July 16, 2018

Maine Needs a Better System to Share Game Harvest Data

*Scroll Down for an Update*

*Editor’s Note* Below is a copy of a document that I just emailed to Maine’s Governor Paul LePage and Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife commissioner, Chandler Woodcock. It is no secret that I and many other hunters are displeased that we should have to wait 3 or 4 months after the close of deer, bear, moose seasons to get any information on harvest numbers – and how about a turkey harvest? Most all other states provide rapid, and in some cases, real time harvest data. I took the time, with some help from some of my friends, to craft a plan that I think will work, if nothing more than providing a starting point.

We live in an ever-changing world of technology and it is a reasonable request to have more timely access to this data. If you agree, let Mr. LePage and Mr. Woodcock know. I would like your support.

A Plan to Create More Timely Game Harvest Numbers and Data

It is my sincere belief that hunters want and would appreciate a more timely report on the deer/bear/turkey/moose harvest numbers during and immediately after the season has closed. In the last several years, deer harvest reports are not made available to anyone until at least March and sometimes April; bear and moose harvest information takes longer than that.

For comparison, I include a small sampling of how other states do their registering/tagging. Please not that all of these states listed are able to provide near real time harvest numbers at any point during the deer hunting season.

Ohio – mandatory reporting, done either by telephone, online or by visiting a licensing agent. I believe this year is the first year that Ohio has fully eliminated a visit to a tagging station.
Nebraska – Uses a combination of tagging stations and telephone registering.
Kentucky – Uses a “Telecheck” harvest reporting system. Fully automated and provides real time information.
Wisconsin – Uses a system very similar to Maine’s current system but still can provide harvest data within 2 days.
Iowa – Mandatory reporting by either online, telephone or at licensing agent.
*Note – In those states that that still use tagging stations, it is my understanding that the fish and game departments require the tagging agents to submit harvest data daily or weekly.

Below I have suggestions on how Maine might be able to accomplish faster harvest information and at the same time collect better data.

Please understand that I’m not suggesting an end to the gathering of important data used for deer management. As a matter of fact, I’m offering ways of collecting more and better data which can only help the process and provide for a better product, and this system will free up more staff time in order that more time and personnel can be utilized counting deer, checking deer yards and implementing predator control when circumstances demand it.

We live in a rapidly advancing age of technology and therefore the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) should take advantage of that, while at the same time putting some of the onus onto the sportsmen, to more positively participate in the process. This will accomplish several things, the crux of which will be a tremendous public relations benefit to MDIFW and a greater sense of ownership for the sportsmen. An achievement such as this can be a great benefit to all parties concerned.

Here are my suggestions: (Please understand also that automated telephone reporting systems as well as computer data collecting software is readily available at a low price or even perhaps free is some shopping around was done.)

Mandatory Reporting – All licensed hunters will be required to report their game take along with hunting activity and all other data desired by MDIFW. This reporting can be done Online or by telephone. Any game taken, i.e. deer, bear, turkey, moose (all currently tagged game) can be reported online or by telephone within 12 hours (or 24hrs). The reporting systems will be automated and designed to collect and compile the data provided. Vital information can be collected and processed electronically at the time of reporting. This immediate reporting will enable MDIFW to have up to date, almost real time harvest numbers to report to sportsmen and the public. At the end of the season, all licensed sportsmen will be required, within one week, to report online or by telephone, and fill out a survey. This must be done by all sportsmen whether they are successful or not. Better information can be collected that will vastly improve on the ability of wildlife managers to set seasons and bag limits, as well as better understand what is taking place in the field. This information can be collected about all aspects of hunting to gain a better and more accurate understanding of how many, how often and how many hours hunters go afield and what game they are seeking and taking.

Setting up Check Points – MDIFW gathers vital biological data at some tagging stations. I believe the same information can be collected by strategically placing check stations where hunters will be required to stop for data collection. This is done very successfully in other states; states that also have mandatory reporting.

Data Collection with Commercial Meat Processing Plants – MDIFW should continue to collect biological data from meat processing facilities.

Dealing with Non Reporters – Several states do not use a tagging system as Maine does. Instead they implement a mandatory reporting system (either required by the hunter or the tagging agent), and with pretty good success, I might add. I’ve taken the time to include only five states that do that now. See above. I’ve already pointed out the positives that can come from reporting. Mandatory or not, we will still run into a certain percentage of sportsmen who will not report, particularly those not successful in taking game or poachers who will fail to obey any laws; as the events that took place recently in Turner. There are ways to deal with this. While not wanting to appear as some heavy handed authoritative figure, full implementation of this plan is necessary for the greatest success. A suggestion might be that for those failing to complete a hunter survey, will be ineligible to buy a license the following year.

*Update – December 5, 2012 12:50* It took approximately 11 minutes to receive an email response from Commission Woodcock:

Tom,

I sincerely appreciate your efforts with this important discussion. We at IF+W, and many other sportsmen and women, have similar observations. Here at the department, have had several discussion about electronic tagging possibilities as well as reporting requirements. We are currently investigating electronic options.
I share your desire to have immediacy. It also appears that we share similar concerns.
We continue to examine the issue and I believe that there will be changes forthcoming reasonably soon. The discussion has complexities as you are well aware and we certainly need biological data.
Again, thanks. And safe travels.

Chan Woodcock

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Earthquake Rattles Near Anchorage, Alaska

Recently there was an earthquake that registered 5.8 on the Richter Scale. The center of the quake, according to one resident of Anchorage, was 27 miles west of the city and centered 33 miles below the surface. No major damage was done evidently.

In the photo below, it shows the general area of the center of the quake.


Photo by Al Remington

I wonder if the quake was so strong that it shook the back half of this truck off?


Photo by Al Remington

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Open Thread – December 5, 2012

Please use this open thread to post your ideas, comments and information about issues not covered in articles published on this blog. Thank you.

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White House Petition Seeks Predator Control Groups Listed as Terrorists

It’s come to this!

Declare all anti-predatory animal organizations as domestic terrorist groups

Groups like Lobo Watch, Big Game Forever, Idaho Anti-Wolf Coalition, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, NRA, Safari Club, etc., are a menace in our midst. Not only do many of them want our native predators like bears, wolves, wild cats, and the like decimated to the brink of extinction, but some of them have the nerve to harass, threaten, and downright intimidate anyone who dares to oppose them, even the government. And they’ve got some powerful people in their corner, too. They throw their mammoth monetary weight around, and think they can buy their way into power in America and put down anyone who’s got a backbone and might provide resistance. It’s time to put these groups in their place and strike them down. Time to protect our carnivorous wildlife from those who seek to decimate them!

Link Source

And to go along with that:

Animal Rights Activists Want NRA Labeled ‘Domestic Terrorist Group’

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Homeland Security in the Moose Poaching Business in New Hampshire/Canada

Thanks in part to a federal Homeland Security grant titled “Operation Stonegarden,” teams of officers conducted surveillance of several hunting shacks, as well as foot patrols on the border in the upper reaches of Hall Stream.

Vehicle access is limited in this area, and officers had a 1- to 1.5-mile hike to reach their intended positions, where some spent a chilly night in sleeping bags in 17-degree temperatures.<<<Read More from The Telegraph>>>

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Maine Sen. Saviello Will Sponsor George Smith’s Turkey Hunting Bill

George Smith, former executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, now writer and activist, has evidently convinced Maine Senator Tom Saviello to sponsor a turkey hunting bill he has crafted.

First, we should commend Smith for his efforts to increase turkey hunting opportunities for Maine hunters, while finding ways to keep or cut costs to encourage more participation in the sport.

Briefly, Smith’s bill proposes to eliminate an extra fee to hunt turkeys. A big or small game license will allow for hunting turkeys.

Registering of turkeys will be done Online or by telephone.

Bag limits suggested are for two Toms (males) in the spring hunt and expand the fall hunt to two turkeys of either sex for the entire month of October; also an expansion.

Smith’s bill would allow spring shooting all day, as is done in the fall.

Most of this bill I can support except perhaps for two items. First I have some concerns that this bill sets bag limits while circumventing the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW). I would hope that such a bill would not take away the fish and game department’s authority to adjust season lengths and bag limits according to need for sustainable yield.

Smith indicated that he is of the opinion that Maine has far more turkeys than the 50,000 estimated by MDIFW. If that is the case, then I understand the need perhaps to increase opportunities in order to decrease or slow down the growth rate of wild turkeys. This is all a management issue that shouldn’t have to come back to the Legislature to get changed, I wouldn’t think. My concern here is the proper management of turkeys and setting season dates, bag limits and shooting times are major concerns.

The second issue goes along with this and that is the shooting in the afternoons during the spring hunt. Generally, it is believed that protecting nesting hens during spring hunts helps to sustain the population. This is why, as Smith proposes in his bill, that harvest in spring will be two male turkeys only. Depending upon the exact timing of the spring hunt and the mating/nesting season of turkeys, hens do not leave their nests until after noon. With this, it is believed that hens would become more susceptible to being killed if shooting is allowed after noon. Not only would the hen run the risk of being killed but a dead hen means dead poults.

If Smith’s bill to allow shooting all day during the spring hunt is for the purpose of reducing growth and/or populations of turkeys, then I understand the intent (aside from providing more shooting time.) However, I still have concerns about taking away the authority of MDIFW to regulate this activity. Otherwise, it appears to me that each season there may be a need to go to the Legislature to change the items that would be enacted in this bill.

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Swap Your Gun for a Flu Shot

If the gun don’t kill you, the flu shot will!

Worcester, Massachusetts is offering people to turn in their guns and get a flu shot.

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Open Thread – December 4, 2012

Please use this open thread to post your ideas, comments and information about issues not related to the content of articles published on this blog. Thank you.

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Less Lesser Chickens Means Less Gas and Oil

The Lesser Prairie Chicken, not to be confused with the Greater Prairie Chicken, is on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) lesser list of possible species to be protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). It just so happens that the Lesser Chicken’s habitat is right where oil and gas resources exist (I’m positive this is only a coincidence.)

Jazz Shaw at Hot Air tried to make light of the abomination of the ESA by saying that for the environMENTALists to wage a public relations campaign to end oil and gas drilling…..er, I mean to get the Lesser Chicken listed on the ESA list, he recommended a different name.

He suggested the Purple Crested Petrol Pecker:

Let’s be more thorough than that. First of all the genus name for the Lesser Prairie Chicken is Tympanuchus pallidicinctus. This name should be changed to Obamafuchus Palsilldichus

But the common name for campaign purposes could be:

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Open Thread – December 3, 2012

Please use this open thread to post your ideas, comments and information about issues not related to articles published on this blog. Thank you.

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