May 30, 2020

Land Access: “There Ought to be a Law!”

A few years back, while speaking to a group of elk breeders in Iowa at their national convention, I began my talk by asking for a show of hands from any and all who ever made the exclamation, there ought to be a law. Most raised their hands. The rest were lying…LOL.

In our post-normal existence we have eagerly created, without supporting evidence we reactively rush toward the creation of more limits, bans, and regulations falsely believing such actions will actually alter human behavior and make for a better, safer life. Does it? Do the majority of Americans heed such laws intended to make our world a better place to live?

Not exactly! Have you been out on the highways lately? This is but one example of how laws, intended to make things safer, are failing at breakneck speed. Everyone is speeding. Everyone is running stop signs and traffic lights. Everyone is tailgating. Everyone is passing on the wrong side. Everyone is texting. These are examples of laws intended to make the highways safer to be on and yet the proof is in what you see…total disregard of the laws. So, why do we insist more laws will work?

Does this same thumbing of the nose happen with all other laws? Of course it does and yet, we, in our programmed reactionary behavior insist on making more laws, limits, and bans anytime something happens that we think could have been avoided…especially if we had more laws.

A tragedy occurred in Maine two years ago when a young woman was on her own land during deer hunting season and was shot an killed. The shooter admitted he failed to follow the “rule of law” that demands a hunter identify his/her target before pulling the trigger. While this law is more of an educational reminder of the ultimate responsibility of the one with the gun in their hand, it does not prevent mistakes nor will it stop anyone intent on killing for whatever the reasons.

The editorial board of the Bangor Daily News suggests that Maine needs to review its hunter land access laws and consider a requirement that all hunters seek written permission from a landowner before hunting on that person’s land.

A land owner should be able to control who and how anyone accesses their land. They presently have that control at their fingertips by utilizing an existing law of posting signs of no or limited access. Yes, the onus is placed on the landowner to spend the money for signs and put the signs out. Perhaps there are better ways to assist a landowner in accomplishing this task.

The bottom line is this, will posting the land keep people off the property and will it prevent a tragedy like the one that happened two years ago? It will not stop the person who is intent on entering someone’s land whether it’s posted or not. Unless land is posted all the way around, what is to stop anyone from accessing partially posted land?

The question here is whether or not making or changing the law that would require written permission to access land would have prevented a killing like the one in Maine two years ago? We might be creating ourselves a false sense of security, causing the landowner, who may falsely believe their land is 100% safe to be on during hunting season. In actuality, a new law may be making things worse.

One could argue that it is the hunters’ responsibility to know where boundary lines are regardless of what the access laws and restrictions may be. Sometimes it is extremely difficult to know where every boundary is and if you cross, even a well-marked property line, whose it is. If I unknowingly cross a poorly marked property line, would I be in violation of the law?

Hunting is a very safe activity. It is not fool proof. To err is human as the old expression goes. We will never correct that regardless of how many laws are made.

So, let’s consider the problems that will mount if Maine decided to enact a law that would require written permission before access…for any reason. Which brings us to another question about such a proposed law. Would such a law discriminate against hunters and be in effect only during hunting seasons? Assuming a new law requiring written permission would be permanent and year-round, what kind of mess is this going to create for the outdoorsman, the landowner, businesses geared toward outdoor recreation, and law enforcement? Will this new law be such that it places the landowner in a situation where they are constantly being asked for written permission? Will this form of harassment cause the landowner to avoid such and simply post their land, which they might not have done anyway – an added expense for the landowner.

Consider the large landowners of Maine – Irving, Pingree, Liberty Media Corp. (John Malone, who is based in Colorado). How are they going to handle a law where they have to hand out written permission for anyone to access their land? Or are they just going to shut it all down to avoid having to have another paid position to handle just dishing out land access permission slips?

How is law enforcement supposed to handle this new law? Is it even enforceable? Is what exists now really broken?

I own land. It’s not posted. If I go on my land during hunting season, I dress the same way as if I was hunting – with hunter orange. I never assume because I’m on my own land I am safe. Mistakes happen.

I don’t believe anyone is capable of grasping the extent of how Maine would change if the laws were changed that would require written permission to access private land. What economic impact will such a move have on Maine’s economy? One can argue that it might make it safer but such laws will not stop human error. Most all accidents happen due to human error. In that case, more and better education might limit and reduce those errors.

Before we make more laws to restrict land access, let’s first consider other ways to educate and remind hunters of their responsibility and to remind the people of Maine when hunting seasons are underway. Perhaps Maine could invest in public service announcements that would remind people about hunting seasons.

Let’s be practicably responsible and not create a bigger mess that may do little to make things safer.

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2019 Maine “Any-Deer” Lottery Results

The results of the Maine 2019 “Any-Deer Permit” Lottery results can be found at this link – https://deer.informe.org/2019/

Just select the letter that matches the last name of the applicant and scroll through the results.

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Maine’s Top 20 Deer Harvest Years

This chart comes from Troy Frye’s Facebook page found at this link. He provides other interesting graphics about Maine’s deer harvest histories.

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The $136,666 Deer Vasectomies of Staten Island

To refresh the minds of readers, please recall the story about how Cornell University implemented a program on Staten Island, New York, to give vasectomies to as many male deer as possible in order to reduce the deer population on Staten Island.

Now three years into the program, we discover that of the estimated 2,000 deer on the island, the population has been reduced by approximately 300 deer. At a cost of about $4.1 million, the cost per deer reduction runs about $134,000 each.

Brilliant!!!!

Read more!

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Mandatory CWD Testing

A hunter skillfully downs a trophy buck. After admiring the beauty of the massive creature, before field dressing it, he reaches into his backpack and pulls out a Chronic Wasting Disease test kit. A new mandatory test, where the hunter must do a quick test to see if the animal he took tests positive for CWD. And then what?

Well, here we go. Here’s a case of a man-invented or man-spread disease, Chronic Wasting Disease, that all began in a government laboratory in Colorado. Today CWD has been tested positive in 26 states and now, officials are demanding that mandatory testing of harvested deer be implemented.

And for what reason? It is recommended that people do not eat CWD-infected meat. A mandatory field test would tell the hunter immediately if the animal is infected. Then what?

The test might prevent the hunter from dressing the deer and spreading the disease throughout the environment quicker than if you just left it to rot. Either way the contamination is there.

About the only advantage I can see is that a hunter might save himself/herself a lot of work before dressing and dragging a deer out of the woods and then waiting for test results before eating.

Then, if the test comes back positive, what’s the hunter to do with the contaminated meat?

While a required test might alert the hunter immediately of whether he/she has downed an infected animal, I see nothing here that would do much of anything to help stop the spread of the disease.

Maybe there isn’t anything that can be done. Perhaps we could require force feeding all contaminated meat to any and all government officials. They deserve it.

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Deer Meat Pie in a Primitive Clay Oven

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Skin and Process a Deer in 10 Minutes

I don’t agree with everything he claims will happen to the meat by field dressing an animal. I hunted in terrain where moving an undressed out deer and elk would be impossible. I field dressed and boned out my elk and deer and did not have dirt urine feces and hair on the meat. Although this is an interesting lesson. I’ve seen this done before many times over the years..

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False Historical Claims About Deer and Predators

Just the other day, I wrote a rebuttal piece attempting to correct terrible information that was published in a Maine newspaper about how, according to the author, “coyote control doesn’t work.”

In the mythical nonsense written about why coyote control doesn’t work, the author quotes work from someone she believes to be a “carnivore conservation biologist” (therefore an expert on predator prey relationships?). This “expert,” in regards to historical deer populations in Northern Maine, was quoted as saying, “They were never there historically. It’s not a place for deer to thrive because the winters are too cold and the snow is too deep for them to move easily. Deer like edge habitat, not forests. They only moved north after the forests were cut down.”

This substantiates the point that “experts” lose any credibility as an authority on predator/prey relationships because they expose their true agenda by making biased and completely false statements to promote their agendas. We see in this statement that this “expert” claims that deer never existed in Northern Maine because deer can’t survive there because “winters are too cold and the snow is too deep for them.” In addition, this same “expert” gets her hateful digs in by making a false claim that deer migrated north into Maine “after the forests were cut down.”

What absolute nonsense! Actual historic documents, not idealistic coyote worship doctrine, show that when wolves and mountain lions were part of the Maine landscape in Northern Maine (that’s where the moose and caribou were found, thus a good meal selection for the wolves and pumas) the deer all lived on the coast of Maine and even crammed onto the islands to escape predator harassment. When the caribou vacated the state, moving into the Canadian Provinces (for whatever reason) the wolves went with them. All of this had nothing to do with the forests being cut down.

To continue the historic timeline of predator/prey relationships, after the wolves left, the deer began moving back north and the population grew significantly.

Beginning the the late 1960’s and early 1970s, the coyote moved into the state and began to flourish. With it, especially in Northern Maine, the deer numbers came crashing down and have never recovered to historic highs and never will so long as predators are protected.

In information I was sent yesterday that originated with Deer Friendly website, provides us with data that makes it extremely difficult to honestly claim that deer in Northern Maine historically were never there. (Refer to the chart below.)

This data shows that in the 1950s and 1960s, before the coyote arrived and flourished, the deer harvests in Aroostook, Washington, Piscataquis, and Somerset Counties, all of which comprise the majority of what we would consider to be Northern Maine, attributed to nearly 40% of the total deer harvest. This might be considered a pretty good indicator that in just 4 counties (of 16), 40% of the deer harvest meant Northern Maine historically DID have more deer than they do today.

Let’s compare. In the 2010s, at a time when the coyote population in the state as well as the bear population, are at historic highs, those same four countries struggle to comprise 20%, or about half, of what used to be the Maine deer harvest.

Claiming that deer were never in Northern Maine is a false statement intended only to justify the allowance of the wanton waste and destruction of coyotes and other large predators. The way these predator protectors present their myths, I wonder if they have ever asked why, if Northern Maine never had any deer, why our neighbors to the north, in Canada, have deer enough to offer their residents an opportunity to stock up venison for the winter?

There are very few, if any, legitimate reasons to not control large predators and manage deer numbers to levels conducive to protect and promote a useful, renewable resource. Presenting false information is intended only to place hunting in a negative light in hopes of ending it, while promoting the status of predators above that of people.

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Predator Prey Relationships For the Making

To go along with the age old saying that statistics prove that statistics can prove anything, the same is evident when it comes to predator/prey relationships. Simply pick the “expert” advice and opinions from those who have theories and “suggestions” that, when cherry-picked appropriately, will neatly fit into an agenda-driven narrative, and you have an instant predator/prey relationship that works for you.

Recently I was reading what is really a very ignorantly compiled bit of broad-brushed nonsense about how coyote control doesn’t work (for the purpose of providing enough deer for hunting). Void of any specific information of just how any sort of coyote control was, is, or might be implemented (it is crucial in attempting to make determinations that result in such claims as “don’t work”) to make the statement that coyote control doesn’t work is dishonest at best.

Not to belabor the issue of whether or not coyote control works or doesn’t work, perhaps missing from the writer’s obvious hatred for those who choose to hunt and eat natural food, is the simple fact that no example of whether coyote control works, or is even needed, is ever considered before, during, or after ranting on about a call for protection of large predators as though it is something that should never be done and by not doing it everything lives in perfect harmony. What nonsense. And it’s so tiring to be subjected to the same nonsense repeatedly.

This morning I was reading a Ph.D. college thesis where a person chose to study the predator/prey relationship between coyotes and whitetail deer in the Chicago area. The Abstract tells us a few very important things. First, that coyotes were the cause of 77.8% of whitetail deer fawn mortality. Second, that there are so many coyotes and deer in this study area that habitats unavoidably overlap, and three, coyote seem to prefer to prey mostly on fawn deer and not adult deer.

It would be ridiculous to make any kind of suggestion about whether coyote control would work or not work in this situation or for the reason anyone might suggest coyote control. As far as hunting goes, if there are this many deer, what coyotes do to only the deer herd is probably immaterial. There may be other collateral damage that is not being considered.

Another example of why broad-brushed accusations and conclusions are ignorant is the fact that an agenda-driven person might use this thesis to prove that coyotes only prey on fawn deer. In this case, because of an overblown deer population and the fact that coyotes, like all large predators, are opportunistic hunters, i.e. that they simply kill and eat the most easily attained prey. In this case, it is generally easier to take down a fawn deer than an adult deer.

In a different scenario, one that could very easily be found on the Maine landscape, where in much of the state there is a definite scarcity of deer and an abundance of coyotes, a hungry coyote or pack of coyotes can and do take down the biggest and healthiest of adult deer.

To claim predator control doesn’t work, based on some hyped up theory about reproductive behavior response, reveals a person’s desire to promote their own ideology at the expense of denying others the opportunity to promote surplus game management for consumptive use, a use that has been around since the beginning of time and this uncalled for totalitarian action coming at a time when people are in quest of natural, more healthy, food.

The writer who claims that predator control doesn’t work, was pointing a finger at how Maine manages its deer herd which includes a degree of coyote control. Again, void of specificity and an understanding of how, when, and where predator control would be effective, the author chooses to wrongfully claim that control doesn’t work.

In Maine’s case, much of the coyote control takes place during winter, in deer wintering areas, where coyotes often make those areas blood baths. Whether there’s any so-called reproductive behavioral response in coyotes to run out and have more pups to replace those taken during control actions, matters little. It is known and understood that any effective control must be ongoing and targeted, thus the reason the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) implements the coyote control.

The foundation of the call for coyote control in Maine is based upon the fact that, unlike the Chicago region, much of Maine has a very scarce deer population. Common sense, often lacking these days, should tell us that deer venison on the table is of a higher value to the consumer than a nasty, disease carrying wild dog. I, like many others, would like to improve our odds of filling our freezers for the winter, and thus we call for targeted coyote control in deer wintering areas in order to assist in the management of a few more deer. I would like to take the opportunity to say that for many in Maine, deer meat is an essential to providing sustenance. In addition, I would like to be able to choose to hunt deer, bear, and moose as a healthy alternative to store-bought meat.

If Maine had, statewide, the same deer density as is found in portions of Central Maine, coyote mortality on deer would mostly go unnoticed. Such is not the case.

Because we live in a post normal existence, where science is about predetermined outcomes that fit agendas and drive narratives, anyone can pick and choose theories, perspectives, and suggestions to support any claim they wish. In this case: Coyote control doesn’t work.

In the same vein, I can claim that coyote control does work when it is applied scientifically in those regions where it becomes necessary to sustain a deer population.

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Deer Baiting Should Be Used Like Bear Baiting

George Smith in the Bangor Daily News, posted testimony from Rep. Paul Stearns arguing in favor of a bill that would allow for deer baiting. It appears not many people are in favor of such.

Stearns gives several reasons baiting of deer should be allowed, the most of which I disagree with. I have voiced opinion in the past that it seems ridiculous that it is legal to grow a crop specifically for deer to eat and then, while you can’t directly hunt “over” that crop you can hunt “near” it.

Maine allows for baiting of bear. The reason is that it is believed that baiting bear increases the success rate of harvesting a bear. This, at the current bear management strategy, is a desirable thing as the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) has too many bears and management wants numbers reduced. This should be understandable but that is not always the case.

Does Maine have too many deer? Not by a long shot. However, there are some places in Maine that do have far too many deer. Many of these places do not get hunted and in some cases won’t get hunted for various reasons. It would seem that in such cases, allowing baiting of deer, to draw them to a shooting zone, would be an appropriate use of the tactic. Isn’t this what so-called “sharp shooters” do when hired to cull deer?

It makes sense that if the MDIFW retains as a management tool the authority to allow bear baiting, then shouldn’t they also retain the authority to allow deer baiting, or any other species, when the demands of responsible control and management of a species is necessary?

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