In articles posted in some Maine newspapers, as well as on George Smith’s blog, the opening paragraph may very well cause readers to think that hunters are the cause of Lyme disease. His statement says, “For more than a century, Maine deer have been managed for maximum populations that benefit deer hunters. But Lyme disease is changing the discussion, and is likely to force Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to reduce deer populations in coastal, southern, and central Maine – even while they struggle to rebuild deer populations in western and northern Maine.”
I have no reason to believe that Smith is attempting to blame the prevalence of Lyme disease on hunters. It is, however, important to choose our words carefully. There is a distinct separation between the management of deer in Maine, or any other state, for surplus harvest(hunter benefit) and intentionally managing deer herds at too high a number in order that disease occurs and/or is spread. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife(MDIFW) does not manage deer populations at high population numbers, regardless of public health and safety issues, simply to benefit hunters.
While the remainder of Smith’s article deals with the facts of how towns and communities are trying to deal with Lyme disease, it is not the fault of hunters. On the contrary. Hunting is one of the proven elements of deer management in which population numbers can be controlled. When wildlife managers are limited through restricted land access, stealing from them the ability to reduce and maintain healthy deer populations, then the results are what some Maine residents are seeing now. If hunters were allowed into these regions and MDIFW were free to “manage” these deer herds as they would like, the issues of Lyme disease would probably be reduced significantly.
Readers need to understand the functions and purposes of wildlife management and in this case the tying of the hands behind the backs of MDIFW deer managers prohibiting them the necessary tools to control deer populations.
IT IS NOT THE FAULT OF HUNTERS!