MANAGEMENT SERIES, NO. 5: BLOOD IN THE WATER
Sensing the Reality of Deer Reduction, Foresters and
Circled like Sharks around a Sinking Ship
DCNR "purchased" its first Green Certification Award
in 1998 from the German-based Forest Stewardship Council,
FSC's auditor (Mr. Bryon Shissler) and DCNR's chief forester
agreed to make the annual award contingent on the long-term
reduction of the state's deer herd. Starting in 1999, anti-deer
foresters and environmentalists initiated a series of events
toward exacerbating and perpetuating the deer-reduction program
and advancing their biodiversity and ecosystem-management
agendas. PGC complied.
In 1999, Sierra Club and Audubon co-sponsored
a Conference on the Impact of Deer on the Biodiversity and
Economy of the State of Pennsylvania. Quoting: "The truth
is that we humans have knocked the natural system completely
out of balance." Speakers included Calvin DuBrock and
five members of the Deer Management Working Group (Scot Williamson,
Bryon Shissler, Susan Stout, Cindy Dunn, and Ben Moyer) whom
PGC appointed to devise an "unbiased" deer management
plan. Gary Alt gave the keynote speech.
From 2001-04, Audubon wrote a deer-reduction
master plan (Managing White-tailed Deer in Forest Habitat
from an Ecosystem Perspective) to promote their concept of
ecosystem management – to restore natural ecosystems, birds,
other wildlife and their habitats...including native wildflowers.
Participants included Cindy Dunn, Bryon Shissler, Ben Moyer,
Tim Schaeffer, and Susan Stout. Audubon acknowledged PGC participants:
"We are grateful to Robert Boyd, Calvin DuBrock, Chris
Rosenberry, and Vernon Ross".
In 2004, The Nature Conservancy and
DCNR's chief forester, Dan Devlin, designed a 500,000-acre
system of old growth forests in Pennsylvania to be achieved
through deer reduction. The plan concluded: Reducing Pennsylvania's
deer population will likely require a long-term political
process. This will not be easy.
By 2005, Bryon Shissler, Gary Alt,
Tim Schaeffer, and Ben Moyer had organized their Ecosystem
Management Project – a series of newsletters and lectures
with its stated goal being: "to assist state agencies
and hunters in their goal of balancing the number of deer
with their natural habitats." Also, Bryon Shissler testified
before the Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee to encourage
deer reduction, stating: "We are not suggesting that
people within the Game Commission or hunters are bad people
we need a wildlife agency that represents all the people not
just deer hunters.
A PA Biodiversity Partnership was
created to promote the conservation of native species and
their habitats. Quoting: "Deer represent a major threat
to biodiversity. There is much we don't know. Waiting for
this information before reversing damaging patterns can be
detrimental." Members included: Carl Roe and Cal DuBrock,
Audubon's Cindy Dunn, foresters Ken Kane and Blaine Puller,
Ben Moyer, and Melody Zullinger.
Dan Devlin held a deer-reduction forum
in 2009 entitled "Monitoring Deer Effects on Forest Ecosystems
in Pennsylvania State Forests." In step with Audubon,
DCNR changed from "maximum sustained yield" to Audubon's
"ecosystem management" philosophy. Authors included
Chris Rosenberry and Bryon Shissler.
Bryon Shissler conducted a Pinchot
Institute study entitled Managing Deer in the Commonwealth,
claiming that PGC was the most enlightened state game agency
because unlike other states, the PGC had changed from the
archaic "agricultural paradigm" (maximum sustained
yield) method to ecosystem management.
with herd reduction, environmentalists successfully eliminated
the traditional "maximum sustained yield" deer management
philosophy and installed "ecosystem management"
into DCNR and PGC.
In an emotionally-charged and agenda-driven feeding frenzy,
science and even state law were ignored to achieve a goal
that is now proven to be a conservation, social, and economic