June 22, 2017

2016 Deer Harvest Data is Out…Finally

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) has finally released the harvest data for the 2016 deer hunting season. You can find a map on the MDIFW website. Where’s the written summary? Do we wait another 6 months for that or has work become so overwhelming that biolo”jests” just don’t have the time or resources?

With all the hoopla about how terrific the deer herd has become, due to those “mild” winters – caused by global warming of course – the total deer harvest for 2016 rose to a meager 23,512 up slightly from the previous 2 seasons and down from 2013’s harvest.

The harvest trend seems to be telling us a bit more truth as to what is trending with Maine’s deer herd. It just isn’t as robust as salesmen at MDIFW want to convince the public it is. And yet, MDIFW has announced they intend to increase the number of “Any-Deer Permits” up to over 66,000, an increase of 20,295 from last season and 37,280 from the 2015 season. Seriously? Seriously!

These numbers just don’t seem to make a lot of sense even when you try to make sense out of allotment of permits according by Wildlife Management Districts (WMDs). Permits are intended to be allotted in WMDs where deer herd numbers are bleak.

One has to wonder if the MDIFW is so desperate to make payroll and pay retirement funds, that they are going to do it at the expense of furthering the demise of the deer herd. If not, then it can only be determined that MDIFW intends to deliberately reduce the deer herd to where annual deer harvest for hunters will run in the mid to high teens of thousands. I would think even the coyote and bear lovers would be upset that MDIFW is planning to take away one of their favorite diets.

Below is a chart that shows deer harvests from 1999, along with comparatives which helps to give us some information on trends. From what I see, the trend is toward a lousier and lousier deer herd.

Your tax dollars at work…or play.

 

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More Nonsensical Nonsense About Man’s “Impoverish”ing Wildlife

As nauseating as it is, we hear it all the time – how man is destroying everything and how man is disrupting the balance of nature… which doesn’t exist. Most often mixed in with the rant about how man treats animals we hear, although most often implied, that man should just go away. That, of course, can only be defined as man must die in order to save the animals and our ecosystems.

Last time I checked the Earth is inhabited with a variety of plant and animal life, and while many often want to see man disappear, none are willing to step forward and be the first to do what they have deemed in their tiny minds as the only right thing to do to “Save the Planet.”

In addition, we can also read really stupid things. Here’s an example. This author evidently believes that it is wrong to “manage” game species for surplus harvest. He writes, “A typical response of utilitarians to environmental harm is to call for better management.  So, for example, wildlife agencies manage game species and their habitat so that more of the desired species are available for “harvest.”  In Maine, we manage coyote (that is encourage hunting coyotes) because of the belief that coyotes reduce the number of deer for hunters.”

Simply stated, this is a reasonable approach to utilizing a valuable resource rather than letting it go to waste. Science does show us that within a robust population of, let’s say deer, a percentage of those animals will suffer and die simply because there are too many of them. Is this somehow better than harvesting a percentage to fulfill the wants and needs of people?

Although we could argue this point until the moon turns blue, a point I wanted to make is that while this author finds it wrong to manipulate animal and game populations for the benefit of all, including hunting, he evidently sees no problem with manipulating feral and domestic cat populations for the benefit of “saving” song birds. “As I pointed out in an early blog…, feral cats and cats whose owners let them roam outside kill hundreds of millions, maybe a billion, song birds each year.  Why is it that we get to choose that a species we domesticated is more important than wild birds?”

The fact is, people are never going to take it upon themselves to either leave their cats, and all their other pets indoors. Therefore, the only other course of action to “save song birds” is to kill cats. While the author questions whether manipulating the number of coyotes that kill deer, that are used as a food source, is an ethical thing to do, evidently the feral and domestic cats don’t share the same rights of existence as the coyote. In addition, I guess it just depends on one’s selfish desires of how they want to take advantage of wildlife.

No matter how you view the use of our God-given resources, I wonder, if ever, people will one day realize and admit that man is on this earth and that it belongs to them…even if for a short time? We simply cannot approach wildlife management with any formula that does not include the existence of man.

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Doing a Rotten Job

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QDMA Whitetail Deer Report for 2016

Below is the link to the 2016 Quality Deer Management Association Report on whitetail deer. Bear in mind a couple of things. One, I am not a very big fan of QDMA for various reasons. One reason is because I believe they put too much focus on “trophy” hunting and manipulating the resource towards that end. Another issue to consider, should you choose to review this report, is that it is a great example of the saying, “Statistic prove that statistics can prove anything.” While QDMA is presenting information about declines and increases in yearling buck harvest and/or buck harvest in general, as well as antlerless deer, it offers no explanations of why. It’s one thing to report declines or increases in yearling buck harvest, for example, even to go to the point of suggesting trends, but to make specific claims requires much greater knowledge and information about all aspects that effect deer management and hunting harvests.

One might suspect that with QDMA’s insistent pushing for antler point restrictions (for trophy hunting purposes), it would seem logical that the buck harvest might decrease when such restrictions are put in place. The same kind of unknown comparison can be applied to reports in changes of antlerless deer. In states, like Maine, that use “Any-Deer Permits” to regulate the populations of deer, significant changes in the allotment of such permits, as has been the case in recent years, obviously affects the harvest data.

That isn’t to say the report is worthless. It contains interesting data and if taken in its context and applied subjectively and honestly, within the smallest denominator of available data in each state, one might find some interesting comparatives, assuming most things remain consistent…and they don’t.

QDMA’s Whitetail Report 2016

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Out of Control “Any-Deer Permit” Allocations?

You can do most anything with numbers to make a point or to raise a lot of questions. If you add some smoke and mirrors, the sky is the limit in what you can do.

Maine deer managers are proposing to increase “Any-Deer Permits” (ADP) to over 66,000 – a tripling of the number of permits issued in 2011 (26,390). Has Maine’s deer population tripled statewide or within Wildlife Management Districts in six years?

State deer managers use the issuance of ADPs in specific Wildlife Management Districts (WMD) to control deer populations. Reports are stating that deer managers say they now need to reduce deer populations in some WMDs and therefore the need to increase ADPs. However, they also report that they are going to go ahead and issue some ADPs in WMDs that are in desperate need to grow the deer population simply to “provide hunting opportunity.”

Not that many years ago, Maine told people that the deer population exceeded 300,000 and the goal was to grow it even larger. During those banner years (if they even existed) ADPs issued amounted to around the mid -70,000. Now one report from a spokesperson with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) said the state has 240,000 deer. I doubt that, but we have few options than to use that as a baseline.

What doesn’t quite add up for me is even when taking into account the issuance of ADPs according to the needs of each WMD, how can the issuing of 66,000 ADPs for a population of 240,000 deer be reasonable when 70,000 permits were issued when it was guessed the deer population to be over 300,000? Something has changed.

By issuing permits in WMDs that have in the range of 4-6 deer per square mile, simply to “provide hunting opportunity,” seems irresponsible, especially when managers claim they are trying to figure out how to grow deer in these regions.

Another question that needs to be asked, it appears that the largest increases in ADPs come in regions where the human population is higher. The MDIFW has also said that it is important to reduce the number of deer in some Southern and Central regions to reduce the spread of tick-born diseases. Is this decision based on pressure from those claiming to have scientific evidence on this issue, or does MDIFW actually have scientific evidence to show the need to reduce deer numbers? We know that MDIFW, and most all wildlife management departments nationwide, manage wildlife mostly according to the demands of the public, while putting science on the far back burner. Is that what’s going on here and how much so?

It seems odd to me that MDIFW seems to be saying that too many deer causes the population to become unhealthy and may cause a public health concern. For that reason they are eager to cut down the deer population. However, when it comes to moose management, too many moose has resulted in a severe outbreak of winter ticks, which are in turn killing the moose population, and yet MDIFW wants to continue to grow the moose population. What’s going on anyway?

At a time when Maine is still in need of growing and stabilizing a deer herd, even preparing for the next round of “severe winters,” it may be necessary in a few WMDs to reduce deer numbers (a feat difficult to achieve because there is limited land access to hunt), but seems utterly irresponsible to issue any ADPs in WMDs that have no deer to begin with.

One has to wonder if this effort to appease hunters isn’t more about finding ways to cover up the decade long dismal deer harvest.

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Maine Legislature Axes Many Deer Hunting Bills

George Smith’s website lists all the deer hunting proposed pieces of legislation that got shot down. Thanks to the Legislature for addressing this list of useless bills in the fashion they did. It appears that many think “Any-Deer” permits are something to be used for special interest groups only.

In the meantime, those of us who care, are still waiting for the Department of Inland Fisheries and wildlife to release the harvest data for the 2016 deer hunt. So far, this is the third slowest in getting the report out.

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Islesboro Residents Concerned Over Lyme Disease, But Not Concerned Enough Evidently

ISLESBORO — Early this decade, concerns over a large deer population – and the spread of Lyme disease from deer ticks – helped to unite residents of Islesboro.

But a special shotgun hunt for three years did little to thin the whitetail herd. And today, the island’s 650 year-rounds residents are divided over how – or even whether – to reduce it.<<<Read More>>>

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Controlling Coyotes Saves Deer

Controlling politicians may save more deer than killing coyotes.

From Outdoors in Maine:

“We can whine and moan that the state needs to do this and that, but it may never happen soon enough due to political reasons,” he said. “We as sportsmen need to keep taking it upon ourselves to do everything we can. Why? We are the effective ones! Keep up the great work.”

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Alphonse Chase: 17-Point Typical Boone & Crockett

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Whitetail Deer: Able to Leap Tall Houses in a Single Bound

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