Dismantling the PGC deer program – piece by piece

We are only about a week away from the Pennsylvania Game
Commission Board of Commissioner’s meeting, which will be held in
Harrisburg, Jan. 30 – Feb. 1. This is the meeting where
commissioners will give preliminary approval to the seasons &
bag limits for the coming hunting seasons.  As always, the big
topic will be deer.

Last year at this time, the commissioners began a systematic
dismantling of the state’s biologically-based deer management
program.  When the smoke cleared in April, hunting opportunities
were reduced in many ways. They eliminated the two-week regular
firearms antlerless deer season that has been held in WMUs 2B, 5C
and 5D during the two weeks prior to Christmas; shortened the
antlerless deer season in WMUs 2C, 2E, 4D and 4E; reduced the
antlerless deer allocations in many WMUs; and further reduced
antlerless allocations by subtracting DMAP permits from each WMU
allocation.

Although this was all done to increase deer numbers across the
state, the commissioners didn’t dare mention that goal. Their deer
management votes all went against the recommendations of their own
deer biologists. Every vote to increase deer numbers affects
hunting, farming, wildflowers, understory nesting birds, and most
importantly, the long-term health of the forest and the deer herd
itself.

During the many years (over 45) that I have been hunting deer, I
have heard hunters complain every season that there weren’t enough
deer.  As a Unified Sportsmen of PA officer once told me, “I don’t
care about the trees, wildflowers or the tweety birds – I just want
more deer.”  And that was BEFORE the PGC began its deer reduction
program. 

Last year’s commissioner votes were the result of politics —
perceived hunter pressure — rather than science.  Unfortunately, I
expect more of the same this year.

As Commissioner Ralph Martone commented last January, “It is
[PGC deer biologist] Chris Rosenberry’s job to look at the
science.  We make his plan fit the real world.”

I’ll translate that for you – “We don’t give a dang about the
science, we’ll do whatever we think the hunters want.”

Categories: Pennsylvania – Mark Nale

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