At a regional Sitka black-tailed deer summit on Prince of Wales Island last week, the Mule Deer Foundation (MDF) announced that Jim Baichtal has joined the organization as its Alaska regional coordinator. Jim recently retired from a 40-year career with the US Forest Service (USFS), the last 32 years of that work in Southeast Alaska; he is well regarded for his volunteer efforts with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and university researchers studying the Sitka black-tailed deer. Baichtal and MDF Conservation Director Steve Belinda joined partners at the three-day summit to discuss future conservation and habitat management opportunities to enhance deer populations in Southeast Alaska (specifically, the Unit 2 of AFG). During the week, MDF also hosted three community events in Sitka, Ketchikan and Craig to help rebuild member and chapter engagement in the region.
“The Mule Deer Foundation looks forward to working with our partners in Southeast Alaska on projects that will improve Sitka black-tailed deer habitat,” said Belinda. “Jim Baichtal has a long history in this area: he knows the people, the habitat and understands what the deer need. He will be a great resource as we increase our commitment to our mission – to ensure the conservation of mule deer, black-tailed deer, and their habitat.”
Baichtal and Belinda were speakers at the 2022 Deer Summit hosted at the Craig Tribal Hall in Craig, Alaska, October 13-15, which was held to bring together locals, agency staff and other stakeholders. with knowledge to discuss the current situation of black-tailed animals. deer on Prince of Wales Island. In the opening session, Baichtal presented information on declines in Sitka black-tailed deer due to habitat loss of old-growth and young-growth stands at stem exclusion, as well as an overview of his experiences with the research. of deer and his direct observations of hunting and working with deer for nearly four decades. Belinda explained the role that MDF intends to play in habitat improvements using End Results Management contracting authority and how MDF’s experience in other USFS regions can help with the situation in Southeast Alaska. Other speakers at the summit presented the results of the research, described the changes that have been observed on the island, and outlined opportunities to address identified habitat, predation, and regulated harvest issues. Community members were also on hand to provide local native and non-native perspectives on the social, cultural, economic, and political factors that influence deer populations.
Baichtal’s role in MDF’s work in Alaska will be invaluable in increasing the organization’s presence in the region. For nearly 25 years, Jim has volunteered for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and university researchers studying Sitka black-tailed deer, helping researchers monitor winter mortality, retrieve radio collars, collect pellets feces for DNA population analysis and assessing deer habitat. Realizing the need for accurate information on the Sitka Black-tailed Deer, Jim, Dr. Sophie Gilbert, and Dr. Todd Brinkman created the Sitka Black-Tailed Deer Coalition to raise awareness and support research. By joining the Mule Deer Foundation as Alaska Regional Coordinator, Jim will support MDF’s habitat work and grassroots efforts within Alaska. He will be the key contact for MDF associations in Alaska, working with federal, state, and tribal agencies, as well as the public to improve Sitka black-tailed deer habitat, raise funds for conservation work, and develop chapters and membership. In alaska.
“I am truly excited about this opportunity to work with MDF to give back to an animal that has been my passion for decades and now needs help in my home in Southeast Alaska,” Baichtal concluded.
The Mule Deer Foundation is the only conservation group in North America dedicated to restoring, enhancing and protecting mule deer and black-tailed deer and their habitat, with a focus on science and program efficiency. MDF is a strong voice for hunters on issues of access policy, wildlife management, and conservation. MDF recognizes regulated hunting as a viable management component and is committed to the recruitment and retention of men, women and youth in shooting sports and conservation. Get involved in your state or become a member at www.muledeer.org or call (801) 973-3940.