elk hunting license.

Special seed mixes are used in some infrastructure revegetation to benefit elk in the elk management area.


There are many species of turtles found on state forest or park lands.

DCNR has been working with the Pa. Fish and Boat Commission to benefit these reptiles. Work includes:

  • DCNR biologists are tracking bog turtles in several wetlands on state forest and parklands to learn more about this federally-threatened species’ population.

  • Spotted turtle habitat improvement projects are creating basking habitats by down woody debris in forests and wetlands.

  • Box turtle sightings are being recorded by biologists coordinating with the Pa. Fish and Boat Commission to track their populations.

  • Special management requirements around vernal pools protect these unique animal and plant communities.

Timber Rattlesnakes

These secretive reptiles are frequently misunderstood and feared, even though they are important links in the food chain. Timber rattlesnakes help to keep the small mammal population (and their pests, such as ticks) under control.

Timber rattlesnakes may use trails, roads, or open rocky areas for basking.

View DCNR’s Timber Rattlesnake in Pennsylvania’s State Forests Brochure (PDF) for additional information.

The Timber Rattlesnake Conservation Strategy for Pennsylvania State Forest Lands (PDF) explains how DCNR is working with the Pa. Fish and Boat Commission to benefit this reptile on state forest lands.

Important Information About Timber Rattlesnakes

  • An Individual Timber Rattlesnake Hunter and Rattlesnake Possession Permit is required for hunting or possessing timber rattlesnakes.

  • In the South Mountain special protection area, it is illegal to hunt, take, or kill timber rattlesnakes (even with a valid timber rattlesnake collection permit) west of Route 15 and south of interstate 81 to the Maryland line, including Michaux State Forest. Please view the Timber Rattlesnakes on the South Mountain Brochure (PDF) for more information.

  • Damage to basking or denning habitat is illegal.

  • Timber rattlesnakes may not be collected (even with a valid timber rattlesnake collection permit) in the 28 natural areas on state forest land listed below:

  • Pennsylvania State Forest Natural Areas Where Timber Rattlesnakes May Not Be Collected
    State ForestNatural Area
    Bald Eagle​Mt. Logan
    Rosencrans Bog
    Tall Timbers
    The Hook
    Buchanan​Sweet Root
    Pennel Run
    Elk​Lower Jerry Run
    Wykoff Run
    Forbes​Roaring Run
    Gallitzin​Charles F. Lewis
    Loyalsock​Kettle Creek Gorge
    Michaux​Carbaugh Run
    Moshannon​Marion Brooks
    Rothrock​Bear Meadows
    Big Flat Laurel
    Detweiler Run
    Little Juniata
    Sproul​Cranberry Swamp
    East Branch Swamp
    Tamarack Swamp
    Susquehannock​Forrest H. Dutlinger
    Tiadaghton​Algerine Swamp
    Berk Cabin
    Miller Run
    Tioga​Black Ash Swamp
    Reynolds Spring
    Tuscarora​Frank E. Masland

Timber Rattlesnake Safety Tips

  • Be aware. Look around before sitting or reaching into piles of rock, logs, or boards, or under a shed or equipment.

  • Never pick up a rattlesnake, even one that appears to be dead.

  • Nuisance snakes near public places should be removed. Call the local conservation officer of the Pa. Fish and Boat Commission for removal.

Avoiding and Treating Snakebites

  • Maintain a 3-foot buffer around a snake to avoid a strike.

  • Cloudy-eyed snakes are shedding and cannot see well. They may be more likely to defend themselves.

  • Remain calm and reassure the snakebite victim.

  • If possible, immobilize the affected area and transport the snakebite victim immediately to the nearest medical facility.

  • Do not attempt first aid measures such as incision, suction, tourniquets, alcohol, or drugs on the snakebite victim.