January 27, 2023

Maine Wardens and Fish & Wildlife to Cut Budgets

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Some appear to be “alarmed” that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) commissioner is proposing a budget that will cut Warden Service (MWS) employees, reduce mileage allotments, as well as the reduction of other positions within the Fish and Wildlife department. I see this as a good thing.

At least some people think that throwing money at anything makes it better. I’m not one of them. While the potential exists that these cuts could be an advantage to better management and administration at MDIFW and the MWS, there appears to be one thing lacking that would have gone a long way in generating public support for a cut or an increase – a deep forensic audit of the departments in question so that the public is readily made aware of where every penny of revenue comes from and specifically where all expenses go.

It was suggested in an article by George Smith, an outdoor writer and political activist, that the cuts to the Warden Service was some kind of retribution to the controversial actions of an undercover agent in northern Maine awhile back. Perhaps that is the only reason that Gov. LePage told Commissioner Woodcock to cut the MWS budget. It appears from information provided, that one of those positions that would be cut is in northern Maine.

Is this really a bad thing? It depends on how you look at it. Perhaps the governor feels that if the MWS has the time and resources to send an agent undercover, to carry out tactics that go far beyond anything that should be considered ethical, then maybe the MWS has too much time, too many resources, the results offering little but controversy and a disturbed public. Heroes?

Within the MDIFW, I see cuts as a good thing. At age 65, having hunted and fished since I was about old enough to walk, I have seen many changes to the landscape and the administering of the MDIFW and MWS. Especially in the past couple of decades, I have watched as hunting opportunities for deer have steadily declined in many locations in Maine. Listening to the echo-chamber of fake global warming is doing nothing to help the situation. In most recent times, moose hunting opportunities have declined significantly. And, what is being done to mitigate these losses? Maybe the revenue to MDIFW isn’t being appropriated in the best way to seal up a leaky ship.

This is where some think that more money is needed to throw at the problem. Perhaps not. Perhaps what is really needed is a restructuring of the MDIFW. Along with that restructuring, we might like to see real changes in deer and moose management. It only makes sense that in order to keep the revenue stream flowing, you have to keep the license buyers happy. Forcing the general public to pay for sportsman’s activities would only exacerbate the problems that exist now, i.e. the lack of actual deer and moose management. With a public paying for hunting, trapping and fishing opportunities, it won’t take long before they will be demanding and end to these activities in favor of protecting coyotes, counting bats, growing more loons that will continue killing the fisheries – and let’s not forget those infamous piping plovers.

Some might say that MDIFW is doing their managerial jobs with the ongoing studies of moose and deer. I doubt it. Such studies end up being mostly money grabbing events that keeps employees working. As anyone with any sense at all should realize by now, that finding solutions to problems dries up the income flow.

The end of the world isn’t going to come because the governor is asking the MDIFW and the MWS to makes some cuts, as all government agencies should be making cuts. I’ve had to pay more in taxes in the past 8 years anyway, while not seeing my income go about one red cent. I would, therefore, expect state and federal governments to do some cutting of their own. I would, however, would have liked to see that audit, along with an opportunity for public comment, before the budget was proposed.

But that’s NEVER going to happen. So we will keep on wishing in one hand and piling garbage in the other and see which one fills up first.

Regardless of what you might think about this whole issue, one thing is certain. Nothing will change.