DEER MANAGEMENT SERIES, NO. 11:

A FALSE PREMISE Deer Reduction Resulted

from Politics and an Emotional Environmental Belief

By John Eveland

August 25, 2014

Beginning with the first 1998 Green Certification Award agreement between the German-based Forest Stewardship Council and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, less than a handful of individuals concocted a premise that deer were the root of an unhealthy forest – negatively impacting forest health, biodiversity (other species of nongame small mammals, songbirds, and wildflowers), and even the health of deer. According to their premise, this forest sickness could only be cured by reducing its cause – deer. Within the ensuing few years, the Sierra Club and Audubon were sponsoring conferences and forums toward culling Pennsylvania's deer herd in order to save our forests and wildlife. A newly created Pennsylvania Biodiversity Partnership that included PGC, DCNR, forestry companies, and environmental organizations stated that Pennsylvania could not afford to wait until studies were conducted – action was needed now. Emotional environmentalism is not new to American society, and it is too often responsible for ill-advised environmental and natural resources policies. Although the deer-reduction program resulted from a politically motivated agenda to achieve an annual Green Certification Award for DCNR, after 1999 it was being perpetuated by a growing emotional environmentalism that had risen to the level of a mob mentality. The movement succeeded by intentionally ignoring state law.

This DMS document will demonstrate with original quotations the emotional belief that deer were the root-cause of all forest maladies – an unverified supposition that resulted in deer reduction from 2000 to the present. In subsequent DMS reports, the author will use science to address this emotional myth.

Quoting Vern Ross (then PGC Executive Director) from a Potter Leader-Enterprise article: "The 2001 firearm deer seasons are historic steps for the Game Commission in its efforts to balance the Commonwealth's whitetail herd. We expect to gradually start to reduce a longstanding deer overpopulation problem that has been impacting the state's wildlife, forests and residents, as well as the herd itself. We must all remember that whatever happens in the upcoming season is simply a first step toward establishing a healthier deer herd." Note that although this story sounds noble, it simply isn't true.

Quoting Cindy Adams Dunn (Director in DCNR's Office of Education and former President of Audubon) in a 2004 article entitled 'Deer – A Crisis in Penn's Woods': "Balance. That's what this department seeks as it tries to protect flora and fauna within its jurisdiction. It is a balance that requires liberal licensing of hunters...and the inception of new, and sometimes revolutionary, hunting laws to achieve larger annual deer kills. Our professional foresters characterize deer as one of the greatest threats to forest sustainability... DCNR was proud to achieve "green certification" of its state forestland. One condition: DCNR must address deer overabundance. DCNR must depend on the Game Commission to set hunting seasons. Still, DCNR has taken steps to increase deer harvests... DCNR enrolled 446,821 acres of state forest in the Game Commission's DMAP program. If hunters are to remain the primary controlling force over Pennsylvania's whitetail herd, they need the proper tools to fix the problem. We're hoping the PGC listens to possible game law changes being aired, such as hunting over bait; expanded DMAP provisions; group permits; longer seasons; Sunday hunting; and more license allocations." Note that Dunn's DCNR/Audubon attitude is proof-positive as to why PGC and DCNR should not be merged.

Quoting Gary Alt in 2002: "The benefits of a healthy herd balanced with its habitat justify our efforts to decrease deer populations...If you're interested in seeing bigger deer, and bucks with larger antlers, please give this program a chance to work. It should produce deer hunting opportunities unlike anything we have experienced in Pennsylvania in our lifetimes." Note that Gary was correct; since 2002, deer hunting has been nothing like we, our fathers, and our grandfathers once experienced.

 

 

 


 

 

 

©2011 • Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania