May 25, 2019

Milt’s Corner Photography: Moon Beam

When the mo-moon shines,
Over the co-cow shed.
I’ll be wa-waiting,
At the ka-ka-ka-kitchen door.


Milt Inman Photo

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Maine Fish & Game to Invest $ Million Windfall From Pittman-Robertson on……Rifle Ranges?

It appears to me that this blind, political ignorance that so blatantly reveals itself in Washington, is deeply imbedded into state governments as well.

According to George Smith, free lance writer and blogger, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MIDFW) is about to receive a one-million dollar windfall from excess Pittman-Robertson (PR) money, due to the increase in gun and ammunition sales since Barack Obama became president. The excise tax on guns, ammunition and other assorted sporting goods, gets doled out to each of the states according to land mass, how many licenses sold, etc.

Smith writes that Governor LePage doesn’t want to use that money for programs that will just cost the taxpayers of the state more money once the symptoms of the windfall go away.

Governor Paul LePage is determined not to take federal dollars if the end result – down the road – will be increased spending of state dollars. In other words, he doesn’t want this extra PR money to be spent on new staff, because if and when the federal funds go back to normal levels, the state would have to pay all those costs. That’s got DIF&W officials looking for one-time expenditures of the new PR funds.

LePage’s notions make sense. So, if the state is looking for “one-time expenditures”, what’s the first thing that comes into your head? There are restrictions on the PR money and what it can be spent on. But like all government appropriations and expenditures, that expenditure gets abused and isn’t used exactly as was intended. It’s supposed to be money for preservation of wildlife habitat or most anything directly related to promoting and enhancing huntable wildlife, etc.

What would you say if I told you that also according to Smith, MDIFW is looking to use at least some of that money on gun and rifle ranges. No, really! Don’t get me wrong. I think having some rifle ranges around are a good thing but honestly, how high on the priority list of things “critical” is dumping money into game club’s rifle ranges?

Smith says, “The Department may also spend some of the new PR funds on the acquisition of wildlife habitat.” Gosh, am I mistaken or wasn’t it just a short time ago that deer hunting was never going to recover unless the state did something about protecting habitat? This coming directly from MDIFW. And wasn’t it just awhile ago that the state was arguing over whether the Governor should appropriate some general fund money to pay for predator reduction? And wasn’t the concern over where the money would come from to continue the effort as all agreed it had to be ongoing to be effective? And what ever has become of Maine’s Plan for Deer? Wasn’t the lament that the plan might be good but where in hell was the money going to come from?

And now MDIFW thinks the need for improved rifle ranges is more important than what has come before?

I just don’t get it. Is this a bit of sour grapes that the Governor doesn’t want to use the money to hire more wildlife officials to count butterflies, bats and look out for piping plovers and so MDIFW has decided to spend the money on something that probably ought to be handled by the private sector, especially at a time when money is tight all over. In your face?

Isn’t it a matter of priorities and sound, sensible investment. A loss of a deer herd and the hunting industry will cost the state millions of dollars. Using this money toward that goal, of which the plans are drawn and everything ready, only makes sense; not improving rifle ranges. Not now!

Is MIDFW still praying global warming is going to take care of the deer problem? That’s my bet.

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New Report Shows Hunter Participation Increasing

MISSOULA, Mont. – ?A new report that shows more people are hunting is good news for conservation, according to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

The just-released 2011 National Survey of Hunting, Fishing, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation shows 13.7 million people, or 6 percent of the U.S. population age 16 and older, went hunting last year. That marks a 9 percent increase over 2006, reversing a previous downward trend.

?”This is great news for everyone in the hunting and conservation community,”? said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. ?”But it?s even better news for our conservation efforts to protect and improve habitat for elk and other wildlife. We strongly believe that hunting is conservation. This is also a reflection of the importance of our hunting legacy of the past and our hunting heritage as we look to the future.”?

Thanks to hunter-generated dollars, RMEF protected or enhanced more than 6.1 million acres of wildlife habitat. RMEF also recently added ?hunting heritage? to its mission statement, reaffirming a commitment to ensuring a future for wildlife conservation through hunter-based support.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service data show hunters spent $34 billion last year on equipment, licenses, trips and other items to support their hunting activities. If you break down the numbers, sportsmen and women spent $10.4 billion on trip-related expenditures, $14 billion on equipment such as guns, camping items and 4-wheel drives, and $9.6 billion on licenses, land leasing and ownership and stamps.

?”The more hunters spend on firearms, ammunition, bows, arrows and hunting licenses and permits, the more money is generated to provide the necessary funding for successful science-based wildlife management across the United States,?” added Allen.

Here are some brief highlights from the report:

? 13.7 million hunters in 2011 compared to 12.5 million in 2006 (9 percent increase)
? Hunters spent an average of 21 days in the field
? 1.8 million 6 to 15 year olds hunted in 2011
? Big game attracted 11.6 million hunters (8 percent increase since 2006)
? Hunting-related expense increased 30 percent since 2006
? The overall participation of hunters increased more than 5 percent since 2001
? Total hunter expenditures increased 27 percent since 2001
? Expenditures by hunters, anglers & wildlife-recreationists were $145 billion or 1 percent of gross domestic product

The 2011 FWS report contains preliminary numbers. Read it in its entirety at the link below:

http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/upload/FWS-National-Preliminary-Report-2011.pdf

The final report is due in November. An FWS preliminary report containing data from the states is due out later this month.

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Open Thread – August 16, 2012

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

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Maine Fish and Game Fixes Poorly Crafted 2011 Bear Harvest Report

A few days ago I posted an article about the 2011 Maine black bear harvest report from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW). In that report I said, “In addition, the quality of the blurry post on the MDIFW website appears to be that of a second grader. Is it possible that someone’s dog ate their homework? Maybe MDIFW has spent so much money on non game programs and watching bears sleep in winter dens, they can no longer afford to post quality reports on their website? Should we expect the website to be taken down soon also?”

And yes, I was chastised, once again, by some who thought I was being too hard on the folks at MDIFW. Whether I was or wasn’t, it appears MDIFW agreed that the report lacked the quality typical of what you would find on the website. The blurry, gray and black report was removed and replaced with clear and sharp text and a dash of subtle coloring to assist in distinguishing between numbers, etc.

Thank you MDIFW for doing this and keep that dog away from your homework!

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Open Thread – August 15, 2012

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

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Maine Bear Biologist: Bears Kill As Many Deer Fawns as Coyotes; Not Opposed to Spring Hunt

V. Paul Reynolds interviewed Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MIDFW) biologist Randy Cross on his radio program on the Voice of Maine radio which airs Sunday nights at 7 p.m. (101.3 and 103.9 FM). Reynolds shares some of that interview in his weekly column.

There are two things in that interview that I would like to discuss just a bit. The first is Cross’ comment about whether black bears kill as many deer fawns as coyotes.

We are really not sure how much bear predation there is on deer. A Pennsylvania study suggested that there is a lot, but that state is not a valid comparison to Maine for a number of reasons. A New Brunswick study suggests that bear kill quite a few fawns, and it’s hard to deny that bears kill young deer. They are good at finding the most calories for the least effort. I’d say it is possible that bears in Maine take as many fawns as coyotes.

Cross seems willing to admit that it is “possible” that bears take as many fawns as coyotes. Perhaps they would actually know this if they used their management dollars for this purpose. This all may sound good to those of us hunters screaming for something serious to be done about predator protection that is resulting in the destruction of the deer herd in many places. However, it is difficult to understand the actual meaning of this comment as MDIFW has been reluctant to admit that coyotes have any substantial effect on the deer herd. If biologist Cross maintains the common notion, as MDIFW as a whole, that coyotes don’t really present a problem for the deer herd then one can just as easily assume his thoughts are that bears or any other predator doesn’t either.

The second issue concerns a spring bear hunting season.

I would not oppose a spring bear hunt. For a bear manager, a spring hunt can be a precise and powerful tool. Success rates are high ( in a spring hunt) and very predictable, unlike the fall bear harvest.

Anyone who is somebody knows there are way too many bears in Maine. Hunters have been asking nicely for a spring bear hunt for some time and seemingly falling on deaf ears. The numbers are there, Cross doesn’t oppose a hunt, therefore we should be able to conclude that it would be justified scientifically, or wouldn’t he have said so? Then the only stumbling block would be sociopolitical reasons. We know a certain amount of fear of being sued exists and the power that Maine guides have over MDIFW when it comes to seasons and bag limits is overwhelming.

It is time for Commissioner Woodcock to now take the lead and get Maine a spring bear hunt. It is scientifically necessary, particularly at a time when these large predators are preventing the rebuilding of a seriously diminished deer herd.

And while he’s at it, let’s increase the number of moose permits and get those numbers down to a better manageable number…..at least until the deer herd has recovered.

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Milt’s Corner – My Friendly (and hungry) Goose


Milt Inman Photo

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MDIFW: This Year’s Turkey Brood Survey in Full Swing

It’s that time of the year when turkeys are in the air and on fields and roads, exploring and looking for nuts, seeds and berries.

That makes this month the best time for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to conduct its annual Turkey Brood Survey, which can impact the hunting season.

“These counts are very important because it gives us an idea of how many poults, or baby turkeys, we have entering the population,” said Information and Education Biologist Ashley Malinowski. “We can use that information combined with harvest counts from the previous fall to monitor the population and aid in determining season dates and bag limits in the future.”

The count has been conducted annually in August by a band of loyal Department biologists, National Wild Turkey Federation members and citizens interested in assisting in the effort.

The count helps the Department track the hatch and builds an index into the annual productivity of Maine’s turkey population. Monitoring the population allows the Department to fine-tune wild turkey management, both in areas that already have a healthy, harvestable population and ones that have the potential for initial or additional hunting opportunities.

When considering whether to open an area to spring or fall turkey hunting, wildlife managers look closely at the August brood survey to determine the productivity of turkeys in that specific area.

From the count, biologists can determine how many turkey poults have survived to an age where they can be considered as contributing to the population.

Members of the public who are interested in participating in the count only need the ability to recognize a turkey and distinguish males from females and adults from poults.

When participants see a brood, they need to count all of the birds in a flock, determine how large the poults are in comparison with an adult, only count turkeys in the month of August and make sure not to count the same flock twice.

Participants can record their findings on a survey form available online. It’s also a great time to count for female deer and fawns too, which are both included on the same form.

“When members of the public tell us how many flocks they saw for the month and how many birds in each flock, that’s one less area our biologists have to spend resources to go out surveying,” Malinowski said. “It also allows us to get information from all over the state, including in places we may not travel regularly, but other people do. Citizen science, or studies in which the public’s information is called upon, is extremely important in a lot of biological surveys because any time you are counting things, the more eyes you have on the look-out, the better.”

To find a printable version of our August 2012 Turkey Sighting Report Form or to learn more about the Turkey Brood Count, go to http://www.maine.gov/ifw/hunting_trapping/hunting/turkey-broodsurvey_august.htm.

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Open Thread – August 14, 2012

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

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