View Full Version : PA: DCNR manages deer populations on state lands

Bob S
07-15-2008, 06:09 PM
ARTICLE (http://ydr.inyork.com/ci_9882538)

Using DMAP, the department tries to manage deer populations on state lands.

By BOB FRYE The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Hunters will likely have more woods to roam, but fewer doe tags to do it with this year on state park and forest land.

That's the way things look on a statewide basis, anyway. A closer look at the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' deer management strategy reveals that the agency is, in places, looking to use hunters more aggressively than ever to control deer.

The department hopes to enroll 870,500 acres in the deer management assistance program, or DMAP, for 2008. It has asked the Pennsylvania Game Commission for an accompanying 14,550 DMAP coupons, which allow hunters to shoot antlerless deer on specific tracts of land.

If those requests are approved by the commission -- something that's usually a formality -- DMAP tags for state ground will be slightly harder to come by than previously.

In 2007, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources enrolled less land in the program -- 860,800 acres -- but got more coupons, 17,500 coupons.

Those numbers are a little misleading, though, said Seth Cassell, chief of communications in DCNR's bureau of forestry.

"The statewide numbers don't really tell much of a story. They're just sort of what everything adds up to in the end," he said.

There are indeed tracts of forest land where the department is seeking fewer coupons. It sought 440 DMAP coupons for Forbes State Forest in southwestern Pennsylvania last fall, for example; this year, it's asked for just 230.

In cases like Forbes, the decease in the number of coupons being sought is a reflection of improved -- if still fragile -- forest habitat, Cassell said.
"There are some serious concerns with the health of our forests out there, but were seeing some reason for encouragement, too. We're seeing some positive signs of regeneration," Cassell said.

That's not equally true in every forest, however. The Sproul and Elk state forests -- both in northcentral Pennsylvania -- are the most overbrowsed in the state, and have been for decades, Cassell said.

That's why, in those forests, DCNR is asking for dramatically higher DMAP coupon allocations.

"I think, with the DMAP program, we're still trying to figure out the best way to use this tool," Cassell said. "Is it a localized tool where we try to focus hunters on less land to get the maximum impact or do we spread them out over a great area?"