January 22, 2020

MDIFW: Preliminary Figures Released on 2011 Wildlife-Related Activities in Maine

Forty-nine percent of all Maine residents 16 years of age and older hunted, fished or watched wildlife in 2011 and a total of $1.4 billion were spent in the state on those activities, according to a preliminary report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, which is compiled every five years, looks at participation in and expenditures for hunting, fishing and wildlife watching by state, region and nation.

The preliminary survey also found that 1.1 million residents and nonresidents did some sort of wildlife-associated activity in Maine, including 838,000 wildlife watchers, 341,000 anglers and 181,000 hunters.

A total of $799 million were spent on wildlife watching in Maine, including $514 million in trip-related expenses and $172 million on equipment.

When it came to fishing and hunting, $644 million were spent in Maine, with $317 million going towards trips and $267 million being spent on equipment.

Residents and nonresidents spent a combined 7.3 million days watching wildlife away from their home, 3.9 million days fishing and 2.5 million days hunting in Maine.

Nationally, 38 percent of the U.S. population enjoyed some form of wildlife associated activity in 2011, spending a combined $145 billion on the activities.

The number of people who fished increased by 11 percent nationally between 2006 and 2011, while hunting participation increased by 9 percent during that time.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service started releasing the survey in 1955, making this the 12th version of it.

The final national report for 2011 will be available in November and final state reports will be released in December.

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New Report Shows Hunter Participation Increasing

MISSOULA, Mont. – ?A new report that shows more people are hunting is good news for conservation, according to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

The just-released 2011 National Survey of Hunting, Fishing, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation shows 13.7 million people, or 6 percent of the U.S. population age 16 and older, went hunting last year. That marks a 9 percent increase over 2006, reversing a previous downward trend.

?”This is great news for everyone in the hunting and conservation community,”? said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. ?”But it?s even better news for our conservation efforts to protect and improve habitat for elk and other wildlife. We strongly believe that hunting is conservation. This is also a reflection of the importance of our hunting legacy of the past and our hunting heritage as we look to the future.”?

Thanks to hunter-generated dollars, RMEF protected or enhanced more than 6.1 million acres of wildlife habitat. RMEF also recently added ?hunting heritage? to its mission statement, reaffirming a commitment to ensuring a future for wildlife conservation through hunter-based support.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service data show hunters spent $34 billion last year on equipment, licenses, trips and other items to support their hunting activities. If you break down the numbers, sportsmen and women spent $10.4 billion on trip-related expenditures, $14 billion on equipment such as guns, camping items and 4-wheel drives, and $9.6 billion on licenses, land leasing and ownership and stamps.

?”The more hunters spend on firearms, ammunition, bows, arrows and hunting licenses and permits, the more money is generated to provide the necessary funding for successful science-based wildlife management across the United States,?” added Allen.

Here are some brief highlights from the report:

? 13.7 million hunters in 2011 compared to 12.5 million in 2006 (9 percent increase)
? Hunters spent an average of 21 days in the field
? 1.8 million 6 to 15 year olds hunted in 2011
? Big game attracted 11.6 million hunters (8 percent increase since 2006)
? Hunting-related expense increased 30 percent since 2006
? The overall participation of hunters increased more than 5 percent since 2001
? Total hunter expenditures increased 27 percent since 2001
? Expenditures by hunters, anglers & wildlife-recreationists were $145 billion or 1 percent of gross domestic product

The 2011 FWS report contains preliminary numbers. Read it in its entirety at the link below:

http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/upload/FWS-National-Preliminary-Report-2011.pdf

The final report is due in November. An FWS preliminary report containing data from the states is due out later this month.

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Does Maine’s Restriction on Youth Deer Hunting Day Help Deer or Hurt the Future of Hunting?

*Editor’s Note* Below is a letter written by Leo Kieffer in response to questions and concerns about Maine’s restriction to limit deer hunting for the state’s youth on Youth Day.

Many have asked that I put in writing my opposition to the continuation of the discriminatory Dept. of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s program that I refer to as the Northern Maine Anti Youth Program on youth deer hunting day. I am very happy to do so.

I strongly opposed this proposal when it was originally proposed when I was on the Advisory Council, and I strongly oppose it even more today. It has accomplished nothing except to totally alienate our Northern Maine youth, their parents, landowner’s who have a family, and to limit access. If these are the goals of anyone, then they can consider themselves a rousing success.

Over the years as a master Maine guide, a State Senator, a member of the SAM board of directors and having served on the IF&W advisory board I always supported managing our fishery and wildlife based on solid biological research and factual statistical information gathered from departmental records and a variety of other professional sources including a little common sense. The present Northern Maine anti youth program fails any and all of these tests.
Lets look at where this anti youth program originated. The Legislature passed LD 823 which resulted in the creation of yet another deer study or task force. The report from this group was filed with Commissioner Martin in December 2007 and has since been filed in the round file under the desk along with the others. While the report goes on and on for many pages in its redundancy the basic recommendations are itemized on pages 11 to 16.

Look on page 15, paragraph number 1 under HUNTING. This is very clear that this anti youth proposal is merely a recommendation, supported by absolutely no biological data or anything else. It was submitted for consideration by this group along with the many other recommendations, yet it is the only one that was accepted by the department. The other recommendations under paragraph 2, a. b., and c as well as all of paragraph 3 were and continue to be completely ignored. Paragraph number 1 was accepted as it cost the department nothing, required no effort and would cause the department no heartburn from 12 year olds. The other recommendations under HUNTING, paragraph 2, a, b, and c that were ignored would have required biological and statistical studies, effort and funding in some cases. This was all a very cut and dried issue as several members of this task force were departmental employees, appointed by the Commissioner, and were the very employees that were in position to make decisions on behalf of the department to either accept or reject any or all recommendations!

Even then if this recommendation had been incorporated as part of a comprehensive deer management plan, including but not limited to coyote and bear predator control, landowner relations, an attempt to limit the slaughter of our deer on our highways, shorter hunting seasons in certain areas, and other conservation issues it might have been acceptable. As a standalone item it is a sad pathetic joke to blame our northern Maine youth for the deer decline.
Because of the past two easy winters weather wise and efforts by the Aroostook County Conservation Association and others in reducing coyote numbers, there has been a remarkable increase in deer numbers east of route 11. The bear predator issue now needs to be addressed. West of route 11 the deer situation is an entirely different story. Yet management is still always based on the old North South issue. I really don’t know why we have game management districts for deer in Northern Maine. A few permits could be issued to our youth East of route 11 and do no harm to the resource and do a world of good in other ways.

The biological position of the department on this youth day issue was made very clear recently by the Commissioner at the Advisory Council meeting in Augusta on May 19, 2011. On page 3, step 2, number 1 any deer permit-youth day. Mr. Thurston stated that he would like to know the Departments biological opinion on this. Commissioner Woodcock stated there would be insignificant impact. He had talked it over with biologists and in total there weren’t many does killed on youth day. This quotation is taken directly from the meeting minutes.

While I and others believe that every deer is important, we also believe that every one of our youth, their parents, and landowners that are being lost to hunting, along with lost access, are more important than saving a very few deer on youth day for coyote feed next winter. Our youth deserve better.

R. Leo Kieffer

Caribou, Maine

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Hunters Are Losing Access to Hunting Land at Incredible Rate

According to a report from the Spokesman Review and HunterSurvey.com, 23 percent of hunters surveyed said their usual hunting lands had been closed and this resulted in a 7 percent decrease in the amount of time spent in the woods hunting.

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Maine Fish and Game’s Bundle of Contradictions About Bear Behavior

These “Bear Facts” were found in an article published in Seacoast Online from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife:

Bear facts

According to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the black bear is the smallest of three species of bears inhabiting North America, and is the only bear living in the eastern United States. Although most black bears are not much larger than humans, their weight can vary tremendously with the season of the year.

Adult males can average 250 to 600 pounds, and measure 5 to 6 feet tall from nose to tail. Females are smaller, weighing 100 to 400 pounds, and measuring 4 to 5 feet in length.

If you come in contact with a bear, back away slowly, make yourself big by putting your arms over your head, make noise, and head indoors.

There is a misconception, said Doug Rafferty, director of public information and education for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, that a bear would want to harm a human, when their primary goal is food.

“No bear wants to eat a man because a man doesn’t taste all that good to a bear. A bear is hungry. His fight or flight response is based on hunger and whether or not he’s trapped or cornered. He generally doesn’t want to even be around a human,” Rafferty said. “Although the thing you have to remember, is that given the proper circumstances, any bear will attack. These animals are wild, you’ve got to stay away from them.”

I just don’t get it and probably never will. How can anybody state that “no bear wants to eat a man” and then turn around in the same paragraph and claim that under “proper circumstances, any bear will attack”? Why is it necessary to somehow dumb down and mislead people by saying stupid things about bears that can’t be proven when the only things that drive a bear and their habits are circumstances? Why can’t these fish and game and environmental organizations use the same amount of resources to explain to the people what those circumstances are that would drive a bear to attack you?

First, Rafferty claims that it’s a misconception that a bear would want to harm a human, when their primary goal is food. The misconception here is that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is presenting a misconception that a bear wouldn’t harm a human. Bears harm humans more often when they are looking for food. MDIFW seems to be attempting to tell people that bears WILL NOT harm humans when they are looking for food. When there is ample food that bears prefer, we seldom have occurrence to even lay eyes on a bear. But if a bear gets hungry enough, it will eat whatever it can get and yes, under the right circumstances, a bear will choose a human as a target for food.

Those circumstances might include but not limited to or necessarily need to be all inclusive: A bear coming out of winter hibernation is very hungry; there is little or no food available for the bear in its “natural” habitat; a bear, usually a young male, has been forced away from its mother and is in search of food and a new place to live and gets hungry; a bear that has become habituated around humans. They have lost their fear of humans and have determined humans are not a threat to them and perhaps have even tested enough to plan how to attack.

There are also those circumstances when a human may become or is perceived by a mother bear as a threat to her young and/or herself. Bears can also become startled and immediately feel threatened. If they know they can easily and quickly escape, chances are they will but don’t bet your life on it.

And don’t forget some old bears just become crotchety old bastards and will come looking for some human flesh to munch on just for the heck of it.

The second claim made by MDIFW is that, “No bear wants to eat a man because a man doesn’t taste all that good to a bear.” I mean, seriously? Give us the data on that one, okay! When I read this, in my mind I’m envisioning the Geico commercial on television, where people are asked to sample two drinks. One is sweet, the other bitter. When asked which drink they prefer, they pick the sweet one, of course, and the person reveals they picked the drink of Geico Insurance. So, did MDIFW sit down and offer a bear a barrel full of Dunkin Donuts and Hershey chocolate bars and then a pound of human rump roast and determined the bear didn’t care much for human flesh?

Probably the most intelligent bit of information in the “Bear Facts” is found in the last two sentences, “given the proper circumstances, any bear will attack. These animals are wild, you’ve got to stay away from them”. That’s great advice. The rest of it is mumbo-jumbo nonsense. If MDIFW would now just spell out what circumstances, I think then it might help people to understand why they need to stay away from wild bears.

There’s no need to run around in fear of bears but there’s also no need to be spoon-fed dumb stuff like humans don’t taste good to bears. Please!

Tom Remington

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Lewis and Clark – No Game, Lots of Game and Lots of Wolves

I’m winding down my rereading from the Journals of Captains Lewis and Clark. Lewis and Clark separated into two expeditions at Traveler’s Rest during the return trip. Lewis takes the northern route, mostly retracing the route out, with some detours, while Clark swung south, eventually connecting up with the Yellowstone River (the River Rochejhone as Clark calls it in his journal), until they rejoined expeditions on the Missouri River someplace not too far south of the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers.

What is clear in reading the journals is that for the most part the Lewis and Clark expedition struggled to find any game to eat from perhaps what is now Great Falls, Montana all the way to the West Coast. The men lived mostly on dried and mashed roots the Indians taught them about and dogs they traded with the natives for. Sometimes finding anything to eat was a real struggle.

On the return trip home, the further east and south the travelers went, the more game, i.e. buffalo, elk and deer, they found. At times, the buffalo would be so numerous while crossing the Missouri River, Captain Lewis and his men had to wait in their canoes in order to pass.

But what also is apparent is that when there was ample game, there were ample wolves and when there was no game, there were no wolves.

After Lewis and Clark rejoined forces south of the confluence of Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers, Clark writes in his journal that one night when the soldiers where sleeping, one man who had fallen asleep, had left his hand exposed. During the night a wolf came by and took a chomp out of it.

From the journals one can easily see that things weren’t “pristine” in a lot of places.

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Destroying the Myth: Information About the Foot Hold Live Trap

I can’t say I agree with everything the narrator said in this video as it pertains to the environment, habitat encroachment and the “disaster” that is impending, but the information on the use of the foot hold trap is pretty good.

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They Don’t Call Them Loup Cervier For Nothing….Or Do They?

All information for this blog was provided by contributor Richard Paradis. Thank you.

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Designating Predators as “Big Game Animals” is Counterproductive to Game Management

Most state’s fish and game departments are required, either through constitutional regulation or legislative mandates to manage game species for surplus populations to provide harvest opportunities for the citizens. This was something that was learned shortly after the turn of the twentieth century when unregulated and commercial hunting reduced game populations to levels that became dangerously close to unsustainable.

The establishment of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation became the foundation of how states should view fish and game species and manage accordingly.

Through history, fishing, trapping and hunting, while never specifically referenced in the U.S. Constitution, were to most people, an inalienable right. It was never questioned that people would always hunt and fish and who would have thought that one day they would be prohibited from participating in these special and necessary activities. Unfortunately, as with most rights, people seem to find pleasure in appropriating one person’s rights to bolster the agenda of their own special interests.

The idea of fishing, hunting and trapping was founded in the need and want of people for sustenance. Our inappropriately twisted society has systematically gone about convincing the masses that hunting, trapping and fishing are a “sport”, some kind of perverted activity to kill innocent animals and that there is no longer a need or want to fill one’s freezer. After all, there are grocery stores. With this manipulation of minds, over time our fish and game departments have become infiltrated with those who think exactly as I have described. This has resulted in management goals and objectives that have moved away from those created years ago.

While some in their progressive thinking might believe that the new way of doing things is better, there is lacking the good and proven science to support it. Where once fish and game departments managed for surplus supplies of fish and game for harvest, there now exists the mindset that harvest is secondary, that hunting, trapping and fishing are mere recreations. This has become intertwined with the badly taught myth that nature balances itself out. Along with the preaching of this myth is that hunting, trapping and fishing are no longer needed and thus we should not be concerned with surplus supplies of game animals. Instead predator protection as taken center stage, perhaps for the direct purpose to end these activities.

Man is a predator. It really is that simple and man is a part of the ecosystems that many environmentalists seem to want to rid him from. When predators are protected, the competition for prey species increases and thus, this diminishes this once thought of inalienable right to hunt and fish.

Whether we like it or not, the hunting and fishing industries provide billions of dollars to businesses and bolsters the tax base of the states and federal government. It is integral. To destroy these industries would be detrimental to a lot of people.

So why then are fish and game departments working so hard to protect predators? Do these departments fail to understand that if the hunting and fishing industries die, more than likely they will be out of a job? Yes, these agencies have worked for decades to move fish and game departments into environmental agencies and use general tax dollars for funding, in order to further remove the power of the sportsman from the decision making processes.

If states are going to perpetuate fishing and hunting opportunities for its citizens, the only way this can be done effectively is through predator control and not predator protection. What has always bothered me is when states opt to designate a predator as a “big game” animal. With such distinction, this animal then achieves the status as a species that is managed to provide hunting or fishing opportunities for the people. By doing such, the same mind set exists to manage for surplus harvests. This is a complete contradiction in managing traditional fish and game species (elk, deer, moose, caribou, sheep, etc.) for surplus.

Nobody is ever going to convince me that placing the hunting value of a predator like a bear, wolf, mountain lion or coyote, over that of a deer, moose, elk, caribou, etc. is a good thing. And yet, our fish and game are designating varmints like coyotes and wolves, as “big game” species, selling permits to hunt them and these creatures are in direct competition for the same prey species man is seeking. How does this make sense? It would seem that only a person opposed to man’s pursuit of life, liberty and happiness would perpetuate such nonsense.

I understand the need, when necessary, to regulate the control and killing of predators, and thus the need for season and permits…..as I say, when necessary.

If your state no longer seems willing to manage game species for surplus harvest, perhaps it’s time to let the people know about it. If your fish and game department is protecting predators and managing them to perpetuate a hunting, fishing or trapping season on them, you know they probably have lost interest in managing real game for surplus harvest.

For me it just seems a really stupid thing to over protect the very creature that destroys your industry.

Tom Remington

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From the Journals of Lewis and Clark: The Struggle for Food

As I continue my reread of the adventures of Lewis and Clark, often times the reading is dry with weather reports and what they saw on the right and saw on the left and how many miles they covered. At times however, both Lewis and Clark write in relative depth about certain issues and observations.

Included in the expedition that was sanctioned by President Jefferson and headed by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were what was then considered “professional hunters”. I have no idea what qualifications these men possessed that earned them the distinction of professional hunters, but nonetheless throughout the entire journey they were on a daily basis dispatched by Lewis and Clark to hunt and gather food. Sometimes this involved having the hunters go ahead of the expedition and cache food along the riverbanks and/or trails for the troops.

Finding food was not always an easy chore. As a matter of fact, the expedition was forced many times to kill and eat horses they had bought from the Indians. Through many days travel from the Continental Divide and down through the Columbia River, Lewis and Clarke bought dogs from the Indians to feed their troops. During their first winter camping alongside the Missouri River, the expedition may have starved to death had it not been for the modest supplies of dried foods the natives had that Lewis and Clark were able to trade for.

In my reading at present, Lewis and Clark are camped for the winter near the mouth of the Columbia River where it flows into the Pacific Ocean. It rains and storms nearly everyday. Conditions are miserable, to say the least. Troops work everyday in the lousy weather building shelters, smoke house, supply storage and fort walls. Because of the conditions and hard work, the troops are suffering injuries and illness. Generally speaking conditions are not great and to add to it, the availability of fresh meat is just not reliable.

Several Indian tribes take up their winter residence in the same area. These natives eat a different diet than do the white men involved in the expedition. The natives mostly subsist on fish, roots and berries, Lewis and Clark are forced to buy a lot of this food from the Indians because there is not a lot of easily found meat, i.e. elk, deer, etc. nearby. They also struggle in keeping their meat from spoiling even though at this point they have constructed a smoke house used to cure meat.

Needless to say, the adventurers have learned to eat many different things along their journey, including spoiled meat as well as fresh meat from just about every wild critter they could kill.

During the time that Lewis and Clark spent on the coast of what is now Washington and Oregon, both Lewis and Clark wrote in their journals comments about eating certain meats that today in our society would be unheard of.

Written January 3, 1806 by Clark in the Journals of Lewis and Clark:

“Our party from necessity have been obliged to subsist some length of time on dogs, have now become extremely fond of their flesh; it is worthy of remark that while we lived principally on the flesh of this animal we were much more healthy, strong and more fleshy than we have been since we left the buffalo country. As for my own part, I have not become reconciled to the taste of this animal as yet.”

At the time this was written, I’m half guessing that perhaps William Clark was waxing a little nostalgic, hungry and missing those moments when fresh elk and deer meat were readily available for sustenance. The expedition’s hunters were able to locate and kill some elk, at times great distances from the newly built fort, there was never enough of this meat to feed the troops on a regular basis. Because of the great distances away where the elk were shot and killed, by the time the hunters, with help from the troops, retrieved the meat and brought it to the fort, it was spoiled or beginning to spoil. Smoking the meat didn’t take away the spoil.

At this time, both Lewis and Clark had expressed dissatisfaction with being forced to eat the dried fish the natives had and that which the expedition had to purchase or barter to get because of the lack of fresh meat. Also it was noted a few times that Lewis and Clark could not sustain trading away all of their supplies in order to subsist.

In short, I’m not sure that Lewis and Clark fully anticipated having the struggles they did to eat well on a consistent basis.

It was only two days later that we find where Capt. Lewis makes comment about what he eats. To set the stage for these comments, Meriwether Lewis had ordered some of his men to take canoes and travel to the beaches of the ocean and find a likely place in which they could set up and make salt. This place ended up being several miles from the fort.

After about 6 days had passed since the salt making party were to have returned to the fort, Clark and others went looking for them. In the meantime, the salt party returned to the fort temporarily and brought with them about a quart or so of fine quality salt they had been successful in making.

In the context of the below comments by Capt. Lewis, he is writing about how some of the men were excited to have salt to dress up, if you will, their meat and meals. Lewis makes note that he really could care little about whether he had salt and makes the following comments.

Capt Lewis, January 5, 1806, from the Journals of Lewis and Clark:

“The want of bread I consider as trivial provided I get fat meat, far as to the species of meat I am not very particular. The flesh of the dog, the horse and the wolf, having from habit become equally familiar with any other, and I have learned to think that if the chord be sufficiently strong, which binds the soul and body together, it does not so much matter about the materials which compose it.”

Part of the motivation to write this piece comes from comments that have been made by some animal rights groups about the recently released movie, The Grey. The movie is about people that survive a plane crash in the snow climes of the north country, smack dab in the middle of packs of wolves.

I’ve not seen the movie but evidently at some point for survival, some of the wolves that have been killed as the result of attacks by the wolves on the survivors, are eaten by the people. The comments from animal rights groups and other ignoramuses, are that nobody can eat a dog and there is nothing nutritious in them.

This of course is quite the contrary. Not only in our own history books, as I have shown above, and world history has the eating of dogs been a regular occurrence, in some societies today, the habit still happens.

Tom Remington

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