Game commissioners seem to be listening
For the first time in years, I like how the Pennsylvania Game Commission is managing the deer herd in the northeast part of the state. And it's not simply because the agency cut the antlerless license allocations in most of the region’s wildlife management Units, but rather the reasons why they did it.
Take WMU 3D, for example. During a conversation with commissioner Jay Delaney, he said the forest health in 3D wasn't improving nor was it getting worse. Still, deer numbers in the unit were depleted, evident by the 13.9 deer per square mile in 3D – the second lowest figure in the state.
Delaney also told me that 3D has one of the lowest post-hunting season deer populations in the state – 29,225 for 2013. That's a drop of almost 2,000 from the previous year.
Add it all up, and something needed to be changed.
So last week during their quarterly meeting, the commissioners voted to lower the antlerless license allocation in 3D from 39,000 in 2012 to 32,000 this hunting season.
That's a drop of 7,000, and the facts merit such a decrease.
The second lowest deer-per-square-mile number in the state and a low post-hunting season deer population meant a decrease in antlerless licenses was needed.
But here's the part I find interesting.
Considering that WMU 3D has one of the lowest post-hunting season deer populations in the state, and the forest health hasn't shown any great improvement, perhaps something other than deer are impacting the forest. Acid rain? Poor timber management? Blight? Disease?
I don't know. But considering the deer population in 3D did decline, and if the forest health doesn't show improvement this year, it's time to consider other possible causes as well.
When it comes to the northeast, there is no shortage of hunters who are discouraged with deer numbers. But the Game Commission board seems to be listening. In Unit 3D, the agency’s biologists recommended an antlerless allocation of 49,000. The board set it at 32,000.
Hunters here are being heard.