June 18, 2019

There’s More To Managing Game Than Technology

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David Trahan, executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, writes a very interesting and compelling article that is published in the Kennebec Journal and is found at CentralMaine.com.

In his article he suggests how the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) can use their new technology of digital tagging of game to better manage turkeys. He brings out many good points, explaining that the management of wild turkeys is mostly a best-guess monstrosity of hoping and wishing. “IF&W describes their turkey management goals as very conservative and based on best-guess population estimates.”

“As these population attributes are being refined, it is time for the department to develop a more flexible and adaptive harvest management system for wild turkeys.”

What Trahan is proactively suggesting is that there are far more turkeys that are suffering and dying from disease and starvation each year that instead of going to waste should be made available for resource harvest and utilization. In other words, it’s time to increase the bag limits and lengths of season to accomplish this task and that MDIFW can use the “technology” to accurately monitor the harvest of turkeys in Wildlife Management Districts (WMD) and close the season when harvest goals have been reached. This is common sense game management…that is when managers have a better than “best-guess management goals.”

Trahan writes: “With the new tagging technology and the department’s long-established wildlife management units, IF&W should be able to heavily crop over-abundant populations while also protecting others. And they can monitor the progress of turkey harvests on a daily basis, if they so desire.”

He also suggests the following management model: “In practice, IF&W would issue fall turkey tags based on harvest quotas for each district. Hunters would be capped at eight birds a year — two male birds in the spring and six turkeys of either sex in the fall. There would also be a provision for the department to exceed this individual limit if it were not achieving adequate harvesting rates.”

The only question I might have is are there enough turkey hunters, even with the new bag limits, to accomplish the goals of responsible turkey management.?

I had one reader answer my question this way: “Maybe you don’t need as many hunters if the bag limit is increased.  A greater bag limit may increase the number of hunters both residents and non-residents, Also – manage it like the special deer hunt – after ya got your deer you can go get another deer permit.”

Maybe. Maybe not! However, the management model suggested would be difficult to abuse and end up with terrible results that might be a danger to the turkeys themselves. If MDIFW was closely monitoring the harvest of turkeys in all the WMDs, keeping a close eye on harvest goals per WMD, along with the legal flexibility to modify seasons and bag limits as necessary to remain within practical, and sensible, scientific turkey management, what could go wrong?

Thank you David and SAM’s suggestions for improving on Maine’s turkey management and harvest goals.

Surely something positive must be done.

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