October 24, 2014

Hunters Do NOT Cause Lyme Disease

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!

You Can’t Borrow My Axe Because It’s Tuesday

I have, on occasion – okay, well maybe a bit more than occasionally – told the ancient story of how a neighbor came to ask if he could borrow an axe. The man said, “No, it’s Tuesday.” In puzzlement the neighbor asks, “What’s Tuesday have to do with it?” The man replied, “Nothing! But if I don’t want you to borrow my axe, one excuse is as good as another.”

And so we have it. From an article found in the Jamestown Press, the island located in Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island, is overrun with deer and people are fretting about contracting Lyme disease. The Town Council have approved a plan to allow volunteer hunters to kill the deer with a goal to reduce the deer population on the island down to about 10 deer per square mile. The current density stands at around 50 deer per square mile.

While it is hoped that reducing the deer population, down to something manageable, it will also decrease the incidence of Lyme disease occurring in humans. However, there are those opposed to killing deer to solve the problem.

There is considerable arguments for and against whether culling deer herds in Lyme tick-infested regions reduces Lyme disease. We know that deer aren’t the cause of Lyme disease, they just become a good breeding source for the tick that carries the disease. The thought process is that reducing the number of deer will decrease the amount of tick reproduction. But opponents to killing deer (I guess they would rather kill humans) say reducing the deer population doesn’t do any good…..well, unless of course you lower it to say, 10 deer per square mile and keep it that way and that probably would involve an ongoing management plan that involves continuous harvesting of deer.

Odd that while not the Lyme tick, the winter “moose tick” in Maine is troublesome and biologists there believe that reducing the number of moose would result in a reduction of the ticks. But that’s moose ticks and nothing would be as absurd as concluding that reducing deer numbers would reduce Lyme ticks. Pffft!

But what’s this got to do with the neighbor and his axe? Well, nothing but it does have to do with excuses. Based on the article linked to above, it is loaded with whining, bitching and complaining about everything that won’t work and yet, nobody offers any ideas of what will. Is this a case of people just not wanting anybody to hunt deer and so one excuse is just as good as another?

Maine “Any-Deer Permit” Lottery Results

Published online through the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Website, hunters can find results of the recent lottery draw for “Any-Deer Permits.” An “Any-Deer Permit” allows a hunter to harvest a deer of either sex within the zone for which the applicant had applied.

Click on this link and then the matching first letter of an applicant’s last name. Scroll to search for your name.

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