In 2010, Members of PGC's Board

Requested a New Deer-Management Plan

By John Eveland

October 19, 2014

During the past century, the Pennsylvania Game Commission has been a vital agency regarding the conservation (wise use) of the Commonwealth's renewable wildlife natural resources and the preservation of ecosystems rich with a diversity of nongame wildlife. This has been the agency's chartered mission as directed by Title 34 State Law and the Pennsylvania Constitution. However, the beginning of the new century ushered in a new Commission deer-management policy that has not proven to be in the best interest of those whom the agency is chartered to serve, the general citizenry, or even the Commission itself. Therefore, a new policy must be designed and implemented toward resolving the current deer-management dilemma, and toward securing the long-term integrity of the agency, the quality of Pennsylvania's wildlife resources, and the tradition of sport hunting throughout the new century.

In early 2010, members of the agency's Board of Commissioners requested that John Eveland prepare for the Board recommendations for a new deer management program. Toward this end, Eveland designed a new deer management plan and presented it to the BOC on March 7, 2010. After contemplating the task, Eveland realized that his newly proposed approach had many similarities to the traditional program that had been designed and implemented by the previous generation of wildlife biologists and game managers decades ago. This was no coincidence, in that prior to 1998 the deer management program consisted of a scientifically designed, data-driven method that had made Pennsylvania one of the top deer-hunting states in the nation. The success of this previous traditional program was the result of the expertise of wildlife biologists who were dedicated to serving sportsmen, the resource, and the chartered mission of the agency. Many were Eveland's professional peers and personal friends. Eveland's new plan, however, was designed to create an even better deer-management and deer-hunting condition than had existed for years prior to herd reduction.

Proposed Resolution Plan. Following are the fundamental elements of the 2010, nine-page, scientifically designed and socioeconomically sensitive plan – Recommended Pennsylvania Deer Management Plan.

(1) Redesign the deer-management program to adhere to Title 34 State Law.
(2) Secure a new agency goal "to provide the maximum sustained yield of deer for recreational hunting."
(3) End the concurrent season concept and return to separate buck (two-week) and doe (2-3 day) seasons.
(4) Scientifically determine forest carrying capacities, and deer numbers and densities within each WMU.
(5) Scientifically adjust antlerless allocations to meet carrying capacities of the forest.
(6) Increase carrying capacities with a new, state-of-the-art habitat enhancement plan (designed by Eveland).
(7) End antler restrictions and eliminate AR impacts to herd growth.
(8) End the indiscriminate use of DMAP, especially on public lands.
(9) Implement an effective deer-management plan for urban areas.
(10) Reconfigure WMUs based on county boundaries.
(11) Improve public relations and return trust and confidence in the agency.
(12) Restore 200,000 sportsmen who have been lost to the ranks due to deer reduction.
(13) Create a next-generation of youth hunters.
(14) Halt the Commonwealth's loss of $415 million per year due to deer reduction.
(15) Implement targeted and necessary deer and forest research toward improving deer management.

Conclusion. Eveland's 2010 deer management plan was designed to adhere to the Title 34 mission "to serve the interest of sportsmen for recreational hunting", and to respect the interests of foresters, biodiversity, and the general citizenry of the Commonwealth. The plan would have permitted the Board of Game Commissioners to internally resolve the deer-management crisis. However, the Board could not muster a majority of votes to halt the current program and implement these new remedial measures.





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