September 23, 2017

Maine’s Nuisance Wild Turkeys

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Roll the film! Quiet on the set. Action! The scene begins with a line of people getting ready to board the colorfully decorated 15-passenger van headed out on a wildlife tour. The passengers are obvious city folks – dressed like city folks and acting like city folks – after all who would pay money to go “view” wildlife from a 15-passenger van and 14 other smelly people? I rest my case.

The first stop? Timberlake’s Apple Orchard in Turner…..cut! cut! cut! What to hell is this? The customers are not happy. They have to interest in seeing wild turkeys destroying an apple orchard. And perhaps that is one of the reasons that not enough noise is being made about the wild turkey nuisances that, in the case of the Timberlake’s, is costing them in excess of $1 million in lost produce each year.

It’s the city dwellers, the “Environmentalists” that instill fear in what the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) does. No, no, no. Science no longer dictates the necessities of wildlife management. It’s which group with the most money and the loudest voices who get the oil for the squeaky wheel. Environmentalists don’t care about wild turkeys nor do they care that some family in Turner, Maine is using up THEIR environment and habitat to produce food. After all, to them food is found in a grocery store.

MDIFW caves to the Environmentalists when they demand that the state grow more moose so that city dwellers, who have no skin in the game, can board one of those 15-passenger gas guzzlers (carbon producers – wink, wink) and sip their lattes and hope to gawk out the window and see a moose beside the road mucking themselves up to get out of the torment of the black flies and mosquitoes – even at the expense of increased wildlife diseases and parasites. But we don’t talk about that stuff because that isn’t what animal lovers do.

It appears that now the introduction of wild turkeys back into Maine was such a resounding success (in the eye of the beholder) that the animal has reached a point that it has become a nuisance. Just the simple example of one business losing $1 million in produce a year to turkeys, should be reason enough to start killing turkeys. Environmentalists, who by the way have infiltrated every crevasse of government agencies, including fish and wildlife departments, are probably glad the Timberlakes are losing money and turkeys are an animal, thus all animals should be protected and hunting stopped. Business and food growing is bad to the Environmentalist. So, there you have it.

But it appears that MDIFW, even with new authority to increase bag limits and lengthen hunting seasons on turkeys, doesn’t seem much interested in doing something about the nuisance. I wonder if the public tolerance part of the equation is losing its bite. Where once the ONLY way that something like turkey reintroduction could work is if the public was in support and how long turkeys remained depended on how long that support continued. It appears the support is dwindling faster than a stack of pancakes at Dysarts. If MDIFW waits too long to act, it may be too late.

There have been some changes to the hunting seasons, bag limits and fees charged but that doesn’t seem to have had any effect on the growth of wild turkeys or the number of the critters being harvested. According to George Smith, outdoor writer and political activist, in 2014 his proposed legislation, which passed with amendments, created some changes and gave MDIFW authority and flexibility to mitigate the problem: “The final bill in 2014 reduced the turkey hunting permit to $20 for both residents and nonresidents, with no additional fee for a second tom in the spring, expanded the fall season to the entire month of October and added a second turkey of either sex to the fall bag limit, reduced the tagging fee from $5 to $2 for each turkey (with all of the fee going to the tagging agent), extended the spring season to all-day, and authorized all-day hunting for Youth Day.”

Smith said that even these changes has not solved the turkey problem. Probably a bit understated.

In 2013, before the new legislation described above was enacted, the combined wild turkey harvest for both Spring and Fall hunts was 8,718. Those totals dropped to 7,554 for 2014 and essentially remained unchanged for 2015 adding up to 7,570 birds harvested.

2016 harvest data remains incomplete. The Spring harvest for 2016 was 5,154 turkeys, which when compared with previous years is below the average.

So, yes! Clearly the changes have done nothing to increase the wild turkey harvest, thus reducing the population. So what’ll it be? Is Maine going to fall in line with far too many other states that sit on their hands, fearful of the repercussions from the Environmentalists and allow Maine businesses to go under because of a damned animal? Time will tell but there may not be that much time left.

It would seem to me that given the implementation of more liberal turkey hunting guidelines and showing no results to reducing the wild turkey population, that’s it’s time MDIFW began looking at the turkey as a nuisance and a problem, allowing for harvesting the birds without any special permit or tagging requirement with fees. Set daily bag limits like those of grouse and monitor the situation. If it gets to a point that turkeys begin reaching low levels, adjust the seasons and bag limits to accommodate.

To hell with the Environmentalists. Apple growers and other private farms and business don’t need to be run out of town because perverts want to protect a bird that doesn’t need protection.

Just more of the same nonsense.

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