March 3, 2015

Maine Deer Management: Excuse Du Jour?

I was reading George Smith’s blog this morning about all the deer plans Maine has come up with over the years all aimed at rebuilding a deer herd. Smith points out, and I believe he is factual, that the number one excuse found in the myriad of deer plans as to why deer numbers don’t grow is because of diminishing habitat for the animal. Really?

I won’t deny that losing habitat isn’t a factor – and it might even be a significant factor – to maintaining and growing a deer herd. But I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I am really quite sick and tired of listening to that crap sandwich.

It’s a crap sandwich because of all the things that could be done to increase the deer herd, it’s the least likely something anybody can do about it. It’s not too far from thinking we can control the weather.

First of all, the avoidance continues, with never an answer, as to why if wintering deer habitat is so lacking why are there empty deer yards across the state? But let’s forget that for now – seeing that nobody wants to talk about it.

So Maine has all of these deer plans proposed and proposed and proposed and then along comes another to suggest another working group to come up with a plan, a plan, a plan and guess what? Nothing changes…well, at least nothing any of these people want to talk about.

Let me ask one question. What are Maine deer managers doing to build the deer herd back up? Simple question. Let’s form a list:

1. Form a working group
2. Devise a plan
3. Cry because it’s all about habitat, habitat, habitat, habitat, habitat…excuse me, I just vomited on my computer screen.
4. Ignore the plan
5. Talk about wasting money to collar 40 deer to study whether or not coyotes are killing deer.
6. Form a working group
7. Devise a plan
8. Self committal to an insane asylum.

INSANITY!

Here’s something to think about. The excuse du jour – no habitat – claims that deer can’t be grown because there just isn’t enough habitat so deer can survive the winters. So, Maine has done nothing about that and that’s not surprising. So, they wash their hands of any responsibility and decide to go study moose. Oh, but let’s not forget that token deer collaring program that might happen. That will surely put meat in my freezer.

So, if habitat is the big deal here, then there must be enough wintering habitat to allow for the increase in deer densities following 2 or 3 relatively mild winters. That did happen. I know it did. That’s encouraging so, hold that thought for a minute.

If Maine could maintain the current level of deer wintering areas and build deer up to carrying capacity, would not hunters and others be happy? Or at least happier than they are now? So, let’s work at trying to keep the habitat that exists, without becoming statist, totalitarians, and actually do those things within our easy power to cause deer numbers to go up.

1. Control coyotes/wolves (Sorry that means killing them and it has to be a program, ongoing and forget all the lame excuses as to why it doesn’t work. It does and there’s proof. We don’t need a study group to find out.)
2. Reduce black bear populations. When discussions surround coyote killing to mitigate depredation, we hear how bears kill more deer than coyotes. Fine, go kill some bears. How about a spring season? Oh, wait. Because we live in fear for our lives over fascist animal rights groups we dare not stir the pot and have a spring bear hunt. IT MIGHT OFFEND SOMEBODY. It might offend the farmer losing his livestock too but that doesn’t count? It offends me that I don’t see deer at all while hunting deer in the woods in the Fall. And while we bury our heads in the sand, the deer population works toward extirpation in Maine, while deer to the north of the state, in Canada, are doing okay.
3. Better control and monitor where bobcats and all other predators are having an effect. We don’t have to kill all the bobcat, just reduce numbers in areas where deer need help.
4. Here’s another suggestion. Instead of caving in to the political power brokers to allow them to build trails through the middle of deer wintering yards, maybe that would help save habitat. Oh, what’s that you say? That doesn’t count? That doesn’t matter? That’s too small an amount to have any impact? Okay. I get it. It’s about power and control.

If habitat is so big that nothing else matters, as it sure seems that’s the case, then how do you explain the fact that in Eastern Maine were coyote/wolf control is ongoing, their deer numbers are rebounding nicely? Why? Coincidence? I don’t think so. They are doing something about it. I think they at least understand that while habitat isn’t fully abundant, and let’s face it, it never will be again, they can and are doing somethings that will help.

Now, I know these suggestions require work and it might not be as much fun as tracking radio collars and flying in helicopters counting animals, but one more claim that Maine can’t do anything about the deer herd because of habitat and I will have to vomit on my computer screen again.

Enough already! Rome burns while another working group and deer plan is devised.

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Do We Really Need More Collaring To Know Predators Kill?

CollaredDeerWhile I understand interviews with media outlets and the perpetual screwing up of a story, sometimes readers must be left wondering all sorts of things. And yes, during those interviews, sometimes we are asked really stupid and/or questions that the answer is so obvious it doesn’t deserve an answer.

Depending on what region of the country you are from, would depend upon whether or not and how many and different species of large predators exist that are ripping into the whitetail deer populations. In a report filed in North American Whitetail, Kyle Rivana, Maine’s head deer biologist, says that Maine doesn’t have enough information to know whether coyotes are causing damage to the deer herd.

“We really don’t have a good handle on the relationship between predator and prey in Maine,” he notes. “And partly because of that, we’re getting ready to begin a survival study in which we’ll collar 40 whitetails. One of [the] things we’ll try to measure is cause-specific mortality. Are the coyotes really having the impact we think they’re having?”

Here’s a suggestion. Depending upon who you might talk with, coyotes have been filling up the forests of Maine since the 1950s, give or take a decade. I can remember back to the late 1960s and early 1970s listening to outdoor sportsmen complain about the negative impact of coyotes then. It’s been 40, 50, 60 years and Maine “don’t have a good handle on the relationship between predator and prey”?

It should be embarrassing the state has wiled away its time and resources, poorly managing the whitetail deer, and claiming they don’t have any idea if coyotes are having an impact, when much of everybody and everywhere else understands the problem.

So what’s the solution? Rivana says, “…we’re ready to begin a survival study…” Save your money. You don’t need to put collars on deer in hopes you might find out what’s killing them. Predators are killing the deer. Not all of them but predators kill deer. That’s why they are called predators. And besides, if Maine collars 40 deer and finds out that coyotes, or bears, or bobcats, or lynx or mountain lions or wolves, or Big Foot, or all of them combined, are killing off the deer herd, what is the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) going to do about it? NOTHING! Oh they might toss some money in the air and for a year or two pay $200-$300 a varmint to have them killed until such time as those making complaints are placated and forgotten. Then it’s back to business as usual.

Does the new deer biologist understand anything about the relationship of predators and deer in Maine? Here’s what he said:

“In some areas of the United States, bears can have more of an impact (on whitetails) than coyotes or wolves,” says Kyle Ravana, who heads up Maine’s deer management program. “In other areas, it could be coyotes or bobcats that are having the biggest impact. It kind of depends on where you are.

“When you’re in a state like Maine, that has a full suite of predators — coyotes and bears and bobcats and wolves — you can’t point your finger at any one predator. It could be all of them combined, including hunters.”

And notice that he had to, just had to, because that’s how he was indoctrinated in his educational institution, that it could be HUNTERS that are causing the reduction of deer in Maine. Really? So Rivana, and anyone else at MDIFW or across the country that wants to say that it is hunters that are destroying game herds, then what that REALLY means is that the fish and game departments of each state aren’t doing the job that their state mandated them to do. If Maine has a problem with too many deer being killed by hunters, that is the responsibility of deer managers to reduce that impact. So, let’s quit with the blaming the hunter BS. But I understand it’s impossible to lose that brainwashing, and it might be just as likely that some environmental groups are funding the collared deer study, which means….well, you figure it out.

I’m done buying vowels and so, I’d like to solve the puzzle: Predators exist in Maine and many, many other places. They have for many, many years and those predators are growing in numbers for a variety of reasons. Predators kill prey. Deer are prey. When there are more than one prey species for predators to kill, when they’ve depleted one, they will switch to another. Predators, like coyotes and wolves, keep growing in numbers partly because there is ample food – they just switch from one prey species to another. If nothing is done about controlling the predators, there’s a possibility that the predators, in combination with other things, such as severe winters, disease, etc., will reduce their prey base so low and keep it there, they will either move on, starve or resort to cannibalism. It isn’t the responsible way of managing wildlife.

Therefore, because it’s been 50, 60, 70 years that coyotes have been around in Maine and bears have always been here and now in historic high populations, bobcats as well and Canada lynx, my solution to the puzzle would be to implement predator control into the deer management program. It has to be part of any game plan – that is game that is a food source for large predators. What’s to get a handle on. DO SOMETHING!

But no. The answer is always one of two things; form a study group or put a collar on an animal. The results? NOTHING! (global warming) Another year goes by and then another and another and the only thing that has been taken care of is someone’s pension fund.

Save your damned money. You don’t need collars to find out if coyotes are having an impact on deer. All of Maine’s large predators are having an impact on deer. It’s what they do. It’s time to do something about it other than forming another study group and putting on collars.

Winter Ticks Haven’t Figured Out Where to Ambush the Moose

Nathan Terriault has a “Special to the Bangor Daily News” about his belief that perhaps the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) should be providing more moose permits rather than fewer. Much of this is substantiated by the notion that there are too many moose – at least in some places – and as a result the moose population is not healthy, i.e. malnourished and carrying hundreds and thousands of winter ticks making the moose anemic and susceptible to exposure and predation. I might add that moose are also carrying or infected with what MDIFW likes to call “lungworm” but what I would call Hydatid cysts from the Echinococcus granulosus eggs carried by wild canines. These cysts also make the moose more susceptible to escaping or fleeing from harm by predators.

Terriault’s piece is well thought out and I would have to agree with much of what he is saying, as I have recently written questioning whether MDIFW is attempting to grow and perpetuate too many moose due to social demands rather than devising desired populations based on scientific evidence.

However, I have to snickeringly take issue with one comment that was made, not so much as a means of correcting Mr. Terriault but to make sure that readers better and more accurately understand about winter ticks. Terriault writes:

Forestry practices, such as clearcutting and strip cutting, concentrates cover for moose and funnels animals through areas where ticks lie in wait for host animals.

This is true information but it might lead some to think that the ticks have actually figured out exactly where these moose “funnel” and go there and wait; much the same way large predators do. A tick’s life cycle, part of which begins when the ticks (female) drop from the moose in Spring. From that point, wherever the drop occurred, the tick larvae and the tick do not travel any great distances – by human standards – and these drop zones are not necessarily within one of these “funnel” corridors. In the late Summer and early Fall, the tick climbs vegetation wherever they are and they wait, hoping to catch a ride on a passing moose. If they don’t catch a ride, they die. It’s that simple.

From the moment a tick attaches itself to a moose, where that tick ends up next Spring, to drop and begin the cycle all over again, is dependent upon the travels of the moose. Understand as well that the time in which ticks are climbing vegetation looking for a free ride happens to fairly closely coincide with the moose mating season, when moose travel the most due to increased activity. Where the tick is picked up by a moose and then dropped in the Spring could be some distance away, even by human standards.

It shouldn’t be thought that moose are carrying more ticks because ticks are moving into the regions where moose seem to be traveling the most, although simply because of those natural actions it is possible that more ticks might be present in a travel corridor than some other random spot, but I can’t believe it would be of any significance.

I think the facts are clear, and I’ve never read any studies that suggest ticks have figured out where to go to catch a ride, that there are more ticks everywhere, because there are more moose everywhere. Therefore logic would suggest that if you reduce the number of moose, there would be less ticks and healthier moose, which is, what I think, Mr. Terriault is suggesting.

Michigan DNR Asks Public to Help Track Wolves

State officials have announced that they are planning to track the presence of gray wolves in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula.

The survey on wolf numbers in the region is scheduled to begin Feb. 16 and run through March 13, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Wolf sightings or tracks believed to be from a wolf can be reported to the DNR online as part of the survey.<<<Read More>>>

For Whom the Toll Taking Tolls

ElkHerdI’m sure some will consider this short piece being a bit picky but consider, if you would or should or can, that the choice of words in any document can certainly contribute to the propagandizing of the public and their ideas about certain things. For that reason alone, it must needs to offer a better explanation of choice words. (Yes, I do it too!)

In question is an article about Yellowstone National Park wolves and the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd. Think what you will about the accuracy of the reporting overall. Frankly, I don’t care as few know the difference, nor do they care. In addition, more than likely anything I write here will do nothing to mitigate the years of biased and ignorant reporting on wolf and elk issues.

In addition, I do not know the writer in question. I know nothing about him. I don’t know how he feels about wolves, elk, hunting, Yellowstone or the price of peanuts. Perhaps his intent was to help form more negative opinions about hunters and hunting. Or maybe it was just a careless choice of words. I’ll let you decide.

The writer of the article states the following: “Also taking a toll on the herd have been hunters, other predators and harsh winters.”(emphasis added)

The report is about what appears to be an increase in the population of elk in the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd. There is even an intimation that the elk numbers went up because the wolf numbers went down. God forbid such a connection be made!

But let me focus, nitpickingly, on the use of the writer’s words “And also taking a toll….” In having a basic understanding of the English language, and I think I do, I know from reading the article that the writer must believe that wolves are “taking a toll” because he claims there are “also” others “taking a toll.” I suppose that’s progress to see and admit that?

But he names others “taking a toll” as being hunters, other predators and harsh winters.

Taking a toll can be defined in a dictionary as, “An amount or extent of loss or destruction, as of life, health, or property.” In perhaps 100% of the context in which the term “taking a toll” would be used would be in helping to describe the “extent of loss or destruction.” To those who might not suspect, this is NOT a good thing. The writer evidently can see that the reduction of elk in the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd from 20,000 to under 3,000, is an event that can be described as something “taking a toll.” More progress?

However, I would like to take a bit of an issue with the description that hunters are or have been “taking a toll” on the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd. Regulated hunting, generally speaking, does not “take a toll” on any game or wildlife population. Unless you plain hate hunting and hunters and then nothing would matter anyway to them. If poor management of elk and elk hunting caused the “taking a toll” on the elk, then those wildlife managers need to find a new job; maybe predicting more global warming would suit them. They seem to be well versed in how to use it as an excuse for everything.

Game managers today, employ methods where they can grow, reduce or maintain an existing population of animals, such as elk – well, that is providing there are any elk leftover after the wolves are done killing them all. This management plan has been visible since the illegal introduction of the gray wolf in 1995 and 1996, because of a continued reduction in hunting permits in those areas where wolves are present in too large numbers.

Hunters aren’t “taking a toll” on elk numbers because they are the ones being asked to make all the sacrifices while some play gOD with elk and wolves and others make statements in media outlets pointing a wrongful finger at hunters for “taking a toll.” No, wolves are taking a toll on hunting! Tough pill to swallow for some I know.

It’s pointless to discuss the ins and outs of whether “other predators” and “harsh winters,” along with those poor wolves, are what’s causing the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd to disappear. Wolves, lions, bears and all “other predators” aren’t regulated. They don’t have to cough up money or enter a lottery to get a permit to kill an elk. They just kill one anytime the urge strikes; and sometimes, just for the hell of it.

If there’s any toll taking that concerns hunters, it is that some writers, due to their unthoughtful, or not, choice of words, are taking a toll on us poor hunters. Time to give it rest. You got your damned wolves. Now, go way!

Percentage of Maine’s “Big Bucks” Continues to Decline

Below is s copy of a chart that is created each year by a good friend of mine. Since 1999 it shows the annual deer harvest, as provided by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The chart makes several comparisons, as you can see.

Once the deer harvest numbers are official, this chart compares the current harvest numbers with past years’ as a percentage of the deer harvest in 1999. The number of “Big Bucks” harvested and reported (200 lb. minimum), as obtained from the Maine Sportsman Magazine, is shown. From there, several comparisons by percentage are shown. These comparisons are based on the 2000 numbers as they are the highest reported during this 15-years span.

As you should be able to tell, the percentage of Big Bucks harvested, compared to the total deer harvest, since 2000, has been mostly on a steady decline. Obviously with a reduced harvest one would expect the total number of Big Bucks to also be reduced. But what is troubling is that the decline of Big Bucks is not proportional to the overall harvest.

But what does that tell us? The obvious would be to state that there appears to be an age structure shift in Maine’s deer herd. And what causes a change in age could be one of several things and/or a combination of them. Without all the data, my ideas would be nothing but guesses. It could be nothing more than a corrective shift downward in age to bring the herd in line with management goals, or it could be at the other end where there are just too many Big Bucks that have been and repeatedly get taken each year…but I doubt that. It is possible that in addition to a reduced overall deer population in Maine, there’s also been a loss in natural foods and nutrients that cause deer to grow large in body mass. Or, the Big Bucks are being harassed by predators prohibiting normal weight gain.

But here’s a question and something to think about. One might wonder if it is a natural phenomenon that during a period when a deer herd is shrinking, the percentage of Big Bucks would not necessarily mirror that of the overall herd? If that were true, then can we surmise that as the herd grows in numbers, the percentage of Big Bucks increases as well? My pea brain logic would tell me the exact opposite. But hell, what do I know?

BigBucks2014

Note: On the above chart please notice that the deer harvest for 2014 is an estimate. When the official number is made available, hopefully this year, I’ll post the correction.

Insanity Prevails in Decision to Kill British Columbia Wolves Killing Caribou

As many as 184 wolves must be shot in British Columbia, Canada, in order to save the caribou, according to a statement from the provincial government. The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations announced plans on January 15 to address what they consider the threat of wolf predation in the areas of the South Selkirk Mountains and the South Peace, along the border of US states Washington and Idaho.<<<Read More>>>

Can Moose Harvest Increase by Reducing Moose Density?

mooseI admit that might be a misleading question but a question that should be considered in the grand scheme of things.

In the scientific community, moose management is described as multiple-criteria decision analysis or decision-making process. In layman’s terms it means that there are a whole lot of things that can and do effect the everyday lives of moose (wildlife) making the job of managing the moose population, at times, difficult. Perhaps the easiest part of managing moose is crafting a plan or a wish list of what each fish and game department thinks they would like to have for an ideal moose population. The real difficulty comes in pulling it off. Good luck!

If it was easy to have and maintain an ideal moose herd, then professionals would decide things like density (how many per square mile), how many males there should be, how many females there ought to be and how many calves survive their first year. In addition managers would strive to have the perfect age structure, i.e. not too old, not too young, etc. Again, good luck! This job becomes that much more difficult when “multiple-criteria” that drives the need to change plans and make decisions increases.

Ideally, in states like Maine, where the moose population has grown sufficiently that the state can offer an opportunity for a moose harvest by hunters, the herd is managed and manipulated in order to provide for a harvest while at the same time making adjustments to compensate for losses in order to grow, decrease or sustain a moose population.

George Smith, an outdoor writer and political activist, has begun a three-part series on Maine’s moose. Part I is currently available. He basically says that Maine biologists don’t know enough about the state’s moose population in order to make the right decisions. In a multiple-criteria decision-making process, it can only work effectively when scientists have a grip on the multiple criteria. While it’s important to know which decisions to make for each effecting criteria, no decisions can be made, at least properly, without recognizing and understanding the multiple criteria that effects the moose population.

I’m not sure that I could do a grocery list of multiple criteria justice but I’ll give it a stab. Here’s some of the criteria and realities that moose managers must deal with before making decisions on how to implement the right changes in order to make compensation:
1. Winter severity
2. Total mortality rates (and with this should be a good understanding of where all mortality comes from)
3. Virus and diseases
4. Predation
5. Habitat
6. Calf recruitment
7. Sex ratios
8. Age structure
9. Harvest data
10. And all the rest!

Maine is in the middle of a 5-year study on moose, in which it is hoped to gain a better understanding of moose populations and what is killing off the moose. Some think Maine’s moose herd is being decimated by winter ticks, combined with predation on calves by wolf/coyote hybrids in winter and bears in spring.

Historically, Maine has always had moose but it was not until after sufficient protections were place on them did they recover enough that in 1980 the state began it’s first regulated and limited moose hunt in many, many years. However, even at that time, managers didn’t know exactly how many moose Maine had…enough I guess.

Since that time and it seemed for many years, we were told Maine had 20,000 moose, or maybe at times 25,000 or 30,000 moose. Recently, Lee Kantar, Maine head moose biologist, made the assessment that the state had 75,000. But the number of hunting permits allocated hasn’t really changed a lot over the years falling somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 permits. This has ruffled the feathers of some calling for dramatic increases in moose permits. Kantar proceeds with the utmost of caution.

It appears that Maine’s moose are being hampered by winter ticks. The second year of this moose study showed that ticks were responsible for killing a lot of calves throughout the winter – enough so that recruitment dropped to below 30%, an indication that a continuation of this recruitment percentage would begin to reduce the moose population and skew the age structure.

So, while some call for increases in moose permits because the official number remains at 75,000, is this the right thing to do?

Winter ticks are one of those “multiple criteria” things. Maine scientists must get a handle on this in order to deal with it in the right manner. We do know that ticks have always been around and reports state that the number of ticks goes up and down and it seems the majority of the discussion is focused on climate change as the culprit. I don’t completely buy into that excuse. Common sense should tell us that if moose population estimates were at all accurate, at least to a point that we agree that from 1980 until 2013 the moose herd has been growing, perhaps the real increase in winter ticks can be attributed to the increase in the moose population.

Maybe Maine is trying to grow moose in too large numbers.

In a moose study of Scandinavian moose, scientists looked at how to best compensate for losses of moose hunting opportunities, more accurately how to maintain hunters’ moose harvests, due to predators. In that study (there was no discussion about winter ticks) they presented two ways to compensate for losses in moose harvest due to predators. One was to manipulate the hunter harvest to keep moose densities high enough. The other was to change the sex structure of the herd to favor more female moose, thus producing more offspring, etc. This effort varied considerably due to changing “multiple criteria” involving the presence of predators.

Either way, the bottom line was that moose densities had to be high enough in order not to have to tell hunters they couldn’t eat moose meat.

Winter ticks are not predators in the classic sense but they might as well be a wolf, a pack of coyotes, or an ambushing bear. The result is much the same. We would have a difficult time to set traps and pay hunters and trappers to go kill ticks to compensate for moose losses, which in turn cut into hunting harvest opportunities. So what do we do about ticks?

There are two issues here as I see it. One is that I’m not sure that Maine biologists can sit by to see if their climate change is going to take care of the tick problem. If, as I suspect, the increase in winter ticks is directly related to, and maybe even an exponential factor, an increase in moose numbers, then maybe Maine needs to bring moose numbers back down. It seems to me that this is what is naturally occurring now with the increased winter kill. Perhaps if we kept numbers moderate enough in order to mitigate the tick problem, recruitment would remain strong and the result would be good or better hunting opportunities.

The second issue is about how many permits have been issued historically compared to what the moose population was. In truth, nobody knows what the moose population has been and as managers plodded along with the guesses, it appears that their issuing of permits had no negative effects on the moose population – the exception may be that because there was no money being spent to accurately count moose, the population got big enough that a tick problem broke out.

Consider the fact that wildlife biologists and environmentalists, when it’s convenient for them, like to tell us that a well-fed and healthy species population will produce more and better offspring. If there’s any truth to that claim at all, and to me it makes sense to a point, then for Maine to bring the tick problem under control, would, in the long run, at least maintain the current number of moose permits being issued and may even increase them – provided that the other “multiple criteria” don’t get out of whack.

Japan Needs Hunters, Some Say They Need Wolves

“Boar and deer have thrived since wolves became extinct, and the recent explosion in population has spelled trouble for humans around forests.”<<<Read More>>>

Maine Might Reduce Moose Permits…Again

Some newspaper outlets are reporting that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) is suggesting that perhaps they will be reducing the number of Moose Permits allocated in certain Wildlife Management Districts (WMD) because of reduced populations of the moose. This is, of course, the benefit of managing game within districts rather than as a lump throughout the state.

In the midst of an ongoing 5-year moose study, at least in the districts in question, the winter tick seems to be the culprit for reduced numbers. We certainly hope that MDIFW is on top of things.

Several years ago when outdoor sportsmen began talking about what effect these winter ticks were having on moose, I’m not so sure that the professionals at MDIFW really had a handle on whether ticks were a problem as it pertained to moose mortality. During that time, I asked MDIFW biologist Lee Kantar if ticks were killing moose. While he didn’t say no and he didn’t say yes, he did say that there was a possibility that the effects of ticks could contribute to the winter time mortality.

I think early study results and the years of boots-on-the-ground anecdotal evidence has shown that a serious tick infestation results in a serious threat to moose winter survival. In understanding what causes the increase in ticks, the scapegoat, as is just too typical, is global warming. I say phooey! A lack of understanding leads some to say a good old fashioned snowy and cold winter will take care of the ticks; that’s not necessarily true. Maine typically does not sustain cold enough temperatures long enough to begin killing ticks during winter. The only effect that might come into play would be in the spring after ticks fall from the moose. Moose in Maine remain near the southern end of their range and maybe Maine is trying to manage for too many moose.

Maine is guilty of allowing the social demands for moose watching to influence their management decisions. They openly admit that it is not just science that determines management procedures. Perhaps the next round of creating the required moose management plan (I think in 2017), can scientifically more than socially, make adjustments that would provide for a smaller and yet healthier herd of moose. If MDIFW does not want to do that then they should make determinations as to when the ticks are running high and adjust the moose permits upward in order to force the moose population downward and mitigate the effects of winter tick mortality.

It would be irresponsible to do nothing except let the moose suffer through the winter.