On Tuesday of this week, PA State Representative Mike Hanna, the minority whip who represents Clinton and a northern portion of Centre County, do what many legislators do who have too much time on their hands. He wrote a ridiculous memo to his fellow representatives asking them to co-sponsor a micro-managing bill that would amend “the duties of the Pennsylvania Game Commission” and provide “for an Antlerless Deer Harvest Committee”.
The line in the memo that is so goofy is this: “Currently, the PGC determines antlerless deer allocations with minimal public involvement.” Where has the good representative been for the past decade? Surely, he is just using that line as political rhetoric. He certainly can’t really believe in such an absurd statement.
Here is just a partial list of the things the Game Commission does to garner public input into deer management, i.e., doe management:
- A new Facebook page, twitter account, and YouTube pages relating to deer management and that accept comments
- A human dimensions person who surveys hunters about their satisfaction with deer management
- Past Citizens Advisory Committees on deer management
- Deer open houses in each region
- A revised deer management plan that solicits comments and ideas from the general public
- Commissioners who answer emails, letters, and phone calls in their private residences regarding deer management
- Public comment period for all who want to speak before each PGC meeting (expressly forbidden in the state legislature)
- PGC website pages describing deer biology and management
- A set of deer brochures that informs hunters and others on how the deer herd is managed
- Articles in the PA Game News relating to deer management that are subject to hunter scrutiny
- A press secretary who keeps the public informed and fields questions on the website
I’d tell Mike Hanna the same thing I told another representative from northern Pennsylvania, “just because the Game Commission doesn’t agree with you on every facet of deer management doesn’t mean it isn’t listening to you and hunters.”
In order to try and get his way on doe allocations, Hanna wants to establish an Antlerless Deer Harvest Committee that would propose allocations and whatever number they decided would be binding on the PGC. The obvious question would be “then why do we have deer biologists, or even a Game Commission?” If they are not respected and listened to, the Game Commission just should abolish their deer biologist positions.
Hanna ends his memo by stating “it is imperative that we ensure that the PGC is serving the interests of our sportsmen … “. But it was Hanna himself who first led the charge to give virtually all of the Spring Creek/Rockview land, not to the Game or Fish Commission, but to Penn State University to build condos. When sportsmen are not looking, it is he who is not their friend.
It’s the same old story in government. When one doesn’t want to or know how to lead, the answer is always form another committee. If Hanna is incapable of leading, he needs to get out of the way so that the Game Commission and its biologists can continue to take the lead in managing not only deer and its habitat, but all the birds and mammals in Pennsylvania.
– Roxane Palone