January 29, 2023

A Bill Proposal to Eliminate a Turkey Permit Fee

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Evidently turkey hunting in Maine is a dead duck. Or maybe it’s too expensive. Maybe having to travel as many as 30 miles to be a law-abiding citizen to register your turkey, is prohibitive. Maybe I should have called it something other than a dead duck. There’s a proposed bill that will eliminate the permit and tagging fees, increase bag limits and allow Online and telephone tagging.

Maybe those agog about more and easier turkey killing should keep in mind that in a few more years the only hunting left in Maine might be turkeys and bears and replacing deer and moose will be wild hogs and opossum. What puzzles me though is that deer can’t grow in northern and western Maine because deer are “at the northern fringe of their habitat, but I guess New Brunswick is south of Maine? And moose are dying because of global warming, causing ticks that kill moose. So, the confusing part is that if the climate is warming, then the “northern fringe” of the deer habit should be moving to the north, allowing more deer to flourish and moose will eventually not be found in Maine’s warm climate. Right? Let’s adjust those mirrors and apply smoke in different places to see if we can remove all doubt.

But I don’t want to get off the subject. According to reports there were only 16,000 licensed turkey hunters last year in Maine. At $20 a pop that’s $320,000 dollars in revenue for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW). One might think (rationally) that with 200,000 deer hunters more than 16,000 would want to turkey hunt and that would mean more from the cash cow to fatten up the coffers. Rational thinking belongs with the wild hogs.

In one article I read, MDIFW Commissioner Woodcock told the Joint Standing Committee he didn’t want to lose that turkey hunting license revenue, if the proposal passed to eliminate the license fees. If they lose the revenue, is the incentive gone to do anything about growing more turkey hunters, or even managing turkeys at all? If it’s not a “game species” anymore, what is it? Wild hog hunting is sounding better all the time.

Maine’s Wildlife Division Director said, “The Department is opposed to this bill because it does not allow us to manage Maine’s wild turkey population based on biological principles and sound science.” Really?

So let’s see. One report says that too many turkeys have cost one apple farmer $250,000 in damages a year. That’s no small potatoes apples! But, all we hear about is that MDIFW must consider the social demands and toleration levels before they can make decisions. What to do, what to do? Too bad that apple farmers are a minority group. Maybe he should team up with the Humane Society of the United States. There is a member on one of MDIFW’s boards helping to make decisions – based, of course, on social demands. No, wait. That’s right. She wants to stop all hunting…along with human existence. Looks like the apple farmer is all out of luck. She might even insist apple growing stop due to the rights of worms and maggots.

And, we can’t disregard the honey-hole of information created in the recent survey that will justify just about any issue with MDIFW. “overall Maine’s public is very satisfied with the management and population levels of Maine’s Big Game species.” But what about turkeys? Time to begin some education seminars on how to effectively hunt wild pigs. I’d suggest someone start up a helicopter service for shooting pigs but Maine doesn’t have many open fields like Texas.

In the latest report to the Maine Legislature about the status of deer management in Maine, the report is a doozie! We read several times similar claims to self-importance, “95% of landowners rated the Department’s ability to manage deer as fair to excellent.” WOW! That’s a big number. But look closer. This statement could just as easily have read, “100% of landowners rated the Department’s ability to manage deer (turkeys) as piss poor to excellent. Fair is but one notch above piss-poor.

Smoke and Mirrors it appears.

But then one, or at least a whiner like me, has to ask if MDIFW really gives two rats’ stomach tumors about how many turkeys there are, or are they more interested in just the money? After all, the turkey harvest results for the Spring and Fall 2016 hunts haven’t been published on the website yet….or deer…or bear….or moose. Alas! So busy “managing” turkeys?

We may need to protect the turkey for the only remaining “Big Game” hunt for Maine. Supplement that with an extended season on coyotes and wild pigs and Maine’s hunters will be sitting in fat city.

America is great again?