Game Commission Posts 2008 Citizen Advisory Committee Reports

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Game Commission Posts 2008 Citizen Advisory Committee Reports

6/20/08

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania- To provide more information about its deer management public input process and challenges it faces, the Pennsylvania Game Commission has posted on its website the final reports from the five Citizen Advisory Committees (CAC) held in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 2A, 4C, 4D, 4E, and 5A in 2008.

To view the most recent reports, as well as all previous CAC reports, go to the Game Commission's website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), click on "Deer Program" in the "Quick Clicks" box in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage, choose "Opportunities for Citizen Input," and then scroll down to the bottom of the page.

First employed in the Game Commission's deer management program in 2006, CACs are part of the agency's ongoing effort to heighten public participation in deer management. Comprised of stakeholders with varying interests in deer, CACs provide a recommendation to agency wildlife management staff to increase, decrease or stabilize the deer herd over the next five years. However, final decisions are made by the Board of Game Commissioners, which also takes into account impacts on forest habitat health, health and productivity of the deer herd and deer-human conflicts.

"Citizen Advisory Committees cultivate community outreach, program understanding and a commitment by the agency to increase regional involvement in deer management decisions," said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. "They provide members a chance to get involved and to see firsthand the diverse interests, concerns and priorities that influence deer management decisions. Most realize quickly this is a complex process that is anything but cut-and-dried."

This year, CACs were used to develop population management recommendations for WMU 2A, which consists of Greene County and parts of Allegheny, Beaver, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties; WMU 4C, comprising parts of Berks, Carbon, Columbia, Dauphin, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne and Schuylkill counties; WMU 4D, comprising parts of Blair, Cambria, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lycoming, Mifflin, Snyder and Union counties; WMU 4E, comprising Northumberland and Montour counties and parts of Columbia, Dauphin, Lycoming, Luzerne, Schuylkill, Snyder and Union counties; and WMU 5A, which consist of part of Adams, Cumberland, Franklin and York counties.

When developing their recommendations, CACs consider deer population trend information in their respective WMUs, WMU-specific deer and forest habitat health information, as well as solicited public feedback. They conclude their work by making recommendations to allow deer numbers to increase, decrease or remain the same. Biologists in the agency's Wildlife Management Bureau consider that input when proposing antlerless deer license allocations to the Board of Game Commissioners, who also receive the results of the CAC process.

The five-year recommendations varied significantly from one committee to the next, illustrating both the differences in WMUs and member interactions and expectations. In WMU 2A, the committee recommended no change. In WMU 4E, the committee recommended a 40 percent population increase. In WMU 5A, the committee opted for a 12 percent population increase. Each of these recommendations to stabilize or increase deer populations were incorporated by the wildlife management staff in developing recommendations for the Board of Game Commissioners.

However, in WMUs 4C and 4D, the agency's deer biologists chose not to follow CAC recommendations, which were to increase the deer population by 20 and 15 percent, respectively. The primary reason for not following the recommendations was that forest habitat health in both units currently is considered "fair." Forest habitat health must improve and meet a specific quantitative target for the Wildlife Management Bureau to recommend an increase in the deer population. If this measure improves - and the deer and forest habitat health measures are checked annually - then agency staff will move to accommodate the CAC's desire to see the herd increase.

"We'd like to go along with every CAC recommendation," noted Jeannine Tardiff Fleegle, a deer biologist with the agency's Wildlife Management Bureau. "But, it's not that simple. We have to responsibly address all goals in the agency's deer management program. Deer populations must be balanced with habitat to ensure healthy forests and whitetail and wildlife populations and limit human conflicts."

In 2009, CACs are scheduled to be held in five WMUs: WMU 1A, which consists of Mercer and Lawrence counties and parts of Crawford, Venango, Butler, and Beaver counties; WMU 2E, comprising parts of Jefferson, Indiana, Clearfield, and Cambria counties; WMU 3A, comprising parts of McKean, Potter, Tioga, and Bradford counties; WMU 4A, comprising Blair, Huntingdon, Bedford, Fulton, and Franklin counties; and WMU 5B, which consist of part of Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lebanon, Berks, York, Lancaster, and Chester counties.

Information on how to volunteer for a CAC, as well as complete final reports on each of the 10 CAC meetings held to date, has been posted on the agency's website (www.pgc.state.pa.us). Click on "Deer Program" in the "Quick Clicks" box in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage, and then choose "Opportunities for Citizen Input."

The agenda for the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners meeting, which is slated for June 23-24, was posted on the agency's website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) today, and can be viewed by clicking the "Next Commissioners' Meeting" box toward the bottom of the homepage and then on the agenda link.

The Board meeting will be held in the auditorium of the agency's Harrisburg headquarters at 2001 Elmerton Ave., just off the Progress Avenue exit of Interstate 81 in Harrisburg.

On Monday, June 23, beginning at 8:30 a.m., the Board will hear public comments. Individuals interested in offering public testimony - limited to five minutes - may begin to register at 7:45 a.m. on a first-come, first-to-speak basis. At the completion of the public comment period, the Board will receive various staff reports.

On Tuesday, June 24, beginning at 8:30 a.m., the Game Commission will take up its prepared agenda. Doors open at 7:45 a.m.

Media Contact:
Jerry Feaser (717) 705-6541 or PGCNews@state.pa.us
 

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