MANAGEMENT SERIES, NO. 6: STACKING THE DECK
PGC Hired Three Deer Biologists who were all Trained at Chesapeake
to Eliminate Deer Impacts by Eliminating Deer
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
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.
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.