October 22, 2019

Maine’s Deer Management Lost in Paper Work Fraud

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Yesterday I wrote an article and published it on this website about how in Maine’s effort to sell more deer hunting licenses, it appeared the new deer biologist, and I suppose all of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), were stretching the facts just a little bit in order to achieve their financial goals. In this article I stated that I would have to look into how reality on the ground was measuring up to Maine’s Deer Management Plan and Maine’s Game Plan for Deer. I did a bit of digging, with a bit of help from my friends, and here’s some of what I have come up with.

Recall, if you will, that Kyle Ravana, Maine’s new deer biologist, was bragging that the deer population in Maine was guesstimated at around 203,000 and that was “almost” back to the deer population levels before those two back to back winters which have certainly been a terrific scape goat for MDIFW……well, at least as it concerns whitetail deer.

In addition to the boasting of 203,000 deer, the same guesstimate of what this year’s projected deer harvest will be – 25,000-26,000 – both of these numbers are being bandied around as if they were some major accomplishment, unachievable by mankind.

So, how does a deer population of 203,000 (statewide) and a harvest of 25,000-26,000 stack up against the long term goals of official deer management plans that MDIFW spent our license fees to accomplish?

The MDIFW has a Deer Management System put in place in 2007. In addition, the Maine Legislature passed LD823 – Resolve, To Create an Effective Deer Habitat Enhancement and Coyote Control Program . From that bill a deer task force was created in order to figure out what was going on with the deer herd. The recommendations/report was sent to the Joint Standing Committee. You can read the report by following this link.

If appears to me that many of the long term goals for deer management found in Maine’s Deer Management System and the recommendations of the Deer Task Force, are in agreement. Take a gander at the table below.(You may need to click on the image to enlarge it for better reading.)

deerpopulationtable

The numbers of notice that pertain to this discussion are the bottom line figures of what the MDIFW/Deer Task Force would like to see by the year 2030 for deer population numbers statewide and harvest quotas statewide. Population = 383,550 and Harvest = 46,650. It kind of makes the current 203,000 number pitiful doesn’t it? Along with 25,000-26,000 harvest. Especially since the overall trend over the past few decades has been a reduction in deer population, not an increase.

Can Maine achieve those numbers? Not unless Maine gets 17 years of back to back mild winters.

I also wanted to know how these numbers would align with the recently crafted Maine’s Game Plan for Deer. Well, there isn’t much to offer here. The Game Plan is comprised of five elements, one of which addresses deer population. The only thing written about Element #2, as far as “strategies” go is this: “refine our current deer population model.” Everything else is mostly propaganda.

In other words, what “refine our current deer population model” means is to take the 383,550 wishful thinking deer population goal and shrink it down into something that fits the actual management strategies currently being used in order to not cause any embarrassment.

Just in the short term here, let’s take a look at the waste of time, energy and resources put toward accomplishing little. MDIFW crafted (required by law) a Deer Management System – 186 pages. A Task Force was formed (volunteer so let’s factor that in and feel real sorry their efforts were in vein) and a report produced to the MDIFW Joint Standing Committee – 174 pages. MDIFW put together a very attractive Maine’s Game Plan for Deer – 34 pages. For the most part, much of it is wasted paper and put together much as all government crap is put together, i.e. to satisfy a legal requirement and then it is filed away someplace and never referred to again unless somebody raises a stink about it and or it fits some political agenda and/or narrative.

That’s our license fee money at work in case you forgot.

So why even bother to do it? No seriously. Wouldn’t it be a better idea to have about six people, excluding any and all environmentalist morons, sit down over coffee and scribble on the back of a couple of business cards what a realistic deer population ought to look like and a harvest goal to match? It would be at least as effective.

If deer hunters go back and read the Maine’s Game Plan for Deer, that gorgeous piece of pictures and feel good stuff, after nearly two years of its existent, it’s beginning to seriously look more like an elegant piece of propaganda than anything with any back bone.

And now with 4 mild winters in a row, it seems those who have ignored all of these plans are lining up to take credit for a whopping deer population that doesn’t even come close to working it’s way toward that magical 383,550. So let’s dumb down the system, “redefine” population models and set deer population goals at 200,000. Then if MDIFW is fortunate enough to get 17 years in a row of mild winters, they will really look like heroes. WOW!

MDIFW needs to seriously get to work on this issue and stop putting all resources and monies into bear studies, counting loons, butterflies and ruby-throated crooplepoops. Counting deer from a helicopter might help but increasing the number of “Any-Deer” permits, prematurely, in zones that are showing some signs of getting bigger, isn’t going to help.

As much as I or anyone else wants to bitch and complain about MDIFW’s deer management, doing the same old thing, knowing severe winters are coming again – this is Maine after all – is insanity. Do I have to remind you that insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over hoping for a different result?

Here’s a novel thought. Suppose Maine actually did have 383,550 statewide population of deer…..or more. After all, I believe these numbers are based on ideals (that is conceived through listening to insurance companies and animal rights groups) and certainly, in most WMDs, it is well below carrying capacity. With that healthy a population, what then would happen to the deer WHEN another back to back series of bad winters comes along? Combine that with predator control and it might not hurt so bad.

For those who might not know and haven’t figured it out yet, to get close to 400,000 deer statewide, would mean changing something.

Think, think, THINK!

Hint: Maine doesn’t need another task force or another legislative, bureaucratic, horse pucky, nothingness! We just need to get to work!

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