Dr. Alt to Retire from Game Commission

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Dr. Gary Alt, Pennsylvania Game Commission Deer Management Section Supervisor, submitted a letter announcing his retirement effective Dec. 31.

In acknowledging Dr. Alt's retirement, Game Commission Executive Director Vern Ross noted that the job of deer management section supervisor was not an easy task.

"Gary took on a difficult job trying to manage Pennsylvania's most controversial big game species," Ross said. "It was perhaps the most challenging job in the state, and there was no way anyone in his position could please everyone. Hunters see too few deer, while landowners, such as farmers and foresters, state there are too many deer.

"There are a lot of people out there who think that they could do this job. What they don't realize is that not many people could last more than a few months due to the competing viewpoints. Dr. Alt stood up to the challenge for more than five years."

Ross also noted that Dr. Alt did a tremendous job of trying to get the message out to Pennsylvanians about the need for balancing the deer with its habitat.

"For three years, Dr. Alt traveled across Pennsylvania to meet with hunters and nonhunters, as well as the news media, to explain the reasons and rationale behind the changes he was proposing for deer management," Ross said. "It was because of this effort, I believe, he was able to gain the support for antler restrictions, the concurrent rifle deer season and the Deer Management Assistance Program from hunters, legislators, landowners and other wildlife enthusiasts."

In August 1999, Dr. Gary Alt accepted the appointment to head-up the Commission's new Deer Management Section in the Bureau of Wildlife Management. Besides being an avid deer hunter for 36 years, he worked at the Game Commission's deer check stations in the late 1970s and has annually collected deer data for the Game Commission's deer management program for the past 23 years. He also has filmed and photographed deer in the wild and in captivity for more than 10 years to organize a "Natural History of White-Tailed Deer" slide lecture, which he has presented at numerous sports shows and public events.

Dr. Alt joined the agency in June of 1977, and headed up the agency's bear management program. During that time period, Dr. Alt launched groundbreaking research into bear biology that help guide bear management to this day. He remained in this position until taking over the deer program in 1999.

Dr. Alt earned his doctorate in Forest Resources Science from West Virginia University. Additionally, he earned a Master of Science Degree in Wildlife Management from Penn State University, a Bachelor's Degree in Wildlife Science from Utah State University and an Associate's Degree in Wildlife Technology from Penn State University's DuBois Campus.

Dr. Alt is a freelance nature photographer and lecturer. During his free time, he leads natural history and photographic tours in Canada, Alaska, the western United States and Africa. He has narrated and hosted an award-winning video documentary, and presented more than 1,000 lectures on bear, deer and other wildlife management topics.

Dr. Alt has received numerous honors and awards recognizing his professional achievements. Among the awards are an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from Wilkes University; Pennsylvania Wildlife Federation's Pennsylvania Outstanding Conservation Professional; an Alumni Fellow Award from the Penn State University Alumni Association; the Pennsylvania Forestry Association's Roe S. Cochran Award for natural resource education; the Pennsylvania Wildlife Federation's and Audubon Pennsylvania's first-ever Lenny Green/Inky Moore Conservation Educator Award, which was sponsored by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission; a Northeast Environmental Partnership Award from the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, for his efforts to conserve and protect the environment; Outdoor Life magazine's Public Service Conservation Award for his work in deer management; and Safari Club International's Conservation Award, the highest recognition an individual can receive from SCI for service in the field of wildlife conservation and hunters' rights.

In 2003, Dr. Alt was awarded the Quality Deer Management Association's Professional Deer Manager of the Year Award, which recognizes the professional biologist or manager who, in their position, has done the most to promote the principles and practices of quality deer management.

Dr. Alt is a member of The Wildlife Society, the American Society of Mammalogists, the International Association for Bear Research and Management, the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association, and the Northeast Deer Technical Committee.