Penn State Wildlife Official Says Marcellus Drilling and Wildlife Can Co-exist, Urges Caution

Penn State wildlife resources professor Margaret C. Brittingham was one of the officials who addressed a group of 20 people attending the Cambria County Conservation District’s Marcellus Shale forum on Thursday. She was there to urge caution and raise awareness that some PA wildlife can be threatened by drilling operations. She also said there’s no reason drilling and the state’s wildlife cannot co-exist.

"Natural gas drilling and protecting our natural resource base don’t have to be incompatible," she said. "But it requires forethought, planning and trade-offs."

"We have to adapt," Brittingham said, telling landowners to "do their homework" before allowing drillers to move onto their land and stress buffer zones near streams and unique forest areas.

Fortunately, many of the state’s wildlife species are also good at adapting, she added, citing black bears, blue jays and raccoons as examples.

But others, such as the broad wing hawk, certain song birds and some amphibians, could be threatened without the right planning.

"Mineral rights’ owners have a right to access their land but surface owners have a right to right to ensure their resources are reasonably protected," Brittingham said.*

*Altoona Mirror (Mar 25, 2011) – PSU warns of Marcellus Shale’s effect on wildlife