QDMA and NDA are joining forces for deer conservation.
In arguably the biggest news to hit the hunting world in quite a while, the National Deer Alliance and the Quality Deer Management Association are merging into one big, unified organization with an emphasis on deer conservation.
The news was announced on both the NDA and QDMA's websites. There have long been rumblings of such an alliance, but the press releases finally confirm what should be positive news for hunters and deer conservation efforts across the United States.
The new unified organization will get a new name that has yet to be decided, and it will use QDMA's iconic deer logo. Although there is the possibility of them updating it to reflect the merger.
According to the announcement, NDA President and CEO Nick Pinizzotto is now the CEO of the new, unified organization. The official news release states a new strategic planning process will begin to re-structure things before fall 2020 and the start of most major hunting seasons.
The current plan is for all work in unifying both organizations to be completed before the end of the year. Pinizzotto said current events have been a challenge for the organization, but this merger will make things easier.
"While there's no question the crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic has hit many organizations hard, we are turning the tables by using the situation, combined with the many challenges deer and hunters are facing, as an opportunity to become laser focused on delivering a mission that serves deer, hunters and industry effectively and efficiently," Pinizzotto said in the press release.
QDMA has been around since the late 1980s and has had a heavy focus on education and research regarding whitetail deer conservation. While the NDA also had a focus on conservation of whitetail deer, they had a slightly broader scope also encompassing mule deer, blacktails, coues and the endangered Florida Key deer.
The organizations further explained things in an effort to clear up some burning questions hunters will no doubt have about the merger, most notably the future of QDMA's many local branches. Fortunately, it seems as though hunters have nothing to worry about; the new organization will keep that structure in place. Some folks may be concerned about the future of other organizations in the alliance, but the page says there is nothing to fear.
"There will be no intrusion upon the missions of Mule Deer Foundation or Whitetail Unlimited, and we see no reason the Alliance can't continue, particularly when it comes to policy and advocacy," the page's answer reads.
The page notes that a combination of resources will allow the larger organization to be more fiscally responsible in uncertain financial times. It will also help them avoid problems in duplicating efforts and allow them to define better goals for their conservation efforts.
While membership in NDA was previously free, the new combined organization will charge a fee in line with what QDMA has traditionally done. The organization says current paid memberships, including lifetime ones, will be honored in the merger.
In a Facebook post, QDMA used this to further explain:
Seizing an opportunity to work more effectively for deer during a challenging period in wildlife conservation, QDMA and the National Deer Alliance today reveal a joint venture that unifies their two organizations into what will soon become a new super-group in deer conservation. The venture will combine the strengths, resources and core initiatives of QDMA and NDA into a single, modernized outfit able to serve deer, hunters and the industry more effectively at a time when the need is greatest.
The new organization may also see the elimination of QDMA's physical headquarters in Georgia. The Q&A section notes that NDA is already run completely remote and QDMA is mostly remote. Only about a dozen staff work in the building now.
"Our business focus will be on effective use of our funding, and the decision of whether or not to maintain a physical headquarters is currently being evaluated," the page reads. "In the long-term, our members can expect a more modern approach to achieving our mission, and part of that is directing as many dollars toward our mission as possible."
The future of QDMA's "Quality Whitetails" magazine will also be up for strategic review due to the costs of publication and postage for sending it out to members. The magazine was already reduced to publishing four issues a year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Overall, it should be good news for deer hunters at a time where we have seemingly few good headlines to get excited about. Officials on both sides seemed excited by the possibilities.
"The timing couldn't be better," NDA Board Chairman Sam Burgeson said. "With the challenges facing deer, deer conservation and the sport of deer hunting today, this merger provides exciting and unique opportunities to bring together our resources and strengthen our ability to carry out our mission. Our board has the upmost confidence in Nick's ability to lead us through this process and into the future."
Those thoughts were echoed by QDMA Board Chairman Rick Dahl.
"President Ronald Regan once said, 'There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don't care who gets credit,'" Dahl said. "These two organizations working hand-in-glove was envisioned several years ago. Today, the boards and key staff of both entities simply wanted to do the right thing for deer and didn't care who got credit for it, so they have accomplished something truly amazing in unifying these organizations."
We will keep an eye on this story as it develops and bring you more about the merger when it officially occurs.