The Pennsylvania Game Commission’s deer management plan was rated one of North America’s best by Simon Fraser University in a recently published study that measured the scientific soundness and transparency of varied state and provincial wildlife management plans.
Pennsylvania tied with Wisconsin for the highest-scoring deer plans in North America among states and provinces that participated in the research conducted by Kyle A. Artelle and colleagues. The study used a framework that identified four fundamental hallmarks of science relevant to natural resource management – measurable objectives, evidence, transparency and independent review – and tested for their presence through 11 specific criteria in plan assessments, according to a research article recently published on the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Science Advances website.
The research paper, titled Hallmarks of science missing from North American wildlife management, challenged the widespread assumption that wildlife management in North America is science-based. Contributing to the investigation were researchers from Simon Fraser University, University of Wisconsin, University of Victoria, Hakai Institute and the Raincoat Conservation Foundation.
Pennsylvania’s deer plan earned the highest score out of 667 species management plans among 62 wildlife management agencies in the United States and Canada.
“Pennsylvania’s deer management plan was developed to meet high scientific standards,” said Chris Rosenberry, agency Deer and Elk Section chief. “This article validates those efforts.”
Rosenberry believes work in deer management from 2006 to 2009 paved the way for the Game Commission’s deer plan to achieve the level of proficiency and transparency it has today.
“No management plan is perfect,” Rosenberry emphasized. “There’s always room for improvement. And it’s that mindset that has made Pennsylvania’s deer plan stronger and more defendable today than it was 10 years ago. But it was and remains a science-based plan.”
One of the most important take-home messages coming from this independent research is that it wasn’t sanctioned by Pennsylvania hunters or the Commonwealth’s deer managers, emphasized Matthew Schnupp, agency Wildlife Management Bureau director.
“This rating is a third-party assessment, an objective evaluation derived from specific scientific standards that were applied to the management plans of dozens of state and provincial agencies,” Schnupp said. “It clearly illustrates our deer biologists have our white-tailed deer plan moving in the right direction.”