Deer Baiting Eliminated In Southeastern PA Counties

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Ben Sobieck
 
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Deer Baiting Eliminated In Southeastern PA Counties

Postby Ben Sobieck » Mon May 10, 2010 6:39 am

Based on a recommendation from staff, the Board of Game Commissioners today took action to eliminate regulations that allowed deer hunters to use bait in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties, to increase hunter harvest in these largely-developed, high-conflict areas.

"After evaluating the impact of baiting on hunting deer populations in these suburban/urban areas, the staff determined that there has been no positive impact," said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director.

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RE: Deer Baiting Eliminated In Southeastern PA Counties

Postby Everyday Hunter » Mon May 10, 2010 8:51 am

ORIGINAL: Ben Sobieck

Based on a recommendation from staff, the Board of Game Commissioners today took action to eliminate regulations that allowed deer hunters to use bait in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties, to increase hunter harvest in these largely-developed, high-conflict areas.

"After evaluating the impact of baiting on hunting deer populations in these suburban/urban areas, the staff determined that there has been no positive impact," said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director.

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It's easy to misunderstand this decision of the board of Game Commissioners, and easy to misunderstand the reason for baiting deer in this area. Many people viewed the regulations authorizing bait as unethical and as a concession to unskilled hunters. That was not the case at all. (Nor is allowing the regulation to exercise its sunset provision a concession to anti-hunters.)

When baiting was first legalized in special regulations areas in the southeastern counties, it was a test situation. It's an area with a high population of deer and very little whitetail habitat. The result is high conflict between humans and deer -- the deer become a danger to people, and a nuisance to landowners who try to keep a lawn and shrubbery. The deer overbrowsed what little habitat they have. The deer are on the move at night, and retreat to unhuntable areas in the daytime. The purpose of permitting baiting was to draw the deer out of these areas and into places where they could be safely shot.

The "positive impact" the Game Commission was looking for was to "increase hunter harvest," or, stated in the opposite way, a reduced deer population. That would be positive for the non-hunting public because there would be less conflict, positive for the deer because the population would be brought into balance with the habitat, and positive for hunters because it would offer additional hunting opportunities beneficial to the deer.

Apparently, even with bait, hunters were not able to harvest enough deer to solve the problem. I suppose we can draw many conclusions from this, but one would be that even with bait, deer hunting is no sure thing.

Steve
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RE: Deer Baiting Eliminated In Southeastern PA Counties

Postby scotman » Mon May 10, 2010 11:46 am

The article is really to vague to draw any conclusions. Many things could have made it unsuccessful maybe one of them was the lack of participation, lack of promotion?

 If the deer are overbrowsing then why not increase the quality of their habitat? Seems backwards logic is at fault here. You will never fix the problem by bait shooting. Bait shooting only is a quick fix to the underlying problem which is poor habitat. Take the monies spent on bait and plant trees and bushes to sustain the current population.  
"The deerskin rug on our study floor, the buck's head over the fireplace, what are these after all but the keys which have unlocked enchanted doors, and granted us not only health and vigor, but a fresh and fairer vision of existence" -Paul. Brandreth

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RE: Deer Baiting Eliminated In Southeastern PA Counties

Postby Everyday Hunter » Mon May 10, 2010 3:48 pm

ORIGINAL: scotman

The article is really to vague to draw any conclusions. Many things could have made it unsuccessful maybe one of them was the lack of participation, lack of promotion?

If the deer are overbrowsing then why not increase the quality of their habitat? Seems backwards logic is at fault here. You will never fix the problem by bait shooting. Bait shooting only is a quick fix to the underlying problem which is poor habitat. Take the monies spent on bait and plant trees and bushes to sustain the current population. 

Hunting over bait was only a test. It hasn't proven successful at reducing the whitetail population in the area.

Increasing the quality of the habitat might be an option if we were talking about game lands or even large tracts measured in acres. But we're talking about yards, so under the circumstances habitat improvement is not an option, simply because there are thousands of landowners -- way too many to coordinate in any kind of habitat improvement program. It's not deer habitat; it's people habitat -- back yards, front yards, side yards, parks, ballfields. The deer are invasive because there is so little deer habitat, and way too many deer for it.

Besides, lack of habitat is only one problem. There are also roads. Why do the deer cross the roads? To get to the neighbor's shrubbery. Streets, actually. We're not talking about a rural area here.

Property rights is a bigger issue than lack of participation. If participation was a problem, it would probably be because hunters don't really want to follow up a blood trail through a playground. Sidenote: my cousin's son participated last year and he shot a nice 8-point right behind a drug store. His field photo had the store in it.

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RE: Deer Baiting Eliminated In Southeastern PA Counties

Postby scotman » Tue May 11, 2010 4:43 am

If you let yourself think outside of the box their are ways that are sustainable. By working with the local and regional representatives a plan could be easily formed such as offering x amount of dollars off property taxes if residents plant a acre or more of sustainable habitat for wildlife. Along the same lines farmers get a break on their taxes for owning a farm that is 50 acres or larger. 
"The deerskin rug on our study floor, the buck's head over the fireplace, what are these after all but the keys which have unlocked enchanted doors, and granted us not only health and vigor, but a fresh and fairer vision of existence" -Paul. Brandreth

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RE: Deer Baiting Eliminated In Southeastern PA Counties

Postby scotman » Tue May 11, 2010 5:25 am

If you look at a hunting zone map each zone needs to be divided one step farther and that would include the area around major cities. This will give the state DEC and DNR a chance to look at the problem more closely. We are talking about problem spots surrounding the cities which is the cause of over population. These areas would need to increase backtag numbers two fold for the first two years. Then once the tax incentives go into effect and the new habitat formed will sustain the left over population. By making new zoning areas around cities will let the DEC and DNR do their job they were meant to do.

Like I said baiting and sharpshooters only take care of the problem short term. With a massive increase in taxes coming down the pike it would be a sure bet many small land owners will embrace the incentive to offset those other rising taxes. The mast bearing trees planted will fix the problem long term, the seasonal crops will help the short term and the shrubs and bushes will fill the rest of the void.
"The deerskin rug on our study floor, the buck's head over the fireplace, what are these after all but the keys which have unlocked enchanted doors, and granted us not only health and vigor, but a fresh and fairer vision of existence" -Paul. Brandreth

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RE: Deer Baiting Eliminated In Southeastern PA Counties

Postby Everyday Hunter » Tue May 11, 2010 2:19 pm

Most properties in the WMU under discussion would be unable to plant an acre, because they are mostly housing tracts subdivided into lots approximately an acre in size with buffers between tracts. In many cases these 50-yard wide shelterbelts are where the deer go in the daytime, and it's not practical to hunt them there.

It isn't comparable to farming areas where farmers get a tax break on 50+ acres. We're talking about homeowners, not people who derive an income from their land. So, dollars off on property taxes would have to be enough to compensate not only for the equipment needed to plant part of an acre, but also for the time property owners invest in creating habitat. Also thousands upon thousands of property owners would need both the desire and the physical ability to do so.

Taxing bodies at the municipal and county levels in Pennsylvania play no role in wildlife management, and with tax revenues in short supply they are not in a position to share the cost of wildlife management. These folks are subject to the voters, and it would take a big effort to educate the voting public on the benefits. Even then, it would be a coin toss.

The WMU system in place does in fact already account for these smaller-than-WMU areas. They're called "Special Regulations Areas," and the Pennsylvania Game Commission can establish these anywhere necessary. 

As for increasing back-tags for these areas, that  has also been done already. Antlerless allocations in the urban areas are the highest in the state, and every year they go unsold. These are the areas of highest human population density, but the lowest numbers of hunters. These are not areas with a hunting culture. Any hunter who lives and/or hunts in the area can get all the tags he wants, but he can't always find properties to hunt on. Many hunters who are not local to these areas are buying them, and the license agents still don't sell them all.

There is no DEC or DNR in Pennsylvania. There is a DCNR (Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources), which is not charged with wildlife management. It's the PGC that has responsibility for all wildlife (not just game animals.) There is cooperation between the two agencies, but in PA the PGC is an entity separate from political control.

I agree with you that baiting and sharpshooting are only short-term solutions, or not solutions at all. But, no idea has been off the table. Speaking of "outside the box," for many people, the idea of baiting is way outside the box.

The problem is far more serious than the dietary fondness deer have for the shrubbery around suburban homes. It's also more serious than their dangerous habit of colliding with cars on suburban freeways. The fact is that housing developments, shopping centers, and industrial parks are crowding deer into smaller and smaller pockets of natural habitat.

Baiting was a test. The PGC has determined that it does not sufficiently benefit the deer or the wildlife habitat in urban southeast Pennsylvania. Any solution must accommodate the urban non-hunting mindset of the people who live there. One solution, which I'm sure they're trying to avoid, is the extermination of deer in that part of the state. But, in cities everywhere, that has often been the solution, whether intentional or not.

The PGC biologists and policy makers continue to work on this, but there is no easy solution to making populations of large animals compatible with urbanization -- just as there is no easy answer to the social problems that come with urbanization.

Steve
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RE: Deer Baiting Eliminated In Southeastern PA Counties

Postby scotman » Tue May 11, 2010 10:37 pm

I think you covered every angle to shoot down any other idea than what is presently on the table. So what you have left is sharpshooters shooting them down from helicopters which is a huge burden on the taxpayer as it is unless you plan to tranquilize every deer in the area then relocate them which is just as costly as the first solution.

I do not see how spending money on the over population problem by paying biologists is any different than giving tax breaks to small land owners is any different. It will take money either way. If anything we have learned about being Americans is most Americans are thrifty. They will try to save money any chance they get. It would not take a rocket scientist to set something up stating you plant these type of trees and these types of small crops whatever size a 1/2 acre a 1/4 acre a acre and you save money on your taxes. Follow the guidelines and you qualify. It would not require residents to become full fledged biologists or to even understand why they are doing it. Simply plant it and you save money on your taxes.

Short on tax revenues? That is funny.Not being snide but they will get their pound of flesh no matter how short they come up. A lesson that is all to familiar as of late.
"The deerskin rug on our study floor, the buck's head over the fireplace, what are these after all but the keys which have unlocked enchanted doors, and granted us not only health and vigor, but a fresh and fairer vision of existence" -Paul. Brandreth

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RE: Deer Baiting Eliminated In Southeastern PA Counties

Postby Everyday Hunter » Wed May 12, 2010 4:01 am

ORIGINAL: scotman

Short on tax revenues? That is funny. Not being snide but they will get their pound of flesh no matter how short they come up. A lesson that is all to familiar as of late.

You're right about that. It's hard to think of tax revenues being in short supply anywhere, in any objective sense. But they do they fall short of what the politicians want to spend. That doesn't mean tax revenues are in short supply so much as it means spending is on the high side. There are two columns in every budget, but the politicians look only at the revenue side in their balancing efforts. Not many at the local level will want to devote some of it to wildlife conservation.

Sharpshooters shooting deer in and around housing tracts from helicopters? Homeowners creating backyard whitetail habitat where the goal is getting the deer away from human contact?

Not sure, but maybe what we have here is a failure to communicate.

Steve
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RE: Deer Baiting Eliminated In Southeastern PA Counties

Postby scotman » Wed May 12, 2010 6:00 am

Not sure, but maybe what we have here is a failure to communicate.


I think it is a safe bet that any habitat improvement needs to be done on the border of were the problem is occurring. That would be not in the city itself but on the outskirts of the city were the problem originated from. Here around Buffalo just a scant 5 miles outside the city limits the tracts of land start getting larger is not the PA cities the same way?
"The deerskin rug on our study floor, the buck's head over the fireplace, what are these after all but the keys which have unlocked enchanted doors, and granted us not only health and vigor, but a fresh and fairer vision of existence" -Paul. Brandreth

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