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Pa. Game Commission Seeks Comment on Deer Plan

From Pa. Game Commission

-- The Pennsylvania Game Commission is seeking public input on a draft deer management plan, which can be reviewed on the agency’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) by clicking on the "Draft Deer Management Plan" icon under the large photo in the center of the homepage.

"We are seeking public comment on the revised deer management plan to ensure the resulting final management plan considers the thoughts and concerns of Pennsylvanians about this species," said Calvin W. DuBrock, Game Commission Bureau of Wildlife Management director. "As written, the plan is science-based, progressive and promotes responsible management. We’re interested in hearing from Pennsylvanians who would like to offer comments, and to see if we’ve missed something or if they share our management vision for the future."

Developed by biologists with the agency’s Deer Management Section, the deer management plan establishes management goals through 2018. Those goals are to: manage deer for a healthy and sustainable deer herd; manage deer-human conflicts at levels considered safe and acceptable to Pennsylvania citizens; manage deer impacts for healthy and sustainable forest habitat; manage deer to provide recreational opportunities; and to improve the public’s knowledge and understanding of deer and the deer management program. Game Commission staff uses these guidelines when making deer management recommendations to the Board of Game Commissioners.

"These goals are the result of a public involvement process," DuBrock said. "The mission and deer management goals are important forms of public input, and in most cases, will outweigh other forms of public input. However, the mission and goals cannot always provide the necessary information for specific issues. As a result, the Game Commission also uses other methods of public involvement in its deer management program such as public meetings, surveys, and Citizen Advisory Committees."

DuBrock noted that the Game Commission follows an adaptive management approach to deer management. Adaptive management is characterized by establishing clear and measurable objectives, implementing management actions, monitoring those management actions and whether they achieved the objectives, and adapting policy and management actions as necessary.

"Adaptive management recognizes deer management decisions must be made without the luxury of perfect information," DuBrock said. "Consequently, the focus of adaptive management is on monitoring responses to management actions and learning. By managing white-tailed deer in this way, the Game Commission can effectively adapt management as conditions change.

"Deer population management integrates data-driven objectives for deer and forest habitat health with value-driven objectives for deer-human conflicts. First and foremost, the Game Commission must achieve its duties and responsibilities to wildlife and habitat. Deer and forest habitat health measures meet this need. However, objectively defining deer-human conflicts is impossible because of the range of values and perceptions exhibited by people. Rather than attempt to quantify deer-human conflicts, the Game Commission uses Citizen Advisory Committees to help assess deer-human conflicts."

DuBrock stressed that deer management objectives are no longer defined by deer densities. Instead, deer management objectives are defined by measures of deer health, forest habitat health, and deer-human conflicts.

"The change from defining deer management objectives by deer densities to specific measures for each goal has created controversy," DuBrock said. "Although the Game Commission acknowledges the desire of hunters and the public to know how many deer are in Pennsylvania at any given time, the Game Commission has a duty to implement a responsible and credible deer management program that addresses deer management goals through the most efficient use of available data.

"Responsible deer management cannot be a popularity contest. As Pennsylvania’s history demonstrates, deer management was, is, and will continue to be an issue where complete agreement by all stakeholders is unlikely. To accomplish the goals provided by the public, the Game Commission’s deer management program must be based on the best available information and made in the best interest of white-tailed deer, Pennsylvania’s wildlife and natural resources, and all citizens for today and tomorrow. Balancing the science and biology of deer management with the values of citizens will continue to be the greatest challenge for the Game Commission’s deer program."

Public comments on the agency’s deer management plan will be accepted until March 12, via the website or by mail to: Deer Management Plan, Pennsylvania Game Commission, 2001 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110-9797.

Additionally, public comment can be offered at the upcoming open houses that the Game Commission will be hosting in six communities around the state between Feb. 20 and April 10. Open houses will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on a Saturday to maximize the opportunity for those interested in attending, and are being held in different locations than the three previous rounds to afford residents in other areas of the state the opportunity to attend.

The schedule for the open houses is as follows:

February 20 – Northcentral Region

Coudersport Volunteer Fire Company Training Center

171 Rt. 6 West

Coudersport, Pa 16915

February 27 – Northeast Region

PPL Wallenpaupack Environmental Learning Center

126 PPL Drive

Hawley, PA 18428

March 13 – Northwest Region

Brokenstraw Fish and Game

1001 Mead Run Rd.

Youngsville, PA 16371

March 20 – Southwest Region

Richland Fire Department – Solomon Run Banquet Facility

176 Mt. Airy Drive

Johnstown, PA 15904

March 27 – Southcentral Region

Shippensburg State University Conference Center

500 Newburg Road

Shippensburg, PA 17257

April 10 – Southeast Region

Frackville American Legion

40 S. Mahanoy St.

Frackville, PA 17931

These deer management open houses and the outreach information available at them were developed by a Deer Communications Working Group, which was created in 2007 to improve the agency’s efforts to explain deer management – and the need for it – to Pennsylvanians.

"This group has made tremendous progress in bringing the public up to speed on how and why we manage deer," Roe explained. "They meet regularly and have developed displays, brochures, a new video and whitetail website, employee training and many other tools to help in the never-ending effort of explaining deer management to both the public and fellow employees. But despite all that has been accomplished in recent years, there is still much, much more to do."

For more information about the agency’s deer management program, including a complete selection of the brochures being distributed at the open houses, visit the Game Commission’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) and click on "White-Tailed Deer" in the center of the homepage. This website features links to all of the brochures used in the open houses, all issues of the agency’s "Deer Chronicle," many top-notch references to agency research and general information, deer photos and even an "Ask The Deer Biologist" section.

 

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