December 17, 2017

Wildlife Management Communication by Keeping Your Mouth Shut?

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Maine is in the midst of what could be described as the throes of drafting 15-year management plans for deer, bear, moose and turkey. There are no draft plans yet available, so all I have been able to get are a minuscule sampling of what is being discussed for plan consideration.

In what I have read about many of the four plans, it seems that at least one of the goals is calling for increased communication and education of the public about each species. It seems that for the duration of time that I have been writing about game management efforts in Maine, I have heard that drumbeat incessantly. Has there been improved communication and education with the public on what the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) is doing to responsibly manage the game species they are mandated by the Legislature to do? I guess that is difficult to answer because the perceived result is individually value-weighted. Also consider, that the Maine taxpayer laid out a sizeable amount of coin so that MDIFW could pay an “outside” entity to devise a survey that would give MDIFW favorable results for their work- wink, wink. All of Maine loves MDIFW. Odd, I might say.

So, let’s consider.

I had written earlier how that it seems everyone loves Bullwinkle, but nobody wants to discuss winter ticks but as something bugging (sorry) the life out of moose. It therefore seemed understandable that when MDIFW undertook a moose study, there was not a lack of media coverage – very little as far as preliminary findings, but photos of all the Bullwinkles to impress the public. So let me give credit where credit is do, as far as exposing to the public its effort to study moose.

I wonder how many people know that as part of the moose study, aerial counts of moose populations were done, as well as counts of deer? And deer have also been collared and are being studied, I guess. Who might suspect? Perhaps Bullwinkle is just that much bigger an icon and photographs more easily than a deer. I dunno. Is there more money and job security in looking out for Bullwinkle?

The public is quickly notified about piping plovers, bats, loons, bald eagles, cormorants, puffins and ruby-throated-croople-poops but isn’t it a disproportionate media coverage (press releases, Tweets, etc.) between these critters and deer? Or it’s my imagination. However, when one considers the trillions of dollars over the many decades that Maine has enjoyed in direct and indirect revenue from exploiting the whitetail deer, what the MDIFW is doing to ensure its sustainability, we hear very little about. Odd, I would say.

It takes MDIFW months to even get around to publishing information about game harvests – deer are no exception. No, not everyone is as anal as I am, wanting every last detail of data collected from the harvest, but the general public wants to be told what the number of deer, bear, and moose taken without waiting until the following Summer, or later, to get it. An “unofficial” number within 2 weeks of the end of general rifle season on deer would go a long, long way toward improving PR with the people, in particular the hunters. Perhaps MDIFW doesn’t care about who pays their wages? Odd, I would say.

I have been reading about some of the proposed plans for bear management, where it is being suggested that there needs to be a way to increase the number of bear hunters and to improve education of the public about bears, bear management and the need for the implementation of hunting and trapping as a viable means of population control. All of this, and yet, the latest bear hunting season commenced before MDIFW had released to the public the previous year’s harvest information. Odd, I would say.

Maybe the employees at MDIFW are that much more important than those of us coughing up the big bucks (dollars) so they can keep their jobs. I learned at a very young age that if you wanted to keep your job, you had to make sure you kept those in power over you happy. I suppose that has been lost along with most everything else that was once considered normal. Odd, I would say.

So, some might be asking, what prompted this rant? Well, let me tell you. This morning I received information from a colleague from New Brunswick, Canada. He sent a link to a news article about how New Brunswick, along with Maine, the University of Maine and JD Irving Co. were undertaking a deer study in which deer are being collared in locations in New Brunswick and Maine. If you’re interested in the purpose of the study, click on the link above.

Otherwise, this is the kind of stuff that drives me crazy. We read about how MDIFW and the “committee” working on game plans want to improve communication and education, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah and I have to find out through a member of the public in Canada about Maine’s involvement with another deer study. WHAT THE HELL IS THE BIG SECRET? And, odd, I would say.

Once again today, in reading George Smith’s latest article about the plans and proposals for turkey management in Maine, the head of the Maine Professional Guides Association said, “…need for fact sheets on turkeys and other big game animals, and improved communications about them with hunters, landowners, and the public.” Hasn’t this become a very common theme? Odd, I’d say…especially when you consider that there appears to be nothing accomplished to resolve this problem. Why is that? Maybe it’s perceived by MDIFW as not a problem for them at all. Odd, I would say.

Which brings me back to my original comments about how these 15-year game management plans are a bunch of bureaucratic nonsense being carried out for the single purpose of being eligible for federal money – i.e. blackmail.

I feel badly for the members of the committees working on these plans, that if they don’t know it now, will someday discover, they wasted their time – used, abused and cast aside for personal and financial gain.

There is one thing for certain. Anytime you hear that another committee has been created to study this or study that, it is a definite indication nothing will ever be done or will get resolved from the work. That’s what government is all about. And that ain’t “ODD” at all. Just fact.

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