August 18, 2019

Are There Positive Changes Happening at Maine Fish and Game?

Late yesterday afternoon I received an email that contained information about an event that will happen this evening (Thurs. April 25th) at The University of Maine at Presque Isle. I immediately posted it and you can find that here.

The title of the event, “Enhancing Deer Survival in Maine – Are we Doing Enough?” is intriguing but what is more intriguing to me is the make-up of the event. Isn’t such an event a bit unprecedented? Is the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife actually exposing themselves to the public with the prospects of receiving some criticism for their deer management practices…or lack thereof? I thank them if this is a lasting phenomenon.

The event is sponsored by the Presque Isle Fish and Game Club (PIFGC), the Aroostook County Conservation Association (ACCA), and the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (SAM). SAM serves its function but can become a bit too political to be completely effective when it comes to protecting the interests of all outdoor sportsmen. However, the PIFGC and ACCA, both grassroots organizations have done some pretty remarkable things over the years with efforts to protect and enhance the population of deer in Northern Maine.

How they (PIFGC, ACCA, and SAM) pulled this event together is a masterful achievement. Let’s hope it’s not the last.

The MDIFW is in the early stages of blossoming (?) under a new administrative team. Could participation in this event be a good, positive start? Perhaps bravery might best describe it.

Looking through the lineup of guests/speakers, we see the big Kahuna herself, Commissioner Judy Camuso opening the event with some remarks. I wish I could be there.

Aside from Gary Lavigne, a former MDIFW deer biologist who now operates under the banner of SAM, we see even more participation from other MDIFW biologists/administrators. Head deer biologist Nathan Bieber, will address the group with information on deer populations, harvests, and winter severity, while Ryan Robicheau, Wildlife Management Supervisor, will discuss deer yard management and protection. Good luck with that one.

You’ll have to take a look at the entire schedule to see what’s going to be discussed.

It is extremely encouraging, to me anyway, that MDIFW might be actually dismantling some of those high-handed, authoritarian walls that drive wedges between the sportsmen and the department. With the commissioner and her staff attending such an event, is akin to a semi-wild dog laying down and exposing its belly as a sign of submission.

Kudos to the sponsors for pulling this Houdini event off. I hope it is extremely successful and will lead to more sharing of the wealth, while assembling a platform for future joint efforts to solve the deer management problems, along with others.

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Event: Enhancing Deer Survival in Northern Maine — Are We Doing Enough?

A Forum Sponsored by:

Presque Isle Fish and Game Club

Aroostook County Conservation Assoc., &

The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine

Date:         Thursday, April 25, 2019, 6 to 8 pm

Location:   Weiden Auditorium, Univ. of Maine at Presque Isle

Moderator:  David Trahan, SAM Exec. Director

Introductory Remarks: David Trahan.

Opening Remarks: Judy Camuso, DIFW Commissioner

Topics and Panelists:

     Topic Introductory Remarks: 

          Gerry Lavigne, Wildlife Biologist

     Current Status of Deer in Northern Maine

          Nathan Bieber, DIFW Deer Biologist – Deer population, harvest, and                   winter severity trends in Northern Maine.

Deer Wintering Area Protection    

          Ryan Robicheau, DIFW Wildlife Management Supervisor, Deer        

          Wintering Area Management and Protection (recent and historic status).

Predation Management

         Gerry Lavigne: SAM’s Coyote Control Model

        Ryan Robicheau: DIFW’s Predation Management efforts 2010 to 2019.

        Jerry McLaughlin: Pres. Aroostook County Conservation Assoc., The use

        of coyote contests to incentivize timely coyote removals.

Improving Nutritional Condition of Deer

        Ryan Robicheau: The strategic use of timber harvests to provide

        winter forage for deer.

        Nathan Bieber: DIFW’s perspectives regarding supplemental feeding

        of deer in winter.

       Jerry McLaughlin: ACCA’s winter feeding, food plot, and tree planting

       Programs.

Future Efforts

     Nathan Bieber, DIFW’s Deer Plan 2018 to 2025.

Are We Doing Enough?

     Suggestions from the floor.

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Gaining Understanding of Deer Habits…And Then Forgetting Them

I would suppose an “attaboy!” is in order for a Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) biologist from Northern Maine who tells some truth about why locations throughout Maine are finding deer in places they don’t “normally” spend their winters.

I put the word “normally” in quotations because it forces (or should) the question of what is normal? I’m not sure I can answer that in any other terms than to say it is what I think it should be. Perhaps none of us live long enough and are “expert” on deer biology to grasp an understanding of normal beyond only the period of time we are interested in the subject and what history books (often better relegated to the Fiction aisles and shelves in libraries) tell us about what is “normal” behavior for deer.

In our short life span, we have been indoctrinated (both citizen and biologist) to believe that it is “normal” behavior for deer to spend winters cooped-up in a classic, ideal, “deer wintering area,” known once to Mainers as a deer yard. This same indoctrination machine tended to cast dishonest claims about how deer, without those ideal deer wintering areas, shrivel up and die.

God only knows that this negative destruction can happen but does it happen at the rate scientismic biologists believe it does?

To believe such scientismic clap-trap is to say that deer, or any other wild creature, is mostly incapable of making adjustments to their habits in order to survive. I would claim that animals are more adept at this action/reaction than most humans.

Throughout Maine this winter, mostly toward the latter stages of a very snowy winter in many regions across the state, reports are surfacing of people finding pockets of deer (some in quite large numbers) hanging out in neighborhoods or right in the midst of down town. Why are the deer doing this?

I have written for years that I was finding deer in the throes of winter in places deemed as not “normal.” I guess normal is changing. Are the biologists though?

I doubt they are or at least not quickly enough to adjust their own habits to meet the management needs of the down town deer herds.

In Northern Maine, one biologist recognizes the reality – something that appears to have taken many years to admit: “Wildlife Biologist Shawn Haskell says between starvation, predators like coyotes and an occasional lynx, as well as competing with moose for food, it’s a struggle for deer in the wild. That’s why over time they’ve transitioned to more residential areas in colder months.”

Let’s point out the admissions often never spoken of in certain circles. First there’s the admission that coyotes kill deer; in winter; in deer yards. Aside from an “occasional lynx” perhaps the “occasional” bobcat was overlooked. And, lo and behold, the first time I’ve seen in writing that a Maine wildlife biologist is admitting that moose and deer compete for the same winter food. Thus, as honest logic would dictate, more moose hogging the food has a negative and detrimental affect on the deer herd. Too many moose, less deer. Too many moose, more winter ticks, fewer moose, more deer.

But the biggest admission of all is that the deer are adjusting and finding winter comfort (relative term) in places that, due to a more shy behavior of coyotes, Canada lynx, and bobcats, these predators might fear to tread. This is, as explained by the MDIFW biologist, one of the reasons we are seeing deer in places that are considered not “normal.”

So, “normal” is changing…it has changed. It isn’t “normal” anymore. Or, normal is not consistent. While it may be ideal in our brainwashing of “normal” things to see deer in those Hotel Hilton sort of deer yards, it ain’t gonna happen anymore. Things they are a changin’!

And they will continue to change. Yes, we should do what is reasonable to protect those “normal” deer yards. No, I’m not suggesting we “take em by force.” That’s not reasonable in my book, nor is it “normal.”

The Maine biologist alludes to a couple things we should take note of and I think there might be a lesson to be learned as well. The biologist says that the deer that are wintering in down town, “…have not forgotten where they came from.” Or, maybe they have. If “normal” is not their “normal” anymore, even if that “normal” disappeared forever due to forest management practices, a new normal will be achieved and lagging behind will be the education (indoctrination, if and when it fits another agenda) of citizens and wildlife biologists that deer ain’t where they used to be. (This is currently being blamed on Global Warming.)

Also alluded to about the changing habits of deer was, “…a situation that just works for them now.” I’m glad that the biologist recognizes the “for now” aspect of this event. Perhaps one day the deer will return to the Hotel Hilton’s winter resort of ideal “old growth” dense forests for protection from the elements. Or maybe they won’t. It’s what works. The deer will adjust but will the biologist?

Another issue not mentioned here which is mandatory in any honest conversation about deer management and predator control. We finally have the admission that coyotes kill deer. We are witnessing the deer making adjustments for their own survival by going places the coyotes, lynx, and bobcats might shy away from…FOR NOW!

If you know anything about wild canine behavior, you’ll have to admit that if deer decide that “normal” is in your back yard, the predators will overcome their fear and will dare tread on the winter habitats regardless of where they are. Predators are mostly driven by hunger. Fear of humans and our habitat is but a temporary roadblock.

How long will it be before bringing the wildlife into our towns, mostly due to predator protection, sets off a firestorm about public safety and that something needs to be done about it?

If things don’t change from current perverse perspectives on animal idolatry, when this day arrives, look for the call to go out to kill the deer (and waste the food) so that the wild dogs can have their way.

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Battling Ticks – We Can’t Eat Mice

Staten Island is at it again. This time they are targeting mice as a means of mitigating the tick problem – instead of targeting deer.

Recall that Staten Island contracted with Cornell University to undertake a deer vasectomy program that is believed to stop or reduce the breeding and production of deer by making sure some of the male deer are unable to mate with a female deer in heat. There’s a couple of problems with this dog and pony show. One problem is that one buck, that has not been snipped and clipped, will probably die trying to breed all the female deer that come into heat. The second problem is that when a doe deer goes into estrus (heat) she will remain that way until bred. Somewhere alone the lines in the misguided, perverse society we are subjected to, I read something about deer reproductive rights.

But I digress!

Now, some say due to an overblown deer population on the island, the threat of disease from ticks is growing as well. But this time, instead of going after the deer to curb the diseases, New York will spend a gob of money each year for 3 years to go after mice – the real culprits that spread the deer tick responsible for Lyme disease.

Deer meat tastes far better than mouse meat. Because we live in a post normal world, where everything is upside-down, our sick culture cannot see the benefits of killing the deer to eat, which in turn would help to mitigate the tick problem AND at the same time, seriously reduce the number of nasty, disease-carrying mice. Better health, better food.

But no!

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Plotting Deer Harvest on Map Paints Different Picture

I was recently sent some information that originated on Troy Frye’s Facebook page. You can follow his link if you wish. I’ve taken a few minutes to shade an area of the Maine map that shows Wildlife Management Districts to better emphasize where all the deer are in Maine and where all the deer are being harvested. Along with the map, I will include some of the data that Frye compiled that paint an interesting picture of just how skewed the deer population is in Maine. (The maps are at the end.)

Frye’s data are compiled from the years 2014 – 2017 where he shows the greatest part of Maine’s deer harvest occurs in 9 of the 29 Wildlife Management Districts (WMDs) – 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25. These 9 WMDs comprise the southwest corner of the state as is depicted on the map below.

I should like to point out that this shaded area of the map also includes the most densely human populated section of Maine. However, even though the human population is heavier in this region, the data tell us that the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) issues 93% of all the “Any-Deer Permits” within this region – not because of the human population, we are told, but because of the deer population. (Are there more deer or more social conflicts?)

Here are some more interesting data that Frye provides:

82% of all “antlerless” deer are harvested in this region.

62% of all bucks harvested in the state are taken in this region.

68% of the total deer harvest is taken in this region.

And, in 2018, 95% of all the 84,745 (80,725) “Any-Deer Permits” allotted were issued for these 9 WMDs.

Looking at this from a geography stand point, it shows how deplete the majority of the state must be when it comes to deer population and harvest. Clearly, 3/4 of the state provides “OPPORTUNITY” to hunt deer but with slim chances of harvesting.

I would suppose that the way things are going, so long as the MDIFW blames all management failures on Climate Change, we should be hoping for more global warming in order to move that notorious “northern fringe” of the whitetail deer habitat further north. And once you buy into that, I’ve got a bridge in New York City I’m looking to sell.

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Maine Legislative Committee Opposes Extra Youth Hunting Day

Recently, Maine hunters and outdoor sportsmen and women heard how the new commissioner for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), Judy Camuso, intends to recruit more people to hunt and fish.

Clearly she has little support from the legislative Joint Standing Committee of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, as that committee unanimously opposed adding one more day to the youth deer hunting.

Proven to be one of the better methods of recruiting and retaining new hunters to the fold, disallowing one more tiny day of deer hunting evidently isn’t worth the effort to do that.

Perhaps the legislative committee is somehow feeling guilty that the MDIFW instigated an unnecessary killing of more deer than most people wanted (so much for managing per social demands) by issuing a record number of “Any-Deer Permits” that happened to coincide with a very snowy winter that reports now are indicating is resulting in massive deer kills in winter yards – mostly by coyotes/coywolves.

But then, making little sense (politics NEVER do) the same committee voted to allow the elites, who can afford to buy their deer harvest, that purchase a “Superpack” license and buy an “Any-Deer Permit,” can now also participate in the “Any-Deer Permit” lottery in order to draw a second permit to kill antlerless (doe) deer. Does that make any sense to you? If we have extra deer why not first give the youth a shot at them (pun intended).

The committee is basically telling the youth they don’t give two rat’s behinds whether the children get to become lifelong hunters (maybe because they can’t buy the crooked bastard’s votes) but are sure willing to give the wealthy (vote buyers) a chance at more deer.

I don’t envy the job Camuso has facing her. It’s obvious the Legislature has their own crooked agenda and it doesn’t involve the future existence of hunting and fishing in the State of Maine.

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Maine’s Deer Yard Slaughters

It seems that all I am hearing about of late is the unbelievable slaughters taking place in some of Maine’s winter deer yards. Coyotes/coywolves are having a free-for-all feast. While anyone with a brain should know the implications of deep snow and prolonged deep snow, what I want to know is whether or not the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is having any regrets about issuing a record number of “Any-Deer Permits” (doe permits) that contributed to a substantial increase in the deer harvest this past Fall? I recall I asked if MDIFW considered the possibility of such a winter as this one BEFORE they issued the ADPs.

I doubt it.

Maine hunters should prepare for another multi-year drought of deer for hunting purposes – blamed, of course, on Climate Change. Bwhahahahahahahaah, Bwhahahahahahahahaha

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Maine’s New Commissioner Intends to Recruit New Hunters, Anglers

In a Sun Journal article about Maine’s new commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (sorry, at this time the link in Google search is no good. Perhaps at a later time if you search “Meet the New Wildlife Boss: Judy Camuso” you will have better luck.), it is stated about Camuso that, “Her top goals are to recruit new people into the agency with the “Citizen Science Program,” recruit more hunters and anglers, and improve communication with the public about how they can participate in outdoor programs.” (emboldening added)

According to the latest report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the number of hunters and fishermen has seriously declined. From a high of 14.1 million hunters nationwide, that number is now down to 11.1 million.

According to this latest survey and previous ones, some of the major factors that have caused a drop in participation are, land access reductions, available time to hunt and fish, and opposition from environmentalists who oppose hunting and fishing.

I should like to take a moment and point out that although the same survey shows an increase in “wildlife watching” the numbers are misleading if not downright dishonest. Let me simply state that any hunter or fisherman is automatically labeled as a wildlife watcher whether that was their intent or not. So the numbers presented are not an exact representation of the number of people who purposely set out to “wildlife watch.”

If it is a top priority of Commissioner Camuso to recruit more hunters and fishermen, she has a monumental task before her. It has often been stated that although there may be somewhere around 10% of the nationwide population who hunt and fish, an overwhelming majority of people support hunting and fishing as part of a viable wildlife management program. Sadly, that support is dwindling.

One has to wonder what, exactly, can Camuso do to recruit sportsmen, when so many things are now stacked against such an attempt.

If land access is a big wall of prevention, what can the commissioner do to convince land owners to “tear down that wall?” Are there incentives worth pursuing that would prompt a landowner to offer access to their land for hunting and fishing? Some have tried. Few have succeeded. Are there fresh, new approaches to this dilemma? Maybe she has ideas that will work. Let’s hope.

I’m not sure how a wildlife commissioner would approach the problem of sportsmen claiming they don’t have time to hunt and fish like they used to or would like to. Economics is the driver of many things and when a person has to work to make ends meet, how do you convince them that they need to take the time off work to hunt and/or fish?

Perhaps the lack of motivation to take some time off is prompted by lousy hunting and fishing as well as a tiring of the opposition Maine has faced often in recent years from environmentalists and animal rights activists willing to spend millions of dollars to put an end to hunting and fishing. This all tends to spell more doom than encourage more participation.

Which brings me to the third part in this discussion. It would seem to me that if Maine could do a better job at providing bountiful game populations, mainly deer, recruiting would be easier. Deer hunting is really the cash cow but you wouldn’t know if from past management practices and the politics behind them. However, try as they may, the deck is stacked against such an approach.

With the exception of deer, Maine has an abundant bear population that needs to be better controlled. The turkey population is near out of control, judging by the number of landowner complaints and the visual of seeing turkeys overrunning peoples’ property. Moose have always been a favorite of both hunters and wildlife watchers, but managers don’t seem to understand the balance between a healthy moose population, void of deadly winter ticks, and the cash cow that comes from a moose lottery and moose gawking.

So generally speaking, Maine has an abundance of bear, turkey, and moose and yet there is a need for hunters to take this game but few are willing. Why? I hope Camuso has some answers. History shows us that public support is lost when that public sees these valuable game species as nothing but nuisances.

It would seem plausible to me that with so much game (not considering the deer) that’s one deterrent not missing and that the Department should be doing more to get hunters in pursuit. So far nothing has worked. Does Camuso have something up her sleeves? Let’s hope so.

I believe the biggest obstacle is the opposition that exists in this modern culture that have their ideas about animals out of skew. This includes some of the employees at MDIFW. While this opposition may not be that large in numbers – but those numbers are growing – they are well-funded and very vocal. Ongoing threats of lawsuits dampens the courage of any new commissioner regardless of their intentions.

Note: Camuso mentions that several in her department will be retiring and she will have jobs to fill. If she is serious about recruiting, she should make sure those that are hired are not environmental activists anchored in animal rights; that they are believers in the North American Model of Wildlife Management and that hunting, fishing, and trapping are integral and necessary parts of the management policy. It’s time to weed out those more interested in the rights of animals and their protection against hunting and fishing.

How do you curb these threats of lawsuits and do what you know is the right and scientific thing in a wildlife management plan?

The Maine Legislature stopped a recent bill that would have provided hunters with a chance to hunt bear in the Spring. When will the MDIFW stop caving in to the demands (always, always, always) of the Maine Guides Association and do what is scientifically right instead of what is politically best? And while I’m on this discussion, when will MDIFW stop attempting to responsibly manage wildlife when all decisions are too heavily influenced by social demands void of sound science?

Judy Camuso probably has great intentions when she says she wants to recruit more hunters and fishermen. If she is sincere about this and determined enough, there has to first be management changes within the department. Is she prepared to do that? Can she? Maybe?

During the latest anti-bear referendum, we got to see Camuso in action, working for the MDIFW, convincing the Maine population that baiting bear was a necessary part of bear management. It was a great job done and perhaps the one act in many years that gave hunters hope that proper and necessary management took a front seat to the demands of environmentalism. That act probably did more to save, or perhaps recruit, more hunters than anything else the department has done in many years.

Is there more where that came from? Was Judy Camuso’s actions at that time driven by her own perspective of things or was she just following orders from then commissioner Chandler Woodcock? I think we are going to find out…or at least I hope so and the sooner the better.

The new commissioner should take immediate action to save the hunters and anglers Maine already has and then head down that road that will actually recruit more of them.

A monumental task and good luck.

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Maine Leg. Committee Up and Down of Bill Votes

I recently wrote of the Maine Legislative Joint Standing Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s unanimous vote of “ought not to pass” on a bill that would have allowed for a Spring bear hunt. The JSC has been up to more tricks.

In a bill (LD27) that will allow the use of crossbows during the bowhunting season on deer was unanimously approved. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s (MDIFW) commissioner, Judy Camuso, argued in favor of the crossbow use and even supported its use for turkey hunting. The JSC did not vote on such a move.

LD 79 is a bill that would grandfather any shooting range that existed before a recent bill banning shooting ranges within 100 yards of any building. The JSC was unanimous in its recommendation to pass.

A bill (LD 490) to expand the trapping season up to 21 days also passed the committee, while a bill (LD 525) to raise the registration fee for snowmobiles failed.

Next week the committee will vote on a brand new proposal from the Humane Society of the United States that would require all female bears to report to MDIFW headquarters in Augusta to receive the yearly supply of birth control pills. Bears wishing to avoid ingestion of chemicals can option for an IUD. (This is a joke. Ha Ha)

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Brainwashing the Cause of Loss of Youth Hunters

This morning I was reading an article in the Portland (Maine) Press Herald about the woes of the loss of youth to the activity of hunting, specifically the reduction of license sales.

Bills are being proposed to mitigate some of that loss including increasing the Youth Hunting Day from one to three days and one bill proposed to create a turkey hunting season for youth around Thanksgiving. Maybe more effort should be given to coordinate hunting seasons for youth that line up with school vacations and/teacher workshop days.

It seems that these proposed bills are coming from young people who already enjoy hunting and are looking for more opportunities designed exclusively for youth hunters under the age of 16. Not that these proposals and ideas are bad, but are such acts targeting the non hunters? I don’t think so.

To interest a new, let’s say Middle School-aged person, to hunt, shouldn’t we at least be attempting to devise ways of generating interest where there is none?

If you might agree that there is no interest and nothing being done to change that dilemma, then the question might become why can’t this be done?

I think the explanation is quite simple. It’s because our schools, media, etc. have successfully brainwashed the masses to view animals as creatures of intelligence, feelings, love, and should be bestowed the same rights, or more, as humans. When you combine this with a fish and wildlife department trained in the same indoctrination factories, what hope is there?

Yes, there is no doubting that the youth of today sometimes more resemble zombies with their noses pressed firmly to anything electronic. This is by design. What better way to control the future of our world than to completely manipulate the minds of the youth through music, cellphones, and all electronic gadgets that have been designed to target and control?

Efforts underway to recruit more youth hunters might collect a stray here and there but until such time as we put a stop to the ongoing indoctrination and brainwashing of our children, nothing will get better and much will get worse.

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