August 18, 2019

Oregon Hunters Jump In Bed With HSUS

On the heels of the debate in full swing in Idaho, members of a hunting organization in Oregon have stooped so low as to be partnering up with their biggest enemy, the Humane Society of the United States. The Oregon Hunters Association, along with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, has teamed up with HSUS to put an end to elk farming there.

Using the events in eastern Idaho last summer where elk escaped a ranch there, the unlikely and disturbing coalition is using much of the same misinformation to instill unfounded fear in the people in order to ban elk farming. It is very sad that groups these days, like HSUS, OHA and RMEF, believe that it is American to yank the livelihoods out from under hard working people for reasons not found viable through science.

The MAD-Elk Coalition – HSUS, OHA and RMEF – sent two petitions to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission for consideration. The options of the OFWC are varied and open-ended. They can discharge the petitions, recommend to proceed toward rule changes or just about anything in between. The OFWC denied both petitions stating that before any consideration be made for rule changes, more discussion on the topic needs to be addressed.

From the Statesman Journal.

Members of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission voted unanimously to deny three petitions to change elk-ranching rules for the state.

The consensus was that the issues surrounding the commercial ranching of elk need more discussion before such petitions could be considered.

“We are fortunate in Oregon to have clean wild and farmed populations as far as elk are concerned,” said Zane Smith, a commission member from Springfield. “There are a number of issues that I feel need more consideration before we trigger rule-making.”

The seven members asked biologists and other officials with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to come back at the February commission meeting with recommendations.

Among the issues they were told to consider are the affects of any rule changes, the groups affected by any changes, and a time frame for them to draft and present any recommended rules.

The third petition was one presented to the Commission from a group of Oregon elk breeders.

The two petitions submitted to OFWC call for either ending all commercial elk farms by the year 2012 or capping the limit on farms to 16 and providing for the eventual dismantling of the industries through the inability to transfer ownership in any way.

While it is encouraging to see that the OFWC isn’t interested in jumping into this issue and running roughshod over the elk industry, it is disturbing that once again, like in Idaho, hunting organizations have opted to team up with the likes of the Humane Society of the United States.

Making decisions such as this to ban a clean and safe industry, should not be taken likely. This has to be based strictly on science and whether it can be proven to be a valid and large enough health risk to both humans and other wildlife, to warrant a stripping of one’s rights as an American.

Teaming up with an organization that is systematically using divide and conquer tactics along with chipping away at one small aspect of hunting at a time, is flat-out wrong. I never thought I would live long enough to see the day that true sportsmen would consider HSUS a partner in the preservation of our hunting heritage.

Tom Remington

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Idaho "Camo Day" Declares Support For All Sportsmen…..Except….?

Yesterday was Camo Day. The day when hundreds of Idaho sportsmen were to descend upon the Boise Capital to remind the lawmakers that someone was watching them. According to the Idaho Statesman, 200 sportsmen showed up as part of a contingency that represents 31 Idaho sportsman’s groups scattered across the state. I spoke with Kristy Hein, one of the owners of the Black Canyon Elk Ranch in Emmett, yesterday immediately following the gathering. She said she counted 92 participants. Perhaps she couldn’t see them all being they were clad in camouflage.

The coalition call themselves the Idaho Sportsman’s Caucus Advisory Council. Spokesmen for the ISCAC had much to say but do they really mean what they are touting in the public forum?

“Idaho sportsmen andwomen have never been as united as they are right now,” said Mark Bell, president of the Idaho Sportsmen’s Advisory Caucus, which organized the event.

Here’s another.

“I think sportsmen of all kinds are realizing that no political party is going to represent their interests all the time,” said James Piotrowski, president of the Ted Trueblood Trout Unlimited chapter in Boise.

He said banding together benefits all sporting groups because most consist of volunteers who won’t have to duplicate the work of lobbying for their causes at the Statehouse.

He also pointed out that all organizations share a common goal in protecting and conserving wildlife.

“Trout Unlimited’s interests coincide with hunters, trappers and houndsmen.

“All wildlife needs the same preservation of habitat,” Piotrowski said.

Steve Huffaker, the recently retired head of the Idaho Fish and Game seemed to agree with Piotrowski.

Huffaker said those interests also cross over to every resident of the state because hunters and anglers help preserve and protect wildlife and wildlands that everyone enjoys, regardless of whether they fish or hunt.

“Sportsmen in Idaho create the quality of life we all enjoy,” Huffaker said.

Huffaker was in charge at the fish and game when he and then Governor Jim Risch led a campaign to kill all the elk that had escaped Rex Rammell’s elk ranch out of fear that disease would destroy the wild elk population and cross-breeding of elk genes would destroy the Yellowstone Elk.

This same group (ISCAC), who claims they are looking out for all sportsman’s interests, are mounting a campaign to ban elk farming which includes putting an end to the practice of hunting on elk ranches. One of the main reasons for “Camo Day” was to bring attention to their personal campaigns to ban elk farming and hunting.

Perhaps they should reword some of their public statements to more accurately reflect their philosophy that they are looking out for the best interests of all sportsmen who think the way they do. They obviously have no use for personal rights or property rights and don’t believe that any form of ranch hunting falls within the personal ethics of others.

There is no real science that shows that farming elk is a danger to the wild elk population. If anything it is the opposite. Many elk ranchers are concerned about their animals becoming infected from diseased wild elk populations. The issue of elk hunting on ranches becomes strictly a property rights issue because there is no public threat no more than there is with the cattle industry.

If hunters representing the ISCAC believe that hunting on elk ranches isn’t in their repertoire of hunting, they are certainly entitled to their opinions on that. Being against it doesn’t give them a right to take that privilege away from others or just as importantly to strip hard working Americans of their right to operate a clean, safe business.

If the ISCAC is truly destined to unify all sportsmen in Idaho, they have an odd way of displaying it. You can’t exclaim to represent all when you exclude some, simply because you don’t agree. Rights are easy when you respect the thoughts and wishes of others. When you want to remove rights from those you don’t agree with, you become a hypocrite and self-serving.

With no science to stand on to show that elk ranching is a public safety issue and/or a threat to the wildlife of Idaho, the ISCAC has no business demanding the Idaho legislature enact bills to ban the elk industry. It is un-American.

Tom Remington

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Should We Have More Emphasis On Hunter Participation While Computing Deer Populations?

Deer management is a complex issue, one that baffles me at times. Just about the time I think I’ve gotten a grasp on the basics of how wildlife biologists use their collected data in determining whether they are reaching management goals, I discover there’s another formula that is factored into the overall algorithm.

I was e-mailing back and forth the other day with Lee Kantar, wildlife biologist for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, trying to retrieve some information about deer densities in certain parts of the state along with buck-to-doe ratios. Lee has been more than helpful in my quest.

Upon receiving a response from Lee, he also included a few words of wisdom to help me better understand what real information I was looking for.

Please also realize that the model is only 1 element of the entire system. Maine’s system is built on a solid foundation of research within the state and uses principles adopted from research on white-tailed deer in other states including New York and Michigan, looking at just one component of the entire system is like looking at a puzzle with missing pieces, you have to take everything into account.

That all sounded well and good but I wouldn’t realize until several days later exactly what Lee was talking about. Following his advice, I downloaded and printed out a 147-page document about Maine’s Deer Management System(pdf file). As I read and studied, I soon realize full well what Lee was talking about.

One aspect of the entire management system for white tail deer began to jump out at me last night. The part titled, “Deer Hunting Participation, Effort And Success”, blew my mind. I still haven’t fully understood all the ins and outs, twists and turns of how actual hunter participation plays a role in determining deer densities and a host of other important things. Enough so that I began putting together a few formulas of my own and thought to myself, “You know, if I had no other means available to me to determine deer population, I could do a pretty good job with only working with hunter participation, effort and success.”

I’m not so naive to believe that my assumption is completely valid but I have grasped a better understanding. First let me make an attempt at explaining some of the things that wildlife officials do to manage the deer herd. Maybe the first thing to do is clear up some misnomers that haunt hunting camps and coffee shops everywhere. Wildlife biologists don’t spread out in vast numbers during the winter months and count deer. When you read in the papers, magazines and Internet, stories about deer management and someone is quoted as saying there are an estimated 325,000 deer in our state, that doesn’t mean biologists went out and counted them by hand, or with planes and helicopters. If they had done that, more than likely they would have proudly told the world about it.

In essence counting deer is done through estimations derived by taking into consideration many things. Some of those are weather, habitat, carrying capacity, available food, predation, spring birth rates, hunter participation and a whole host of other things. Take for example weather. Maine uses what’s called a Winter Severity Index. In this report I’m reading, biologists have concluded that the WSI might need some tweaking because they have learned about other factors in weather that have significant impacts on deer survival.

It’s pretty easy for you and I to sit in the comfort of our homes and make a determination as to whether or not our winter is mild or severe, or can we? What constitutes a mild winter and what determines a severe one. There are obvious things like depth of snow and cold temperatures but it’s not quite that simple. An average snow year can be detrimental to the deer herd depending on the type of snow it is. How mobile are deer? Can they get to their food supplies? Can they escape predation?

Let’s say a doe conceived early in the rut. Gestation is fixed, so she would have her young, early in the spring. We may have had an average or even milder winter and yet it became prolonged with a very cold, wet spring that perhaps had influence of habitat including food. The fawn may not make it and starve or die from exposure. A weakened fawn also makes them vulnerable to predation. What we thought was an average or maybe even milder than normal winter, turned out to be hard on the spring fawns. Are you getting a picture of some of the complexities?

Wildlife managers create their models and during the course of the year, they inject their data from a host of sources – tagging station information, weather, deer yard data, etc.. This requires an unbelievable amount of time and effort and once completed, a determination is made on the status of the deer herd. With these figures, they go to work to determine how many “Any-Deer” permits will be issued for each of the WMDs across the state. Sounds simple enough, right? I would like to point out that although I said biologists don’t go out and count deer, it’s not exactly complete. During the winter they visit certain deer wintering areas to collect data, which includes some counting.

Let’s get back to hunter participation. Would you consider the idea that the more hunting licenses sold, the more deer will be shot? I’ve made that assumption before, after all it’s only logical. Not necessarily true though. If you look at just hunting licenses sold, you also have to know about hunter effort. Let me try to explain as it is difficult to totally comprehend.

If all other factors in estimating deer densities remained constant, hunting effort can tell us many things. In Maine, hunters are required to tag all deer they harvest. During the tagging process, aside from any data or samples that might be collected by wildlife biologists, we are required to give the tagging agent information about the deer, i.e. which WMD it was taken from, etc. Maine officials use this information to determine how many deer and of what sex where killed and in what WMD. This is extremely valuable information and is the easiest to collect. (Maine is having difficulties with getting accurate counts of antlerless deer since the onset of hunters being able to buy their licenses online. It has to do with matching numbers but biologists would like this corrected.)

If it is estimated that there are 250,000 deer before the hunt and biologists estimate that 47,000 deer will be harvested in the current season and only 42,000 were actually taken, does that mean there aren’t as many deer as first thought? Doesn’t it make sense that there must not be? If Maine sold as many licenses as they estimated would happen, then why isn’t this true?

This is where we have to factor in hunter effort. Participation says XX number of people bought a hunting license, effort tells us how much they hunted and success reveals how many were taken. I’m sure if someone hasn’t already done it, there is a law of averages for how many hours a hunter must put in before he/she bags a deer. Simply because participation was average and success was low, doesn’t determine that deer densities are low.

Weather and a whole host of other factors will determine how many hours hunters spend chasing deer. Under the scenario given, a low hunter effort could produce the same result as there being too few deer. Of course it works the other way as well. I high yield of deer by a fixed average number of hunters doesn’t necessarily mean that deer densities were high before the start of hunting season.

What I have explained is the simplest of examples. When an individual buys a hunting license, we don’t know for what purpose the licensee is buying it. Will they hunt deer, bear, moose, rabbit, all or any of these? Consider also the different kinds of licenses as well and how success rates can influence hunter effort at other times. Here’s an example of what I mean. If I am an avid hunter, I may buy an archery, regular, muzzleloading, and any other license available to me The first day of archery, I bag a trophy buck and don’t hunt the rest of the year. In the overall calculations, these differences all add up when calculating deer estimates. Biologists need to know how much effort I put in when I bagged by deer.

So what does this all mean? Does this mean, fish and game aren’t doing a good job managing our deer herd? Does this mean the algorithms they use are not reliable? For the most part, I believe the biologists are doing a great job. They are the first to admit that the models they use aren’t perfect, after all they are scientists. Biologists wish they had an endless supply of money to do deer counts and all the surveys they want, then they would be certain exactly what the conditions are of the herd at anytime. Not going to happen.

So my question is this. If as I read in the Deer Management System, not factoring in hunter effort has as big an impact on management calculations, why doesn’t fish and game require hunters to participate in hunter surveys? The report says that one every year would be nice but a minimum of every three years would suffice.

Some states require hunters to fill out a report at the conclusion of each season. Surely hunters want the healthiest deer herd possible in order to be able to hunt and have better success. Why wouldn’t they participate in a survey? Is it that expensive to have hunters either fill out a paper or electronic survey?

It would seem that with the importance that can be realized from hunter surveys, this would be a far easier task than most in collecting data. After all, hunters are available and can communicate. Deer can’t. Of the things we can control in efforts to manage deer, I would think required survey participation is asking very little of the hunter.

What do you think?

Tom Remington

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U.S. Sportsman's Alliance Joins Maine To Fight Trapping Lawsuit

The Animal Protection Institute filed a lawsuit against the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to ban all trapping in areas where endangered animals live. Joining in that fight now is the U.S. Sportsman’s Alliance, who will side with MDIFW.

It is believed by many, including the USSA that the only goal that organizations like the API has is to use the manipulation of the Endangered Species Act to ban hunting and trapping. A ruling in favor of this ban would set a very disturbing precedent nationwide that could have a devastating effect on hunting and trapping and the economic support these two activities bring.

Read the entire article here.

Tom Remington

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How Old Is That Big Buck You Just Bagged?

We like to take a guess at the age of any deer we see and more importantly, the ones we shoot. And how do you guess the age of a deer? Some think they can do it by “sizing them up”, in other words, if they deer looks mature, coloring, antler size, etc. The method most used for many years is to yank open the deer’s mouth and take a gander at the deers molars. In this, we are looking for wearing. The logical conclusion is that the more a deer’s molars are worn off, the older they are. This is generally a true statement but it seems that this method may not be the most accurate way to age a deer.

The other day I received and email from Henry Chidgey of Wildlife Analytical Laboratories in Burnet, Texas. Henry works for a company that specializes in aging of deer. He thought readers would be interested in learning about other methods of determining the age of deer, how it is done, why it is important, etc. Henry sent several pages of information that he wanted to share.

The first might answer the question of why you might want to know the exact age of your deer.

Why do people care how old their harvested deer (or other mammal) is?

The best way we know to answer this is by way of an analogy. If you were a master gardener and your passion was growing tomatoes you might have as an objective raising the largest, most beautiful tomatoes you could. In addition to genetics and nutrition (soil, fertilizer and water) you would want to learn the right time to pick or harvest these tomatoes. You wouldn’t want to pick them too early or too late. Experience of picking too early & too late, over time, would allow you to do a better job at maximizing your goal—having the largest, most beautiful tomatoes you could.

Whitetail deer hunters and managers have goals for bucks that are very similar to these master gardeners. They want to have the bucks they harvest achieve their maximum potential. In a whitetail that usually occurs when they are 5-6 years old. They want feedback on the deer that they harvest about how good their judgment was this time, so that they can learn and improve
their skills at judging age before they squeeze the trigger or let loose of the arrow. Another reason for wanting to know the age of harvested mammals is to collect data that enables correlation between habitat and the health of the mammals in that habitat. Body weight vs. age is a great indicator over time of changes in habitat conditions either good or bad.

The second bit of information is what biologists have to say about aging deer and other mammals.

What do Biologists and Their Studies Say About How to Age Deer and Other Mammals?

In the Journal of Wildlife Management 64(2):441-449 Kenneth Hamlin and 4 other wildlife professionals from the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks concluded (based on a study of 53 known age mule deer and 21 known age whitetail by eruption-wear and 108 known age mule deer and 74 known age whitetail by cementum annuli) “The accuracy provided by the cementum annuli method is necessary to determine whether various physical and population parameters change significantly with age of the animal…. Ages assigned by eruption–wear criteria were not reliable for comparing physical measurements and population parameters by age among populations…. Accuracy for a sample of known-age mandibles aged by eruption-wear criteria was 62.3% for mule deer, 42.9% for whitetails, and 36% for elk”. “The accuracy for individual biologists ranged from 54.7-71.7% for mule deer and 23.8-66.7% for whitetail deer” “This aging was done by 4 biologists from Montana and 2 from Washington considered to be experienced in aging deer used eruption-wear to age these mandibles…”. Cementum annuli aging yielded a 92.6% accuracy rate for mule deer (with no error over 1 year), 85.1% accuracy rate for whitetails (only 2 in error over 1 year) and 97.3% accuracy rate for elk.

Ken Gee, a wildlife biologist at the 2,947 acre Noble Foundation Wildlife Unit (NFWU) said at the conclusion of a study he did in 1996 “These results indicate that this widely used technique (sic eruption-wear) is very inaccurate for classifying adult deer into specific year age-classes on the NFWU….(it)only allows us to confidently place deer into three age classes: fawn, yearling, and adult.” The study was done using “34 practicing, established, well respected deer biologists from the southeastern U.S.

Here is a list and answers to frequently asked questions.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is Cementum Annuli aging?

The basis for cementum aging is the cyclic nature of cementum deposits on the roots of mammals’ teeth each year, which results in a pattern of “rings” in the tooth, like those formed in the wood of trees. A darkly staining ring, or “annulus”, is formed during winter on most all mammals. Abundant, lightly staining cementum is formed during the growth seasons of spring and summer. Some “experts” say these rings occur because of nutritional or seasonal stress, but since the same rings occur on human teeth, we doubt that is true.

Why do people care how old their harvested deer (or other mammal) is? Mostly asked by our non hunter friends.

The best way we know to answer this is by way of an analogy. If you were a master gardener and your passion was growing tomatoes you might have as an objective raising the largest, most beautiful tomatoes you could. In addition to genetics and nutrition (soil, fertilizer and water) you would want to learn the right time to pick or harvest these tomatoes. You wouldn’t want to pick them too early or too late. Experience of picking too early & too late, over time, would allow you to do a better job at maximizing your goal—having the largest, most beautiful tomatoes you could.

Whitetail deer hunters and managers have goals for bucks that are very similar to these master gardeners. They want to have the bucks they harvest achieve their maximum potential. In a whitetail that usually occurs when they are 5-6 years old. They want feedback on the deer that they harvest about how good their judgment was this time, so that they can learn and improve
their skills at judging age before they squeeze the trigger or let loose of the arrow. Another reason for wanting to know the age of harvested mammals is to collect data that enables correlation between habitat and the health of the mammals in that habitat. Body weight vs. age is a great indicator over time of changes in habitat conditions either good or bad.

How does cementum-annuli compare to that of eruption-wear?

The eruption-wear technique of aging ungulates compares the tooth wear of known age animals to the tooth wear of harvested animals. The theory is that you should be able to determine age by finding a match, wear wise, with a known age specimen. I think the cold hard facts show that this is just guesswork, especially for deer 2 ½ years or older. Simply spoken, eruption wear does not work if you want an accurate age of the animal you harvested.

The cementum-annuli (cross-sectioning teeth) method of aging deer, elk and other wild animals is much different. It first requires decalcifying the central lower incisors and then cutting crosssections of the root tips to a thinness measured in microns. The slice of tooth is then placed on a slide and a special dye is added to enhance viewing. It is placed under a microscope. Circular
lines within the tooth’s diameter are readily visible and can be counted much like the rings of growth on a tree, indicating a deer’s age. The question is, how effective are each of these methods for aging deer and other ungulates?

And finally, an explanation of what cementum annuli is.

What is Cementum Annuli?

Would I know them if they walked up and said hello?

• Every year any mammal has a tooth in their jaw there is a layer
of cementum deposited around the root, under the gum line

• Annuli just means ring or rings in Latin

• A root of a mammal’s tooth ends up being very much like the
rings on a tree

• Science is not sure why it occurs, but it does

• Probably does not occur because of nutritional or seasonal
stress (because the human mammal exhibits the same
phenomena)

• Compared to other methods of aging is very accurate (but not
perfect)

• Studies show accuracy rate at 85% or better on whitetails, 92%
or better on mule deer, and 95 % or better on elk.

• Not necessary to accurately determine age of deer less than 2
½ years old at time of death. Deer, like humans, have baby
(fawn) teeth that are replaced by permanent teeth in the first 2
years of life in a very predictable way.

• Aging by use of cementum annuli requires two teeth sent to a
lab for a forensic histological process that ultimately allows the
cementum rings to be counted under a high powered
microscope.

• The two preferred teeth to be removed and tested in most
game animals are the two center incisors from the front lower
jaw.

• With practice, it only takes 3 or 4 minutes to remove these teeth
from a freshly killed animal.

• In whitetails these two center incisors are permanent at about 6
months of age, the same as elk and moose.

• In mule deer these two center incisors are permanent at about
1 ½ years of age, the same as pronghorns, goats, & sheep.

Henry also included a picture of the cross-section of a molar so that you can see the annual “rings”, if you will.

Deer Molar showing growth rings
This photo shows 9 years of age.

Tom Remington

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Moose Take A Ride To Colorado

I reported earlier about the transfer of moose from an overpopulated part of Utah into an area of Colorado that could use a little beefing up of its moose population. Yesterday, some of them took a ride. These photos are courtesy of the Salt Lake Tribune and they have the complete story as well as a full gallery of photos.

Moose Wrapped and Ready

Moose Getting a Helicopter Ride

I wonder if this airline serves in-flight meals?

Tom Remington

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Plum Creek Offers To Manage Lands For Deer Management In Maine

From Mark Latti of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, comes this encouraging report of Plum Creek’s interest in helping to better manage deer now and in the future.

AUGUSTA, Maine – Plum Creek Timber Company and The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife have signed an agreement for management of winter habitat for white-tailed deer. Commissioner Roland D. Martin and Paul Davis, General Manager of Plum Creek’s Northeast Region, signed the agreement on Thursday, January 4, 2007.

“We are very pleased to have cooperatively developed this partnership with Plum Creek,” said Commissioner Martin, This is a very important step forward and a milestone for the long-term winter habitat management for deer in this region.”

The Long-Term Deer Wintering Area Agreement recognizes the importance of proper forest management to sustainable wildlife populations and ensures that important deer wintering areas (“deer yards”) will be conserved and cooperatively managed for both sustainable timber resources and critical deer winter habitat.

This Deer Wintering Area Management Agreement with Plum Creek covers over 32,000 acres of forested land in Somerset, Franklin and Piscataquis Counties. The agreement allows Plum Creek to harvest softwood and hardwood while maintaining coniferous canopy cover for wintering deer. Areas opened up through timber harvesting will contribute immediate forage from the tops of felled trees, and sunlit areas for new tree growth, and yearlong browsing.

“Plum Creek is pleased to participate in this voluntary agreement that will benefit the deer herd, wildlife enthusiasts and the sporting community while providing jobs for our employees and a sustainable supply of timber to the many forest products mills in the area” said Paul Davis, General Manager for Plum Creek.

Wildlife biologists consider quality deer winter shelter the major limiting factor in sustaining deer populations in Maine. In addition, properly managed softwood stands provide habitat for a variety of upland wildlife species.

Healthy deer populations in Maine depend on wintering areas that provide shelter and open space at the same time. Evergreen canopies keep snow depth underneath to a minimum and allow deer easy mobility while they conserve energy. Open areas within the shelter portions provide winter forage on which deer depend to survive. Maintaining a strong deer population over time depends on protecting large stands of mature hemlocks, spruce and fir to shelter deer from cold, wind, and deep snow. The agreement allows the company to have a continuous supply of pulp and sawlogs, while maintaining the stands that provide shelter for wintering deer. This is ensured by providing that the wintering area complex is composed of mature, close-canopy softwood stands to provide shelter. The remainder of the yard can be in younger conifer age-classes to provide browse for feeding, and eventually future shelter.

“Plum Creek has voluntarily added two very important ingredients to this agreement that we have not encountered with other major forest landowners,” said Gene Dumont, Wildlife Management Section Supervisor with IFW, “One, Plum Creek has turned the land management decisions of the Deer Wintering Areas over to their Biological Staff, and second, Plum Creek has initiated a plan to transfer this agreement to the next landowner in the future. These are very significant initiatives, that highlight Plum Creek’s commitment to the agreement.”

Tom Remington

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Capitalism Front And Center

Americans may be the world’s best inventors, creators of new business, and developers of ways to cash in when an opportunity presents itself. An example of that was when it became big business to create a T-shirt emblematic of an event or a person, etc. At times we as a society have questioned some entrepreneurial enterprises but nonetheless Americans will find a way to make money.

It is no secret that in many places across this great nation, deer are becoming a problem. This is evidenced in news report after news report of cities, towns and communities striving to find ways of controlling deer populations within the town’s limits. These overcrowding situations of too many deer and too many humans can pose some serious consequences and problems – starvation, disease and auto/deer collisions, to name a few.

Many different methods have been tried to address this problem and any and all methods have met with a certain amount of opposition from various groups and individuals. Often times a town finds itself faced with hiring sharpshooters to thin the herd. Although it is proven time and again that hunting deer is the most effective and least costly method of deer population management, there are occasions where hunting isn’t an option.

Much of the problem the local officials and wildlife scientists face in attempting to deal with this issue comes from the citizens who might oppose killing of animals. Some studies indicate that the majority of city residents prefer non-lethal means of dealing with deer populations. While I respect their opinions on how they think things should be done, too often these are based on lack of information and knowledge about science or even the best and proper way of living with the deer in their backyards.

Enter the Quality Deer Management Association. I knew sooner or later someone would find a way to cash in on this problem. Please don’t get me wrong. I am a firm believer in free enterprise and cringe sometimes when certain exploitations push the envelope of sanity. This venture by the QDMA is far from that, although I’m sure others will not agree.

According to an article in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, QDMA has devised an education packet to be used in schools all across the country to teach our youngsters how to live with deer.

The Quality Deer Management Association plans to make available within the next month or so an education package titled “Living with White-Tailed Deer.” It consists of three DVDs and a lot of printable information. It’s meant to be used in high school civics, social studies and science classrooms.

The program, which meets National Education Standards, sets up a scenario in which a community park is faced with having too many deer. Students divide up into six groups — hunters, animal rights activists, biologists, homeowners, park officials and township officials — and spend three to five days coming up a solution to the problem.

Sounds simple enough but you can bet your bottom dollar that someone, no names mentioned, is going to raise a stir. According to the same article, when the program was piloted at several locations around the country, students were asked before and after about how they felt about killing deer as part of the methods.

The program was piloted at several schools around the country. When students were asked before going through the exercise how they might solve the deer problem, about 70 percent supported non-lethal means of control.

Afterwards, about 70 supported killing at least some deer, either with hunters or sharpshooters, Murphy said.

“Ultimately, I think this is going to make them far more accepting of hunting than they might have been otherwise,” he said.

For me, if through education we can get more people to understand the science and necessity of good deer management and that process increases the support for hunting to accomplish the tasks, I’m all for it. How long is it going to take for the opposition to put on their battle gear?

Tom Remington

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Wyoming Considering Changes To Elk And Bison Management

This may be the case for Wyoming as officials with the state’s Game and Fish Department are saying that things have changed a lot and changes need to be made. One wildlife biologist, Doug Brimeyer, says there are too many bison in the National Elk Refuge and they are having affects on elk management.

Bison on the National Elk Refuge are hammering the habitat, and their numbers need to be reduced, according to a wildlife official.

Doug Brimeyer, wildlife biologist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in Jackson, said there are “way too many” bison, and hunters can’t help thin the herd significantly.

The impact of one bison is equal to that of three elk, he said, and with an estimated 1,100 bison on the refuge, that’s like having about 3,000 more elk.

Hunting on the refuge was stopped back in 1998 after the courts ruled in favor of a lawsuit filed by Fund for Animals. The judge that ruled said that Wyoming needed to come up with a different or better management plan. Expected next month sometime, a report on elk and bison environmental impact could begin a process that could change the way elk and bison are managed including within the Refuge.

Fish and Wildlife has said the goals of the management plan are to build sustainable populations of elk and bison, restore sustainable habitat conditions and manage disease transmission.

Hopefully this plan will eliminate the need for feed supplementation only under emergency situations.

Without the opportunity to hunt on Refuge grounds, hunting success rates for bison a very low, particularly for cow bison as these animals tend to remain within the Refuge. The bison herd grows at an estimated 15% each year. If you do the math, the bison herd near the Refuge numbers around 1,100. This year there were 25 cow and 23 bull bison taken by hunters. That’s just over 2% reduction.

Science is telling officials that there are too many elk and too many bison for the area lands to sustain and for bison to co-exist with humans yet politics trumps science and animals and humans suffer.

Makes no sense to me.

Tom Remington

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Aroostook County Residents Needed For Deer Management Survey

A small group of Aroostook County, Maine deer hunters are concerned about what they believe is a shrinking whitetail deer population. Enough so that they are considering options to improve it. They would like your help if you are a resident of Aroostook County or you own property there and/or hunt whitetail deer frequently.

The group has put together 5 simple yes or no questions about your opinions regarding deer management tools. This poll is not scientific and is being used to gain a sense of how the majority of hunters in this region view deer population and doe to buck ratios.

If you meet the criteria and would to assist in these efforts, click this link here to take the survey. Once you have completed it, a link will bring you directly back to this page.

Tom Remington

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