April 7, 2020

Pennsylvania Bear Harvest Numbers

Pennsylvania officials released the bear harvest figures on Friday. 3,122 bears were taken this season compared to last years record year of 4,164. Those numbers break down this way. There were 79 bears taken during the first ever archery bear season, Nov. 15-16; 2,569 bears during the statewide 3-day season, Nov. 20-22; and 474 bears during the extended season, Nov. 27-Dec. 2, that was open in select areas of the state.

For more details including a breakdown of all the statistics, click here.

Tom Remington

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Connoisseurs Of Fine Wine or Who Knows What Bears Really Do

I was sent this cartoon quip from one of my readers named “Swampbuck”. If you were wondering what bears really do in the woods during hunting season, this might help to answer your question.

Bears Drinking Wine

Have a nice day and make sure you check over your shoulder a few times while out in the wilds.

Tom Remington

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Special Hunting Allocations

There is a bill proposed in the Maine Legislature sponsored by Rep. Cleary of Houlton and Rep. Fischer of Presque Isle. The bill also carries several other co-sponsors: Representative Jackson of Allagash, Representative Joy of Crystal, Senator Martin of Aroostook, Representative Pratt of Eddington, Senator Sherman of Aroostook, Representative Soctomah of the Passamaquoddy Tribe, Representative Sutherland of Chapman. This is the bill.

An Act To Permit Archery Hunters the Opportunity To Take an Additional Deer

Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:

Sec. 1. 12 MRSA §11403, sub-§2, ¶C, as enacted by PL 2003, c. 414, Pt. A, §2 and as affected by c. 614, §9, is amended to read:
C. If Notwithstanding section 11501, subsection 2, a person who takes a deer with bow and arrow during the special archery season on deer , that person is not precluded from further hunting for deer and may take an additional deer that year with a firearm during that year the regular firearm season on deer.
summary
This bill allows a person who takes a deer with a bow and arrow during the special archery season to take one additional deer with a firearm during the regular firearm deer hunting season.

With the exception of Rep. Pratt of Eddington and perhaps Rep. Soctomah of the Passamaquoddy Tribe, all sponsors of this bill are from the northern counties, mostly Aroostook. Perhaps this bill is a way for their constituents in the northern climes of Maine to find a way to be able to harvest more deer being that it is no secret that the northern Wildlife Management Districts aren’t teeming with deer. But is this the right approach?

I’m not a biologist so I can’t tell you what impact such a bill would have on northern Maine but I can put together an educated guess. Maine created an extended archery season awhile back for certain southern areas where deer populations are too high. In those areas, archers can take several deer should they opt to buy additional tags. This type of hunt is instituted as a means of reducing populations and not looking out for a special interest group.

The proposed bill to allow bow hunters to be able to take two deer is not a good bill. There is nothing in the bill that would designate specific WMDs nor does it give authority to the Commissioner to designated where extra tags could be alloted, so I have to assume the bill would be in effect statewide.

This opens up the old proverbial can of worms. First it sets precedence. If lawmakers can grant an extra tag to bow hunters then why not give one to muzzleloader hunters? Why not crossbow hunters? For that matter why don’t we extend the same privilege to all deer hunters no matter what their discipline is?

Second it goes against what is mandated by law that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife manage game to provide opportunities for everyone to hunt, fish and trap. It is the responsibility of our wildlife officials, in particular the commissioner of MDIFW to provide hunting opportunities for everyone and not cater to special interest groups.

Third, it begins putting into place another means by which the state can charge more money. Any time an extra hunting opportunity is created and in particular one that is done through application and lottery selection, like the moose hunt, while it may provide another means for MDIFW to generate income, it also prices Maine residents out of opportunities to hunt. Once again this goes against the function of MDIFW in providing for everyone.

If you examine the many states that do this, you’ll find some are out of control. It has become nothing more that a lottery machine for making money. Once fish and game figures out how much money they can make from the wealthy, while leaving the poor behind, it becomes a very bad scenario.

The extended archery hunts, as I said, are for the purpose of herd reduction. The reason it is done by bow and arrow is because these areas are in high density human population areas. The arrow is safer than the bullet.

To allow an extra tag for bow hunters is saying that Maine has a strong enough deer population statewide. If this is true, then to provide more hunting opportunity for everyone, MDIFW should do things like extend the hunting season and/or issue more Any-Deer permits.

Maine has done well over the past few years to bring back deer populations from the lows of the 70s and 80s. They have provided more hunting opportunities by giving hunters options to hunt by bow and arrow, rifle, crossbow and black powder. If science warrants, then wildlife officials should be working to provide more hunting opportunities for all hunters not specific hunting groups.

Tom Remington

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Wolf And Grizzly Bear Hunting Bill Sails Through Montana Senate Committee

Senate Bill 372(pdf) will set up hunting license fees and allow for a hunting season for gray wolves and grizzly bears, if and when the two species are ever removed from the Endangered Species list.

The bill by Sen. Joe Balyeat, R-Bozeman, drew no opposition in a Senate Fish and Game Committee hearing, and is backed by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. It now goes to the Senate floor for further debate.

“Will this solve the wolf problem? Unfortunately, no. … But I do believe it’s one piece of the puzzle to try to control their numbers,” Balyeat said.

Licenses would be issued by lottery. The bill sets fees for permit applications.

Wolf tags would cost $19 for residents and $350 for out-of-state hunters under the measure. Grizzly licenses are already included in state law, Smith said, and cost $50 for residents and $300 for nonresidents.

Tom Remington

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Unusual Wolf Attack On Deer??

I stumbled across this brief report from WLUC-TV6 website saying that officials found the remains of deer in the Sleepy Hollow area of Western Marquette County off of Wolf Lake Road. Michigan Department of Natural Resources say this attack is unusual because of its location saying wolves don’t generally frequent this part of the county. Officials explain the event due to the late start of winter and deer are migrating later than usual.

It couldn’t be because there are too many wolves in the Upper Peninsula and they are having to spread out to “unusual” places to find food? Nah!

Tom Remington

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More Black Bears Showing Up In Ohio

Wildlife biologists say each year a few more black bears arrive in Ohio and stick around. They migrate into northeast Ohio from Pennsylvania where a reported 15,000 bears live. Read more about it here.

Tom Remington

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North Dakota Natural Resources Committee Rejects Ban On Elk Ranching

Yesterday morning the North Dakota Senate Natural Resources Committee began debate on SB2254, a bill that would ban elk ranching and hunting on those ranches. The committee voted 7-0 to reject that bill saying any bill would infringe upon property rights. This is a big victory for all ranchers and Americans who value their rights. The bill will now go to the full Senate for a vote.

The biggest arguments against elk ranching and more in particular the practice of hunting on those ranches, deals with hunting ethics which is a personal view and difficult to force on anyone. Those opposed to hunting in enclosures seem to beat the drum loudly about the ethics issue.

“Blasting a captive (animal) inside a cage and calling it hunting is morally wrong,” said Shawn McKenna, executive director of the North Dakota Wildlife Federation.

“No one wants to come shoot animals in a cage,” said Shawn Schafer, of Turtle Lake, president of the North Dakota Deer Ranchers and a member of the state Board of Animal Health.

Here are some other random comments made during the debate from those opposed to ranch hunting.

“I’m just going to call it what it is, it’s killing in a cage. for a fee.”

“it’s been said the games we play reflect the kind of people we are. In my opinion no one should run a business in which people pay to kill pen big-game animals and call it hunting.”

Opponents even cited a recent survey that showed that almost three-quarters of North Dakotans opposed ranch hunting. What they didn’t report was that the survey didn’t ask North Dakota residents what they thought about property rights or what kind of impact the ban would have on individuals and the economy in general.

Those who spoke out against the ban focused mainly on rights issues and leaving ethics up to the individual. When an opponent of elk ranching claimed that Teddy Roosevelt would turn over in his grave if he knew people were hunting behind fences, one Senator replied this way.

Sen. Connie Triplett, D-Grand Forks, said if state lawmakers were to infringe on hunting rights, “I think Teddy Roosevelt would crawl out of his grave and come get us.”

Others spoke out to defend their businesses.

“No, we do not tie our deer to a tree or a fence post,” said Vance Tomlinson, a deer rancher near Max.

Tomlinson said game farms particularly benefit the handicapped and elderly who otherwise would not be able to hunt. “Special interest groups are trying to make us out to be criminals,” he said.

Ernie Mau, president of the North Dakota Elk Growers Association, said it would be a “slap in the face” for the state to take away a business he started nearly two decades ago.

“If you don’t like ‘high fence’ hunting, you don’t have to come or even drive by the ranch,” he said.

I will repeat what I have said all along. Ethics is a personal perception and something that shouldn’t be legislated. If hunting groups feel that ranch hunting is an unethical practice, they should focus their time, money and energy into an education program. For those who worry about the image of hunting being tarnished in some way by this form of hunting, then a program to educate hunters and particularly young hunters about ethics might just be in order.

All too often opponents of ranch hunting describe all enclosed ranches in the same way. They describe them in a way that paints a picture of ranchers tying animals up to a post or putting them in a cage and letting someone walk up and shoot the animal. This is a very unfair and an inaccurate description. If hunters presented to the general population a better balanced and accurate approach, they could accomplish far more in preserving their heritage and reputation than they are doing by standing up in front of Senate committee hearings claiming things that simply aren’t true and presenting themselves as “Big Brother”.

The bottom line is this. Elk farmers have their rights as Americans and property owners. Real sound science has yet to prove that a well run and regulated elk industry poses any threat to the wild population of elk. Ethical standards should be left up to the individual and not legislated.

The elk rancher that is serious about protecting his/her industry better be working very hard to ensure that it is run in the safest manner, following all the guidelines for disease control, etc. If not, his future will be short. Hunters should protect their heritage by presenting facts, meaning the truths about game ranches on a case by case basis, while at the same time educating other hunters and prospective hunters about why fair chase is good for all.

I believe the North Dakota Senate Natural Resources Committee, got it right. Hopefully the full Senate will as well.

Tom Remington

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Do Wolves Reduce Deer Numbers Or Don't They?

I generally enjoy reading Eric Sharp’s articles in the Detroit Free Press. Today he has an article about the Feds de-listing the gray wolf and what impact that will have on Michigan, particularly farmers and hunters. Eric makes a statement that I find puzzling and makes me tend to think maybe he didn’t mean to say what he said or I’m reading it wrong. Here’s what he said.

Although wolves can make a dent in a local deer population, I’m amused by hunters who want to blame them for lower deer numbers across the UP. A Canadian study found that an adult wolf eats 15-17 deer a year. Lederle thinks that’s an underestimate and figures that wolves in the UP each eat about 40 whitetails.That means wolves take about 20,000 deer each year out of a herd estimated at about 350,000. Hunters in the UP kill about 40,000 deer, and vehicles kill another 6,000-7,000.

I think what he may have meant to say was he is amused that hunters want to blame their lack of success on wolves. If the figures that Eric uses are correct, then wolves do in fact reduce deer populations. He says they do. He cites a Canadian study that says wolves eat 15-17 deer a year. He even repeats what Pat Lederle, Michigan Department of Natural Resource’s wolf manager says that his estimates place wolf kills of deer at 40 a year.

General consensus places the wolf population in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula at 450. At 15-17 deer a year, that equates to around 7,200 dead deer. At the upper estimates, it’s around 18,000. Sharp says Michigan’s deer population is around 350,000, not all of which is located in the Upper Peninsula I would assume. He states hunters in the UP kill 40,000 deer a year.

Whether you want to estimate the deer kill by wolves at 7,200 or 18,000 it is technically a reduction. Disturbing though is that if we use the upper estimates of 18,000 deer a year killed by 450 wolves, how long before wolves kill more deer than hunters?

If all things remained relevant and wolves continued to grow at a yearly estimate of 15% per year (some estimates put that at 20%), it would take about 6 years or less for the wolf population to double. Now before you go getting red, I realize that according to wildlife biologists’ information that wolf populations should in theory stabilize at some point. What that point is I don’t know and I’m not sure they know for sure either.

My point is, that if in 6 years the wolf population should double, logic would tell us that deer kills in the UP by wolves would jump to around 36,000, nearly the same as hunters. If that held true, one could only assume that the hunter kill numbers of 40,000 would probably fall like a rock.

Michigan protects the wolf. Even though the U.S. Department of the Interior has removed the wolf from the Endangered Species list, the state is opting to leave the animal protected. There will be no game hunting of the wolf and no predator status. I wonder at what point the MDNR would change that status and opt for game hunting, if ever?

Wolves do reduce deer populations. How much they reduce it is estimated by those who claim to have the data to support their assumptions. I am not in a position to rebut that. I do agree with Sharp’s assertion that wolves make deer warier and changes their habits meaning hunters need to change theirs. I don’t think he meant wolves don’t reduce deer populations. They just make it more difficult for hunters to find them.

Tom Remington

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There Are More Hunters Than Some Believe

I know I get tired of the same old rhetoric, “There’s fewer hunters today than ever before”. While I’ll agree that I’d like to see more interest in hunting, particularly in the younger age bracket, I think efforts underway in our country to continue the preservation and promote the heritage and decency of hunting, are helping to bolster numbers. One thing is for sure, hunters pay their way.

Results of a recent study completed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation reveal expenditures of the hunter over a lifetime among other things.

During his or her lifetime, an average American hunter spends $17,726.59 on hunting equipment. When licenses and lodging, food and fuel, magazines and meat processing, plus other expenses are included, the average lifetime total spent on hunting jumps to $96,017.92.

The Outdoor Industry Foundation also recently completed a survey of hunter participation.

A 2006 study suggests there are more hunters in the United States than previously thought. Nearly 12 percent of Americans 16 and older, or 26.4 million people, said they hunted with gun or bow last year.

This places the number of hunters in America higher than other organizations estimates. Latest reports by NSSF shows 23 million hunters, National Sporting Goods Association has 20.6 million and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates there are 14.7 million hunters. Without knowing the particulars of criteria used, it is impossible to know what determines the differences.

Tom Remington

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Kentucky Governor Supports Tax Breaks For Landowners Who Open Their Lands

Access to hunting lands is crippling outdoor recreation including hunting, fishing and trapping. In many states private land is leased to hunters and hunting groups often pricing middle and low income sportsmen out of their sport.

WYMT-TV website has an article that states the governor, Ernie Fletcher, supports the idea of offering tax breaks to private land owners willing to open their lands up for recreation, while at the same time protecting it from development.

“This is a very high-impact, low-cost way to achieve a dramatic increase in land conservation and wildlife recreation access,” Fletcher said at a news conference touting the plan.

Landowners who would opt to participate would have to agree to protect their land from development and leave it open to certain kinds of recreation.

Approved landowners, under the plan, would agree to protect their land from development and allow members of the public to use the land for certain outdoor activities – such as hunting and fishing, Fletcher said. In exchange, landowners would retain ownership and management of their land and qualify for a maximum $250,000 annual credit, and a $2.5 million lifetime break, on their personal or corporate income taxes, Fletcher said.

Governor Fletcher believes this plan would benefit all sportsmen, including the lower income.

“The nice thing about this is it takes away the advantage that wealthy sportsmen have and it opens this up to everyone, regardless of their demographic disposition,” Fletcher said.

Tom Remington

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