In a huff over WMU makeup

Mark NaleDiscourse really heated up on May 29, at the Pennsylvania Game Commission work group session. Based on Bob Frye’s story in the most recent issue of Pennsylvania Outdoor News (6-8-12), I guess that I missed an exciting meeting.

The boundaries of our wildlife management units provided the focal point for the “heat” — specifically, whether or not they should be changed.

In a nutshell, commissioners Bob Schlemmer, Dave Putnam and Jay Delaney were upset that the Game Commission staff committee assigned to investigate management unit boundaries had not come back in agreement with those commissioners’ suggested changes.

This all started over a year ago. In February, 2011, I interviewed Commissioner Dave Putnam about possible changes in wildlife management unit boundaries. At the time, he was suggesting that Unit 2G (the largest management unit) should either be divided into smaller units or have pieces of 2G merged into adjacent units with similar habitats.

He pointed out that there is a natural change in forest type in Unit 2G from mixed oak in the south to mainly beech and cherry in the north. This provided the basis for his thinking — while some see a largely contiguous forest, Putnam sees two separate, distinct habitats.

During that interview, Putnam also noted, “It isn’t my job as a commissioner to draw new WMU lines.”

Well, now, it is 16 months later, and evidently Putnam likes his suggested lines better than the ones suggested by the committee. The same goes for Delaney and Schlemmer.

According to Frye’s story, Putnam accused the committee of using “bad science” and of being “disingenuous” and “dishonest.”  He went on to suggest that the committee made a deliberate attempt to make him or the board of commissioners “look like idiots.”

Strong accusations.

Who’s correct?  I don’t know. I do know that it isn’t the commissioners’ jobs to draw new management unit lines, but it is within the realm of their positions to ask for clear and accurate explanations for the choices that are made.

I guess that this goes back to the original intent of creating management units in the first place. They are supposed to be “wildlife” management units, not “deer” management units. Commission staff foresters and wildlife biologists must look at all of the affected species, particularly deer, bear and turkey, before making decisions.

Maybe the concept of units that apply to all species is just too complex and doesn’t work. As for now, I’m content to sit on the sidelines –- I will watch the action and hope that what prevails is what is best for the forests and all wildlife.

Categories: Pennsylvania – Mark Nale

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