State forests, parks again enrolled In Deer Management Assistance Program
Offering white-tailed deer hunters more hunting opportunities across Pennsylvania, state forestlands and state parks again are participating in the Pa. Game Commission’s Deer Management Assistance Program, or DMAP.
DMAP allows landowners to apply for permits to encourage antlerless harvests on their property, enabling DCNR and private landowners to more effectively manage white-tailed deer populations and curtail damage to forests and crops.
Hunters accustomed to seeking and receiving DMAP permits in sections of six counties are learning the Pa. Board of Game Commissioners has rejected DCNR’s request for the issuance of permits in those areas—state forestland that includes five DMAP units across four state forest districts. “Social concerns”—that is, hunters maintaining deer numbers are too low in those area—were cited by the commissioners in their decision.
“While we are disappointed by the rejections, we find it supportive the commissioners agree our original allocation recommendations were based on sound science,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “Our biologists, foresters and park managers continue to ascribe to a dynamic, thorough, detailed and scientific process that leads to all DCNR applications. It is a process in which our methods and protocols have drawn the interest of other states.
“As the rejections apparently were linked to social considerations, we hope to work more closely in the future with the PGC and hunting community to help hunters find productive deer areas, and to better inform the hunter why balanced deer numbers and forest health are so important to all wildlife and state forest users.”
Habitat conditions continue to guide all DCNR’s DMAP applications, the secretary said, and those permits remain an important tool upon which state forest and park managers rely heavily for continued sustainability of state plants and forests.
“Requests for DMAP-targeted areas, and the number of permits sought, are science-driven,” Dunn said. “DCNR has a statistically based vegetation sampling protocol, with more than 10,000 plots across state forestland, which assists us in determining where DMAP should be applied.
“However, hunter satisfaction and experience are important, too, and we do take those into consideration when making DMAP-tag allocation decisions. We are confident in our DMAP process and are continuing to work on making the DMAP decision process more transparent and utilize the program in ways that meet DCNR’s mission statement.
Before any DMAP applications are made with the commission, Dunn said the department follows a rigid forest-health survey that includes:
- Meetings within the 20 state forest districts to determine if inventory data shows regeneration and understory, herbaceous vegetation has reached each district’s goal;
- Professional forester observations noting deer-browsing pressure and impact;
- Studies of regeneration, and diversity of tree, shrub, and wildflowers; as well as fencing requirements to keep deer out of areas to be timbered;
- Timber harvest and regeneration data;
- Individual district management plans that are reviewed by a group of foresters, biologists, and other professionals, and then overseen by a final executive committee.
Following rejection of its five DMAP units—in Union, Elk, Cameron, Franklin, Cumberland and Adams counties—DCNR now is offering hunters 16,199 permits in 58 units totaling 809,261 acres. That is 82,317 fewer acres and 1,592 fewer tags than originally requested from the Game Commission. Moshannon, Cornplanter and William Penn state forest districts are not participating in DMAP next hunting season. A total of 97,064 acres in 21 state parks are enrolled. They are:
Bald Eagle, Cook Forest, Keystone, Moraine, Presque Isle, Raccoon Creek, Ryerson Station, Oil Creek, Ohiopyle, Kings Gap, Codorus, Shawnee, Prince Gallitzin, Canoe Creek, Gifford Pinchot, Blue Knob, Ricketts Glen, Nescopeck, Hickory Run, Tobyhanna and Beltzville.
Again this year, DMAP units in Bald Eagle, Rothrock, and Susquehannock state forests will be part of a collaborative study among DCNR, Game Commission, Pennsylvania State University, and the U.S. Geological Survey, Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. In addition to monitoring hunter experiences in the study areas, the project weighs importance of deer density, competing vegetation, silvicultural treatments, seed sources and other factors adversely affecting forest tree regeneration and plant species composition.
To achieve study objectives, deer abundance is closely monitored and adjusted in the study areas using hunting and DMAP. As a result, changes in enrollment status and number of DMAP permits occur on units within these areas.
“The goal of this study is to increase our knowledge to ensure we are making the best and most responsible management decisions for Pennsylvania's forests and wildlife,” said State Bureau of Forestry Director Dan Devlin.
On these study areas, some deer have been marked with radio collars and ear tags. All marked deer are legal for hunters to harvest provided they have the appropriate license or permit. If a hunter harvests one of these marked deer, they are asked to call the toll-free number on the collar or tag.
DMAP tags went on sale Monday, June 8. Hunters obtain permits directly from license issuing agents or the Game Commission website.
Applicants for DMAP permits can find DCNR tract locations and maps, availability numbers, past hunter success rates and other information here.
For more details, contact Ecological Services Section, Bureau of Forestry, 717-787-3444; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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