July 28, 2014

But, But, But Nature is Always in Balance……..Right?

The Maine coastal town of Bar Harbor, adjacent to Acadia National Park, is proposing a one-time deer hunting season in order to reduce the deer population. According to the article, collisions with cars has increased two and a half times since 2000 and the incidence of Lyme disease has gone up four times what it was five years ago. But, with no hunting season, I thought, according to human haters like the Humane Society of the United States, nature is always in balance and man should butt out and let animals do what they are going to do. So why a seeming increase in deer population?

Without spending a great deal of time looking at all the possibilities, I wonder if any of the considerations have to do with an increase, and a continuing increase, in the black bear population and a very large and hungry coyotes/wolf hybrid population throughout the Pine Tree State?

In examining historic documents, such as Early Maine Wildlife by William B. Krohn and Christopher L. Hoving, we learn that when Maine once had a thriving wolf population, and no coyotes, the deer migrated to the coast of Maine and in particular inhabited the many islands near the coast. The reason being that vicious predators drove the deer in search of safe havens.

Now, with vicious predators growing at substantial rates each year, like bears and wolf/coyote hybrids, perhaps more and more deer are being squeezed from inland locations to coastal areas. However, I would be willing to wager a great sum of money that such a scenario is not even considered in any discussions that might involve the hows and whys of too many deer on Acadia.

So much for balance of nature……but don’t go look.

Deadline Approaching for Any-Deer Permit Lottery Paper Application

Press Release from Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife:

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is reminding all hunters that the deadline to apply for the 2014 Any-Deer (Antlerless) Permit Lottery using a paper application is Friday, July 25. Online applicants have until 11:59 p.m. August 15th to apply at www.mefishwildlife.com.

Paper applications must be postmarked by July 25 or delivered in person to 284 State Street in Augusta before 5 p.m. on Friday, July 25. You can download the application at http://www.maine.gov/ifw/licenses_permits/lotteries/anydeer/pdfs/2014any-deerapplication.pdf.

Residents applying to hunt on their own land without a license and applicants with a legal residence outside the U.S. or Canada must use the paper application and may not apply for an any-deer permit online.

It is free to apply for the any-deer permit lottery. The lottery drawing will be held on September 9 and results will be posted on the Department’s web site that day after 2 p.m.

This year, there will be a total of 37,185 any deer permits available in 12 districts. These districts are primarily in southern and central Maine.

Deer hunting season (firearms) begins with Youth Deer Hunting Day on Oct. 25. Youth hunters may take a buck statewide or an antlerless deer only in the wildlife management districts where any-deer permits will be issued this fall.

Maine Resident Only Day will be held on Nov. 1 this year.

Deer hunting season (firearms) runs from Nov. 3 to Nov. 29.

For more information on deer hunting in Maine, visit www.mefishwildlife.com.

Time To Apply For Your Any Deer Permit

*Editor’s Note* – This editor would like to see the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife monitor other things besides snow and cold in making determinations on how to manage the deer herd. Or perhaps finding some other means of managing the deer herd other than guessing with numbers in the implementation of the allotment of “Any-Deer Permits.” I can wish can’t I?

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is now accepting applications for the 2014 Any Deer (Antlerless) Permit Lottery. Online applicants have until 11:59 p.m. August 15 to apply at www.mefishwildlife.com, and those who want to apply with a paper application must do so by the end of the day on July 25.

This year, there will be a total of 37,185 any deer permits available in 12 districts. These districts are primarily in southern and central Maine. This is a decrease from last year when there was 46, 710 permits available to hunters.

“In the fall of 2013, we saw an increase in the number of successful hunters for the third straight season, a sign that the deer herd is rebounding from the back-to-back severe winters in 2008 and 2009,” said Chandler Woodcock, Commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. “While the deer population has made gains since 2009, this past year’s long, cold winter dictates that we move cautiously with the number of any deer permits we issue.”

The department monitors winter severity throughout the state in order to assess the impact on deer. White-tailed deer are at the northern edge of their range in Maine, and winter severity is a limiting factor concerning population growth.

This past winter marked the first in four years with above average winter severity throughout the state, the first since 2009. As a result of the winter, IFW wildlife biologists have recommended decreasing the number of Any Deer permits throughout the state. Earlier this year, the department decreased the number of moose permits available and suspended the turkey season in Northern Maine.

The department uses the Any Deer permit system to manage the white-tailed deer population in the state. By controlling the harvest of female deer in the 29 regional wildlife management districts throughout the state, biologists can manage population trends.

It is free to apply for the Any Deer permit lottery. The lottery drawing will be held on September 9, and results will be posted on the Department’s web site after 2 p.m.

Hunters who do not receive an Any Deer permits are only allowed to shoot an antlered deer.

Paper applications must be postmarked by July 25 or delivered in person to 284 State Street in Augusta before 5 p.m. on that date.

Online applications are due by 11:59 p.m. on August 15 and can be found by visiting www.mefishwildlife.com.

Hunters during the 2013 deer season killed 24,795 deer, an increase of 15% over the 2012 harvest of 21,552 deer. The 2013 harvest is the third consecutive year the deer harvest has increased, reflective of a deer population that has grown since the back-to-back severe winters of 2008 and 2009.

Residents applying to hunt on their own land without a license and applicants with a legal residence outside the U.S. or Canada must use the paper application and may not apply for an Any Deer permit online.

Deer hunting season (firearms) begins with Youth Deer Hunting Day on Oct. 25. Youth hunters may take a buck statewide or an antlerless deer only in the wildlife management districts where Any Deer permits will be issued this fall.

Maine Resident Only Day will be held on Nov. 1 this year.

Deer hunting season (firearms) runs from Nov. 3 to Nov. 29.

For more information on deer hunting in Maine, visit www.mefishwildlife.com.

Shock! Predation Number One Factor in Deer Fawn Deaths

“In a 2003 study of fawn mortality, the Pennsylvania Game Commission captured and collared 110 fawns from an agricultural area and 108 from a heavily forested region. Nine weeks after capture, 28 percent of the farmland fawns, and 43 percent of the big-woods deer, were dead. Twenty-six weeks after capture, mortality rates were 42% and 55% respectively. And those numbers closely mirror to an ongoing fawn-mortality study in Wisconsin.

In other words, there’s close to a 50% chance that the fawn I saw wobbling down my folk’s driveway is not going to be alive by the end of November. Predation is the number one factor in fawn deaths (black bears and coyotes top the list, depending on the area, with bobcats taking a few), followed by “natural causes” (usually starvation), vehicle accidents, and finally, hunting.

Research like this is important, especially as predator numbers are generally on the rise across much of the nation. Bear populations are strong in the North, and southern biologists have been dealing with a coyote boom for years. It wasn’t long ago when the general attitude of game managers was to dismiss the impact of predators on deer populations. Today’s biologists have no such luxury and must factor this in when setting quotas for hunting seasons.”<<<Read More>>>

Finally, Maine Releases 2013 Deer Harvest Data

It won’t be long now before hunters in Maine will begin getting prepared for the 2014 white-tailed deer hunting season and to help get you “pumped up” the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has released the deer harvest results for the 1947 2013 deer hunting season.

What’s the hold up on the bear harvest data?

Wisconsin: Seven Years to Go From 2 Million Deer to Ending Antlerless Hunting

Weather and severe winters seem to be wreaking some havoc for white-tailed deer in some northern tier of states and it appears Wisconsin took its share of devastation. Sometimes finding blame for poor management in weather or global warming, is a growing trend.

Less than seven years ago, Wisconsin was in the middle of a program called “Earn-a-Buck” where hunters, before they could legally harvest an antlered deer, had to take a doe deer first. This was an effort, officials said, to reduce a deer population that was close to 2 million estimated statewide.

In 2006 Wisconsin officials were begging hunters to shoot more does to reduce the deer population.

Today, we read that Wisconsin has lost so many deer in at least 17 of their northern counties, they are planning to end all harvesting of doe (antlerless) deer. According to the linked-to article, the cause is being blamed on back-to-back severe winters.

Maine’s Number One Game Animal Getting No Attention

Below is a graphic that shows the length of time it has taken the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) to release deer harvest data to the public over the past nine years. This includes this year, of which the harvest data has not been released as of this posting. The graphic was put together by a reader.

Many states that have deer and other game animal harvests, provide the public with harvest data, even more complex and containing more and better information in a matter of hours or days from the close of each season. Maine appears to be the slowest of them all.

For some it’s just the number of deer taken that they are interested in. Maine sportsmen don’t even get that in a timely manner. Spring and summer fishing is well underway, with the least of thoughts about the last deer hunting season. Maybe that’s the reason it takes approaching 6 months to get the data. Out of sight and out of mind?

For others, myself included, I like to examine all the data. As a matter of fact, I would like all the data collected on deer and used to calculate population estimates and how many, if any, permits will be issued. For those of us interested in better understanding of what is going on with deer management, things like pre harvest and post harvest information would be helpful. In addition, fawn recruitment rates, age structure, etc.

This year, as of today, sportsmen have been waiting 152 days for deer harvest data. That’s the longest time in the past nine years. The average over the previous 8 years has been 99.75 days. That in and of itself is abysmal, but why 152 days.

In George Smith’s article today in the Bangor Daily News, he says, “The sad fact is that the agency doesn’t know how many deer died this past winter, or how many deer we have in the state. Maine’s #1 game animal isn’t getting the attention and research needed to assure good decisions on harvest, habitat, and other critical issues. The Maine Game Plan for Deer has fallen far short of its goals.”

And maybe this dragging of the feet, while butterflies are counted, is a substantiation of Smith’s frustrated concern. In a state were once simple deer tagging numbers were readily published in the newspapers only hours after a busy hunting weekend, the Maine deer hunter has to wait 152 days…..and counting. I guess this is progress? In a day and age where information is instantaneous, 152 days to wait for deer harvest data? If I did my job that lousy, I would have been fired and would be some surprised if I hadn’t been. And I guess that’s progress too!

The person who developed this graphic used the start date for counting each year as December 15th. The muzzleloader season may end a few days before that. He included weekends and holidays. He used today’s date for the 2013 calculation but the report is not done, so it will likely be greater than 152 days. He used this calculator to do the dates. The dates on the online screens vary by location. If they did not have it proudly displayed he used the document date tag on the webpage.

HarvestTimeline

THERUT

Some might be wondering if this is a new word. Well, it might be, but if you pronounce it correctly or as intended, you soon will learn the meaning……and the photo below should give it away.

TheRut

Maine IFW Reduces Moose Permits

*Editor’s Note* – The below press release states that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) has opted to reduce the number of “female moose permits available” due to “the impact of winter tick.” It should be noted that hunters and other outdoor sportsmen have been saying for a few years now that ticks were one of the things killing off moose and yet what we were hearing was that Maine’s moose population had grown to where some estimated it to be approaching 100,000.

MDIFW should be commended for taking action to mitigate the moose losses. However, at the same time I cannot help but question some of the information that we are being given in this press release and other previous media reports. The release says there was a loss of 30% of female moose where normally it would be 10%. We are not told the mortality rate of male moose (assuming this includes calves). If those numbers are accurate, along with estimates of total moose populations at 75,000, combined with an estimated 1:1 ratio of males to females, 11,250 female moose died this winter (again, assuming this is total mortality). If we make the assumption that if 30% of female moose died from all effects of winter, then can we also conclude that male moose died at a rate of 30%, or higher? That would mean total winter mortality on moose stands at around 22,500 creatures. That’s serious!

Hopefully, the ongoing moose study will also provide biologists with more accurate information (that will be shared) on where the calf recruitment stands. If that number is below sustainable levels, Maine has a very serious moose issue, which helps to explain why Lee Kantar and company recommended a reduction in cow moose permits by 1,015.

Let’s not lose track of the fact of the mixed messages that have been coming out of MDIFW during this long, difficult winter. First of note is that Kyle Ravana, MDIFW’s new head deer biologist, said in late March that he estimated the winter mortality on deer to be 12%. Can we even take that estimate seriously considering Kantar’s estimate of 30% moose loss? Granted ticks don’t bother deer like moose but if those numbers are accurate then perhaps Maine’s tick problem is more of a problem than we are being told….or it’s something else.

Second mixed message deals with a claim that was made by Lee Kantar and reported on the WCSHTV website back on May 2, that the Maine population “was holding steady.” That was qualified with a “however” however. The however being that Kantar “suspects” the new and ongoing moose study will reveal a lower than expected calf recruitment. Why and how does this, if at all, contribute to a 30% winter mortality on moose? MDIFW appears to be doing a lousy job of getting information out to the public in any kind of accurate and consistent fashion. Get it? On May 2 we are told the moose population is holding steady but calf recruitment may be a concern. on May 9, we are told the moose population was cut by 30% and a substantial reduction in moose permits is forthcoming. In seven days all this was discovered? It makes little sense.

Who are we then to believe and why?

And on a related note, it appears that this past winter was one of those winters that all the wildlife managers have been asking for to reduce the population of winter ticks. It will be of great interest to me to learn just how much effect it will have. The excuse has always been global warming and with that excuse the lamentation that “what we need are some old fashioned winters with cold temperatures and heavy snow to kill off the ticks,” has bounced around in the echo chamber for years. WE SHALL SEE!

AUGUSTA, Maine — Due to a peak year for winter ticks and their impact on the moose population this winter, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is reducing the number of moose permits available to hunters this fall.

Earlier today, The IFW’s advisory council accepted the department’s recommendation to reduce the number of moose permits available for the 2014 season. This fall, the department will issue 3,095 permits statewide, down from the 4,110 that were available last year.

“Based upon the research of our biologists, I feel it is prudent to decrease the number of female moose permits available,” said IFW Commissioner Chandler Woodcock. “Decreasing the amount of permits will help lessen the impact of winter tick on the state’s moose population.”

In particular, the department decreased the number of antlerless only permits that are available to hunters. Antlerless only permits were decreased in wildlife management Districts 1-5, 7-9 and 12-13. This is the northern and northwestern part of Maine, including the northern portions of Oxford, Franklin, Somerset, Piscataquis, Penobscot and Aroostook Counties.

Winter ticks have been documented in Maine since the 1930s. Periodically, there are peak years when the number of ticks increase substantially.

Each year, IFW biologists sample moose for winter tick densities at moose registration stations during the moose hunt. This past fall, biologists noted one of the highest tick counts in the past 10 years.

In making the recommendation to reduce permits, IFW biologists also used data from the radio collar moose study that is ongoing. Early data from the study shows that there was about a 30 percent mortality rate for adult females, which is above the average 10 percent winter mortality rate for female moose.

IFW wildlife biologists have also documented a number of moose winter kills throughout the state. Many of the moose carcasses are engorged with winter ticks, and some are practically bare of hair as they have tried to rub the ticks off.

“Maine has had winter tick for decades, and Maine’s moose population has encountered peak tick years before, as they happen periodically,” said IFW moose biologist Lee Kantar. “Even with the increase in ticks this year, by decreasing the number of antlerless permits available, we can continue to meet our population objectives for moose.”

Deer Herd Numbers Plummet Due to Demands for Ethanol

Kreil said more than 2 million acres of wildlife habitat has been converted to cropland in the past year due to higher commodity prices. Tree buffers known as shelter belts also are being removed at an “unprecedented” pace, especially in the eastern two-thirds of the state, he said.

“It’s being done for additional farmland and the easier movement of farm equipment,” Kreil said.<<<Read More>>>