MANAGEMENT SERIES, NO. 9: DCNR'S PERSPECTIVE
DCNR Developed a Deer Management Plan that
Forestry and Audubon Goals
14 , 2014
from a private forestry company publication: "Hunting
is the best way to curb unrestrained growth of white-tailed
deer... As a forester, zero deer is a good number."
Audubon stated in a 362-page ecosystem management master plan:
"...deer will continue to decimate the flora and
fauna in Pennsylvania's state forests without merger of P.G.C.
with D.C.N.R. in a combined natural resource agency...achieving
a change of this magnitude would require an improbably large
expenditure of political capital." Following are
excerpts from DCNR's 2003 deer management plan: Pennsylvania
State Forests --- Deer Management --- A Plan for the Department
of Conservation and Natural Resources.
"This process found that the primary factor threatening
the sustainability of these forests is overbrowsing of vegetation
by white-tailed deer. In response to this threat, and as a
condition for DCNR to retain (green) certification,
the auditors (Scientific Certification Systems of
Oakland, California and Mr. Bryon Shissler) required the
following CAR (Corrective Action Requests):
• Solutions to the Pennsylvania deer density problem
cannot be designed and implemented solely by BOF (Bureau
of Forestry) because currently the Game Commission regulates
deer seasons, bag limits, antlerless licenses and all other
regulatory functions used to reduce deer density by hunting.
• Initiate earnest and aggressive strategic, public
advocacy, and political actions aimed at liberalizing hunting
regulations in ways that reduce the deer density of State
• Implement better utilization of the current DMAP program
such that the program can be expanded to cover all appropriate
District Forests in 2004 and succeeding years."
DCNR continued: "The Pennsylvania Game Commission
has begun to implement a variety of measures to bring the
deer herd into balance (including) Gary Alt's multimedia
huge public-information campaign; the switch from a two-week
buck-only rifle season and a three-day antlerless season to
a concurrent two-week buck and antlerless rifle season; a
gradual increase in antlerless permits; switching from counties
(WMUs); a one-week early muzzleloader antlerless deer
season; a 3-day early antlerless rifle season for Junior and
Senior hunters; and more restrictive buck antler requirements..."
"All of these initiatives have been successful at
providing tools for increasing the antlerless harvest.
Increased restrictions for antlered bucks made it
harder to harvest a buck so hunters were more apt to harvest
an antlerless deer instead."
Under the heading "Analysis of and requests for additional
tools", DCNR listed other "Potential Deer
Management Tools: • Early, Extended Rifle Hunting • Multiple
Permits per Hunter per DMAP Area • Eliminate the Tagging Requirement
before Harvesting Multiple Deer • Party Hunting • Provide
special incentives for individuals and hunting groups to get
additional buck permits for meeting antlerless deer harvest
quotas • Use of Bait to Entice Deer • Night Hunting • Semi-automatic
sporting rifles • Use of Dogs • Professional Control of Deer."
Under the heading "Challenges/Potential: The greatest
challenges appear to be making the most efficient use of a
shrinking hunting population ...The greatest potential lies
in the growing group of hunters who appear willing to harvest
multiple deer and finding tools that will make them more efficient..."
It is apparent that DCNR's perspective of deer management
is more receptive to the interests of foresters and Audubon
than to the interests of hunters. Any future considerations
toward merging Pennsylvania's three conservation agencies
under a single, DCNR-led, agency should closely examine the
potential effects to the future of sport hunting in the commonwealth.