May 24, 2018

Secretary Zinke Proposes Expansion of Hunting and Fishing Opportunities at 30 of America’s National Wildlife Refuges

Press Release from the Department of Interior:

WASHINGTON – Continuing his efforts to increase access to public lands, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke today announced a proposal to open more than 248,000 acres to new or expanded hunting and fishing opportunities at 30 national wildlife refuges.

Opportunities include places like Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge in Illinois and Wisconsin, and deer hunting in Philadelphia at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge being proposed for the first time. The proposal also outlines expanded hunting and fishing opportunities at 136 national wildlife refuges. If finalized, this would bring the number of units of the National Wildlife Refuge System where the public may hunt to 377, and the number where fishing would be permitted to 312.

“As stewards of our public lands, Interior is committed to opening access wherever possible for hunting and fishing so that more families have the opportunity to pass down this American heritage,” Zinke said. “These 30 refuges will provide incredible opportunities for American sportsmen and women across the country to access the land and connect with wildlife.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) proposal would open more new acres to hunting and fishing than in the past and takes steps to simplify regulations to more closely match state hunting and fishing regulations. The changes would be implemented in time for the upcoming 2018-2019 hunting seasons.

Hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities contributed more than $156 billion in economic activity in communities across the United States in 2016 according to the Service’s National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, published every five years. More than 101 million Americans – 40 percent of the U.S. population 16 and older – pursue wildlife-related recreation – such as hunting, fishing and birding.

“Ensuring public lands are open for multiple uses supports local economies and provides important opportunities for recreation. Further, this proposal means that families and individuals across our nation will be better able to participate in our nation’s tradition of hunting and fishing. We appreciate Secretary Zinke and the Interior Department for advancing this priority, and we will continue to work to improve access to public lands for our sportsmen,” said Senator John Hoeven.

“Public lands should be open for the public to enjoy,” said Chairman Rob Bishop of Utah. “The Department of the Interior’s latest decision to expand acreage and access for hunting and fishing on wildlife refuges was the right move. Secretary Zinke’s decision will help our economy grow and enable those who hunt and fish to spend more time catching game and less time caught in red tape.”

“North Dakota is a sportsman’s paradise. The decision to expand access to public lands by opening more than 248,000 acres across the nation to hunting and fishing will provide new economic opportunities for local communities as well as open up new areas for anglers and hunters,” said Congressman Kevin Cramer. “For the first time, the J. Clark Salyer and Lostwood National Wildlife Refuges will be open to moose hunting. I commend the Secretary’s decision and look forward to working with the department.”

“Hunters, anglers and shooting sports enthusiasts play a crucial role in funding the management and conservation of North America’s wildlife,” said Service Principal Deputy Director Greg Sheehan. “We are providing sportsmen and women with more access to our national wildlife refuges and streamlining regulations to more closely align with our state partners. And that’s good news for our customers.”

The Service manages hunting and fishing programs to ensure sustainable wildlife populations while also offering other traditional wildlife-dependent recreation on public lands, such as wildlife watching and photography. The Refuge System is an unparalleled network of 566 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts. There is a national wildlife refuge within an hour’s drive of most major metropolitan areas.

“The proposed expansion of hunting and fishing opportunities through working partnership with the states is a demonstration of Secretary Zinke’s commitment to our nation’s outdoor heritage and the conservation community,” said Virgil Moore, President of the Association of the Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. “These efforts reaffirm the tremendous value of quality wildlife habitat and outdoor recreational opportunities, including hunting and fishing, in connecting millions of Americans to the outdoors.”

“We applaud Secretary Zinke and the Fish and Wildlife Service for their continued commitment to increasing opportunities for hunting and fishing within the National Wildlife Refuge System,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President Jeff Crane. “We look forward to continuing to work with the Department of Interior on increasing access for sportsmen and women.”

Hunting and/or fishing will expand or be opened on the following refuges:

Arkansas

California

Florida

Illinois

Illinois and Missouri

Illinois and Wisconsin

Indiana

Maine

Maine and New Hampshire

Maryland

Michigan

Minnesota

Montana

New Jersey

New Jersey and New York

New Mexico

North Dakota

Ohio

Oregon

Pennsylvania

Utah

Wisconsin

  • Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge: Open hunting of certain gamebirds, small mammals and furbearers for the first time, and expand existing migratory game bird and big game hunting.

The Service will seek comments from the public on the proposed rule for 30 days, beginning with publication in the Federal Register in coming days. The notice will be available at www.regulations.gov, docket no. FWS-HQ-NWRS-2018-0020, and will include details on how to submit your comments. An interim copy of the proposed rule is now available at https://www.fws.gov/home/pdfs/Proposed_2018-2019_Hunt_Fish_Rule_signed.pdf.

More than 53 million Americans visit refuges every year. National wildlife refuges provide vital habitat for thousands of species and access to world-class recreation, from fishing, hunting and boating to nature watching, photography and environmental education. In doing so, they support regional economies to the tune of $2.4 billion dollars per year and support more than 35,000 jobs.

Under the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, the Service permits hunting and fishing along with four other types of wildlife-dependent recreation, including wildlife photography, environmental education, wildlife observation and interpretation, when they are compatible with an individual refuge’s purpose and mission. Hunting, within specified limits, is currently permitted on 337 wildlife refuges and 37 wetland management districts. Fishing is currently permitted on 277 wildlife refuges and 34 wetland management districts.

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Maine’s Bald Eagles Not “Big Game” So Worthy of Population Counting?

What a mixed bag of contradictory statements that come from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW). We heard recently that MDIFW intends to shift its focus from keeping track of population densities of the state’s deer, moose, bear, and turkey and concentrate more on the health of these designated “big game” animals.

Evidently, Maine’s bald eagles are not “big game” nor are the piping plovers, as we discovered here, and so they deserve to be counted and kept track of in order that biologists can…can…can… better manage them? Because they are NOT going to be hunted?

A recent press release from MDIFW tells us that the Department is undertaking a bald eagle “survey” – something they do every 5 years. The release states: “Biologists are looking to determine the current eagle population; determine whether the eagle population has increased, slowed, or stabilized; evaluate changes in breeding abundance and occupancy rates and compare occupancy rates in traditional eagle nesting territories based on habitat protection.”

Sounds pretty smart to me!

Will this effort tell the biologists the overall health of the bald eagle? It would appear so. So why is MDIFW counting eagles and piping plovers and are not going to place as much effort on counting “big game” species? Is it because eventually, the move will be toward deer, bear, moose, and turkeys not being hunted?

If this focus on health is going to be the new scientismic approach to big game management, then, as the spokesman for MDIFW said, it gives the managers “more flexibility” in how they manage big game. We should then focus on the intent and purpose of “flexibility.”

Flexibility in government bureaucratic management historically has meant a chance to do whatever you want to do with less accountability for what it is you are doing. It also affords a chance to more easily cave into the demands of those whose power can make life uncomfortable. Of course, that “flexibility” is never presented in such a fashion. Instead, it is revealed to the public as some modernistic approach to new science that will make things better.

Unfortunately, this is never the case and will not be in this sense. It appears to me that seeking flexibility, or not having to account for numbers in wildlife as a baseline to successful species management, to go hand in hand with the continued migration of the purpose of wildlife management from supporting sustainable game herds to environmentalism’s non-consumptive over protection, is the real goal here…even if managers and biologists haven’t a clue as to what they are doing and for whom they are doing it.

Think indoctrination institutions!

However, the same press release indicates that perhaps MDIFW will decide whether or not they need to keep counting eagles: “The findings of this study will also be used to re-evaluate the future needs for monitoring of Maine’s breeding eagle population or determine whether to modify the 5-year aerial survey census that has been ongoing since 2008.”

If it is determined that there is no need to continue 5-year counting surveys, does that mean a shift toward general health evaluations instead? And if health evaluations are the focus, like with deer, bear, moose, and turkeys, I want to know how then managers will know how many of these creatures need looking out for? When they know numbers are low, counting is vital to the recovery of the animal. Is this then the new tactic – to wait until numbers of deer, moose, bear, and turkey “seem to be” so low protective measures must be implemented along with 5-year counting surveys? Are we not returning to the beginning stages of fish and game management of 150 years ago?

It would seem there is some middle ground here somewhere and perhaps that is what MDIFW is trying to do. But please, for those of us with a brain that works well enough to know the differences, do tell me that shifting management tactics from numbers to health offers more “flexibility.” I just am not going to buy it.

Can we back up and then move on?

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Maine’s Move To “Digital” Big Game Harvest Reporting

One has to wonder! With the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) announcing – officially or not – that they are mostly abandoning the concept of keeping track of game populations and replacing it with concentrating on a “healthy” game herd, what bag of tricks they are sitting on that, as quoted, “will give the department more flexibility” in managing that wildlife.

Yesterday, we read that MDIFW is making plans to begin implementation of a digital form of recording game harvests to replace the paper version that some believe to be antiquated. What could go wrong?

Reading the article and trying at the same time get a grasp on what exactly MDIFW is planning to do left me scratching my head. Perhaps poor reporting or a worse explanation..maybe just a dumb reader. My take is that MDIFW plans to work slowly, starting with a “beta” version for the turkey season and then gradually overspreading the rest of the game harvests.

But what, precisely, are they going to do?

It sounds like they intend each tagging station to have a computer with Internet access. Instead of filling out the paperwork and then months later get around to mailing their harvest report to the Department, each game tagged will instantly be reported and sent to MDIFW. Sounds great.

It was quite a few years ago now, that I was told that an employee of the state approached the MDIFW with a proposal to design a computer program that would give the Department any and all data they wanted…instantly. They rejected the plan stating if they did that there would be nothing for biologists to do in the winter sitting in the office. Hmmm.

Depending on the design of the software that will be used to record this harvest data, this could mean that a harvest report should be available within hours of receiving the last tagging from the last station…well, providing that every station is so equipped. It seems that is not the case. If it is impossible to get necessary and needed tagging stations Online, then each of those stations should use the same program and then at the end of the season, download the data to a thumb drive and drop it in the mail – right frigging now!!!

If this is actually how the new harvest reporting system is going to work, I think it will be a great idea and about time. I have always bitched and complained that we have to wait nearly a year from the close of each hunting season to get harvest data. MDIFW blames it on stations refusing to mail in their data in a timely manner. Really? The dog ate my homework? Who is charge around here?

When you read some of the people at certain tagging stations say, “It usually takes me five minutes to tag each animal. I have to fill out the paperwork. It’s a process. It’s a pain.” perhaps MDIFW should consider not giving an inspection station to someone who views the process as a pain. With an attitude like that, it’s probably a “pain” to also gather together all the reports and mail them in. What kind of a “pain” is it going to be for some to go digital?

However, it seems that for some they think the digital form of reporting game harvest should go even farther. “David Trahan, executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, said his group is going to introduce legislation that would allow hunters to tag remotely rather than going to tagging stations.”

As much as I have complained about the lateness of game harvest reporting, I wouldn’t and neither should MDIFW, give that important data up simply to get a report to the people more quickly. Regardless of whether or not MDIFW thinks they can utilize more “flexibility” by concentrating on the health of the game herds rather than population numbers, it is still impossible to responsibly manage the wild game without having reliable data which includes numbers – yes, counting populations.

To allow hunters to simply pick up their cellphones/smartphones and register their harvest will spell disaster. States that have done this sort of reporting for years are only now struggling to find a better way of collecting harvest data – with some states moving toward having tagging stations or check stations.

A good software program loaded onto a computer for each tagging station – and one that is more than willing to do the job properly – will take the same data collected at present but make that data available to MDIFW instantly. Risking losing important data by allowing remote registering by the hunter is a move in the wrong direction. The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine should rethink that position.

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Is Maine’s Big Game Management Plan Really Shifting Toward Focus on Animal Health Not Numbers?

If readers will recall, last week I commented on an article published in the Portland Press Herald that quoted a member of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) as saying, “There is no absolute density (number),” Cordes said. “There is more flexibility now in management.”

From this, the article indicated that MDIFW was shifting their focus to game animal health and away from population densities. Is this what’s really going to happen?

This all came about as a lead-in to announce that MDIFW was soon to release their Final Big Game Management Plan for the next 15 years. It should be understood that although these required management plans are written, they seldom are actually followed. I would imagine they go up on a shelf someplace and collect dust, perhaps being pulled down on occasion should the department have a need to placate the public with something like a mid-management plan rewrite to keep the masses of residents who care happy.

Consider what is written in this regard in the Draft plan: “It may not be necessary or feasible to implement all strategies in order to achieve the goals and objectives.”

So, for what it’s worth, I spent some time reading over the Draft Big Game Management Plan for 2017 – 2022 with a specific focus for this report on deer management goals and strategies. MDIFW has listed 3 specific goals of their plan. In addition, they have added “new” efforts to carry out the deer management plans. I’ll give you the 3 goals, in my own words, and list for you each of the “new” strategies to be employed along with MDIFW’s assessment of the level of priority they put with each new strategy followed by my own comments for some of them.

First, the 3 goals.

Goal #1 – Maintain a “healthy” deer herd for hunting and viewing.

Goal #2 – Keep the Public happy about the deer population.

Goal #3 – Increase “Public Understanding” (create new knowledge?) of biology, ecology, and management.

If the focus shift at MDIFW is going to be on deer health rather than population densities, isn’t the chore of keeping the Public happy about deer populations going to become just a bit more difficult?

Because we know that the management plans are written as part of the bureaucratic process and aren’t ironclad instructions on step by step procedures to manage deer, we also don’t know, and I can’t determine from reading the Draft Plan whether it is actually a written proposal to shift focus to animal health or whether the person from MDIFW in the PPH interview letting the Public know that his office intends to focus on animal health rather than population densities regardless of the Plan. This is government business as usual.

So here are some of the “new” additions to the deer management strategy that we are to presume will help to achieve the goal of a “healthy” deer population…along with how MDIFW prioritizes it.

Listed under Goal #1:

4. Explore options to identify habitat degradation due to over-abundance of white-tailed deer (New; Moderate Priority) Even though this is listed as of “Moderate Priority,” how much more difficult or effective will this proposal be with this new approach at deer health? To understand habitat degradation due to “over-abundance” of deer, doesn’t that require counting?

5. Evaluate early fawn mortality factors (New; Moderate Priority) My first question might be, why hasn’t MDIFW been doing this already? In a state where the majority of its land mass is quite significantly below management objectives, deer management 101 teaches us that fawn recruitment and/or fawn mortality is vital to sustaining/growing a deer herd. And, let’s not miss the point the point that it would seem that in order to understand fawn mortality factors, it should require COUNTING.

6. Evaluate the effectiveness of the coyote predation management program and identify options for improvement (New; High Priority) We know the MDIFW has been undertaking some form of predator control to help protect the deer herd particularly in winter. One might quickly think the idea to “evaluate” usually means the plan is to get rid of it. However, this new proposal speaks of discovering ways to improve it. That’s a good thing, and I’m glad it’s listed as a high priority.

Listed under Goal #2:

3. Evaluate the effectiveness of the Expanded Archery Program in managing deer-human conflicts (New; Moderate Priority) Looks to me like more counting. Geez, it’s just hard to get away from having to know how many animals there are. And, I always thought that knowledge of good deer management included the fact that managing deer at the “biological capacity” provided for a healthy herd. But I do understand that all important “flexibility” that gives managers another good excuse…kind of like global warming.

2. Develop a certification program for hunters (e.g. Marsh Island deer hunt) that would authorize participation in special urban deer hunts (New; Moderate Priority) This may prove more beneficial to a lot more people than just hiring sharpshooters.

Listed under Goal #3:

Develop a strategic outreach plan for deer and use the MDIFW Communication Program to disseminate key messages to the public (New; Moderate Priority) I’d like to see this. It wouldn’t take a lot to improve the communication of important information from MDIFW to the Public.

Work with partners to develop a mentoring program that encourages deer hunting. (New; Low Priority) Low Priority? Hmm

Conduct regular public meetings on deer management (New; High Priority) Never happen, and/or won’t last. Even if MDIFW had “regular” public meetings, nobody would show up and it would be a waste of time.

Expected Outcomes:

MDIFW lists what it thinks might happen IF they were to successfully carry out this 15-year management plan for deer. Here’s what they write:

5.6 Expected Outcomes for White-tailed Deer Management

Implementing the deer management strategies in this plan will require adequate staffing, funding, and public support. It may not be necessary or feasible to implement all strategies in order to achieve the goals and objectives. If MDIFW and its partners are successful managing deer over the next 10 years, the following outcomes are anticipated:

• The statewide over-wintering deer population averages 210,000 animals.

• The percentage of the public rating the management of deer as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ increases to 75% by 2022.

• Public support for deer hunting to manage the population remains at or above 90%. • Annual hunter participation of ? 150,000 hunters.

• Statewide hunter satisfaction with Maine’s Deer Management Program increases to >85% by 2022.

• Northeast Maine hunter satisfaction ?80%

• Central Maine hunter satisfaction ?85%

• Southern Maine hunter satisfaction ?90%

• An average annual statewide buck harvest of at least 15,000 animals is maintained

• Seven year running average of the percentage of yearlings in the buck harvest remains below 50%

• Any-deer permits generally available in WMDs 15-17, 20-25, and 29, with permits issued in other WMDs during some years.

All of this sure looks like a lot of counting…that is if there is any serious attempt at implementing and working at this deer management plan. It is impossible to effectively manage any game herd without a minimum of reasonable, scientific methods of devising estimates of population densities – the more accurate that estimation becomes the more precise and effective management strategies become.

To announce a shift from this method of deer management to one of concentrating on the health of the herd, stating that it will give management more “flexibility” is utter environmental nonsense – Romance Biology and Voodoo Science. Like imposing the effects of Climate Change on every failure of wildlife management, as if they needed more “flexibility.” I can see the headlines now: Maine’s deer harvest this year was lower than expected. That’s because we now have a healthy herd despite Climate Change.

However, MDIFW is going to do what MDIFW is going to do and that’s the bottom line. After all, they are a government agency. Need I say more?

 

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If You Have No Intention to Count Live Deer, Why Bother to Count Dead Ones

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More Than One Way To Get Skunked

A Charles Russel piece.

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And Maine’s Deer Harvest Data is………….?

Missing in action!!!

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To Grow Moose Burn Down the Forest

In a small corner of northeast Minnesota is where you’ll find what is left of a moose herd. A Minnesota newspaper is saying that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) blames the reduction in moose on deer and as an aside note that “some” attribute some of the loss to wolf densities. But there’s an answer to the problem. Burn down the forest!

According to some researchers and biologists, brainworm and ticks are killing moose. (Note – this is of course due to global warming, wink-wink.) If you burn down the forest, the fire kills off the ticks and snails that host the brainworm parasite.

You don’t have to be a Ph.D. to know that moose thrive in forests that are regenerating. Maine has seen the moose population explode where millions of acres of forest were cleared because of an infestation of spruce budworm. Coincidentally, this same act created prime habitat for the snowshoe hare which is the Canada lynx’s favorite food and thus the lynx has made a remarkable resurgence…for now. What happens when the hare habitat is gone? Along with the explosion of the population of the moose, so too did the moose tick or winter tick which is now killing off the too large moose population.

So now there’s an answer for those of you interested in exploiting further the moose population. Think of the money outfitters can make with moose gawking tours. WOW! All we have to do is simply burn down the forests according to how many moose people want to see or hunt.

But at what expense to the rest of the ecosystem?

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Coyote Snaring and the Difference Between Fascism and Democracy

An opinion piece in the Bangor Daily News laments any notion that trapping of coyotes by snares should be reinstated. As the old saying goes, it might be a cold day in hell before…..But that doesn’t stop a good opportunity to opine emotional, outdated, clap-trap in hopes of influencing the public opinion poll, and for what purpose?

But this isn’t really about the pros and cons of snaring. It’s about credibility or the lack thereof, and a person’s failure, it appears to understand the difference between living in a democracy and under the ruling of fascist dictatorship.

Some may know that I’m no big fan of democratic rule and am certainly opposed to Fascism. It is always said that democracy is two wolves and one sheep deciding what’s for dinner. Fascism, in a similar regard, is one person or government forcing both the wolves and the sheep to eat what they are told to eat.

Another misconception that exists in this post-normal world is the idea that political ideology runs along a straight line, a continuum if you will. I disagree. If you follow extreme Leftism far enough, it ends up in fascism. If you follow the far Right far enough, you’ll run headlong into the Left and fascism.

In the Bangor News opinion piece, the author attempts to make the argument that the money spent killing coyotes for predator control could have been better spent, “…passing laws to protect deer yards.”

For those not intelligent enough to understand this concept, let me explain. Whether you or I like a democracy or not, there are ways to go about promoting your fascist ideals. However, some who understand a democracy realize that it is far less dictatorial to select a method of predator control to salvage a deer herd than to take land and property rights away from private landowners. Those that promote bigger, more centralized government couldn’t care less about your property rights. Those who understand the value of property ownership and property rights see such calls as a direct effort to suppress those rights…far from the democratic rule.

But to a fascist, they want what they want without any care to the private citizen, or soon to be subject-slave should such displays of fascism, promoted by totalitarians selfishly demanding their own way regardless of the cost to others. This book has been written many times throughout history.

To suggest “passing laws to protect deer yards” is to demand that a landowner should be stripped of their rights to their land. Maine has ample (far too many) fascist restrictions placed on landowners now, that it doesn’t need another prohibiting them from doing anything with their land in order to protect the whims of misguided animal perverts and environmentalists who think it’s better to allow the suffering of animals and the waste of good, natural food, because a person fails to understand the realities of taking a life to sustain another. Fascism is the author of waste.

Maine’s landowners have done a damned good job over the years doing all they can voluntarily to protect what land they can for the deer and they should be thanked instead of asked to give more while those asking do nothing but demand more and more. That’s the foundation of Fascism.

History has shown us that fascism is only a mechanism or a tool to bring a nation under the rule of communism.

Every time someone says, “There ought to be a law….” there goes your liberties and here comes their fascism. Fascism is enabled by totalitarians. Eager and ignorant useless eaters, programmed to believe centralized government forced upon everyone equitably is justice, but is but one step away from fascistic domination, forced obedience and complete control over everything.

Think about that before you open your mouth with your emotional Leftist, Progressive nonsense. I guarantee you will not like your servitude.

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Maine Deer/Car Crashes: Trying To Make Sense of What Was Said

Sometimes what someone says about something doesn’t make a lick of sense. Such was the case when I read a report about cars crashing into deer in Aroostook County, Maine.

Let’s see if we can make any sense at all over this.

The report begins by saying that “vehicle crashes with deer have quadrupled in Aroostook County in the last five years” because deer populations have grown. Seriously? I wonder how many hunters would agree that deer numbers in Aroostook County have grown so much that it has caused a quadrupling of accidents? (If we ever get the 2017 deer harvest data from MDIFW, I wonder if it will show an increase in deer harvest in Aroostook County?)

Then we are told that last year a “feeding operation” (no details about it) caused 100 crashes with logging trucks, but has since been moved (to where?) and “no longer poses a road hazard.”

A regional biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) says, “We’re doing everything we can to keep deer away from the roads. Deer numbers have swelled and more often spend their winters in towns where there are roads and cars.”

Huh? I want to know, other than educating people about the potential problems of feeding deer (accidents), what “everything” is that is being done to keep deer out of the roads. Is that kind of like doing everything to make sure bears and coyotes don’t destroy the deer herd? Perhaps global warming can resolve this problem(?) too.

I just don’t plain get it when the biologist says that deer are now spending time living in towns where there are roads and cars. I can only guess what this means but this statement appears to be contrary to the talking points always spoken by MDIFW officials that deer winter in their idealistic deer yards, which have all been destroyed, or they die. Is MDIFW now suggesting that deer adapt and due to reduced habitat and the overwhelming presence of large predators, they have moved into town where the odds of getting run over by a logging truck are less than being eaten alive by coyotes, bobcats, and lynx?

However, the same biologist attributes the growing deer population to (you have to get ready for this) “reduced coyote predation, supplemental feeding and relatively mild winters.” MDIFW evidently believes their coyote program in Aroostook County accounts for part of the increase in deer but state that there hasn’t been a severe winter in Aroostook County in 10 years. It must be like all good environmentalists would do, MDIFW changed the criteria as to what constitutes a severe winter. Perhaps it’s just the thought that global warming exists, therefore, there is no longer any such thing as a severe winter.

Maybe MDIFW knows from their ongoing deer study, which is a huge secret, it appears, that there are more deer in the North Country than they thought. But, we’ll never know that because they never share that information with anyone…unless it makes them look good.

But isn’t this report and all comments geared to address but one thing? – feeding deer. MDIFW does not like it when people feed deer. They never have and probably never will until they can find a way to tax it or somehow make money from it. Never finding anything good to say about people feeding deer, MDIFW goes out of their way to even make up reasons why people shouldn’t do it.

The news report found someone who obviously doesn’t approve of deer feeding and someone who coincidentally had a crash with a deer recently, to share his “expertise” about deer feeding programs. This person describes deer, because of being fed, “they were so fat they couldn’t get over the guard rails.” 

This same “expert,” who claims there are “[a]bsolutely, there are more deer this year,” is contrasted by what the Washburn Police Chief said, “It’s not clear if there are more or less deer-related crashes this year than in others.” Well, don’t ruin a good story injecting facts into it. Fat deer that can’t get out of their own way are dropping like flies.

In more efforts to demonize deer feeding, the regional wildlife biologist says, “In some places, the deer have over-browsed their natural winter foods such as hardwood trees.” He also says there’s nothing left to eat. Not to be just contradictory, but, if this is true doesn’t this mean three things? One, that if there wasn’t supplemental feeding, deer will starve to death. Two, deer must have grown so much in numbers they have exceeded carrying capacity, and three, deer are eating their “natural food” despite feeding programs. If this is the case then why hasn’t MDIFW begun issuing “Any-Deer Permits” to reduce the size of the deer herd. We are told that the population has been “swelling” for at least five years (and it must be longer because Northern Maine hasn’t had a severe winter in 10 years and we know that, when convenient, severe winters are the biggest killers of deer.) So what’s taking so long to get those Any-Deer Permits passed out? Surely it would be much better for everyone if the deer were legally harvested by hunters, and for food to hungry people, than to simply let them starve to death while MDIFW continues to promote the stoppage of supplemental feeding.

Or isn’t this just about injecting some more emotional clap-trap into the media to discourage them to stop feeding deer?

But most bizarre of all in this article involves the comment apparently intended to address disease…or something.

To be forthcoming, there is a threat to the spread of disease, when any disease is present and when there are large concentrations of deer. MDIFW has always stated deer feeding programs as being potentially problematic in the spread of some diseases.

However, I have tried to get my wee small brain wrapped around the very last statement at the end of the article.

“Eventually, those deer are going to share diseases, ticks, everything else. The gene pools are going to get shallower. They’re not going to be able to get their own food.”

I could spend hours guessing what any of this might mean. “Eventually” we have no idea what is going to take place. If you believe the lies about Climate Change, then you might also believe that there might be more deer in the north and fewer moose, Canada lynx, etc. Historically speaking, there has never been an overwhelming number of deer in the North Woods of Maine. Experts love to be like echo chambers and when it’s convenient, tell us how northern Maine is at the northern fringe of the whitetail deer’s range. They also like to tell us, when it’s convenient, that severe winters keep the population down. If it’s convenient, as appears in this case here, the population has “swelled” and it’s because people are feeding deer AND the winters are mild – convenient truths.

So what’s to believe?

I’m completely at sea about the comment about gene pools. I’ve done a fair amount of writing and research about gene pools in deer and I haven’t run across the term that a gene pool will get “shallower.”

Maybe we’re all gonna die!!

I’m not sure, but I’m guessing the “expert” knows nothing about gene pools but it makes for good copy, as I have seen many places before.

MDIFW hates it when people feed deer. I understand their position and their reasons given. I can’t say that I agree completely with their reasoning about it. I think it has become exceedingly clear the MDIFW and the State of Maine would have a difficult time trying to stop it. The upside to deer feeding is the sense of ownership that many people take concerning their local deer herds. A lot can be said about that.

Has anyone done a study to determine how much supplemental feeding is taking place and how many deer that involves? This might tell us what percentage of the overall population of deer is being affected and whether or not any of this hubbub is worth being that concerned about. Just asking.

I recall many years ago emailing with Maine’s head deer biologist about feeding programs. I don’t have the exact quote but essentially he said (at that time) the number of deer affected by feeding was so small percentage-wise, that it wasn’t worth making a fuss over. What, if anything, has changed since then?

It sounds like, from what I read in this article, that efforts are underway to move deer feeding locations away from highways or to places that don’t cause deer to have to cross busy highways to get to them. This is positive.

Maine is fortunate that is doesn’t have diseases like Chronic Wasting Disease to deal with. If and when that time comes, deer feeding stations will have to either become illegal or designed in such a way as to limit the threat of diseases spreading. However, in those states that do have CWD, efforts to ban feeding has shown little change in the presence or spread of the disease.

I guess I’ll leave the “shallower gene pools” for another discussion.

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