Faithful followers of this column undoubtedly fell off their seats last week when I actually penned something on the state’s proposed deer management plan that was chock full of facttoids but absent of my ever-so-superfluous opinion.
Well, this week you won’t be disappointed.
Before I smash the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s plan on the floor and jump up and down on it with football cleats, however, I first want to commend them for the effort.
Honestly, we’ve had too many knee-jerk regulations put in place in the past without a thorough process involving public input and sound science. It is nice to see wildlife managers step back and look at the broader picture in the interest of a healthier herd.
The DEC has received well over 2,000 comments on this plan over the past two years, and it appears as if they are listening to us. Recommendations like expanding youth hunting and huntable land as well as increasing crossbow use and opportunities for disabled hunters are evidence of that.
But other recommendations, while put forth with good intention, are seriously flawed in my opinion — mainly because DEC just doesn’t have the “boots on the ground” to adequately implement and track them.
They are certainly not at fault for that. If the state would free up the $26-$28 million we sportsmen have sitting in the conservation fund, perhaps the trend of not filling badly-needed positions at the DEC would end.
In the meantime, I have to question the viability of proposals like the one to switch to an across-the-board doe permit system, without enough staff in place to implement them.
There is no question that a doe permit system would require a careful tracking mechanism to determine the size of the herd in any given area to work. Currently, the DEC relies heavily on things like doe sightings reported by bowhunters when determining deer numbers, and thus how many doe permits an area can support.
John Gereau is managing editor of Denton Publications, a guide and avid outdoorsman. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org