Wildlife management in Pennsylvania will soon fall under new leadership. Game Commission executive director Carl G. Roe announced last week that he will retire Jan. 17 from the job he's held for eight years.
A former U.S. Army colonel who taught national security strategic planning at the U.S. Army War College, Roe was hired by the Game Commission in 2001 as the agency's first long-range strategic planner. The Board of Game Commissioners unanimously selected Roe as executive director in 2005.
Board president Robert Schlemmer of Export said Roe has been "an approachable leader."
"He's been quite an ambassador for hunters and other Pennsylvanians who enjoy wildlife, and the type of enthusiasm he brings to the job you just don't find every day," he said in a written statement. "His service to wildlife, sportsmen, sportswomen and the citizens of the commonwealth shall remain his legacy for generations to come."
During Roe's tenure, more than 50,300 acres were added to the state game lands system and the state hunter-trapper safety course was revamped to include online classes and the addition of special courses. Pennsylvania adopted an automated system for hunting license purchases, and a lead remediation program cleaned and upgraded the state's free shooting ranges. Despite dwindling license sales, the Game Commission's financial resources were bolstered by spikes in revenues from federal gun and ammunition excise taxes and Marcellus Shale leases on state game lands.
Hunters were perhaps most directly impacted by Roe's steering of the deer management program, which was adapted to include herd health and habitat and has slowly embraced some recommendations of an external audit forced on the agency by the state Legislature.
Twice during Roe's tenure, unsuccessful lawsuits brought by Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania challenged the deer plan's scientific claims and the agency's jurisdiction to enforce the plan.
"We disagreed with Director Roe in several aspects of the deer management program -- shifting the agency toward a wildlife management agency not representing the sportsmen was among the bigger problems," said USP president Randy Santucci of McKees Rocks. "There were fundamental differences. We wish the director well, but it's probably a good time for a change."
Schlemmer said the board will consider internal and external candidates in its search for the next executive director.