21st Century Deer Stakeholder Committee

 

  • Participative Management: Calling All Stakeholders
  • Stakeholders to address deer management (2/24/00)
  • Commission announces deer meetings ( 3/10/00)
  • Department schedules public deer meetings (3/16/00)
  • Department concludes stakeholder meetings (4/6/00)
  • Committee proceeding with deer management plan (6/15/00)
  • Steering Committee briefs Commission (6/8/00)
  • 21st Century Deer Stakeholder Committee



    Stakeholders to address deer management (2/24/00)

    To develop a comprehensive deer management program, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is undertaking a progressive planning process that will ultimately involve anyone and everyone who is interested in the state's deer herd.

    The process will invite interested parties – from hunter groups to farm and ranch organizations to wildlife biologists and game wardens – to identify issues and desires relating to managing deer populations and setting deer hunting regulations.

    "Essentially, we will be asking everyone to identify the issues, then a core group that represents all of the major stakeholders will sit down together to try and comprehensively address those issues," said Alan Peoples, wildlife chief for the ODWC. "The result of the core group's efforts will be what we hope to implement as our deer management program, and it will cover all aspects of deer hunting seasons, regulations and bag limits."

    No specific management strategies will be considered, however, until the Department has identified all deer-related issues, concerns and opportunities, along with ensuring that everyone is represented on the core committee that will work to create the recommended deer management plan. To ensure that the program is biologically sound, the core group will contain a number of biologists and other personnel from the Wildlife Department.

    Peoples said to involve such a broad cross-section of interested parties in the strategic planning process, a series of "issue identification" meetings will be held throughout the state. The first of these meetings, which was primarily aimed at introducing natural resource and agricultural groups and organizations to the process, was held Feb. 23 at the State Insurance Commission in Oklahoma City. More than 75 people attended the meeting, during which participants identified at least 100 different deer-management issues and voiced their support for this type of strategic planning process.

    The Wildlife Department has not yet set dates and locations for the regional stakeholder issue meetings, but agency officials anticipate holding meetings in late March near Tulsa, McAlester, Oklahoma City, Lawton and Woodward. Anyone interested in deer management will be encouraged to attend the meetings, which will be announced as soon as times and sites can be selected.

    "At these meetings, people will get a chance to identify issues that are important to them, plus they will be asked to help identify persons willing to serve as representatives on the core committee," explained Peoples. "From there, a core committee of about 30 people will look to formulate a plan that addresses the multitude of issues that have been raised. Because everyone, or at least their issues, is represented in the process, the end result will be something that they should find acceptable, and something they can support."

    Deer hunting regulations and seasons have already been set for this fall, so any potential changes recommended by the core committee would not be implemented until the fall of 2001. Although the Wildlife Conservation Commission, the governing board that sets policy for the Wildlife Department and oversees hunting and fishing in Oklahoma, must ultimately approve any changes, the Commission has expressed support for involving stakeholders in the process of formulating deer management recommendations.

    In addition to publicizing upcoming meeting times and locations through normal media outlets, the Wildlife Department will posted the information on its web site, which can be accessed at www.state.ok.us/~ODWC. For more information about the planning process, contact the Department's Wildlife Division at 405/521-2739.

    Commission announces deer meetings ( 3/10/00)

    At its regular March meeting, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission announced upcoming dates for public stakeholder meetings regarding the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's statewide deer management plan.

    The Department is holding the meetings to gather public input to help develop a comprehensive statewide deer management plan. As part of the development process, the Department is working with sportsmen's groups, private landowners and representatives from the insurance agency, as well as from other stakeholders in Oklahoma's deer resources. The object is to identify primary concerns from stakeholders in different parts of the state to help formulate progressive, proactive objectives and strategies.

    The meetings will be held at the following dates and locations:

    March 20: Tulsa (Tulsa Tech Center, Career Service Bldg.).
    March 23: Oklahoma City (Langston University).
    March 27: McAlester (Kiamichi Technology Center).
    March 28: Lawton (Library).
    March 30: Woodward (High Plains area Vo-Tech).

    During this part of the meeting, the Commission also listened to a report on deer management by Dr. George.

    Department schedules public deer meetings (3/16/00)

    As part of an effort to develop a comprehensive deer management program, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will hold a series of public meetings across the state.

    The meetings will begin at 7 p.m. at the following dates and locations:

    March 20: Tulsa (Tulsa Tech Center, Career Service Bldg., located at 3420 S. Memorial, north of the Broken Arrow Expressway on Memorial).
    March 23: Oklahoma City (Langston University at OKC Auditorium, 4205 N. Lincoln Blvd.).
    March 27: McAlester (Kiamichi Technology Center, 301 Kiamichi Dr.).
    March 28: Lawton (Lawton Public Library, 110 SW 4th St.).
    March 30: Woodward (High Plains Area Vo-Tech Seminar Room, 3921 34th St.).

    The meetings are an important part of the planning process which will ultimately involve anyone and everyone who is interested in the state's deer herd, said Alan Peoples, chief of the Department's Wildlife Division. The process will invite interested parties - from hunter groups to farm and ranch organizations to wildlife biologists and game wardens - to identify issues and desires relating to managing deer populations and setting deer hunting regulations.

    The meetings will not be a forum for debate, Peoples added, but they will allow individuals to express their concerns about the future of deer management in Oklahoma. Those who address the panel will be limited to about three minutes, so speakers should organize their thoughts beforehand.

    "Essentially, we will be asking everyone to identify the issues, and then a core group that represents all of the major stakeholders will sit down together to try and comprehensively address those issues," Peoples said. "The result of the core group's efforts will be what we hope to implement as our deer management program, and it will cover all aspects of deer hunting seasons, regulations and bag limits."

    No specific management strategies will be considered, however, until the Department has identified all deer-related issues, concerns and opportunities. The process will ensure that everyone is represented on the core committee that will work to create the recommended deer management plan. To ensure that the program is biologically sound, the core group will contain biologists and other personnel from the Wildlife Department.

    "At these meetings, people will get a chance to identify issues that are important to them, plus they will be asked to help identify persons willing to serve as representatives on the core committee," explained Peoples. "From there, a core committee of about 30 people will look to formulate a plan that addresses the multitude of issues that have been raised. Because everyone, or at least their issues, is represented in the process, the end result will be something that they should find acceptable, and something they can support."

    Deer hunting regulations and seasons have already been set for this fall, so any potential changes recommended by the core committee would not be implemented until the fall of 2001. Although the Wildlife Conservation Commission, the governing board that sets policy for the Wildlife Department and oversees hunting and fishing in Oklahoma, must ultimately approve any changes, the Commission has expressed support for involving stakeholders in the process of formulating deer management recommendations.

    In addition to publicizing upcoming meeting times and locations through normal media outlets, the Wildlife Department has the information on its web site, which can be accessed at www.state.ok.us/~odwc. For more information about the planning process, contact the Department's Wildlife Division at 405/521-2739.

    Department concludes stakeholder meetings (4/6/00)

    After concluding a series of public stakeholder meetings, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is entering the next phase in developing a new statewide deer management plan.

    Mandated last fall by the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission, the process began in February with a series of public stakeholder meetings. The meetings, held in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Lawton, McAlester and Woodward, were designed to elicit information from stakeholders with interests in managing the state's deer herd. Parties represented included private landowners, ranchers, farmers, sportsmans' groups and the insurance industry, among others. The meetings provided those individuals the opportunity to express personal, corporate and regional concerns about the state's deer resources, as well as concerns about the future management of those resources.

    "The meetings were very productive and enlightening," said Alan Peoples, the Department's Chief of Wildlife. "We found some common ground among the various groups, but we also found that there are some significantly different concerns from one region to another. For example, crop depredation is a major concern in the southwest, while deer/vehicle collisions are a big issue in the northwest."

    Among the findings from the public meetings, Peoples added, is that many motorists do not report deer collisions to their insurance companies. Therefore, the incidence of deer/vehicle accidents may be underestimated.

    "These are all things we have to consider when we sit down to hammer out a new management plan," Peoples said.

    Equipped with such a diverse bank of public input, the Department will next form a steering committee composed of individuals representing the interests of the various stakeholders. Once formed, the steering committee will meet May 9-11 to draft a statewide deer management plan.

    "It's taken us 30 years to get where we are, so it's going to be quite an undertaking to formulate a brand new plan in just three days," Peoples said. "However, we are confident that the people who will be on the steering committee will fully understand the importance of their mission, and we're confident we'll develop a plan that will serve the best interests of Oklahoma's citizens, as well as the best interests of our state's deer resources."

    Steering Committee briefs Commission (6/8/00)

    In its regular June meeting, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission voted unanimously to encourage the Deer Management Steering Committee Monday to continue developing a comprehensive deer management plan for Oklahoma.

    Containing 32 key Oklahoma deer stakeholders, the 21st Century Steering Committee submitted its five-step plan outline to the Commission. The Steering Committee developed the recommendations after a five-month process involving statewide public meetings and an intensive, three-day Steering Committee meeting. Major components of the plan included:

    1. Creating new deer management zones based on habitat types and social considerations.

    2. Maximizing doe hunting opportunity.

    3. Reducing the buck aggregate limit from three to two.

    4. Addressing landowner concerns.

    5. Increasing education and communication regarding deer management and plan implementation.

    After thoroughly reviewing each item and discussing several facets in depth, the Commission recognized the Committee for its work and encouraged it to continue working toward final recommendations. The Department has already finalized the framework for the 2000 deer season, so a new plan, pending approval by the Commission, wouldn't go into effect until the 2001 season at the earliest.

    Also at the June meeting, the Commission unanimously approved a slate of officers. Elected were Harland Stonecipher, chairman; Mark Patton, Vice-Chairman, and Ed Abel, Secretary. The officers were recommended by a nominating committee that included commissioners John Groendyke, Jack Zink and Louis Stiles. The officers will begin their terms on July 1.

    In his monthly report, Director Greg Duffy briefed the Commission on a slate of wildlife laws recently signed by Gov. Frank Keating. None of the laws will dramatically impact Department operations or the state's hunters and anglers, Duffy said, but there were two items of significant interest. One was House Bill 1927, which allows for the hunting of feral hogs on public land and private land. It allows for the Department to promulgate rules for hunting feral hogs on public land, which the Department plans to do over the next year.

    The other was House Concurrent Resolution 1113. Sponsored by Rep. Dale Smith (D.-St. Louis) and Sen. Frank Shurden (D.-Henryetta), HCR-1113 will provide a forum to study additional funding needs for the Department.

    "Oklahoma's hunters and fishermen pay a lot for conservation as it is, and license fee increases alone are not the answer for the Department's funding needs," Duffy said. "The last license fee increase that we had in 1994 was only supposed to provide sufficient funding through 1997, and although research shows that the overwhelming majority of Oklahoma hunters and anglers would support another increase, we don't consider that to be a long-term solution."

    In other business, the Commission accepted a donation of two mobile display units from Matt Chilcutt, president of Chilcutt Direct Marketing. Valued at more than $20,000, the mobile display units will be used to enhance the Department's presence at various public venues around the state. Chilcutt is the regional vice-president for Quail Unlimited. He has been a strong supporter of the Department's conservation efforts.

    Gary Purdy, regional director for the National Wild Turkey Federation, presented a plaque for Outstanding Hunting Heritage to Duffy on behalf of the Department. Purdy also presented a commemorative print to Assistant Director Richard Hatcher for his leadership in securing continued public hunting access to 725,000 acres of corporate timberland in southeast Oklahoma.

    In personnel related business, the Commission voted to amend the Department's retirement plan, which included increasing the death benefit to $5,000 for Department employees. The previous benefit was $4,000. Other language changes were incorporated as required by recent federal legislation. Also, the Commission authorized a two-percent cost of living increase for Department retirees.

    The Commission will hold its next meeting July 10 at the Department's headquarters in Oklahoma City. It will not hold a regular meeting in August..

    Committee proceeding with deer management plan (6/15/00)

    As Oklahoma's deer herd grows at an unprecedented pace, it creates special challenges for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

    While providing abundant hunting opportunities for sportsmen, record numbers of deer also create conflicts for many Oklahoma citizens. To address these issues, the Department initiated a process several months ago to design a new deer management plan for the 21st century.

    Designed to involve all of the state's deer stakeholders, the process began with a series of public meetings held across the state in which the Department gathered input regarding local and regional deer concerns.

    Equipped with this information, the Department appointed a steering committee composed of individuals representing sportsmen's groups, landowners, agricultural interests, insurance interests and other groups. After an intense, three-day planning session, this committee drafted a management plan to present to the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Department's governing body. To ensure that the plan was biologically sound and reflected as many viewpoints as possible, the Committee also contained wildlife biologists, game wardens and other Department personnel.

    "When you consider that the white-tailed deer was nearly extinct in Oklahoma at the beginning of the century, the abundance of these animals today is one of the Department's most phenomenal success stories," said Alan Peoples, the Department's chief of wildlife. "However, there's no denying the fact that the increasing presence of deer in some areas has created some unique problems for many citizens. Our challenge is to determine the future composition of the state's deer herd, and to develop a comprehensive management strategy to accomplish that goal. This committee has put a great deal of time and effort into the initial part of that process, and it will continue to work toward a plan that will be most beneficial not only to the state's deer herd, but also to the public."

    The plan contained five major components, including:

    1. Creating new deer management zones based on habitat types and social considerations.

    2. Maximizing doe hunting opportunities.

    3. Reducing the buck aggregate limit from three to two.

    4. Addressing landowner concerns and providing more opportunities for hunters to access private lands.

    5. Increasing education and communication regarding deer management and plan implementation.

    After a lengthy discussion, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission endorsed the Committee's progress at its June 5 meeting in Oklahoma City and authorized it to continue fine-tuning the plan's final recommendations. The Committee will likely present its final recommendations to the Commission at its regular September meeting in Oklahoma City.

    21st Century Deer Stakeholder Committee
    For release Sunday, May 21

    Committee Recommends Bold Steps to Manage State’s Deer Herd
    Several key elements not finalized – committee’s work to continue

    A group of 32 key natural resource opinion leaders met May 9-11 in Oklahoma City to provide recommendations on how to better manage the state’s growing deer herd. The meeting was another step in an ongoing process that the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is using to gain consensus on deer herd management and hunting regulation changes.

    The committee represented every major group with an interest in deer management – from landowners and agriculture organizations like Farm Bureau, Farmer’s Union and Oklahoma Cattleman’s Association, to media representatives, to hunter organizations such as the Quality Deer Management Association, to state wildlife professionals including biologists and game wardens. Recommended changes will be presented to the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Wildlife Department’s governing board, at an upcoming Wildlife Commission meeting. Commissioners can implement all, part, or none of the plan, but have expressed their support for involving stakeholders in the process of formulating deer management recommendations. Some recommendations may require legislative action, and some of the strategies will require additional Wildlife Department funding.

    Before arriving at specific management recommendations, the committee adopted the following mission statement: Manage Oklahoma’s deer herd for both quality and quantity to provide a healthy deer herd, managed specifically by habitat zones through education of both landowners and hunters.

    In support of achieving this mission, the committee recommended the following five steps be taken:

    Step 1: Rezoning. The group recommended a subcommittee of ODWC district law enforcement chiefs and regional wildlife supervisors create new deer management zones based on habitat types and social considerations.

    Step 2: Maximize Doe Hunting Opportunity. Options to consider to maximize doe harvest include increasing the aggregate bag limit on does; allowing hunters to take two does during the primitive firearms and modern gun seasons; improving the Sportsmen Against Hunger program; establishing a January doe-only archery season; establishing three-day doe-only management gun hunts.

    Step 3: Reduce Buck Aggregate Limit from Three To Two. While the committee believes there is a problem with the overharvest of young bucks, one that is especially acute in northern-tier counties, the committee’s majority recommendation was to implement this strategy to balance the harvest and improve herd health.

    Step 4: Address Landowner Concerns. Work to reform liability, trespass and posting laws. Other key strategies recommended allowing hunting leaseholders to prosecute trespassers; reforming poaching laws to provide for stiffer penalties; implementing a walk-in hunting program to provide additional acres of hunting opportunity; and create a landowner advisory board for each deer management zone.

    Step 5: Increased Education and Communication. Strategies under this step include distributing information through all Wildlife Department channels such as the hunting regulations, website, etc; implementing cooperative efforts to disseminate information on deer management between the Department and state agricultural publications; expanding landowner technical assistance offered by the Department; expanding Operation Game Thief; and creating a jointly-supported deer management website.



    One of the significant issues that was discussed but did not make the committee’s final recommendations was increasing the deer gun season to 16 days. Consensus sentiment among committee members was that hunters first be provided the maximum opportunity for doe harvest within the current framework without increasing the number of days in the current deer gun season.

    For example, hunters in northwest Oklahoma will be able this fall to harvest a doe any day during both the primitive firearms and modern gun seasons, but those hunting in most counties south of I-40 currently only will be allowed six days of muzzleloader doe hunting and two days during the modern firearms season. Furthermore, a 16-day season would be counterproductive to shifting harvest pressure from bucks to does, unless antlerless opportunities were increased accordingly.

    “Overall I think we were all a little surprised at how much agreement there was among committee members on most of the issues,” said Mike McCormick, executive editor of The Shawnee News Star and chairman of the 21st Century Deer Stakeholders Committee. “Obviously, a number of the strategies for each of these five key steps will need to be more thoroughly evaluated and given further consideration. One of the committee’s first recommendations was that we stay intact and stay active. We recognized that as the plan is implemented, there will need to be some flexibility to make adjustments as the plan’s accomplishments come to light.”

    McCormick said the group has set up several subcommittee’s which will convene this summer to begin work on areas that will help support the plan once it is implemented. He added that most committee members hope to attend the Wildlife Commission meeting when the recommendations will be presented, which will happen later this summer.

    The committee’s consensus recommendation was that plan changes go into effect for the fall 2001 hunting seasons, although the Commission may choose to implement portions of the plan earlier.

    “Two challenges kept resurfacing throughout our deliberations,” said McCormick. “The Department lacks adequate funding to implement all plan recommendations, and we also recognize that there will be people who do not agree with all aspects of the plan and want to challenge its implementation.

    “On those issues, the committee hopes to convince the Legislature to make Wildlife Department funding a priority, and we will strive to help overcome any roadblocks to the successful conclusion of this process.”



    Participative Management: Calling All Stakeholders
    Earlier this year, mounting pressure to control the state’s deer herd, along with increased interest in not only longer and more generous seasons but also in a healthier, better balanced herd, led the Department to initiate a strategic planning process for deer management.

    The Department held a series of stakeholder meetings held in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Lawton, McAlester and Woodward. The meetings were designed to elicit information from people interested in managing the state’s deer herd. Parties represented included private landowners, ranchers, farmers, sportsman’s groups and the insurance industry, among others. The meetings provided those individuals the opportunity to express personal, corporate and regional concerns about the state’s deer resources, as well as concerns about the future management of those resources.

    “The meetings were very productive and enlightening,” said Alan Peoples, chief of the Department’s Wildlife Division. “Essentially, we asked everyone with an interest in deer populations and deer hunting to identify the issues. We found some common ground among the various groups, but we also found that there are some significantly different concerns from one region to another. For example, crop depredation is a major concern in the southwest, while deer/vehicle collisions are a big issue in the northwest.”

    Equipped with such a diverse bank of public input, the Department then formed a steering committee composed of individuals representing the interests of the various stakeholders and regions of the state. To ensure that the program is biologically sound, the core group contained biologists and other personnel from the Wildlife Department.

    Although the committee has made a number of specific recommendations, the group will continue to meet and address future deer management issues. Additionally, some key current recommendations must be finalized, work that will happen in the coming months.