PA: Citing report, league tells PGC back off deer

Pittsburgh – A leader of one of the state’s largest sportsmen’s
groups has called on Pennsylvania’s game commissioners to moderate
their deer-management program based on information that has
recently been presented by an independent wildlife biologist.

In an e-mail sent to each commissioner, Kim Stolfer, legislative
committee chairman for the Allegheny County Sportsmen’s League¬†,
called the impact of the agency’s deer-herd-reduction program one
of Pennsylvania’s most serious wildlife-management failures of the
past hundred years.

“Most objective-thinking Pennsylvania sportsmen have questioned
the science behind Pennsylvania’s deer-management plan, and
wondered if such drastic action was really necessary,” Stolfer told
commissioners.

“Attached is a document citing the results of four years of
research by John Eveland, a highly credible, independent wildlife
biologist and forester who has conducted extensive work for both
the Game Commission and the state Department of Conservation and
Natural Resources.”

The 34-page investigative report Stolfer sent to commissioners
can be found at www.acsl-pa.org, a special website developed by the
Allegheny County Sportsmen’s League to disseminate information
about the Game Commission’s deer-management program.

Titled “An Independent Scientific Investigation of the
Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Deer Reduction Program,” Eveland’s
report is a four-part series that claims to document the reasons
behind the deer-reduction program, how it was achieved and who was
involved.

Part 1 details the alleged relationship between green
certification and deer-herd reduction. Part 2 offers Eveland’s take
on DCNRs deer-management plan for achieving green certification.
Part 3 gauges the impact of the deer-management working group, and
Part 4 discusses efforts to validate the deer-herd reduction
program.

In 2009, Eveland submitted a proposal to conduct an audit of the
Game Commission’s deer program commissioned by the Legislative and
Budget Committee.

That panel ultimately selected Wildlife Management Institute of
Virginia to do the study, which completed a generally positive
audit of the agency’s deer program last year.

Although not listed as one of the expert witnesses scheduled to
testify for the Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania in the group’s
lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Game Commission over deer
management, Eveland may end up being part of the litigation.

“Whether he testifies as an expert witnesss at the hearing Feb.
28 is up to our attorney,” said Unified President Steve Mohr. “When
we did the depositions, Eveland was not on board.”

But the findings of his report completely support Unified’s
position, Mohr noted. “His report documents what we have been
saying, that there was no real science behind the commission’s deer
program.

“Our attorney has Eveland’s report, and it has been presented to
the judge.”

The deer-management controversy has been raging for the last
seven years, yet Eveland is a newcomer on the scene. But he has a
long history of wildlife research.

As a biologist at Penn State, in the late 1960s, Eveland was
involved in live-trapping, tagging, and radio-telemetry tracking of
black bears to scientifically determine the status of the statewide
bruin population.

Then in the early 1970s, as a member of the Penn State faculty,
Eveland conducted research on Pennsylvania elk, focusing on
population dynamics, range and movements, and basic ecology of the
herd.

“What took him so long to get involved in the deer-management
debate? He had to find a group to back him,” Mohr said.

“The Allegheny County Sportsmen’s League has given him all the
support he needed. Now he’s our ace in the hole.”

Stolfer hopes the commissioners will read and ponder Eveland’s
report. “We are not asking people to believe us blindly – that’s
why we put the information about the deer program on our website,'”
he said.

“It is in the best interest of the commissioners to sit down and
evaluate the information presented by John Eveland, and if they
find it as valid as we do, they can redirect the deer program.”

In his e-mail to commissioners, Stolfer wrote the following:
“Gentlemen, we at the Allegheny County Sportsmen’s League
understand that the future of deer hunting and the tradition of
hunting in the commonwealth is in your hands.

“We trust you will take appropriate action to remedy this
serious issue. We therefore respectfully request and urge your
attention to the points raised in the attached report.”

Also on the Allegheny County Sportsmen’s League website are two
videos of presentations Eveland gave to sportsmen’s groups and an
episode of “Pennsylvania Crossfire,” a public-service television
show, that featured Eveland as a guest.

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