July 22, 2018

Maine’s “Coded” Moose Management Messages

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The Bangor Daily News printed an article about the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) need to reduce either the moose population, the tick population, or both. Even though MDIFW has announced that the number of moose is proportionate to the number of ticks, one would think the simplest approach – that is one that can be most easily regulated by management – would be to reduce the number of moose, even if only temporary until managers and researchers can explore ways of killing the winter ticks that are killing the moose.

Instead, we are getting odd, coded messages which leave some of us scratching our heads. I admit it doesn’t necessarily take all that much to cause me to scratch my head but consider these words taken from the Bangor article that were placed in “quotations” by the author: “One thing that’s likely to happen in western Maine, in one way or another, is that there’s going to be less moose than people have seen over the years,” Kantar said. “That’s either going to be a byproduct of ticks, or perhaps there will be some management actions we can take as well to try to reduce the parasite issue that we’ve been seeing there.”

We are being told that there will be fewer moose “than people have seen over the years.” Okay, we got that…sort of. With these cryptic messages being published throughout the media about focusing on “healthy” game instead of the number of game, is this another way of alerting Maine people that this shift in management strategy will result in fewer game animals across all species?

We are being told that this result of fewer moose being seen is going to happen one of two ways – either winter ticks are going to kill the moose off or managers are going to take “actions we can take as well to try to reduce the parasite issue.” [emphasis added]

I can read this statement and formulate some speculations, but what exactly is MDIFW trying to say? First of all, if there are going to be fewer moose, by this statement are we to believe the MDIFW only plans to let the ticks continue to do the work managers should be doing to reduce the populations to levels that will mitigate the bulk of the winter tick problem? And what is “some management actions we can take” to reduce the parasite issue? Is MDIFW even considering “some management actions” that include letting moose lottery winners “reduce the parasite issue?” When MDIFW indicates they might “TRY” some actions to reduce winter ticks, it’s easy to assume that doesn’t include issuing more permits to kill moose. What does it then mean? Hope and pray that global warming will go away? Or maybe that sea levels with rise so high that the ocean drives all the moose so far north there are none left to manage. Geez!

MDIFW tells us in another Bangor News article that there’s little managers can do about reducing the bear populations because the Legislature has that locked up. I don’t think this is the case with moose. Isn’t it simply a matter of determining how many moose permits should be issued for each of the Wildlife Management Areas to accomplish moose management goals? If so, and any one area needs a reduction in moose numbers, then MDIFW should issue the appropriate number of permits. What’s the problem?

I can also speculate that the reason for such “coded” messages is that there exists a fear of environmentalist’s retaliation should MDIFW simply announce they intend to kill more moose through permit lottery in order to achieve a “healthier” moose herd.

As the old saying goes, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”

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