May 1, 2017

Did Man Extirpate the Caribou from Maine?

I was reading Part II of V. Paul Reynolds’ report about “Wildlife Restoration Projects.” He wrote mostly about Maine’s two attempts to restore caribou to northern Maine and seemed to suggest that with years of gained knowledge, perhaps it was time to try again. I’m not so sure about that, but…..

I did want to add to something that he wrote about the extirpation of caribou in Maine when he wrote: “Historical documents indicate that Maine’s last remaining caribou were killed off by market hunters who sold them to big city restaurants.” I won’t deny that market hunters made serious dents in deer, moose and caribou herds in their day. However, there are other historical documents that equally indicate the vanishing act of caribou and wolves cannot all be blamed on unregulated hunting.

A few years ago I did an extensive research piece on wolves in Maine from the 1600s until the time they were essentially declared missing in action. Readers should understand that this work was nearly 100% taken from the book, “Early Maine Wildlife: Historical accounts of Canada Lynx, Moose, Mountain Lion, White-Tailed Deer, Wolverine, Wolves, and Woodland Caribou, 1603-1930 – by William B. Krohn and Christopher L. Hoving – The University of Maine Press, Orono, Maine 2010.

It seemed that around the mid-1800s there existed, even then, disagreements as to whether deer, moose and caribou “disappeared” due to wolves or hunters. One writer made the claim, “Curiously enough there are old settlers in Maine who retain the theory that wolves follow deer. They claim that there were no deer at the time of the wolves – ‘the wolves killed them all off’ – but that since the extermination of the wolves the deer have gone on increasing.”

A hunter and trapper, in the book described as experienced, claimed: “In 1853 wolves were very plenty, and for the next five years were not scarce, plenty could be found within sixteen miles of Bangor in 1857 and 1858. They seemed to leave quite suddenly, the last I know of positively being taken was killed by Frank Fairbanks in 1860 in Munsengun. I know the wolves were not exterminated, as from the time they were quite plenty till the time they disappeared, very few skins were brought in. They left of their own accord, just as the caribou left us.”

Those that have some knowledge of the habits and behavior of wolves, understand that many things influence their behavior. For example, at times wolves can eat up all their prey. If this happens, the wolf moves on and the possibility exists that if the prey doesn’t return, neither will the wolf. If there exists alternative prey, i.e. there is more than one prey species to feed wolves, the large predator canine may never leave an area. It would probably require quite a number of wolves in Maine to seriously reduce or extirpate moose, deer and caribou.

In the quote above, we read of the first indication that wolves were not “exterminated” and simply up and left “just as the caribou left us.” This should be important information to consider.

According to evidence found in the book of reference, wolves were mostly gone from the state by the mid-1800s. From around 1860 into the early 1900s, there were very few, to almost zero, recorded wolf kills – the last official wolf kill took place in Andover, Maine in 1920.

One account in the Maine Sportsman, in 1900, of the absence of wolves, claims that, “During the whole winter we saw no deer and but few moose, the entire absence of deer being due to the wolves with which the woods were overrun. Caribou we saw everywhere and I plainly remember that one day, coming out upon them trailing along in single file was a herd of 17 caribou.”

It would seem this would indicate that with reports of wolves being missing from Maine by the mid-1800s, that in 1900, some 40 or 50 years later, there were still quite a few caribou, or at least more of them seen than deer or moose. One must honestly consider that if caribou “recovered” after a presumed disappearance of wolves, in 40 or 50 years, wouldn’t the deer and moose have recovered? Because there are so many influencing factors in wildlife management, that question cannot be simply answered. Other accounts from this book also indicate that after what appeared to be the absence of wolves, deer, moose and caribou made recoveries.

We also know that in the late 1800s Maine began it’s work to regulate the hunting and fishing activities throughout the state, with regulations well in force by the early 1900s.

Examination of the information provided in this book help to support the historic behavior of wolves, i.e. that once they had reduced the numbers of the prey to a certain level, the wolves took off for better hunting grounds. However, this event appears to have occurred nearly 50 years before the caribou disappeared.

It cannot be argued that many factors contributed to the disappearance of the caribou in Maine. That disappearance cannot and should not be completely attributed to hunting. We know that after the wolves mostly disappeared from Maine, the deer, moose and caribou recovered. If in 1900 loggers were reporting seeing “herds of 17 caribou” it was not market hunters and uncontrolled hunting that killed them after that.

If Maine was ever going to seriously consider a third try at caribou restoration, many, many factors must be considered other than introducing more of them this time. Perhaps the habitat of northern Maine simply cannot support caribou any longer. If caribou, in the very early 1900s, one day just walked out of the state – some believe they moved into New Brunswick and never returned – there had to be reasons. Do we know what those reasons were? Are we interested in finding out? Perhaps knowing what took place in the early 1900s would answer a lot of questions as to whether another attempt at caribou restoration would work.

Some things to consider:

Man Hunting With Dogs Is Natural

As wolves hunting with wolves and as natural as coyotes hunting with coyotes.. Anyone claiming when a man and a dog go hunting together that it isn’t hunting, isn’t fair chase, has likely never tried it. they are likely not even a hunter gatherer stalker either.  Man has been using canines for hunting all types of things for centuries.  For food, lost people, lost livestock.. The canines love it.  Animals rights activists don’t really care about animals so called rights. What they really care about is demanding the hunter gatherer men and women live with less rights. They want to punish man. Animals will never recognize the rights of other animals nor of man. Animals rights is an oxymoron.  The object is to end all hunting by chipping away at man hunting with dogs, horses and dogs, man using traps, then men stalking, then men ambushing from cover.

 

 

 

Wildlife Management Communication by Keeping Your Mouth Shut?

Maine is in the midst of what could be described as the throes of drafting 15-year management plans for deer, bear, moose and turkey. There are no draft plans yet available, so all I have been able to get are a minuscule sampling of what is being discussed for plan consideration.

In what I have read about many of the four plans, it seems that at least one of the goals is calling for increased communication and education of the public about each species. It seems that for the duration of time that I have been writing about game management efforts in Maine, I have heard that drumbeat incessantly. Has there been improved communication and education with the public on what the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) is doing to responsibly manage the game species they are mandated by the Legislature to do? I guess that is difficult to answer because the perceived result is individually value-weighted. Also consider, that the Maine taxpayer laid out a sizeable amount of coin so that MDIFW could pay an “outside” entity to devise a survey that would give MDIFW favorable results for their work- wink, wink. All of Maine loves MDIFW. Odd, I might say.

So, let’s consider.

I had written earlier how that it seems everyone loves Bullwinkle, but nobody wants to discuss winter ticks but as something bugging (sorry) the life out of moose. It therefore seemed understandable that when MDIFW undertook a moose study, there was not a lack of media coverage – very little as far as preliminary findings, but photos of all the Bullwinkles to impress the public. So let me give credit where credit is do, as far as exposing to the public its effort to study moose.

I wonder how many people know that as part of the moose study, aerial counts of moose populations were done, as well as counts of deer? And deer have also been collared and are being studied, I guess. Who might suspect? Perhaps Bullwinkle is just that much bigger an icon and photographs more easily than a deer. I dunno. Is there more money and job security in looking out for Bullwinkle?

The public is quickly notified about piping plovers, bats, loons, bald eagles, cormorants, puffins and ruby-throated-croople-poops but isn’t it a disproportionate media coverage (press releases, Tweets, etc.) between these critters and deer? Or it’s my imagination. However, when one considers the trillions of dollars over the many decades that Maine has enjoyed in direct and indirect revenue from exploiting the whitetail deer, what the MDIFW is doing to ensure its sustainability, we hear very little about. Odd, I would say.

It takes MDIFW months to even get around to publishing information about game harvests – deer are no exception. No, not everyone is as anal as I am, wanting every last detail of data collected from the harvest, but the general public wants to be told what the number of deer, bear, and moose taken without waiting until the following Summer, or later, to get it. An “unofficial” number within 2 weeks of the end of general rifle season on deer would go a long, long way toward improving PR with the people, in particular the hunters. Perhaps MDIFW doesn’t care about who pays their wages? Odd, I would say.

I have been reading about some of the proposed plans for bear management, where it is being suggested that there needs to be a way to increase the number of bear hunters and to improve education of the public about bears, bear management and the need for the implementation of hunting and trapping as a viable means of population control. All of this, and yet, the latest bear hunting season commenced before MDIFW had released to the public the previous year’s harvest information. Odd, I would say.

Maybe the employees at MDIFW are that much more important than those of us coughing up the big bucks (dollars) so they can keep their jobs. I learned at a very young age that if you wanted to keep your job, you had to make sure you kept those in power over you happy. I suppose that has been lost along with most everything else that was once considered normal. Odd, I would say.

So, some might be asking, what prompted this rant? Well, let me tell you. This morning I received information from a colleague from New Brunswick, Canada. He sent a link to a news article about how New Brunswick, along with Maine, the University of Maine and JD Irving Co. were undertaking a deer study in which deer are being collared in locations in New Brunswick and Maine. If you’re interested in the purpose of the study, click on the link above.

Otherwise, this is the kind of stuff that drives me crazy. We read about how MDIFW and the “committee” working on game plans want to improve communication and education, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah and I have to find out through a member of the public in Canada about Maine’s involvement with another deer study. WHAT THE HELL IS THE BIG SECRET? And, odd, I would say.

Once again today, in reading George Smith’s latest article about the plans and proposals for turkey management in Maine, the head of the Maine Professional Guides Association said, “…need for fact sheets on turkeys and other big game animals, and improved communications about them with hunters, landowners, and the public.” Hasn’t this become a very common theme? Odd, I’d say…especially when you consider that there appears to be nothing accomplished to resolve this problem. Why is that? Maybe it’s perceived by MDIFW as not a problem for them at all. Odd, I would say.

Which brings me back to my original comments about how these 15-year game management plans are a bunch of bureaucratic nonsense being carried out for the single purpose of being eligible for federal money – i.e. blackmail.

I feel badly for the members of the committees working on these plans, that if they don’t know it now, will someday discover, they wasted their time – used, abused and cast aside for personal and financial gain.

There is one thing for certain. Anytime you hear that another committee has been created to study this or study that, it is a definite indication nothing will ever be done or will get resolved from the work. That’s what government is all about. And that ain’t “ODD” at all. Just fact.

Maine’s Seemingly Endless Debate on Sunday Hunting

I’ll give George Smith, a writer and sportsman’s activist from Maine, credit for sticking with something he believes in. It appears he is just about the last survivor to advocate for Sunday Hunting in Maine. Smith says we will never hunt on Sundays in Maine, and he probably is correct. As a matter of fact, I’ll take that claim one step further and say the days that we actually will be able to hunt, are numbered. With the continued, unchecked, onslaught by animal rights groups and environmentalists, combined with the influx of newly indoctrinated wildlife biologists, and the myriad of other environmental movements nationwide, hunting will soon be a thing of the past – perhaps in my lifetime.

There are several issues about Sunday Hunting that appear to be stumbling blocks. Let’s address a few.

Religious reasons. I’m going to guess this is another example of the pitfalls of socialistic democracy, in which two wolves and a sheep are discussing what’s for lunch. If the majority of Mainers, who go to church, do so on Sunday and they view that day as somehow “holier” than the others, their socio-democratic power trumps everybody else.

There is a bit more to this as we have seen in the past. I can’t seem to find a link to the story but if my memory isn’t completely shot, I recall, if not in Maine, somewhere, where some who choose to recognize Saturdays as the sabbath, proposed legislation that would allow them to hunt on Sundays. Of course that was shot down. I have serious doubts that very many people would actually not hunt on Sundays because it’s their sabbath. Hypocrisy abounds in that area.

Another aspect would be the fallout that may or may not create less land access. Some land owners have threatened to post their land if Sunday hunting is permitted. Whether and how much that would actually happen, I don’t know. I do know that in some states where much land is posted and/or land is considered closed without owner’s permission, access to hunting lands is difficult at best and in some cases, with the exception of public lands, hunters have to pay, sometimes hefty amounts, to “lease” a portion of private land. Unless you’ve been relegated to that, I don’t think you really want to go there.

The other issue in Sunday hunting is seldom seriously discussed. In Maine, as in many states, hunting is used as a means of “managing” (control) the population of all game species. For deer hunting, the state also uses a permit system that regulates and controls deer populations within Wildlife Management Districts. The bottom line is this: wildlife regulators decide how many of which species should be harvested each year and do what is necessary to achieve those goals…usually.

If we look at deer hunting as one example, game managers have an idea of how many deer will need to be harvested, by different methods, utilizing permits, along with length of season and all other factors that effect the harvest. Some of those factors are not controllable. One that is, is the length of season. In my lifetime, I have seen the deer hunting season in Maine shortened to barely two weeks – the need being a lack of deer and protecting the herd to remain at safe sustainable levels.

So what if Maine added, not just 3 or 4 more days to the annual deer hunt (you can also use this to extrapolate out to all other game species, i.e. turkey, grouse, bear, moose, etc.) but that those added days were on the weekends? We know that the busiest hunting days during the deer season are Saturdays. If Sundays were added, how many more net hunters would there be? How many more hunters would skip a working day in order to hunt on Sundays? How great would hunter participation become?

We have had the claim beaten into our brains for years now that Maine and her economy are suffering because hunters won’t hunt in Maine because there is no Sunday hunting. If that is true, then the question has to be asked, how many more hunters will now hunt Maine, especially on Sundays?

This all adds up to one large question. If Sunday hunting for deer is allowed, how many more deer will be killed? If there is an increase, what is the extent of that increase and will it force the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) to shorten the season in order to mitigate the losses of deer due to harvest? If Maine was overrun with deer, this would not be a problem. With or without Sunday hunting, if the state was overrun with deer, the season would be extended and/or the limits may increase to more than one deer per season. Too few deer, and the results are reversed.

I personally, have no interest in angering the landowners. Whether or not a Sunday hunting move would seriously effect land access, is a guess. I will state that I believe in the short term, there will be a knee-jerk reaction to Sunday hunting and land will be posted that wasn’t before. How that trend evolves will really depend on the realities of what takes place on that land, that is different from the present, that would cause more or a continuation of reduced land access.

If an added Sunday hunt resulted in a shortened season, that would mean more hunters in the woods at any one time. I don’t like that idea at all. Safety must also be a concern. Maine has an outstanding track record when it comes to hunter and public safety during the hunting seasons.

I think the bottom line should be deer management. Yes, Maine should consider ways of maximizing the positive influences and effects of hunting seasons, but the bottom line should always remain, what is best for the deer herd and landowner relations.

A final issue that is seldom discussed or is presented in the wrong way, in my opinion, is the rights of landowners. I get a sense from reading Smith’s article about Sunday hunting that every effort to implement some form of Sunday hunting in Maine is a serious loss for hunters and Maine’s community, without consideration of protecting the rights of landowners first and foremost.

I am first a property rights advocate and then a hunter. Yes, I am saddened with each passing year that I see more and more land posted to access, but that is and should be their right. But I also believe that those landowners who post their land, should limit their involvement in hunting issues that involve land access. In other words, there is little credibility in anyone with posted land stating that they didn’t believe a Sunday hunt would have any real effect on land access. Hello?

As Maine citizens, we should be glad the majority of people are looking out for the rights of the landowners. We hear of how wildlife management, which includes hunting and trapping, is beneficial to the landowner. I couldn’t agree more, which makes me tend to emphasize that all the effort that has been expended attempting to promote Sunday hunting, could better be spent educating the landowner to the advantages of the North American Model for Wildlife Management, i.e. managing for surplus harvest, and that leaving their land open has it’s benefits. Landowners should also be taught how they can control the access to their land to meet their wishes and still reap the benefits of wildlife management – hunting and trapping.

Perhaps someday, Maine will have Sunday hunting, but without it, as things currently stand, giving the drums a rest would probably be in the best interest of hunting, while shifting the effort to increasing better landowner relationships.

When You Start Killing Wolves Something Odd Happens

Other wildlife population numbers POSITIVELY GROW!

 

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Elk herds thrive!

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A Wolf Is A Wolf Is A Wolf Just A Good Wolf Just Because They Say So

All things positive about wolves have been evolving over the years while all things negative about wolves has been suppressed and swept under the rug.. Thus any balance sharing the positives and negatives which justifies management of wolves for various purposes such as positive elk herd growth for the preservation of consumptive use multiple use which benefits ranching at the same time has been non existent because of the dishonesty of the IWC and the various anti grazing anti ranching, anti hunting pseudo environmentalist groups who are willing to get in bed with animal rights anti hunting fruitcakes who chatter endlessly about nothing relevant..

Enough nonsense has been repeatedly repeated about the good wolf that does no harm.. Now laugh After Me…

HoHoHoHoHoHawHawHawHawHeeHeeHeeHeeHee…. Wolf Pimps, you can shit yourselves but not Me…

Gawblesmurka!!!

The Colonial Origins of Conservation: The Disturbing History Behind US National Parks

*Editor’s Note* – Below is a teaser and a link to an article aimed at discovering the truth about “conservation,” it’s roots, and what it has done to the world. It’s also about the evolution of Environmentalism.

While many items in this article are true and based up truth, it is my opinion that the author, director of Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, may rely on some wildlife management myths himself. However, much of what is written is worthy of reading and with most things we read and study today, we shouldn’t throw out the baby with the bath water.

Iconoclasm – questioning heroes and ideals, and even tearing them down – can be the most difficult thing. Many people root their attitudes and lives in narratives that they hold to be self-evidently true. So it’s obvious that changing conservation isn’t going to be an easy furrow to plow.

Source: The Colonial Origins of Conservation: The Disturbing History Behind US National Parks

Maine Sportsmen, Retailers, and Business Leaders Join Forces on Hunting Economics Agenda

AUGUSTA, Maine, July 21, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A group of local and regional leaders representing sporting organizations, small businesses and retailers announced a new partnership called Hunting Works For Maine today. The group formed to highlight the many benefits of hunting and shooting to Maine’s economy, noting that sportsmen and women are crucial drivers of in-state commerce. Speakers at the press conference pledged a more unified voice in support of Maine’s hunting and shooting heritage through this new partnership.

Source: Maine Sportsmen, Retailers, and Business Leaders Join Forces on Hunting Economics Agenda – Yahoo News

Moose Ticks Have Always Been Here…Or Have They?

WinterTicksFew will disagree that the moose tick, aka, winter tick (dermacentor albipictus) can be a problem and that an over-abundance kills moose. The claim I have heard for many years is that the moose tick has always been around. Has it? Is making the statement using “around” an honest depiction of more important site specificity? What also concerns me about such statements is that it gives people cause to throw up their hands as if to say that there is nothing that can be done about it now. That may be true, but if there is any hope of trying to discover whether there is some kind of effective cure, isn’t it important to have a complete understanding of this tick?

It is basic knowledge that when any specie of animal exists in abundance or is forced into living in close quarters, disease becomes prevalent. The only way a disease can become prevalent in any species, as I just described, is that somehow that disease, parasite, virus, worm, etc. had to have been introduced, or that it already existed.

Being that we are living in a post-normal or post-scientific world, the dishonest answer to everything is climate change, i.e. global warming. While moose populations in Maine have, until the last couple of years, been increasing in large quantities, this reality flies in the face of global warming arguments that because of a warming climate in Maine moose should be migrating out of the area. Doesn’t seem to be the case. This discussion isn’t necessarily about global warming. I bring it up because it is NOT an explanation that helps to discover facts about moose and winter ticks. These ticks live in the Yukon and the same ticks live in Texas.

From a science institution’s perspective, there can never be studies enough on anything. To go along with that, we humans have had our little brains manipulated in such a way that our response to far too many issues has become to demand a study or a working group to talk about it. Studies mean money and money means more incomplete studies in order that there be more demand for more studies. Very unfortunate.

Working groups are useless and a complete waste of time. Over the years I have seen them be created, propaganda presented, and absolutely nothing getting accomplished.

Having said all this, then shouldn’t we question every time someone wants more studies and form more working groups? After all, it is OUR money. We should demand results…real results.

People in Maine want to know if ticks are really killing the moose. This is the same in New Hampshire and Minnesota. New Hampshire and Minnesota insist the problem is global warming. Global warming, in their wee bit of brains, is what is the cause of what they believe to be an increase in dermacentor albipictus.

We are also, perhaps incorrectly, told that these winter ticks don’t survive in cold climates and yet moose love cold climates and seem to be the one species most effected by the tick. If the winter tick doesn’t like cold climates, then why are these same tick regularly found in The Yukon? And in Texas?

One thing we all must understand, moose suck at grooming themselves. It is helpful knowledge to understand that because moose don’t groom themselves, like lots of other wild and domestic animals, they carry around more ticks. We should be able to reasonably conclude that moose are more greatly effected by the ticks than other ungulates, because they are poor groomers.

Another fact that is seldom discussed is which other animals play host to dermacentor albipictus? Here’s a few to add to your list: elk, caribou, deer, feral swine, wolves, coyotes, cattle and horses. In order to understand how to deal with the moose tick we need to understand other hosts and how the tick is spread. Bear in mind that elk and caribou migrate, sometimes over many, many miles. We know over the years feral swine are spreading all over the United States.

But, consider this fact. According to Gabriele Liebisch, Arndt Liebisch, Stephan Paufler in a study, a horse was transported by plane to Germany from Montana:

Already on arrival at the airport of Amsterdam about 30 fully engorged ticks dropped off the horse, and during the following 4 days in the stable in Germany more than 200 engorged ticks were collected. The tick species was identified as Dermacentor albipictus, which is also called ‘winter tick’.

This study refers to this tick as “New World Tick” because it is a different species than what might be found in Germany. Germany has moose but not necessarily the same problem with the tick and the moose…yet.

Other things found in studies already completed that should be considered, involve the feral swine. In a study published in the Journal of Wildlife Diseases, and published on BioOne, feral hogs found in New Hampshire were tested. Remember New Hampshire blames their problem with ticks on global warming.

The expansion of feral swine (Sus scrofa) populations into new geographic regions is of concern not only due to increased range but also because they carry diseases and parasites that pose a threat to humans, livestock, and wildlife into new areas. Recently, emerging feral swine populations have been reported in the northeastern US and due to their adaptive nature will likely continue to spread. During 2009–2012, 49 feral swine were removed from three counties in New Hampshire.

Infestations of winter tick (Dermacentor albipictus) were also documented on two of the feral swine which had only been reported previously on feral swine in Texas. Feral swine may not only serve as an important host for an economically important commercial swine pathogen like PRV, but they could also increase host diversity for parasites such as the winter tick, a species that can regionally impact moose (Alces alces) survival.

There’s more. I had already mentioned that these winter ticks were found in the Yukon. Published in the Journal of Wildlife Diseases, a study on the origins of dermacentor albipictus, showed that perhaps the tick might have hitched a ride to the Yukon.

Winter ticks (Dermacentor albipictus) on elk (Cervus elaphus canadensis) have recently increased in numbers in the Yukon, Canada, potentially posing risks to other indigenous host species in the region.

Based on our results, winter ticks on elk in the Yukon could have originated either by translocation from central Alberta or by northward range expansion of more geographically proximate populations in northern Alberta and British Columbia. Although there was some genetic structuring of winter ticks on different hosts in the same region, we found little evidence of host specificity in winter ticks from five ungulate host species, suggesting that the winter ticks on elk in the Yukon could potentially become established on other locally available host species such as moose (Alces alces).

While on the subject of referencing existing studies, consider that some scientists find that climate and weather have less effect on the growth and reduction of ticks than others believe.

With this knowledge in hand, can we ask for a more definitive response to the origins of the moose tick than it’s always been around? Maybe it hasn’t always been around. Maybe it was brought into your state or region from someplace else or migrated there.

In reading all of this information, wildlife biologists, along with parasitologists, should be asking whether or not it is a good and responsible practice to allow for the over protection of wild species and seek perhaps a better control over human translocation of wild and domestic animals.

Just maybe what is also being realized here are some of the effects of practicing an ignorant, romantic notion of “balance of nature” where nature magically creates a healthy ecosystem where nothing is wrong. With continued and prolonged efforts to protect wild animal species at high levels, are we not promoting the spread of disease, including winter ticks? Nature allows for regulation via disease, starvation and cannibalism. The result is scarcity which is irresponsible stewardship of wildlife and benefits no human. It is the worst of all choices.

Instead of just throwing some grant money at another study to try to find out if ticks are killing moose, why not practice some good, old-fashioned, hard work and research of the information that is available. I don’t want to have somebody else tell me ticks are killing moose. I know they are. What I’m interested in is finding out if there’s a scientific (real scientific) answer for why there appears to be more ticks and how to stop them before more devastation occurs. It seems to me that nobody has a handle on this necessary information. The only cry is about global warming. Get over it!

If there’s more ticks because there’s too many moose, the solution is simple – we need to kill more moose. If the cause is due to translocation of ticks from outside the region, then let’s stop it. Finding the truth is what’s important. Global warming theory is NOT truth. Spending money to see whether or not ticks are killing moose is akin to spending money to discover if snow is cold.

A Discussion on Maine Antler Point Restrictions for Buck Deer

Here we go again! Another debate about antler point restrictions for the perverts who only want to kill “trophy” deer. While this discussion builds, once again, most Mainers are not filling their freezers with the deer meat they want because of a diminished herd. And the talk involves trophy deer hunting?

In an article in the Lewiston Sun Journal by V. Paul Reynolds, he writes of antler point restrictions (APR). I guess I cannot classify myself as either for or against APR. In the case of Maine, I would be all for it if there actually existed sound science that shows it would grow a deer herd in numbers and not just in size (perhaps?).

Reynolds states that “what we know” about APR from what appears to be information he has gathered from Pennsylvania.

Here is what we do know: After six years of APRs in Pennsylvania, state biologists are calling antler restrictions there an unqualified success.

(Question: How can we “know” this if it’s “unqualified?”)

The “what we know” is listed as such:

1. Increased buck survival – (My note: How is this measured? #4 states there there is no change in hunter success rates. It seems the only way to have increased buck survival AND unchanged success rate is to have a pretty healthy herd growth, with good recruitment, each year. Then again, can there be “increased buck survival” simply because the younger bucks, which generally make up the larger percentage of buck harvest, are not being killed? Unsubstantiated, this claim could be misleading.)

2. No change in breeding timing (My note: This could be important but deer managers have continued to extend the deer hunting season well into and beyond the breeding season. I don’t see how APR could change this.)

3. Avoided negative genetic impacts – (My note: Assuming that means that APRs will not “destroy” the gene pool, a lack of understanding of genetics might lead someone to think such. Newsweek ran an article a few years ago on how trophy hunting (whatever that was as it was never defined) was destroying the gene pool, i.e. killing off all the big animals, would result in a weaker, smaller species. If you kill off all the big animals, the overall size of the herd may be smaller in size because that is what’s left, but this has nothing to do with genetics. (Please see this article for information about genetics and gene pools from Dr. Valerius Geist, Wayne Heimer, Michael and Margaret Firisna, Eric Rominger and Raymond Lee.)

In addition to this, Lee Kantar, former head deer biologist at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) and now head moose biologist, explained to me a few years ago about his thoughts on genetics and trophy hunting.

In the big game management world researchers have been looking more at potential consequences of trophy hunting and how it affects social hierarchies as well as the genetic structure of a particular herd. In order for real effects to take place, a significant number of older age class animals would need to be removed from the herd consistently over a number of years to start to have effects. In isolated herds with low total population numbers this could certainly be of concern…

In essence, the only way genetics, much like buck to doe ratios can be seriously altered is due to extremely poor management or none at all and unrestricted hunting, and/or a deliberate attempt to change genetics.)

4. Maintained hunter success rates – (My note: In the same article in reference here, Kyle Ravanna, MDIFW’s new deer biologist says, “if Maine imposed antler point restrictions, our hunter success rate on bucks, based on current statistics, would decline nearly 50 percent.” Note Ravanna didn’t say COULD decline 50% but WOULD. I’m not sure how he can make that determination. He may have preconceived notions based on information he has and what he would intend to do should Maine implement APR. I would concur that in Maine, with the present state of the deer herd, employing some kind of antler restriction that further restricts a hunter from being able to harvest a deer, would certainly lower the success rate AND anger a lot of hunters. Ravanna also stated that if an APR program wasn’t used “properly” it could actually harm the herd. And that I agree with.

For Pennsylvania to claim that APRs did not change the success rate, then they must have an abundant deer herd that reproduces well enough to not diminish the hunters’ chances at bagging a deer. Maine does not have an abundant deer herd in most areas and therefore, all I can envision by implementing APR is even more of a loss of opportunity to put meat in my freezer.

I strongly believe that the majority of deer hunters, do so for meat. A few are strictly “trophy” hunters, but most will be as picky as conditions permit but in the end they want meat – a trophy becomes a bonus. And probably most would like to have an increased chance at bagging a trophy but not at the expense of losing opportunity and/or reducing success rates.)

5. Increased number of adult bucks – (My notes: The only way this can happen is if the deer herd is healthy enough to consistently recruit enough fawns and yearling deer each season in order that with a consistent success rate, the number of “adult bucks” would remain the same or increase.)

6. Increased age structure of bucks – (My note: This would only stand to reason, provided of course recruitment remained basically unchanged. Age structure is a good indicator of the health and condition of a deer herd. This needs to be monitored carefully and management practices employed in order to meet the goals of a sound deer management plan. Simply increasing the age structure of a deer herd in not necessarily a good thing.)

Before any serious thought can be given to any kind of APR program, Maine has to get it’s deer herd back to a more consistently populated herd, with good age structure and recruitment.