The 2013 hunting season is looking very promising because the politics of deer management is changing, starting with the House Fish and Game Committee in Harrisburg.
An economic study showed that the state is making a couple of million dollars on certified timber sales each year while losing $185 million generated by hunters and other sportsmen — more than $1 billion since the Pennsylvania Game Commission and Dr. Gary Alt, the commission’s deer management supervisor from 1999 to 2004, started a poorly conceived kill-the-deer management policy. That policy, which stressed habitat restoration and decreasing state herds, included multiple-doe and Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) permits on public land.
Public land with good deer population draws hunters to rural Pennsylvania. The hunters spend money all across the state. But with a sharp decline in deer populations and fewer people hunting, The region north of Interstate 80 known as the Pennsylvania Wilds has suffered with businesses taking major sales losses in sportsmen dollars.
The cancellation of the 2013 sportsmen show in Harrisburg — and corresponding loss of $80 million to the city — got elected representatives thinking maybe sportsmen are important.
Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania knew the negative effect Alt’s deer policy would have on the state and fought hard against it. With a supportive public, generous businesses and support at sportsmen’s shows, we sent Harrisburg a message.
State Rep. Martin Causer of Potter County, majority chair of the House Fish and Game Committee, sponsored a hearing on deer management in April.
As a result of that hearing, Rep. Dave Maloney of Berks County, himself a hunter, has introduced two legislative bills: House Bill 1726 supports a deer management policy of maximum sustained yield — the policy that predated Alt’s; HB1724 would re-establish counties as individual deer management units.
Meanwhile, Rep. Deb Kula of Fayette County has introduced HB 1370, which would schedule doe season to follow buck season. Currently the seasons overlap. This bill has a lot of support from sportsmen as well as business. A second bill by Kula has would end DMAP permits on public land.
These bills and memorandums represent big steps to bring back deer for sportsmen and sales for business.
The 2013 hunting season is here, and if you, as sportsmen or businessmen, want hunting seasons in 2014 and beyond, contact your state representative while we’ve got their attention. If you want to follow or contribute to Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania, go to the website www.gousp.org.