Hunting, fishing and just getting out is the fun part of this
job, but unfortunately many of the decisions that greatly affect
our favorite sports are made in meetings. One such event was the
Jan. 30 – Feb. 1 PA Game Commission meeting in Harrisburg.
The official news releases tell everyone what happened – a
longer bear season, altered turkey seasons, shortened doe seasons
in 2 WMUs, more game lands purchased, etc. However, other
interesting observations can be made, and that is one reason I like
to be there when I can.
As I watched the commissioners at the Feb. 1 “official” meeting,
one – and only one – commissioner appeared to be in real pain for
nearly the entire 1 ¾-hour Tuesday morning meeting – Tom Boop of
Sunbury. For much of this meeting, he had his chin propped on his
hand and frequently removed his glasses to rub his forehead and
eyes – not his typical behavior. As the meeting unfolded, I
wondered about the source of his pain – maybe related to the lack
of major deer management decisions made at the meeting?
Commissioner Boop is an opponent of the current PGC deer management
strategy. Last year, he – along with 5 other commissioners –
orchestrated sweeping changes in deer management. These included
shorter antlerless deer seasons in many WMUs, the elimination of
one December antlerless season in several WMUs and a big reduction
in doe permits for much of the state.
Things were different this year. A motion was made and approved to
add two more WMUs to the list with those having shortened doe
seasons. Other than that, all was quiet. Boop has wanted to end the
Deer Management Assistance Program on public land, make a shortened
statewide antlerless season and perhaps close doe seasons on public
land temporarily. He had even advocated the dismissal of several of
the agency’s biologists in an interview several weeks ago
(Pennsylvania Outdoor News, 1-21-11). None of those
motions was made – the votes just weren’t there to support him this
Boop read a prepared statement at the meeting’s end. He outlined
what he thinks should be done and asked his fellow commissioners to
set a policy that would allow the deer herd to grow in all but the
special regulation areas.
At the press conference following the meeting, Boop expressed
disappointment that he hadn’t been able to accomplish more during
his years – more than 7 – as a commissioner. He also apologized
for suggesting that certain biologists be replaced and his comments
had been made “out of frustration.” He then noted that the
commissioners don’t have the authority to fire PGC staff.
Although I don’t agree with Boop’s agenda, I take no delight in his
pain. He is just one person trying to manage a difficult job and
follow what he thinks is a correct path. As he is about to end his
term as a commissioner, whether we supported or booed him, we
should all remember that he strongly supported what he thought was
The commissioners will approve the antlerless deer license numbers
at their April meeting. We will then know if Boop’s statement was