March 26, 2019

The Emperor’s New Clothes: Maine’s Non Resident Hunter Task Force

In Hans Christian Andersen’s tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, a vain, and yes stupid, emperor hires two tailors to make him clothes. The tailors present the emperor with “new clothes” telling him that only stupid people or those unfit to be king could not see the clothes and think him naked. Of course the emperor can’t see the cloth and fearing someone will discover his stupidity, wears his “new clothes” in public. One has to wonder if the Task Force, appointed by the Maine Legislature to discover why non resident hunters don’t want to come to Maine anymore, is presenting the Joint Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife new and invisible clothes.

Through the course of this discussion on what the Task Force will research and make for recommendations, I have reported on the contents of the very belated minutes of those meetings – here, here and here. In addition, readers can go to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife website and find information unearthed and presented by the Task Force.

Alas, the Task Force has made its recommendations to the Maine Legislature. The Final Report includes the following recommendations:

• MDIFW must work collaboratively with the Office of Tourism to develop a marketing plan promoting Maine as a destination for Nonresident hunters; and in all areas of outdoor recreation.

• Funding should be allocated to survey current and recently lapsed Nonresident hunters, using a qualified market research firm specializing in natural resource and outdoor recreation issues; to find out what these customers want, why they have lapsed, and what barriers there are for travel to Maine as a hunting destination.

• Based on the data generated from this market research, marketing tools, strategies and training must be provided to Maine’s hunting industry partners, including guides, outfitters, sporting camps, B & Bs, and other state agencies such as Office of Tourism and Department of Conservation; to multiply the effect of the marketing plan.

• New hunting licenses, ‘repackaged’ licenses, or licenses that feature new privileges or opportunities appear to be one of the greatest factors with the potential to positively affect any kind of license sales. The Legislature and MDIFW must take a closer look at ways to accomplish and implement this initiative in a timely manner.

• Maine must do more to promote its lands open to hunting statewide, and the ease of access to them. Paper collateral such as maps and brochures, and online information that can be shared by state agency and hunting partners’ websites, must be developed, distributed and kept current.

The Task Force is naked! The Task Force is naked! But don’t look now, but the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) and the Maine Legislature are also naked! Naked I tell you!

The Legislature and the MDIFW all made recommendations prior to this Task Force’s work and the Task Force has made their final recommendations and none of them once addressed the topic in a serious fashion that perhaps, just perhaps, the reason non resident hunters won’t come to Maine to hunt is because there are NO DEER to hunt.

While it was briefly discussed during Task Force meetings, it was quickly dispelled as something they were not interested in including in their discussions. Forget that it is the only element of things that were blamed that directly correlates to the decline in non resident hunters. In other words, as the state’s deer population began to shrink, and yes I must say it here, because of poor management, so also did the number of non resident hunting license sales.

However, the Task Force, the Legislature and MDIFW have all chosen to think people can really see their new clothes. Instead of facing reality, the recommendations are to market a product that does not exist and is of little or no interest to big game hunters who pay the big dollars. The idea is to “repackage” hunting license options. As the old saying goes, you can put lipstick on a pig but it’s still a pig.

If there was any controversy to the Task Force’s discussions it was the idea that Sunday hunting should be recommended along with allowing non residents to hunt on the resident only day. In the end, even those were bypassed.

The best thing the Legislature can do with these recommendations is to file them away somewhere until such time, if ever, the day comes when there are deer to hunt. Maybe if the Legislature was truly committed to Maine’s deer problem, which is directly related to the no non resident hunters problem, they would get to work to actually fix it. It’s simple really. First, sit down and determine whether the number of jobs and businesses that would be saved and/or created by investing in dealing with real issues, is worth the investment. If the Legislature and the rest of the state determine they are committed to the investment and the MDIFW should recommend that $500,000 is needed to kill coyotes as a viable means to begin a herd rebuilding, then the Legislature should commit to that investment. Yes, it really is that simple.

They have not and more than likely will not because the Governor, MDIFW and the Legislature are NOT fully committed to saving the hunting industry. Interesting in that the industry provides a very handsome tax revenue to the state and the hunters necessary to keep the industry going, pay their own way, while the state reaps the benefits. Now, their commitment is non existent. If the Maine Government is not interested in helping out when help is needed, then perhaps the government should butt out of fish and game business.

I suppose therefore, the hunting industry is the goose that lays golden eggs.

Tom Remington

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Dealing With Deer Herd Rebuilding: Maine Sportsmen Groups vs. Utah Sportsmen Groups

Two states that face similar problems with dwindling deer herds are Maine and Utah. In Utah, efforts are underway to improve habitat but the sportsmen there recognize that those efforts are limited. What they do recognize is that the number one problem and one that they CAN do something about is reducing coyote populations that have driven the fawn survival rate to near zero.

In Maine much of the effort is talk and complaining that loss of habitat, loss of quality wintering habitat and severe winters are killing the deer and there are no serious plans to address an overblown coyote population; again something that CAN be done while implementing programs to deal with habitat.

Recently sportsman’s groups in both states have launched efforts to address withering deer herds. In Maine it was announced that a conglomeration of “outdoor partners”, mostly coordinated by the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, were going to work with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) to address the deer herd issue.

In Utah, efforts are already underway by similar “outdoor partners”, mostly coordinated by the Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, to address the deer herd issue.

Below is a comparison of ideas and plans by each of the two groups. Please compare and then decide which one stands the best chance of actually accomplishing the goals of rebuilding a deer herd.

Maine: (According to the statement made by the “outdoor partnership”)

1.) Create a “network” of sportsman’s clubs.
2.) Provide access to information Online.
3.) Host meetings, conferences, and training seminars dealing with habitat management, trapping and predator hunting, and a variety of other topics related to deer restoration and management.
4.) Produce DVDs and other educational materials.
5.) Provide a place where hunters and landowners can share tips, tactics and ideas that may help others succeed at protecting and managing deer.
6.) Support the Maine Deer Management Network at the Legislature and in other political venues.
7.) Provide outreach.
8.) Provide information in the print media by providing feature articles on deer management and outdoor recreation topics.
9.) Coordinate closely with MDIFW to assure mutual progress in restoring and then maintaining healthy deer populations again.
10.) Manage habitat.
11.) Manage predators.
12.) Manage hunting.
13.) Eager to support Dept. efforts to reduce predation losses near deer wintering areas.
14.) Develop coyote hunting into the next big hunting activity in Maine by transitioning the coyote from varmint status, to the valuable, huntable furbearer resource.
15.) Envisioning a volunteer “Adopt a Deer Yard” program targeting coyote hunting near deer wintering areas by individual hunters, or clubs.
16.) Intending to be a resource that individuals can turn to for information on coyote biology, hunting tactics, available equipment, bait sources, etc.
17.) Find opportunities to strengthen the connection between hunters and the non-hunting public and be a resource where hunters can find information on the latest hunting regulations, including legislative changes as they occur.
18.) Stress the importance of ethical hunting behavior, encourage active participation in game law compliance, and help define the importance of hunting and trapping as a means of keeping wildlife populations at compatible levels.

Utah: (According to the most recent email on future plans)

1.) Continue the aerial gunning of coyote pairs in the spring with $470,000. Better efforts will be made to target paired coyotes.

2.) Hire 5 Full time – NON Biologist – Regional coyote trappers/trapping coordinators. Job requirements: proven track record of knowing how to kill coyotes, and teach and motivate thousands of sportsmen to join the effort. Every day, the job is to wake up and kill coyotes, and additionally teach other sportsmen how to trap, snare, and otherwise kill coyotes. These full time people would also coordinate county bounty programs, and help target and measure – hopefully – increased fawn survival. These coordinators will also come up with some new and creative efforts to get sportsmen out killing coyotes.

3.) Have some current DWR Employees participate in coyote control efforts while doing spring and fall counts, etc.

4.) See coyote $1 Million coyote bounty below

Since it is not in the current Governors budget submitted on December 8, the bounty money will have to come from Legislative leaders like Senator Hinkins and Okerlund, who take the Governors budget and tweak it. I also think the Governor, after the meeting in Cache, and having aides see the turnout at other meetings, and realizing the need, will be supportive. So, the new piece of the puzzle? see Number five below:

5.) With the help of Sportsmen, obtain $1 Million in additional funds to pay $50 coyote bounty. This would lead to 20,000 dead coyotes, a DRAMATIC increase in coyote kill.

Let me give you some numbers.

1.) Last year, after seeing the dismal fawn survival on 4 central Utah deer units – Pavant, boulder, beaver – the Director spent an additional $100,000 on coyote control

a.) Fawn Survival from 2010 to 2011 went from approximately 43 fawns per 100 to 62 per 100

It is estimated that there are 80,000 coyotes in Utah.

Last year it is estimated that the government professional trappers took 4,000 coyotes. This program would stay the same, but it would be better targeted in fawning areas.

$1 Million for a $50 bounty would result in 20,000 dead coyotes, plus all the coyotes taken by 5 full time coyote killers from the UDWR, plus all the coyotes taken by aerial gunning $470,000 in the spring on deer winter ranges.

I would like to point out some important differences between these two state’s ideas on how to rebuild a deer population. First, the proposals written about from Utah are actually those made by the fish and game director Jim Karpowitz. From most of the accounts I have read about Utah’s efforts, it appears that for the most part the fish and game department, Legislature, Governor and members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, sportsmen and citizens, understand the importance of hunting to their state and are committed at all levels to do what is necessary.

Second, I do not believe that Maine has the same commitment from the fish and wildlife department, the Governor or the Legislature and definitely not the U.S. Congressional Delegation. Sportsmen are split and citizens need to be educated. For this reason, I believe it is the major steering factor in the proposals that I’ve outlined above from Maine.

Governor Paul LePage campaigned on the promise that he was committed to rebuilding Maine’s deer herd. And what has transpired to date that has resulted in any effort to that end? I am not an advocate to fund the MDIFW with general fund taxpayer money. If Maine and the governor honestly are committed to the rebuilding of the deer herd to keep a vibrant industry providing jobs and upholding traditions and heritage, the value of investment would be realized and the Governor and Legislature would find the money to kill a lot of coyotes, reduce bear populations, protect wintering habitat, etc.

I’m not suggesting throwing money at a problem. The Governor must demand change and accountability for any state investment in rebuilding the deer herd. One can argue and spin the information anyway they so choose but the fact is the current management plans for deer failed miserably. Blame it on winter, blame it on habitat or predators, the realization is there are no deer left in many of Maine’s locations. Therefore, the plan fails simply because it doesn’t deal with these issues in a realistic manner. Winters have been around in Maine for longer than MDIFW and loggers have cut trees for centuries, and we still can’t deal with those two issues?

Whether you are from Maine or Utah or points in between, you decide from the information that I’ve provided which state has the biggest commitment to herd rebuilding and which plans have a better chance at seeing real results.

Tom Remington
 

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“It’s The Time of the Season for Loving”

For those of us who grew up in the 60s and 70s, we well remember the “Zombies”. They made a hit out of the song, “Time of the Season”, and the lyrics state, “It’s the time of the season for loving”.

I’m either blessed or cursed to have a mind that operates like mine, but a friend sent the below picture to me with a brief caption that read, “It’s the season”. With my mind being ripped and pulled in several directions between humor and disgust and several stops in between, I soon began to see comparisons in which I formed a bit of a parody if you will; only for those most deserving.

First consider the name of the band who plays the song – Zombies. From Wikipedia, a description of a zombie: “The term is often figuratively applied to describe a hypnotized person bereft of consciousness and self-awareness, yet ambulant and able to respond to surrounding stimuli.”

I believe Zombie would be an apt label to place on our fish and game departments who refuse to acknowledge and deal with fast breeding predators like coyotes and wolves that are not “balancing our ecosystems” as the myth goes, but instead destroying it and other species along with it.

In addition, the photo depicts, not only the “natural” act of wild canine predators, but is also an accurate analogy of what is happening to the outdoor sportsmen.

Therefore, it is only fitting that the “Zombies”, both the singing group and the wildlife managers be honored with the photograph and the video, while the sportsmen get screwed. Note: For better effect, while viewing and listening to the music video, keep a close eye on the actions of those two coyotes. Makes for great entertainment.


If perverted, Click image to Enlarge

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Maine’s New Hunting Future




Photo Editorial by Richard Paradis

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Open Thread – January 24, 2012

Please use this open thread to post ideas, comments and information not directly related to content published in articles on this web site. Thank you!

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Coyotes Keep Me Awake Nights……….Here in the City

My official residence is in a small city in Florida. The population of this city is around 70,000, sitting nearly smack dab in the center of Pinellas County, which has a year-round population of just under a million. During this time of year, migration of the snowbirds, the population grows considerably – some estimates say it nearly doubles.

My problem is coyotes. I live adjacent to a parcel of land owned by the city that is perhaps 20 acres in size. There is a small park on one side and another place near me that is home to a club of radio-controlled airplane fliers. It’s also the home to a pack of coyotes, which by the sounds now number around 6 or 8.

One of the major differences in living with coyotes in the city versus the country, is here sirens from emergency and rescue vehicles are blasting near and distant very often during the night. Once the sirens begin, the howls and yapping commences until all members are participating in a frenzy of yips, howls and yaps.

I’ve had to resort to running a fan during the night to help drown out the noises so I can get some uninterrupted sleep.

Couldn’t happen to a better person. (Insert smiley here.)

Tom Remington

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EPA Chief Jackson: Global Warming Causes Terrorism

One can take that statement on face value or you can search for truth and honesty and discover that American political policies kill human beings.

In a report filed at JunkScience, Environmental Protection Administration head, Lisa Jackson, is claiming that poor environmental quality creates poverty which in turn leads to terrorism. It’s unfortunate that she can’t tell the truth that the countries socialistic policies ensure that people will remain in squalor, not because of poor environmental quality but because of social programs that are not designed to allow people to step out of that dearth. Instead they are guaranteed to remain there provided you are a good subject and mind what the government tells you to do.

Tom Remington

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Maine Announces “New Deer Initiative” in an Odd Way

Below is a copy of a letter I received on Saturday that announces an “outdoor partnership” that will address Maine’s non existent deer herd and create what they are calling a “network” to accomplish three major tasks: Habitat Management, Predation Management, and Hunting.

What’s odd about the announcement and creation of this “network” is that on Saturday evening, this conglomeration of hand-picked “outdoor partners” met for a fundraiser/game supper ($25.00 per plate) at the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (SAM) headquarters in a bit of a secret fashion.

I learned of this event on the morning of the day the event was scheduled and it appears I certainly am not in a minority of those uninformed. I was told by one interested party that the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (SAM) is going to be the “facilitator/coordinator” for the “network” and all work will take place at the club level.

I was also told that an announcement of this fundraiser was sent to the “outdoor partners” and because of space restrictions a broader announcement couldn’t be made. However, some of those emailing me in disgust are members of those lowly “clubs” that will be called upon to do the grunt work and, no doubt, contribute money.

I will reserve comment on the plan of action and the three major components of that plan for a later date but I just don’t understand this action. To date, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) has failed miserably in management of the state’s deer herd. It would appear to me that any actions undertaken by private interests should remain a completely separate function of MDIFW; not in isolation but certainly not as partners. Until MDIFW can prove itself seriously dedicated to the restoration of the deer herd, considering them an “outdoor partner” is a bit premature.

Regardless of my opinions, here’s the letter that accompanied the announcement of the fundraiser:

OUTDOOR PARTNERS TO LAUNCH A MAJOR NEW DEER INITIATIVE
Gerry Lavigne
Retired deer biologist

It’s no secret that the white-tailed deer population is in tough shape in Maine.  Severe winters, wintering habitat loss and excessive predation have taken their toll over the years.  Waning deer populations have diminished hunting and wildlife watching opportunity, and Maine’s rural economy has taken a severe hit as a result.  It is widely agreed that white-tailed deer populations need to be recovered.  The question is how do we go about it?

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) is in the early stages of implementing a plan to increase deer populations, focusing heavily on the northern half of the state (see “Maine’s Game Plan for Deer” on the Dept.’s website: www.mefishwildlife.com).  MDIFW’s deer plan anticipates extensive collaboration with its outdoor partners.  And they are right to reach out for help in restoring the deer herd.  With a Warden Service second to none, and a well-trained and dedicated biological staff, the Dept. is well-positioned to implement many of the remedies needed to restore Maine’s deer herd.  Yet, the Dept. cannot do this alone.  With 94% of the state in private ownership, and a land area nearly equal to the rest of New England, the logistics of improving habitat, reducing predation losses, and enforcing the game laws would be impossible without a lot of help from Maine hunters and landowners.

We sense a great willingness among Mainers to do something for our deer resource.  Hunters are beginning to realize they need to be stewards of the deer resource and not just consumers of it.  And landowners, large and small, are awakening to the reality that what they do with their land can have a profound impact on wildlife populations, including deer.  Although willing to help, many hunters and landowners lack the knowledge, or skills, or even the encouragement to get involved in deer restoration and management efforts.  What is needed is some way for all of MDIFW’s outdoor partners to network to exchange ideas, increase management skills, and monitor progress in restoring Maine deer.
 
Sportsmen, SAM, the Maine Professional Guides Association, fish and game clubs are stepping up to fulfill that need by creating the MAINE DEER MANAGEMENT NETWORK.  We will provide links to our outdoor partners, so that users can readily access information available on their websites.  As funding becomes available, we will host meetings, conferences, and training seminars dealing with habitat management, trapping and predator hunting, and a variety of other topics related to deer restoration and management.  We will produce DVDs and other educational materials.  And we will provide a place where hunters and landowners can share tips, tactics and ideas that may help others succeed at protecting and managing deer.

We will also support the Maine Deer Management Network at the Legislature and in other political venues.  We will provide outreach by attending meetings at Fish and Game clubs, Wildlife Conservation associations, Landowner associations and others, when possible, to provide input to their deer management efforts.  We will provide information in the print media by providing feature articles on deer management and outdoor recreation topics for the daily newspapers, and sporting magazines in Maine.  Finally, we will coordinate closely with MDIFW to assure mutual progress in restoring and then maintaining healthy deer populations again.

As presently envisioned, the Maine Deer Management Network will focus on three major topics:  Habitat Management, Predation Management, and Hunting.  Successful restoration of Maine’s deer herd depends on how well we manage deer productivity and losses.

Habitat management involves both summer and winter range.  The amount and quality of wintering habitat greatly affects deer survival.  Both malnutrition and predation losses are minimized in high quality wintering habitat.  Maine has lost a great deal of its deer wintering areas over the past 40 years, particularly in the northern half of the state.  MDIFW has made deer yard protection and enhancement a priority.  We agree, and we want to help the Dept. succeed by helping them network with large and small landowners who own deer wintering areas.

The quality of summer range affects deer nutrition, productivity, and pre-winter condition.  Many individual landowners are interested in improving their acreage for deer.  Too often, they lack the information needed to get started.  There are several landowner organizations and land trusts already involved in providing information to landowners.  We hope to partner with groups like the Small Woodlot Owners of Maine (SWOAM), the Maine Farm Bureau, the Maine Tree Farmers Association, the Quality Deer Management Association, the Downeast Lakes Land Trust and others to share information and to increase awareness of these organizations and what they have to offer.

Predation management is essential to restoring deer populations in the northern, western and eastern parts of Maine.  Deer inhabiting poor quality wintering habitat are highly susceptible to predation by coyotes and to a lesser degree, bobcats.  Even in good habitat, losses to predators occur in excess of malnutrition losses during severe winters.  Low deer populations can be held at low densities by abundant predator populations.  Adult deer are not the only targets of predators.  Predation on newborn deer fawns can, and in many places is excessive as coyotes, bears, bobcats, fishers, foxes, and domestic dogs all exploit this food source during June and July.  Excessive predation on neonate deer can prevent populations from increasing, even when adult deer losses are held to a minimum.

While no one is advocating elimination of mammalian predators of deer in Maine, many of us have come to realize that predator populations should be held at levels that allow depleted deer herds to rebound.  This is no small task, considering the abundance of coyotes and black bears in Maine.  MDIFW has recently revamped its animal damage control program to better manage predation effects on deer by reducing coyote densities near major deer wintering areas prior to the onset of severe wintering conditions.  This is a good approach and we are eager to support Dept. efforts to reduce predation losses near deer wintering areas.  But the Dept. cannot afford to target all wintering areas, given its current funding and personnel resources.  This is where individual hunters can really have an impact!

We believe that one path toward annually reducing coyote densities is to develop coyote hunting into the next big hunting activity in Maine.  Specifically, we’d like to transition the coyote from varmint status, to the valuable, huntable furbearer resource that it can be. As with trapping of coyotes, hunting these large, wary canids is challenging and exciting.  If just a few thousand of Maine’s 150,000 deer hunters also become coyote hunters, we may just have the right pressure to annually reduce the negative impacts of these predators on deer.  To that end, a goodly portion of the Maine Deer Management Network will be devoted to promoting coyote hunting.  We will dovetail with the Department’s, coyote management efforts.  We envision a volunteer “Adopt a Deer Yard” program targeting coyote hunting near deer wintering areas by individual hunters, or clubs.  We will link with organizations involved with coyote hunting.  We intend to be a resource that individuals can turn to for information on coyote biology, hunting tactics, available equipment, bait sources, etc.  We can be a source of input and news on coyote hunting, club activities, hunting contests and the like.  Generally we want to establish that sound predator management is an important component of successful deer management in Maine.

The third major element of the Maine Deer Management Network is the human side of the equation, both hunting and non-hunting.  No hunter lives and hunts in a vacuum.  Most of us hunt on someone else’s land, and the continuation of that privilege depends on how landowners and non-hunters perceive our activities.  As part of this network, we will find opportunities to strengthen the connection between hunters and the non-hunting public.  We will inform all Maine people about the impacts of hunting and outdoor recreation on Maine’s economy.  We intend to be a resource where hunters can find information on the latest hunting regulations, including legislative changes as they occur.  We will stress the importance of ethical hunting behavior, encourage active participation in game law compliance, and help define the importance of hunting and trapping as a means of keeping wildlife populations at compatible levels.

As a concept, the Maine Deer Management Network has been percolating for quite a while.  It is still a work in progress, but we are excited about its potential.  Over the next couple of months, will be putting this network online with the help of retired deer biologist, Gerry Lavigne.  Let us know what you think of the Maine Deer Management Network, and contact us with your ideas at any time.        
          

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Maine Predator Field Report Update

This morning I posted an update to the article I published last week on Maine’s predators from trappers in the field. One of the emails contained information about coyote trapping/snaring in New Brunswick, Canada. This latest update straightens out some numbers on trappers and harvest and the methods used for taking coyotes. Follow this link to read the update.

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The Hill Gould Buck: Bass Pro Shops, Kings of Bucks: Tales of the King, Downeast Maine

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