June 14, 2013
The below caption and photograph was sent to me via email. This occurred in “Downeast” Maine recently. The person who sent this to me is very trustworthy and I assume the photo and story to be authentic. This is about the time that whitetail deer in Maine have their fawns. The coyotes and bears have learned over the years where the deer traditionally have their fawns. They can actually smell the odor from a new-born fawn and move in for the kill and lunch. It is a reality of nature but when there are too many coyotes and too many bears, it raises hell with the deer herd.
“I found the head of a fawn yesterday while working for Norm in Jonesport. Fresh coyote tracks in the mud beside it were the only other clue. I assume that the dog was walking towards me on the woods road and dropped the head when it heard me coming. No sign of blood or other body parts. I’d walked in on the same trail six hours earlier. The head was about the size of my two hands laid palm to palm. Coyotes serenaded me further down the path.
“That’s a pretty impressive bite through the neck. Never know what you’ll find in the down east woods.”
May 21, 2013
The Maine Warden Service (MWS) once again has attempted to define, redefine, examine, reexamine, improve, shorten, make better or choose any other description, but MWS says they have a solution in defining the law about driving deer. Finally, no more questions!
First, to clarify what “driving” deer is, it is an organized effort to force deer into a specific place where a shooter lies in ambush (my definition).
So, Maine now says, “A person may not participate in a hunt for deer during which an organized or planned effort is made to drive deer. For the purposes of this section to be considered ‘driving deer’ it would require four or more hunters, working together in an effort to move deer.”
At least we now know that if there are less than 4 hunters, you can drive deer……..orrrrr, or can you?
Stu Bristol, a former game officer in Vermont and freelance writer, wrote a while ago about the need for the MWS to “reexamine” the laws pertaining to deer driving.
I’m not a lawyer nor am I a law enforcement officer anymore but my previous years in law enforcement causes me to question how anyone could be charged with this violation, given that so much is written into the law demanding proof of intent. How does the Maine Warden Service determine that a person sitting on a deer stand could possibly know when other unknown hunters were moving through the woods in an organized attempt to drive deer?
If the driving deer law, prior to the MWS’s new wording was:
Driving deer or taking part in a deer drive is unlawful, except that 3 or fewer persons may hunt together, without the aid of noisemaking devices. Driving deer is an organized or planned effort to pursue, drive, chase or otherwise frighten or cause deer to move in the direction of any person(s) who are part of the organized or planned hunt and known to be waiting for the deer.
then I doubt that much has changed to get rid of the demand to prove intent.
Is an officer really going to be able to prove the intent that a hunt was an “organized or planned effort?” And what happens to the guy innocently (no seriously) sitting in his deer stand and 4 or more guys enter the woods a few hundred yards away and “drive” a deer or a few by his deer stand?
So with the new wording, can I hunt with two other people and use “noisemakers?”
May 17, 2013
And once inside the bus, the deer runs around acting like it has no clue and doesn’t know what to do or where to go. Kinda like Obama in the White House.
April 30, 2013
Caption that accompanied email with photos:
These sheds where found this winter, with an estimated inside spread of 20’’ they scored 200’’ Both horns off the same deer were found a year ago too! Those were mounted. Lets hope the old boy lives to grow another set this year. Amazing what we can have if coyotes don’t eat them first.
February 26, 2013
Once again readers of the Bangor Daily News, from out of Bangor, Maine, got to read about one retired Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife(MDIFW) biologist who has the answer about why Maine’s deer herd has disappeared. Ready? Habitat. Yup, once again them damned landowners, and this time with government accomplices, cut down all the trees and thus the deer have all starved to death.
Unlike the author of this piece, I will concede that loss of habitat plays a role in the demise of the deer herd. Habitat is an important factor in deer management, along with many other issues. However, I am also willing to consider other contributing factors that it appears this author is not.
There’s two things in this opinion piece that need to be noted. The first is the author’s story telling of making a scientific determination in late March of 1989, by using an axe and chopping up deer bones, determining two things; the deer starved to death and the deer were not killed by coyotes, even though he admits the deer had been eaten by coyotes.
Amazing isn’t it that conclusions about animal health and death can be determined with an axe. People who are specialists at trying to ascertain whether livestock have been killed by predators or died first and then eaten by predators, struggle to make a determination, with even more tools than an axe, and often are left without a firm result, of which the benefit of the doubt goes to the predator being innocent. Are we to believe that this retired MDIFW biologist, 24 years ago, carried out a necropsy with an axe and made a determination that the deer he found dead in a deer yard starved to death? And that he remembers the details so well 24 years later?
I also wonder if this author understands that predator presence, also known as harassment, is a major contributing factor in accelerating the declining health of deer in wintering yards, and throughout the entire year for that matter? In a recent article written by Dr. Charles Kay, Wildlife Ecologist-Range Management Specialist, Utah State University, and published in Muley Crazy Magazine, he states the following:
In addition, under certain environmental conditions, such as deep, crusted snow, even relatively small-sized predators, like coyotes, can kill large-size prey, such as mule deer, at will and without regard to sex, age, or physical condition of the prey. Then too, there is the question of whether the prey animals are naturally substandard, or are they substandard because they are constantly being chased and harassed by wolves and other predators?
One need ask if this retired biologist, on his one trip into a deer yard in 1989, where 10 deer laid dead, was able to scientifically ascertain (with and axe) that these deer were substandard in health because they starved or had been harassed by predators, or both? Also, can he remember all the environmental conditions that year? That would help.
The second issue deals with the timing of the release of these stories and what appears to be the admission of complacency, or perhaps even neglect, on the part of the biologist back 24 years ago. The author accuses foresters of cutting down trees in deer yards or clear cutting around them, as well as intimating that some cover-ups were also taking place. These kinds of accusations, along with other information given in this Bangor Daily News opinion piece, for the purpose of pitting readers against landowners and promoting predator protection, leads me to ask: In 1989 what did this biologist (not retired) do about what he claims to have witnessed? Who did he speak to once he was told or supposedly witnessed what had happened? Did he go to his boss at the MDIFW to see what could be done? Who did he talk to, if anybody? Was it the MDIFW policy to overlook these actions and not bring it to anyone’s attention? If he got no cooperation from his hierarchy, did he take his concerns to perhaps the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine or to media outlets to let all Mainer’s know of the malpractice of foresters and what it was doing to our deer herd? And finally, the author makes no suggestions as to what he would do now if this same thing was brought to his attention, other than, in this opinion piece, suggest more government control and buying up land that he claims will protect the deer yards. If he was MDIFW boss, what would he tell his subordinates to do in such cases?
The timing of these stories are quite convenient and suspect, coming at a time when there exists efforts, including legislation, to do something about predator control. Because this author, obviously a predator protector, will never admit that predators play a significant role in deer depredation, his aim here is only geared toward protection of his beloved dog; a shame actually.
Efforts are underway to attempt to do something about protecting deer wintering areas. It’s not an easy task to accomplish. Deer management is a bigger task than hugging a tree. Saving a tree will NOT necessarily restore Maine’s deer. Studies exist that suggest that all attempts at habitat restoration has no effect on ungulate rebuilding without predator control.
Predator control is a task that can be undertaken much easier than finding ways to ask or force landowners to not cut their forests. Because predator control in an integral part of deer management, it should be undertaken while efforts continue to come up with better ways to protect the habitat needed to help the deer survive the winters. Making deer management one dimensional is not only ignorant but is irresponsible and suggesting habitat is the only problem wreaks of special interest.
January 1, 2013
According to a report filed on the website of WCSH-TV in Portland, Maine, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) released preliminary estimates of the 2012 deer hunting season harvest. That estimate tops 21,000. The report states this as an 11% increase over last year’s dismal performance.
While it may be an 11% increase, an indication that there are probably a few more deer around, it still remains approximately 45% below the last ten-year high in 2002 of over 38,000.
From the report:
Biologist Lee Kantar said the increase is due in large part to last winter’s mild weather, resulting in a high survival of fawns that produced a bumper yearling crop.
This statement probably indicates that there were a lot of yearling deer taken during the hunt.
Maine has miles to go before it sleeps as far as rebuilding a destroyed deer herd, as most all of Northern Maine, Downeast and the Western Mountains remain mostly devoid of deer. Efforts at predator control are underway and with serious continued efforts at this, in about 3 years time, Maine citizens should begin seeing results from that effort and investment.
I was pleasantly surprised to see the MDIFW press release with the preliminary numbers made available. This is something Maine sportsmen have been asking for for years; simply an unofficial tally of the deer kill.
Upon finding the information, I immediately emailed Chandler Woodcock, MDIFW Commissioner, Lee Kantar, MDIFW deer biologist and Governor Paul LePage to thank them for their efforts to get this done.
December 26, 2012
Environmentalists, used as a title to describe those more focused on an agenda of the hatred of man, combined with unnatural desires to steal away a person’s pursuit of life, liberty and happiness, which may actually involve human population destruction, beat the incessant drum of man’s destruction of habitat. If one would dare mention that a certain species of animal (let’s randomly select the whitetail deer and put it in the state of Maine.) was struggling to sustain itself, inevitably an environmentalist will exclaim, “It’s loss of habitat and it’s all man’s fault!”
According to Dictionary.com, habitat is defined thusly:
[hab-i-tat] Show IPA
1.the natural environment of an organism; place that is natural for the life and growth of an organism: a tropical habitat.
2.the place where a person or thing is usually found: Paris is a major habitat of artists.
3.a special environment for living in over an extended period, as an underwater research vessel.
4.habitation ( def 1 ) .
A “natural” environment? So do we now have to define “natural”? Let’s try something not created by man or uncultivated. Oh, darn! Isn’t the overwhelming majority of “habitat” “cultivated” by man, at least to some degree? Let’s not get off topic.
In Maine, where the whitetail deer lives, is called habitat. Environmentalists claim that the problem with the lack of deer in Maine is habitat. They also claim that the lack of Canada lynx is habitat. They claim the lack of the piping plover is habitat. They believe that the caribou up and beat feet out of the state because of lack of habitat. And of course with this all purpose, generic excuse, comes the claim it’s man’s fault; they have cut down all the trees and encroached on the animals. (let’s not forget a few plants too.)
If a person is determined to discuss habitat, or lack thereof, isn’t it imperative to also speak of “carrying capacity”? What is carrying capacity? The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), in their science-speak way defines carrying capacity as such:
In population ecology terms, it is “the density of organisms (i.e., the number per unit area) at which the net reproductive rate (R0) equals unity and the intrinsic rate of increase (r) is zero” (Pianka 1974:82). Pianka goes on to explain………blah, blah, blah. Read all about it by following this link.
I would prefer to shorten this up and use their own words and define carrying capacity in this fashion:
“Strictly speaking, carrying capacity is a population concept with underlying theme of number of animals supported by some unit of area. It is the quantity of the specified population for which a particular area will supply all energetic and physiological requirements for a long, but defined, period of time.”
In other words, carrying capacity, although complicated, is how many deer can live in a specified habitat.
In theory then, if, let’s say, the whitetail deer in Maine was at carrying capacity, aside from “chance events” – those things that cause the population to fluctuate “naturally” – the population of deer in Maine becomes a slave to habitat.
In theory again, the population of whitetail deer in Maine is directly proportional to the amount of habitat that can support it.
For clarification purposes, readers should understand that wildlife management isn’t carried out in large sections of land, i.e. habitat. Maine has Wildlife Management Districts (WMD) in order to better focus on regions, much for the reason that the amount of existing habitat is not necessarily continuous and is broken up by numerous natural and unnatural obstacles, i.e. rivers, mountains, cities, farmland, etc.
Is Maine’s deer herd, statewide or regionally, at carrying capacity? In other words, does there exist all the deer that our forest and fields can “supply all energetic and physiological requirements for a long, but defined, period of time?” Not even close. But let me be fair and say that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), whose job it is to “manage” the state’s deer herd, does not necessarily manage deer up to carrying capacity. They have population goals and objectives. I should also point out that there exists in Maine a few small pockets of habitat where deer are at or above population density goals; realizing that a population density goal does NOT mean carrying capacity.
If MDIFW is not interested in managing the state’s deer herd to carrying capacity and are attempting to advocate for the deer as prescribed in the state’s deer management plan and achieve population density goals, then how specifically does habitat even play a factor in the demise of Maine’s deer herd?
The excuse has and remains the frontrunner that no deer in large swaths of the state’s habitat is due to a loss or lack of habitat. While some wildlife planners will, albeit reluctantly at times, admit that there are other factors, at the top of the list remains loss of habitat; I suppose mostly because the great influence environmentalism has had on the fish and game departments nationwide. And with that comes the hatred of man and the foisting of all blame upon them.
While it would be difficult to factor in accurately the percentage that all those other “chance events”, that cause deer populations to fluctuate, at the same level, it becomes just as difficult to determine how much loss of habitat is affecting the herd, especially when the current population isn’t even approaching density goals, speak nothing of carrying capacity.
What transpires in deer management debate becomes excuses of convenience. If I point out that habitat cannot be as big a problem as some advocate, because the deer population remains drastically below density goals and far from carrying capacity, excuse du jour is implemented, i.e. it’s weather/climate, hunters (humans) are killing them all, loggers destroying deer yards, predators, fawn recruitment, lack of money, vehicle mortality, etc.
While we shouldn’t remove any focus and effort into finding ways of sensibly protecting the habitat for all creatures, blaming lack of habitat, disguised as dislike for humans, is disingenuous at best. It is my belief that when the deer herd in Maine is not at density goals (and I don’t recall that the state on average has ever been AT density goals) or even carrying capacity, blaming the problem on habitat, which includes deer wintering areas, has become a bad habit.
December 20, 2012
*Editor’s Note* Below is an article, republished here by permission, from George Doval, editor of The Outdoorsman. While the focus of his article is on the state of Idaho, please read the piece and simply inject your state, your game, your license fees, your opportunities, etc., and you will soon discover that much of what Dovel writes, he could just as easily be writing about your state.
More Examples of State Officials Ignoring the Destruction of Our Rural Livelihood and Lifestyles
By George Doval (republished with permission)
When my great-granddaughter Tiana, now a multi-talented senior at Vallivue High School in Caldwell, turned 12, she was an enthusiastic graduate of IDFG Hunter Ed. Her mother gave me a call and asked if I would take her hunting on the mountain where most of my sons grew up and killed their mule deer on opening day.
I explained to her that my wife and I had recently hunted mule deer there, both on horseback – and afoot as my sons had. But the influx of wolves plus hordes of hunters cruising the mountainside on four-wheelers, prohibited the chance to enjoy a pleasant hunt – with a possibility of a standing shot on a mule deer at a reasonable range for a first time deer hunter.
Instead, I suggested she hunt with one of her uncles in a unit where taking her first deer would be easier. But as happens with most youngsters in Idaho, despite her abilities and desire, and hunting several years with experienced hunters, she has only shot one small yearling buck in Owyhee County three years ago.
On our recent ride, she described seeing the antelope up close as a really neat experience. Yet the odds of her applying for and receiving a coveted permit allowing her to hunt before experienced archery or rifle hunters have scattered the spooky mule deer are very remote.
How North American Model of Wildlife Conservation Was Quietly Destroyed by State Wildlife Managers
The three large Owyhee County units where IDFG offers 15 days of October general season mule deer hunting for two-point bucks only, had an estimated 2011 harvest of 928 two-points, plus 168 females by youth hunters*. With 28.5% hunter success, it required an average of 10.8 days of hunting for each two-point buck or female mule deer killed. (* youth general season for females ended in 2011)
Although these units are touted by IDFG as being one of the better opportunities for juveniles to harvest a mule deer, they are actually proof of the lousy odds for the average juvenile hunter. How does a youngster manage to miss school for up to 10 days in mid-October for three years in order to hunt the average of 11 days each year for the chance to kill just one small buck in 3-1/2 years?
When I pointed this out to an IDFG official, he responded that the real value of hunting these units was the special draw hunt for “big” bucks during the November rut. If you entered the lottery drawing for the 195 Unit 40 buck permits in 2005, there were 2,690 applicants and the odds of drawing were 1-in-14 (the average wait was 14 years before you drew a permit).
But seven years later, in 2012, there were 4,299 applicants for the same 195 permits and the average wait has increased to 22 years. If you started drawing in 1994 when Conley implemented the special late buck hunt in Unit 40, the odds are you probably won’t draw a permit until 2016.
But by 2016, as bucks become increasingly scarce, the drawing odds will be much higher and the only group that benefits from this will be IDFG. Discouraged young hunters, and others who do not support the IDFG scheme to charge still more money to harvest even fewer animals, will simply quit hunting.
In his widely circulated September 7, 2012 op-ed response to the Wildlife Summit criticisms published in the Idaho State Journal, F&G Commission Chairman Randy Budge wrote; “The purpose of the Wildlife Summit was not to change the (North) American Model of Wildlife Management (Conservation)…” Of course it wasn’t.
Wildlife Becoming “Playthings for the Wealthy”
Budge and his fellow Commissioners, including those who preceded them in recent years, have already destroyed several of the seven provisions of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. As Canadian big game expert Dr. Valerius Geist so eloquently explained in a “Bugle” interview a decade ago:
“The miracle of North American conservation is that it is basically a blue-collar system, grounded in the political and financial support and the active participation of large numbers of middle-class citizens who bring their basic honesty and decency to bear on important issues. This is just the opposite of the elitist system that has existed throughout Europe for centuries and is spreading like cancer around the world today, even right here at home.
“There is a tendency afoot today in North America to follow the European pattern, where wildlife become playthings for the wealthy and powerful. Under such a system, game is protected from the public in favor of the privileged few.
“I personally can’t stomach the idea that my grandchildren might not be able to buy a license and go hunting on public land and enjoy the great privilege of putting wild meat on the table, as we have always done.”
“Liberal” Harvest Regulations Destroyed Idaho Deer
Although my grandchildren and their children can still buy a license and go hunting on public land in Idaho, putting wild meat on the table is no longer an option unless they are either wealthy or lucky. When IDFG changed to what I&E Chief Martel Morache called “liberal” harvest regulations in 1988 – F&G included multiple antlerless mule deer harvests – and hunters were told it was because there were too many deer for their natural food supply.
Yet six years later, general season antlerless mule deer hunting had been replaced with limited special draw antlerless permits, which continued to harvest fewer deer but generated several hundred thousand more dollars in extra application and license revenue. In 2001, juvenile hunters were given the opportunity to kill mule deer does or fawns during the general buck season in all but the outfitter units and that remains in most units today.
But hunting scarce deer that have been pursued by archery hunters for 32 days and by hordes of rifle hunters in the same October season, rarely offers a decent chance for a one-shot kill. Most youngsters with no experience at hunting small game or “varmints”, either miss a running or long range shot, or hit the animal outside of its vital areas.
IDFG’s Michele Beucler Objects to Widespread Recruitment and Retention of Hunters
In her presentation titled “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall; Reflections from a Non-hunter,” IDFG Human Dimensions Specialist Michele Beucler cites statistics from 2001 when only 57% of hunter ed. graduates bought a hunting license. And after that first year, the number who bought a license steadily declined.
Beucler cited a 2007 national study showing that declines in hunter recruitment or retention between 1990 and 2005 occurred only in the nearly half of Idaho households where family income was below $40,000. Some of the youths and parents she questioned said that IDFG should change seasons that intimidated them, and also make hunting cheaper.
But instead of recommending IDFG return to obeying Idaho Wildlife Policy in I.C. Sec. 36-103 (i.e. to provide continued supplies of wildlife for hunting, fishing and trapping) Beucler brazenly ignored the law and insisted this Policy had destroyed nongame species, damaged ecosystems and undermined Idaho’s Public Trust Doctrine.
“We think that some degree of recruiting citizens into hunting is good business. However, we also feel that it has become misdirected and overemphasized. As a result, recruitment and retention efforts may be ineffective and may be distracting state wildlife agencies from engaging non-hunters and broadening wildlife conservation.”
Her False Claim That Wildlife Values Have Shifted
Beucler then said that states should reduce recruitment and retention efforts because they are a symptom of the need for wildlife managers to adapt to changing public attitudes. She insisted wildlife values have shifted from wildlife use to wildlife protection.
That may be true in Washington, D.C. but it’s certainly not true in Idaho. After more than a dozen years of IDFG using one underhanded trick after another to stop the legislature from allowing Idaho citizens to vote on making it a Constitutional right to hunt, fish and trap, it was finally approved by both houses and placed on the ballot in 2012.
Despite environmental activist Rocky Barker’s Idaho Statesman article, quoting a retired IDFG employee falsely claiming that our right to hunt is not threatened, Idaho citizens passed it by an overwhelming 77% of those who voted! Following Barker’s effort, “Right to Hunt…” still received 66% of the vote in Ada County, and passed by 77% of the vote in neighboring Canyon County – the second highest county population in the state!
Predictably, the only Idaho County where it failed to pass was the wealthy population in Blaine County where it only received 47% of the vote. A media campaign to defeat it because it also protected trapping may have contributed to its defeat by the small margin.
Her False Claim That Hunters Are Declining
Beucler and her bedfellows in state fish and game agencies ignored recent industry surveys showing an increase in the number of hunters nationwide. After presenting her “Mirror, Mirror” attack on hunting to the Wildlife Management Institute Annual Workshop in Phoenix in 2008, and the Idaho Chapter of the Wildlife Society meeting in Moscow in 2009, Beucler authored an article in the Spring 2010 issue of Management Tracks titled, “The Death of Wildlife Management?”
Published by the Organization of Wildlife Planners with Beucler serving as its President, her article states:
“For some time now, I’ve heard the siren call of ‘declining participation in hunting and fishing’ and what it might mean to the future of fish and wildlife management. Yet, despite a plethora of recruitment and retention efforts, annual participation rates continue to decline across much of the nation, and state fish and wildlife agencies are struggling to address 21st century conservation challenges such as rapid growth and development in key habitats, climate change, and nature-deficit disorder.
“Hunting and fishing will remain important threads of the American tapestry regardless of how many people participate – it is too much a part of human DNA, too much a symbol of American freedom, bounty, and wildness to fade away. Are we courageous enough to say that traditional fish and wildlife management must die?
“…we can choose to consider this death as part of a natural evolutionary cycle, as transformation, and not something that disappears forever. Ultimately, state fish and wildlife agencies may not have a choice—the risk of inaction is death by ballot initiatives, lawsuits, and irrelevance.”
IDFG Project Manager for Idaho Wildlife Summit Michele Beucler wears many hats, claims managing wildlife to provide continued supplies of game for hunters, fishermen and trappers undermines the Idaho Public Trust Doctrine (Facebook photo).
IDFG leadership has been working closely with Michele Beucler for several years and Director Moore quietly appointed her as Project Manager for the recent Idaho Wildlife Summit. She and her co-conspirators have worked behind the scenes for years while reasonable harvest opportunity was removed from grassroots hunting families and given to wealthy hunters.
Wealthy Hunters versus “Second Class Hunters”
One of the schemes IDFG uses is selling lottery chances for what it calls “superhunts”, which permit the “lucky” few who draw the permits to hunt in any open hunt for that species in Idaho. When my three oldest sons began hunting, all they needed to hunt small game, upland birds, predators and deer anywhere in Idaho was a hunting license and a deer tag – total cost $5. If they also wanted an elk it cost $3 more.
IDFG presently charges both adults and youngsters $117.25 for a “Sportsman’s Package” to hunt the same animals they could hunt for $8 in 1969. That is more than double the total inflation since then and still does not allow the hunters to participate in hunts with better odds of harvesting. Instead, IDFG encourages big game hunters to buy multiple chances for the superhunt permits so the rich hunter can buy dozens or even several hundred chances to improve his odds of drawing a permit.
He can also afford to pay people to locate a trophy animal, monitor its movements with fixed-wing or helicopter, and pay the guide who arranges the opportunity to shoot it. If the antler score is high enough, he may pay tens of thousands of dollars total to the state F&G agency and all the people who helped him kill the illegal “trophy”.
And like the auction tags, sometimes referred to as “Governor’s Tags”, establishing such extreme values requires that the “second class” general season hunters be limited to mid-October seasons. Even for an experienced hunter, the “Indian Summer” seasons are usually the most difficult time to locate and outsmart an older male animal.
Trophy Hunts Cause Overcrowded Hunters
But even if you beat the superhunt lottery odds of up to 1-in-2000 and receive a permit, it is no guarantee that you will harvest an elk or a mule deer with a large rack – much less a bona fide trophy. Although the IDFG website shows elaborate color photos of two bucks and two bulls taken by hunters with superhunt tags in recent years, none of them scored high enough for listing in the Boone & Crockett “Records of North American Big Game.”
The move throughout Idaho to further restrict the ability to harvest an animal in general season hunts, and then add so-called late-season “trophy” hunts in one or more units in each region, is forcing thousands of hunters who don’t draw a permit to either move to other already overcrowded general season units – or else give up hunting. No wonder these exploited license buyers are referred to as “second class hunters.”
The 2012 Panhandle Region Crisis
For the first time in its history, predation has reduced elk calf survival in the Panhandle Region so much that the Region’s wildlife managers have eliminated all general season cow elk hunts. Shortening the “any elk” seasons dramatically did not stop the decline for the 18,880 A and B tag purchasers in 2011, so in 2012 it offered them the chance to compete for 900 either-sex elk tags in units 1, 2, 3 and 5, plus 50 late antlerless tags in a part of Unit 5.
That meant that only five percent of hunters who had some opportunity to kill antlerless elk in the Panhandle in 2011 had a similar chance this year. Each of the four units now include a limited-participation 25-day Sept. archery season, followed by a 15-day mid-Oct. rifle season, plus a Dec. cow/calf season for the portion of Unit 5.
Unlike the southern Idaho F&G employees who travel to the Panhandle to hunt either-sex elk and/or either-sex whitetails, my great-granddaughter Tiana and her cousins lack the wherewithal to make that trip. Yet by offering a reasonable chance to harvest in an area close to home only to those hunters who pay them extra money, F&G forces the youngsters to forget harvesting game.
The “Sacred Cow” in the State Sage Grouse Plans
Every legitimate scientific study of the multiple causes of sage grouse declines has implicated predation as a major factor causing the decline. Yet the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sample Sage Grouse Plan does not include Predation as a direct cause of grouse decline and the plans approved by the various state governors do not address predator control.
Instead they blame human activity such as building roads, fences, windmills, transmission lines or other potential predator perches, operating landfills and clearing sagebrush to grow crops for the decline. Outdoorsman readers may remember when FWS Rocky Mountain Wolf Project Leader Ed Bangs published the claim in the Federal Register that wolves and other predators are never the primary cause of prey declines.
The article on Pages 13-14 of this issue titled, “The Introduction of Agriculture and its Impact on Sage Grouse,” is the second article I have published by Nevada Assemblyman Ira Hansen. It provides historical facts to counteract the unsupported claim by FWS and non-governmental groups that water development and livestock grazing are destroying sage grouse populations.
The article was provided to Reno Gazette-Journal reporter Jeff DeLong, who, in a July 18, 2012 article, said that some (people) insist ravens are causing sage grouse declines. He said the experts at Nevada Department of Wildlife admit ravens are an issue – but not a big one.
NDOW Sage Grouse expert Shawn Espinosa admitted the 500-600 percent increase in raven numbers throughout the West has created a problem but said the raven increase is caused by human activity. Wildlife Services is removing 2,000 ravens each year But Asm. Hansen reportedly said that is not enough to reverse the damage.
NDOW Director Ken Mayer was critical of Hansen, saying the Service (USFWS) has not identified predation as a threat and said, “Focusing on the predator issue now could be dangerous when attention must focus on the key issues such as the impact of wildfire and invading vegetation on habitat. Those issues are generally recognized as the most important ones when it comes to loss and fragmentation of sagebrush landscape in Nevada.
“The Carpenters of the world could actually facilitate the listing of the bird. We don’t have the time and the resources to focus on things that are not driving the listing process for the Fish and Wildlife Service.”
(Back when Idaho’s wolf oversight committee ignored reality and approved IDFG copying the FWS Wolf Plan without addressing predator control, Idaho Legislators refused to consider their plan for another 10 years. But now that the governors have adopted the FWS Sage Grouse Plan, which also fails to address predator control, the state legislators are silent and appropriate millions of dollars to implement a plan that will not restore sage grouse.-ED)
December 19, 2012
It has taken awhile for me to finally get around to responding to George Smith’s article that appeared on GeorgeSmithMaine.com on 12/11/2012 about some sportsmen in Northern Maine looking to implement Quality Deer Management for Aroostook County. It appears they would like the help and approval of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) but are running into strong opposition. I think those same sportsmen are going to run into mostly opposition from me on this one. (Smiling)It pains me greatly to agree with MDIFW for the most part on this issue.
In reading the article, one might get the impression that Quality Deer Management is about antler restrictions. This is only one aspect of a complete program that is designed around doing what the name of the program suggests; creating a “quality” deer herd.
Not to take me wrong, as I admire the passion to make hunting better, but I did guffaw a time or two in reading that some Northern Maine deer hunters want to create a quality deer herd. The reason for my snickering is that I was talking with a former Olympic ski coach once about problems I was having sustaining a “quality” ski team, year in and year out. His response to me, again not intended to offend simply to state the obvious, “Tom, you can’t make a good tossed salad if all you have to work with is a head of lettuce!”
Before I take the time below to post information and links (I’ve done this several years in a row) let me say that I am not necessarily opposed to Quality Deer Management, although I certainly believe it has its problems. However, I’m not sure that Northern Maine even has anything that resembles a head of lettuce. I just don’t see how “quality deer management” can rebuild a deer herd.
In Smith’s article, he quotes Gerry Lavigne, former MDIFW deer biologist and now works for the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, as saying:
“I am still opposed to antler point restrictions, especially in northern Maine. Selectively removing bucks will not lead to deer recovery. Improving doe and fawn survival will.”
“Increase the deer population from 2 to 10/sq. mi. and we’ll have an abundance of mature bucks again,” said the always-outspoken Lavigne. “Any other strategy is just a smokescreen. Hunters deserve better than that.”
Doe and fawn survival is key. Deer herd management is complex and I don’t pretend to be an expert on it, but during my years of writing I have attempted numerous times to seriously explain to hunters that doe to buck ratios cannot be 100 does to 1 buck. Failing to grasp this concept makes it that much harder to educate hunters on how Quality Deer Management works and what the results will be and the purpose for seeking to implement it.
As I said, not everyone is a fan of QDM. Petersen’s Hunting magazine ran an article over a year ago asking, “Is Quality Deer Management Ruining Hunting?” Check it out.
And there’s always the debate that not only can be heard in coffee shops in deer country, but get published in national magazines, that trophy hunting ruins the gene pool. Nearly 4 years ago, Newsweek Magazine ran an article, “Survival of the Weak and Scrawny.” The tragedy of this publication was the authors, not only had no idea what they were talking about, they never sought out the hoard of scientists who refuted the claims of this study. It just made for good sales and a bit of controversy.
Dr. Valerius Geist, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Science, The University of Calgary, Canada, provided me with the information to better explain what transpired during that study. If you are serious about understanding deer herd management, and as it might pertain to how selective breeding for “quality” deer might work, I strongly urge readers to follow all of these links and do a bit of studying. It’s fascinating stuff.
I also took the time to post another piece to explain about “trophy” (by definition) hunting and the results of that. In this article is a grocery list of information that I was able to compile from a host of qualified scientists who speak freely about trophy hunting, genes and breeding; all related information.
I have yet to find a wildlife scientist, even a new-science scientist, who would agree that implementing Quality Deer Management would aid in rebuilding a deer herd. I don’t think Maine is ready for “quality” deer management. What is really needed is “quantity” deer management. Let’s put our efforts and resources together to figure out how to increase the deer fawn recruitment and THEN work on quality.
Note: Pro Quality Deer Management sportsmen, even then, may run into opposition from wildlife managers.
November 28, 2012
As a hunter, one’s approach at stalking prey certainly depends upon the characteristics of the sought after prey. For that matter, what a hunter does in the woods and what he or she pays attention to is dependent upon what other large predators might be skulking about seeking whom they may devour.
As an example, if a hunter was stalking grey wolves, there’s always the thought of what could happen if a wolf or a pack of wolves turned on the hunter. Therefore, the methods of the hunt will vary considerably from that of hunting a whitetail deer in forests where few, if any, other large man-eating predators roam.
But what if that whitetail deer, or elk, or moose, we discovered, had turned from being a vegan to a meat eater? Normally hunters sneak quietly through the hardwoods, the swamps and thickets, moving as little as possible and limited in making noise as can possibly be done. This is because the deer is easily spooked and will often be gone before the hunter is even aware they were there from the beginning. Would that tactic change if deer stalked man?
Don’t laugh. First of all, some deer do stalk people. I’ve had it happen to me several times, especially on snow. It isn’t that the deer was stalking me to kill me, or at least that’s what I’ve always thought, I believe it is done more out of curiosity, as well as a clever avoidance tactic; i.e. hey, hunter, turn around and look behind you once in awhile.
Deer are herbivores right? – Meaning they eat only plants. It seems that’s not exactly true.
If deer are interested in eating fresh market beef, how soon before those same deer will be learning how to effectively stalk man, not out of curiosity, but for want of a hot fleshy meal? Not soon I hope.
In the article linked to above, we learn that many herbivores do enjoy an occasional high-protein diet, mostly from leftovers from others kills, but some have been known to do their own killing for the meat.
I suggest looking behind you more than occasionally while stalking about the woods. You never know what hungry beast waits you in the brush.