January 28, 2015

The Fuss Over Maine’s “Endangered” Lynx: What About the Whitetail Deer?

While agenda-driven environmentalists, who couldn’t recognize an honest scientific process if it lifted it’s leg and peed on their shoes, fret and stew over the Canada lynx in northern regions of Maine, the whitetail deer is moving toward extirpation. For those who pay attention at all to history, the Canada lynx was called the “deer wolf.” Note: Post normal science and history would tell us that, like the fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood, early settlers calling the Canada lynx the deer wolf was probably also a myth to scare children through abuse. Anything to protect a predator at the cost of the destruction of other species.

There’s not much sense in trying to sugar coat the fact that in northern Maine, the whitetail deer is struggling to persist. Excuses are abundant: severe winters, deer are at their northern range (although further north in portions of Canada there’s not necessarily the same struggle), loss of habitat, the pope is Catholic, etc.

And yet, as the deer population there in Maine struggles, other species that compete with, threaten and prey upon the deer are overprotected – black bear, bobcat, Canada lynx and coyote/wolf hybrids. Because the whitetail deer has historically been the species of focus for most hunters, why then are we protecting everything that wants to destroy the deer? Maybe I just answered my own question, if you follow.

Now that the totalitarians have taken complete control of the Canada lynx, there’s little now that Maine’s wildlife managers can do to mitigate the loss of deer due to loup cervier, the deer wolf. The same act of wildlife management extortion, via the Endangered Species Act, has further severely restricted trapping and so what now will become of coyotes and bobcats? I suspect increased predation on whitetail deer.

For now, Maine is off the hook as far as putting an end to bear hunting but don’t take that to the bank. So long as Maine Guides control what the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife does with the implementation of bear hunts, I don’t expect any real effort to reduce bear numbers in areas where the deer are struggling. This is where, as a matter of convenience, anyone can play any one of a number of those excuse cards that explain why the deer are disappearing. I’ll bet this is a good chance to get a grant to study global warming in Maine and it’s affects on deer. Line up!

Nobody else will make notice that the deer are, more than likely, feeling the effects of hydatid cysts on lungs and other organs, that reduces their ability to evade predators.

Maine biologists reported, albeit inaccurately and incompletely, that moose examined in portions of Aroostook County had, what officials called, “lung worms.” What the moose had were hydatid cysts, the result of ingestion of Echinococcus granulosus eggs found in the scat of wild canines. Ingestion of these eggs by humans can be fatal. The more the coyote/wolf hybrid is protected the greater the chance of infecting wild ungulate populations in Maine (deer, moose) and putting humans at risk.

Because the cysts were found in moose, the likelihood of finding similar cysts in deer grows. The last thing Maine’s deer herd needs is another enemy. Wintering deer can struggle to exist under normal circumstances but if moose and deer struggle to breathe due to cysts on the lungs, liver, brain and muscle tissue, odds of surviving the onslaught of predators goes down.

Over the past several months, all focus has been on defeating an anti human, bear referendum and now it has shifted to Canada lynx. The deer still suffers while managers hope and pray for some global warming. The question I have is what will then become the excuse for disappearing deer herd when Maine’s climate becomes like Virginia’s?

NorthernMaineDeerHarvestLynx

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Because The Coyote is Coming

More and more studies are showing that the presence of large predators affects deer populations. When there are too many coyotes, for example, in an area that will not support that number, coyotes raise the dickens with deer populations.

Reading this article (linked to below) I am reminded of no fewer than two articles I have written in the past. One was in July of 2010. It was actually a republication of an article written by Dr. Charles Kay for Muley Crazy Magazine called, “Predator Mediated Competition.” If you are not familiar with that term, I suggest reading Kay’s article as it will help to better understand the issue as well as the article I have linked to. In short, predators, such as coyotes, so long as there exists more than one prey species, could drive a certain species, say the whitetail deer or mule deer, into unsustainable levels and keep them there.

The second article was in reference to Dr. Valerius Geist who attended a gathering of hunters and game managers in Virginia concerned with too large populations of whitetail deer. The article I wrote was in December of 2010 but Geist’s comment was made in 1994.

…in 1994, Dr. Valerius Geist, while attending the annual Southeast Deer Study Group meeting in Charlottesville, Virginia, said the following as it pertained to a perceived “problem” among wildlife managers in dealing with too large populations of whitetail deer.

“Enjoy your problem while it lasts, because the coyote is coming. Once he’s here, you’ll miss your deer problems.”

It now appears that in places where once there was a problem with too many deer, the deer are disappearing leaving managers wondering what happened. Here’s just one example of that.

“On a 2,000 acre tract of land in north Alabama, biologists at the University of Georgia’s Deer Lab compiled a different study. In the area 22 coyotes and 10 bobcats were removed before fawning season. Fawn survival increased by 250 percent.”

“An Auburn University deer study showed that trapping and removing coyotes and other predators improved fawn survival in that area by about 80 percent. The University of Georgia deer researchers analyzed 353 coyote scat samples from two public hunting areas. During the fawning time, coyotes switched almost exclusively to fawns for food.”<<<Read More>>>

The Cruelties of Mother Nature

In Northern Maine, deer became trapped on an ice floe as it began moving downstream. Of the four deer, one is believed to have made it to safety. Read more here.

St.JohnRiver

But, What About Predators?

Here we go! Whining and complaining about how whitetail deer harvests in many “deer hunting” states continues to drop. Complain and complain, have meetings and do some more complaining and yet? Not one stinking word spoken about predators. Not one.

If I keep saying the same thing over and over and over, maybe the problem will magically correct itself.

“The causes offered up by officials are many and varied including recent severe winters, disease, tough hunting conditions, intentional herd reduction, and fewer doe tags. Seldom do you hear anything about habitat and hunter-access loss, declining hunter interest, and mismanagement of the habitat and the deer herd…<<<Read More>>>

Round and round the mulberry bush, the monkey chased the weasel. The monkey thought it was all in fun…..POP GOES THE WEASEL.

Deer Season in Northeast Ends on Tough Note

“The early arrival of winter has certainly made for an interesting end to big game seasons. The snow caused deer to yard up already in some areas, and guys I have talked to have seen very little movement over the past couple of weeks.”<<<Read More>>>
SnowDepthDec15

Two Young Bucks Captured on Trail Cam Sparring

There are some pretty bright and clear photographs taken from a game camera that show two young bucks, butting heads and practicing their skills for another day in their future. Some of the photos and the story can be found on the Bangor Daily News website, written by John Holyoke.

The title of this piece, in my opinion, is just a tad bit over stated.

Glenburn

Beagle Tracks Wounded Deer

SOURCE:

Mountain Lion Takes Down 160-Class Mule Deer

Maine Hunter Takes 274-lb Buck

“Alfred Bowden Jr. knew the buck he shot back on Nov. 5 was big — he had shot four other deer that weighed more than 200 pounds in his hunting career, after all — but when the deer was hoisted on a scale a Bishop’s General Store in Jackman, he didn’t believe what he saw.”<<<Read More>>>

Jackman

Maine IFW Hunting Report For November 21, 2014

This report is issued by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife:

Southern Lakes Region – Region A

“Hunters are seeing plenty of deer. Some hunters are being selective right now and passing on does or smaller bucks,” said IFW Wildlife Scott Lindsay. “Usually around now, we will start to see more of these hunters taking deer.”

Lindsay said that while numbers may be down a bit from last year as expected, hunters are still seeing good numbers of deer and good size ones as well.

“While there haven’t been any huge deer, we are seeing plenty of deer in the 200-210 pound range throughout our region,” said Lindsay. “We are even seeing some of these large deer in some of our more developed coastal towns.”

Pheasant season is still ongoing, with more releases of pheasants planned for the Bragdon site in Wells and Blackberry Hill area in Berwick. Hunters are reminded that a pheasant stamp is needed to hunt pheasants. For more information on the pheasant hunting program, please visit: http://www.maine.gov/ifw/hunting_trapping/hunting/pheasant.htm.

Central and Midcoast Maine

In central Maine, many deer hunters continue to find success after some early season struggles with heavy snow.

“I know things are going well because I haven’t heard any complaints,” said IFW wildlife biologist Keel Kemper.

Kemper said that some tagging stations and meat cutters are up from last year, and other areas are down. It has been an odd deer season, as some areas had upwards of 16 inches of snow early in the deer season.

“We had a slow start to the season, but since the snow has melted, things are coming along,” said Kemper. While most hunters enjoy a tracking snow, 16 inches of it was too much of a good thing.

Kemper said that while he has seen good numbers of deer, he has only seen a “smidgeon” of deer over 200 pounds so far. He expects that to change “as the rut is starting, and the bucks are chasing does.”

Waterfowl hunters in the area are also having success, with good wild rice crops at the Ruffingham Meadow Wildlife Management Area in Searsmont as well as other places.

Downeast Region

Downeast, it seems like old times.

“Things are going well…Down along the coast, it’s like the old traditional deer season,” said IFW wildlife biologist Tom Schaeffer.

Schaeffer said there seems to be a noticeable difference this year with more people driving around dressed in orange, and the occasional deer hanging in a successful hunter’s yard.

“The effort is very noticeable this year, mostly in the central and western part of Washington county,” said Schaeffer.

Already Schaeffer said he has seen a good crop of yearling deer and younger bucks.

“The younger aged deer are well-represented. If we get a continuation of some decent winters, coastal Washington County could be better than it has been in a long time,” said Schaeffer.

For the first two weeks of the season, Schaeffer noted that it was the best deer hunting conditions he has seen since 1988. He said there has been tracking snow for much of the season, cool weather, and more importantly, there hasn’t been a lot of warmth, wind and rain.

“Last Saturday was a fantastic day with the tracking snow,” he added.

Of note, Schaeffer recently saw on 234 pound buck, as well as a hefty 257 pound buck. He figures he might see a couple more of them before the season ends.

Rangeley Lakes and Western Mountains Region

Seems to be business as usual in the western mountains regions of Maine.

“We’ve had good conditions as it is still cold, with snow through most of the region,” said IFW wildlife biologist Chuck Hulsey. “We’ve had some great days to hunt, with some soft snow at times.”

Hulsey has been gathering biological data from harvested deer throughout the region. This gives biologists insight into the health of the deer herd.

He’s gathered samples from private citizens with deer hanging on their property, meat cutters, taxidermists and others.

Hulsey will take note of the general condition of the deer, including fat content, and talk with hunters to find out more about what they are seeing, how hunters are faring, and other related info. In some cases, biologists will remove a gland to test for chronic wasting disease, and with freshly killed deer, may draw a blood sample to test for eastern equine encephalitis.

Checking harvested deer is invaluable as it provides both biological data with the deer, and anecdotal evidence concerning hunter effort and participation.

All this data is combined to give a clearer picture of the age structure and health of the deer herd, and gives the department the tools they need to manage the deer population.

Moosehead Region

Three-quarters of the way through deer season, there are some good signs in the Moosehead region.

“Things are pretty good. We are seeing more deer in the southern part of the region, and more deer in the northern part,” said IFW wildlife biologist Doug Kane. Oddly enough, there have been fewer deer registered this year right in the Greenville area.

“I think hunters are seeing deer throughout the region, so they are traveling outside of Greenville because they are optimistic,” said Kane.

Conditions are good throughout the region, as there was snow from Monson north earlier this week. Hunters have been using it to locate where deer are already congregating, or to track a buck. Kane did mention that with the cold weather, it was a bit noisy in the woods.

For the next two weekends, Kane and other IFW personnel will be setting up a check station at the Greenville rest area where they will check between 20 and 30 deer on both Saturday and Sunday.

The biological data gathered gives biologists insight into the health of the deer herd in the region. They also gather a lot of anecdotal data on what hunters are seeing not only for deer, but for moose and grouse as well.

Penobscot Region

“Deer season is going pretty well,” said IFW wildlife biologist Mark Caron in the Penobscot region. “We are getting a lot of good reports of hunters seeing deer, both does and bucks.”

Caron thinks that deer in his region may have fared through the past winter a little better than initially believed. “The deer got a break when we had the thaw midwinter, and even though winter hung on into April, they did not burn as much fat.”

Throughout the region, all of the tagging stations appear to be doing fairly well.

“We had all that snow, and that tracking was good, which helped many hunters,” said Caron.

Caron noted that there was on monster buck killed last weekend. It was a 19 point, 254-pound buck shot in Prentiss. He also got reports of another 200 pounder that was shot in Stacyville. The condition of the deer that Caron has seen are good, with plenty of fat, as it was a decent year for apples and acorns where they appear in the region.

If you have already tagged out with your deer, Caron says that the duck hunting has been very good this year, with whistlers coming in heavy over the Penobscot, and mallards still around big time. Some ponds are skimming over, congregating birds for a bit, but they usually are opened up again by evening.

Aroostook Region

A mid-week snowfall left two to three inches of snow on the ground in most of the Aroostook region, and deer hunters in the area are doing well.

“Registration stations are having one of their better years up here,” said IFW wildlife biologist Rich Hoppe. “We may not be seeing the number of hunters that we have seen in years past, but the deer hunters up here are quite content, and the deer population still seems to be on the upswing.”

Hoppe expects the good hunting to continue, with the recent snow, and the deer beginning to move with the onset of the rut this past week.

Hoppe says he has seen quite a few crotch-horns and spike horns from hunters who have been hunting along the edges of fields and roads. He’s checked larger deer, and those are coming from hunters who are getting off the roads and deeper into the woods.

Bird season goes till the end of December and bird hunters are still finding success along hedgerows in the woods. There’s still fruit on many trees, said Hoppe, and birds seem to be all over the place. “We’ve had a very good bird year as well,” said Hoppe.