DEER MANAGEMENT SERIES, NO. 6: STACKING THE DECK
PGC Hired Three Deer Biologists who were all Trained at Chesapeake

Farms to Eliminate Deer Impacts by Eliminating Deer

By John Eveland

June 18, 2014

Historically, foresters and environmentalists have long sought to dramatically reduce Pennsylvania's state mammal. It was always understood, however, that their goal was nothing more than a wishful dream. That is, until 1998 when the Green Certification circumstance removed deer management from the realm of science and made it a political issue that could financially benefit DCNR. Realizing the reality of deer reduction, following the departure of Gary Alt, PGC's chief of wildlife management quickly stacked the deck with a like-minded next-generation of deer biologists. In 2010, PGC's Board of Commissioners requested that the author of this article investigate this rumor. The following facts were uncovered.

PGC's Chesapeake Farms Connection. The Pennsylvania Game Commission lists three staff deer biologists (Chris Rosenberry, Bret Wallingford, and Jeannine Fleegle,) who report to Calvin DuBrock, Director of the Wildlife Management Bureau; and Robert Boyd, Bureau Assistant Director. It can be no coincidence that of the myriad accredited university degree programs throughout the nation which regularly produce thousands of professional wildlife biologists, that all three deer biologists employed by the PGC attained their graduate degrees from the same college (North Carolina State University), were mentored by the same NC State advisory staff members, and conducted their thesis deer research at the same small 5-square-mile Chesapeake Farms agricultural demonstration area on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Their principal advisors were Richard Lancia and Mark Connor, Director of Chesapeake Farms, who lists his research interests as "population ecology and management especially white-tailed deer, management of crop damage by deer, and wildlife in agro-ecosystems".

At Chesapeake Farms, PGC's three deer biologists were trained in a deer management philosophy called Quality Deer Management—reducing deer impacts accomplished by increasing antlerless harvests toward decreasing herd size. Whereas students from most university wildlife degree programs are educated to view deer as an asset to the natural ecosystem and society, PGC's three deer biologists were trained in a setting that views deer as a negative impact-causing element with little to no emphasis placed on the value of deer, the tradition of recreational hunting, and sportsmen. Hence, PGC's deer biologists brought with them from Chesapeake Farms a wildlife management philosophy that was better suited for private organizations such as Audubon and the Sierra Club than for a traditional state game management agency.

Fleegle wrote in her thesis, "More than any other wildlife, deer are perceived to cause the most damage to crops." In like fashion, Rosenberry wrote, "Balancing white-tailed deer impacts is the fundamental issue affecting a majority of Pennsylvania's deer management decisions." Former Executive Director, Carl Roe, epitomized the deer team's negative view of deer and sportsmen when he told the Governor's Council for Hunting, Fishing, and Conservation that hunters are of no concern in deer management.

Conclusion. It is not likely that Calvin DuBrock could have succeeded for over a decade in decimating the Commonwealth's deer herd if he had not hired like-minded staffers to perpetuate the action. The three deer biologists and those in the PGC who hired them have adopted the deer reduction philosophy of Chesapeake Farms (eliminating deer impacts by eliminating deer), and appear to be using Chesapeake Farms as a template to systematically convert the state to this system. It is, therefore, evident that PGC's deer biologists were not hired to manage Pennsylvania's deer herd in the best interest of the resource or sportsmen, or to pursue the PGC's mission for recreational hunting as prescribed by state law. Instead, it appears that they were specifically hired to decimate the herd. This they have achieved.


 

 

 

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