PAQDMA discloses errors/distortions from Eveland - The Outdoor Community
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PAQDMA discloses errors/distortions from Eveland

QDMA answers John Eveland
Thursday, May 12th, 2011 | Deer Management | The Dog

This was sent along by the Quality Deer Management Association:

The Pennsylvania Quality Deer Management Association has conducted a review of Mr. [John] Evelandís evaluation of the Pennsylvania Game Commission Deer Harvest numbers which has been distributed to politicians, Game Commissioners and presented in the Outdoor News under the title ďBiologist says PGC deer numbers are deceptiveĒ. The Outdoor News article simply presented a portion of Mr. Evelandís view with no back checking of facts.

The PA Quality Deer Management board found Mr. Eveland to be incorrect or ill informed in the following areas:

First, in the full report by Mr. Eveland, he claims that the 2010 was the lowest in license sales due to the lack of deer but states no facts that declines are related to deer. PAQDMA reviewed certified license holder statistics by the FWS from 1985 to present. PA lost 85,075 hunters from 2000 to 2009 or a rate of 8 percent. By contrast, the decade before the current deer management program from 1990 to 2000, Pennsylvania lost 139,840 certified license holders or a rate of 12 percent. How can deer be the primary force of license decline when nearly 40 percent more hunters stop buying license the decade before the PA deer program was changed compared to the decade during the current deer program?

Looking at two northern states with similar hunting traditions and numbers of hunters, the state of New York lost 100,630 and Michigan lost 95,617 from 2000 to 2009 compared to PAís loss of 85,075 (2010 not yet available). Therefore, Pennsylvania has been able to hold onto hunters at a better rate than both New York and Michigan during the last decade. No evidence exists that the decline in Pennsylvania is directly attributed to the decline in deer numbers. (In fact, fishing license sales in Pennsylvania closely follow the same rate of decline as our hunting license sales. Is that related to deer too?) These facts are in clear contrast to Mr. Evelandís allegations.

A second point made in Mr. Evelandís report was a reference to a past study by the U.S.G.S Pennsylvania Fish and Wildlife Cooperative unit rapid assessment of deer impact. Mr. Eveland claims the use of a single rare plant, named Indian Cucumber, as a plant that will be used to determine the appropriate deer densities and allocation. The Cooperative unit professionals are always trying to improve the accuracy and timeliness of data and are striving to develop a protocol that saves the tax payer funds and provides more consistent data for better decision making. The actual protocol measures include a tally of tree seedlings >30 cm and <150 cm tall, by species; the presence of deer browsing on each seedling, a Tally of Trillium spp., Indian Cucumber, Canada Mayflower, and Jack-in-the-Pulpit. The measurement of percent ground cover of ferns, Rubus spp., grasses, and forbs along with a tally of shrubs and saplings by species including the presence of Viburnum spp. shrubs (esp. hobblebush), greenbrier, and elderberry. Does Mr. Evelandís characterization that only one plant is used seem accurate now? It is very clear that Mr. Eveland simply failed to either understand the protocol or intentionally presented false information by only stating the Indian cucumber is being utilized as the only measure of forest habitat health.

PAQDMA also closely examined Mr. Evelandís calculation of the needed herd size to sustain the harvest amount stated by PGC. The density of deer is calculated by numbers of deer over a given area and therefore under the same deer numbers, the smaller area defined the higher density of deer. Mr. Eveland only included forest land and agriculture in his calculations. He did not include abandoned and reclaimed mine lands, grasslands and shrub lands not in agriculture reverted fields; all of which hold many deer. Using a detailed Pennsylvania State University analysis on suitable deer habitat which eliminates all areas not used by deer such as roads, developed areas, and water determined that habitat suitable for deer at 42,710 square miles or an amount of 7,195 square miles missing from Mr. Evelandís calculations. That is more than 4.5 million acres Mr. Eveland did not consider in his density calculations which greatly inflates the deer densities in his report.

Mr. Eveland also used research from several sources to calculate the winter or post season deer density. A QDMA board member contacted Mr. Gray Smith of the Alabama Department of Wildlife who authored some of the research for which Mr. Eveland used in his report. Mr. Smith has written dozens if not hundreds of published articles on deer populations. He also strongly indicated that the 35 percent mortality rate needed to stabilize a deer herd was based on a pre-hunt or fall deer population and not as a post deer population as Mr. Eveland claimed. Therefore, Mr. Evelandís used the harvest calculations to build the summer population and then added it on again to incorrectly and grossly overestimate the summer population. Using the correct square miles of 42,710 and the proper use of the Alabama research, the summer herd would be 1,272,595 or 29 deer per square mile in the summer, not 51 as Mr. Eveland calculated. The winter density or post hunting density of 19 deer per square mile is much more believable when you use accurate data. Mr. Eveland also failed to discuss the hunters themselves who sent in over 111,000 report cards of actual deer harvest. Most people do not argue that our reporting rate is very low. Why did Mr. Eveland not use the known report cards and well documented reporting rate to establish the estimate?

In summary, PAQDMA has found that Mr. Evelandís full report did not provide evidence that the decline in license sales has a direct relationship to deer numbers; it grossly mischaracterized the study conducted by the U.S. G.S Fish and Wildlife Cooperative Unit; it excluded 4.5 million acres when calculating deer density; and PA QDMA also confirmed from one of Mr. Evelandís research sources that he incorrectly used the herd calculation for both pre and post season deer density. PAQDMA understands the controversy with deer hunting in Pennsylvania, but when facts in deer management are clearly twisted and misused, PAQDMA feels obligated to address those issues.

QDMA is a nationally recognized scientifically based white-tailed deer organization with over 50,000 members. The PA QDMA board alone is comprised of wildlife biologist, foresters, biologist and consultants from a variety of agencies and universities who cumulatively hold over 40 years of education in the forest and wildlife fields and over 200 years of forest and wildlife management experience.

In an age of universal lies, speaking the truth is a revolutionary act - George Orwell
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