June 16, 2019

Where Are The Most Deer/Vehicle Collisions in Maine?

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Event: Enhancing Deer Survival in Northern Maine — Are We Doing Enough?

A Forum Sponsored by:

Presque Isle Fish and Game Club

Aroostook County Conservation Assoc., &

The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine

Date:         Thursday, April 25, 2019, 6 to 8 pm

Location:   Weiden Auditorium, Univ. of Maine at Presque Isle

Moderator:  David Trahan, SAM Exec. Director

Introductory Remarks: David Trahan.

Opening Remarks: Judy Camuso, DIFW Commissioner

Topics and Panelists:

     Topic Introductory Remarks: 

          Gerry Lavigne, Wildlife Biologist

     Current Status of Deer in Northern Maine

          Nathan Bieber, DIFW Deer Biologist – Deer population, harvest, and                   winter severity trends in Northern Maine.

Deer Wintering Area Protection    

          Ryan Robicheau, DIFW Wildlife Management Supervisor, Deer        

          Wintering Area Management and Protection (recent and historic status).

Predation Management

         Gerry Lavigne: SAM’s Coyote Control Model

        Ryan Robicheau: DIFW’s Predation Management efforts 2010 to 2019.

        Jerry McLaughlin: Pres. Aroostook County Conservation Assoc., The use

        of coyote contests to incentivize timely coyote removals.

Improving Nutritional Condition of Deer

        Ryan Robicheau: The strategic use of timber harvests to provide

        winter forage for deer.

        Nathan Bieber: DIFW’s perspectives regarding supplemental feeding

        of deer in winter.

       Jerry McLaughlin: ACCA’s winter feeding, food plot, and tree planting

       Programs.

Future Efforts

     Nathan Bieber, DIFW’s Deer Plan 2018 to 2025.

Are We Doing Enough?

     Suggestions from the floor.

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Applications Available for Maine Moose Hunt Lottery

Press Release from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife:

Avoid the headache of applying at the buzzer! 

The online application process is fast and simple and you receive instant confirmation that you have successfully entered the lottery. 

To get started, visit mefishwildlife.com and fill out the online moose permit application. There, you will be able to indicate several preferences, including which wildlife management districts (WMD) you are willing to accept a permit in, and if you would accept a permit in another WMD if your name is drawn and all of your top choices are filled. You will also be able to select your preferred hunting season, whether or not you would accept an antlerless permit, and your choice of a sub-permittee.

The deadline to apply for the lottery is 11:59 p.m. on May 15, 2019.

Curious how the lottery works? Learn more!

Ready to cross this off your to-do list? Apply now! 

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Gaining Understanding of Deer Habits…And Then Forgetting Them

I would suppose an “attaboy!” is in order for a Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) biologist from Northern Maine who tells some truth about why locations throughout Maine are finding deer in places they don’t “normally” spend their winters.

I put the word “normally” in quotations because it forces (or should) the question of what is normal? I’m not sure I can answer that in any other terms than to say it is what I think it should be. Perhaps none of us live long enough and are “expert” on deer biology to grasp an understanding of normal beyond only the period of time we are interested in the subject and what history books (often better relegated to the Fiction aisles and shelves in libraries) tell us about what is “normal” behavior for deer.

In our short life span, we have been indoctrinated (both citizen and biologist) to believe that it is “normal” behavior for deer to spend winters cooped-up in a classic, ideal, “deer wintering area,” known once to Mainers as a deer yard. This same indoctrination machine tended to cast dishonest claims about how deer, without those ideal deer wintering areas, shrivel up and die.

God only knows that this negative destruction can happen but does it happen at the rate scientismic biologists believe it does?

To believe such scientismic clap-trap is to say that deer, or any other wild creature, is mostly incapable of making adjustments to their habits in order to survive. I would claim that animals are more adept at this action/reaction than most humans.

Throughout Maine this winter, mostly toward the latter stages of a very snowy winter in many regions across the state, reports are surfacing of people finding pockets of deer (some in quite large numbers) hanging out in neighborhoods or right in the midst of down town. Why are the deer doing this?

I have written for years that I was finding deer in the throes of winter in places deemed as not “normal.” I guess normal is changing. Are the biologists though?

I doubt they are or at least not quickly enough to adjust their own habits to meet the management needs of the down town deer herds.

In Northern Maine, one biologist recognizes the reality – something that appears to have taken many years to admit: “Wildlife Biologist Shawn Haskell says between starvation, predators like coyotes and an occasional lynx, as well as competing with moose for food, it’s a struggle for deer in the wild. That’s why over time they’ve transitioned to more residential areas in colder months.”

Let’s point out the admissions often never spoken of in certain circles. First there’s the admission that coyotes kill deer; in winter; in deer yards. Aside from an “occasional lynx” perhaps the “occasional” bobcat was overlooked. And, lo and behold, the first time I’ve seen in writing that a Maine wildlife biologist is admitting that moose and deer compete for the same winter food. Thus, as honest logic would dictate, more moose hogging the food has a negative and detrimental affect on the deer herd. Too many moose, less deer. Too many moose, more winter ticks, fewer moose, more deer.

But the biggest admission of all is that the deer are adjusting and finding winter comfort (relative term) in places that, due to a more shy behavior of coyotes, Canada lynx, and bobcats, these predators might fear to tread. This is, as explained by the MDIFW biologist, one of the reasons we are seeing deer in places that are considered not “normal.”

So, “normal” is changing…it has changed. It isn’t “normal” anymore. Or, normal is not consistent. While it may be ideal in our brainwashing of “normal” things to see deer in those Hotel Hilton sort of deer yards, it ain’t gonna happen anymore. Things they are a changin’!

And they will continue to change. Yes, we should do what is reasonable to protect those “normal” deer yards. No, I’m not suggesting we “take em by force.” That’s not reasonable in my book, nor is it “normal.”

The Maine biologist alludes to a couple things we should take note of and I think there might be a lesson to be learned as well. The biologist says that the deer that are wintering in down town, “…have not forgotten where they came from.” Or, maybe they have. If “normal” is not their “normal” anymore, even if that “normal” disappeared forever due to forest management practices, a new normal will be achieved and lagging behind will be the education (indoctrination, if and when it fits another agenda) of citizens and wildlife biologists that deer ain’t where they used to be. (This is currently being blamed on Global Warming.)

Also alluded to about the changing habits of deer was, “…a situation that just works for them now.” I’m glad that the biologist recognizes the “for now” aspect of this event. Perhaps one day the deer will return to the Hotel Hilton’s winter resort of ideal “old growth” dense forests for protection from the elements. Or maybe they won’t. It’s what works. The deer will adjust but will the biologist?

Another issue not mentioned here which is mandatory in any honest conversation about deer management and predator control. We finally have the admission that coyotes kill deer. We are witnessing the deer making adjustments for their own survival by going places the coyotes, lynx, and bobcats might shy away from…FOR NOW!

If you know anything about wild canine behavior, you’ll have to admit that if deer decide that “normal” is in your back yard, the predators will overcome their fear and will dare tread on the winter habitats regardless of where they are. Predators are mostly driven by hunger. Fear of humans and our habitat is but a temporary roadblock.

How long will it be before bringing the wildlife into our towns, mostly due to predator protection, sets off a firestorm about public safety and that something needs to be done about it?

If things don’t change from current perverse perspectives on animal idolatry, when this day arrives, look for the call to go out to kill the deer (and waste the food) so that the wild dogs can have their way.

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Too Many Bears, Too Little Effort, Too Much Fear

Rome may be burning to the ground and those charged with the authority to stop it dither and doddle. Maine is swimming in bears and even though the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) expresses their “concerns” over a bear population that needs to be reduced, one effort that would have given the commission of the MDIFW authority to make adjustments to bear hunting, trapping seasons, and bag limits, was set aside until next year’s legislative session. I wonder if these clowns on the left and clowns on the right will feel any guilt when someone gets killed by a hungry bear?

Not likely, you might say. And last evening I glimpsed a video someone took while riding up the chair lift at Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry, Maine. On the ski trail that ran under their lift, a mother bear and her two cubs meandered about the packed trail, I suppose fresh out of hibernation and looking for a quick meal. Anyone interested in testing that hypothesis? I didn’t think so.

Perhaps it’s time for education courses on how to “Look Big” in case you are attacked by a hungry bear. And now we must add to that instruction now to “Look Big” while schussing down the ski trails. What next?

According to George Smith, Maine outdoor writer, discussion on the proposed bill that would have given the commissioner authority to manipulate seasons and bag limits, was lengthy but ended in tabling any decisions until next year.

MDIFW’s new commissioner said, “…the agency is concerned about the growing population of bears, and their goal would be to stabilize that population.” We can only assume that means it’s time to do something besides talk about it…or maybe not. If there is “concern” does that mean the bear population hasn’t risen to levels that threaten public safety…like bears running around the middle of a ski resort?

And here’s the chicken, environmentalist answer to the problem when Maine Rep. John Martin said, “…if the committee gave the department this authority, including the possibility that bear trapping would be expanded, it would provoke another ballot measure to ban bear trapping.”

With comments such as this one, I have to ask myself a few questions and I hope you do too. I want to know if members of the Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife are there to do the bidding for the environmentalists and their cohort animal rights activists? I also want to know if there is more value put on the threatening of lawsuits than on the welfare of a human life? There is no intelligent thought that remains anymore.

By now any politician, voter, or commissioner of the MDIFW should know and understand that because they exist is reason enough for radical animal rights groups and environmentalists to bring a lawsuit in order to force the rest of us to cave in and follow their perverse lifestyle. Here we see members of the Committee giving them what they want and it’s cheaper than a lawsuit or another referendum vote. It is for reasons of comments such as this one that the MDIFW has resorted to making wildlife management decisions based on social demands…which include the threat of lawsuits.

In the meantime, what are we to tell the families of those who get injured or killed from marauding bears, driven by hunger and emboldened by loss of fear of humans? Sorry, but we were afraid of a lawsuit from environmentalists. It’s not my fault.

Now the Maine Legislature must concern themselves with lawsuits from families of injured and dead members due to malpractice and negligence. I suppose that’s better than pissing off an environmentalist who wants to stop the world from doing most things the rest of us enjoy doing. It’s no wonder interest in hunting, fishing, and trapping is dwindling away to nothing.

Maybe it’s time that these mostly useless politicians made decisions based on science (not scientism), or social demands and threats of lawsuits, and did what was RIGHT for a change. And while they are at it, how about making those RIGHT decisions based upon something other than the demands of guides and outfitters.

There is little hope.

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Contracting With Incompetents For Bear Management

I was reading testimony provided by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) on proposed legislation LD 1118, a bill that would give the commissioner authority to manipulate bear hunting/trapping rules in order to better manage the growth of black bears in certain areas.

In that testimony, MDIFW wrote: “…are contracting with Cornell University to develop a new population model for bears…”

This all sounds innocent enough and perhaps even a good thing that MDIFW would reach out to higher institutes of “learning” (cough, cough) until you consider just who it is they are reaching out to (contracting) and their track record of doing some really damned stupid things when it comes to biological manipulations to control the growth of deer in certain places.

First consider their demise when Cornell University attempted to control the deer population on the campus and adjacent university property. This all began when the university, or at least the mental midgets in charge of whatever it was they thought they were going to do, promoted the belief that deer are possessed with “reproductive health is a cervine right.”

Yeah, I know. Where once anyone would and should be the laughing stock of the world to suggest that animals should have the same rights as people. What’s even more bizarre is that while delusional people are bestowing human rights on animals, they are working feverishly to take away human rights. Does that make sense to you?

So, Cornell, in their infinite wisdom (add a chuckle or two here), bestowing reproductive rights on deer, decided to gather up all the female deer on the campus and give them all a “tubal ligation,” i.e. get their tubes tied.

Evidently, to the brainless wonders of higher environmental indoctrination, they didn’t realize that a tubal ligation would do little to stop the female deer from entering estrus (a condition that indicates to every male deer within smelling distance a deer is ready to be bred). A female deer will essentially remain in heat until conception is completed. As a result, the attempt to reduce the deer population ended up increasing due to the mass migration of bucks to the campus, in much the same way as men show up in masses at a all women college.

Having learned absolutely nothing (or any misguided individual might think more reproductive rights need to be administered), Cornell decided to try a different approach on Staten Island. Here, the University coughed up $3.3 million dollars to give all the male deer (their turn this time around) a vasectomy.

With all the male deer having been denied their real reproductive rights, as were the female deer from the previous malpractice, they could never complete conception of the hundreds of does in heat. In a previous report on this event, I considered the fact that the male deer on Staten Island might all drop dead from….uh…well, you might get the picture? I hope.

So, these are the trials and tribulations of attempts at wildlife management from one of this country’s more prestigious learning institutions and now the MDIFW has contracted with them in developing a “new population model for bears.” If things go according to historic disasters, perhaps Maine can look forward to ten times the number of bears they have now. Or, perhaps within this “model” Cornell can devise a way so that bears won’t hibernate.

Don’t bears have the right to be awake year round? Sleeping through added reproduction periods might be considered a denial of rights.

I hope the MDIFW knows what they are doing…er…uh…or something.

And who is paying these clowns and at what expense?

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Progress On Maine Bear Bill LD1118

WildWatchMaine (WWM), an obviously dishonest “animal advocate” organization that opposes any hunting, trapping, and fishing legislation, is once again appealing for your MONEY to fight LD1118, a proposed bill that would give the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) commissioner authority to manipulate bear hunting/trapping seasons as those adjustments become necessary (in the opinion of the commissioner) to meet management goals.

This is how WWM worded their appeal for money: “This is the bill we OPPOSE for many reasons, not the least of which is that it would EXTEND THE BEAR TRAPPING SEASON…to nearly 20 weeks.”

This is NOT what LD1118 would do if it should pass the Maine Legislature. LD1118 says, “The commissioner shall by rule establish a bear trapping season beginning no earlier than August 1st and ending no later than December 15th annually.”

Conveniently, and dishonestly in my opinion, left out of the WWM’s appeal for MONEY is the Part A and Part B of the bill proposal: “A. The commissioner may shorten the open season on bear trapping in any part of the State as long as: (1) The demarcation of the areas with a shortened season follows recognizable physical boundaries such as rivers and railroad rights-of-way; and
(2) The decision is made and published prior to February 1st of any year.
B. The commissioner may terminate the open season on bear trapping at any time in any part of the State if, in the commissioner’s opinion, an immediate emergency action is necessary due to adverse weather conditions or severe hunting or trapping pressure.”

Don’t be fooled by dishonest anti-hunting groups who are, first and foremost, after your MONEY, and secondly, whose only intention is to stop hunting and trapping. This bill DOES NOT lengthen the season on bear for hunting or trapping. What it does do is give authority to the MDIFW Commissioner to adjust the length of those seasons pursuant to the needs of established management goals.

Also don’t be fooled by this bill proposal in that this bill gives the authority to the commissioner to shut down all bear hunting, baiting, trapping, etc. at the discretion of that commissioner. Hmmmm!

It is vitally important to understand who and how we are being screwed over by Environmental groups and government. Support or oppose this bill as you wish but understand the truth before you do.

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Plotting Deer Harvest on Map Paints Different Picture

I was recently sent some information that originated on Troy Frye’s Facebook page. You can follow his link if you wish. I’ve taken a few minutes to shade an area of the Maine map that shows Wildlife Management Districts to better emphasize where all the deer are in Maine and where all the deer are being harvested. Along with the map, I will include some of the data that Frye compiled that paint an interesting picture of just how skewed the deer population is in Maine. (The maps are at the end.)

Frye’s data are compiled from the years 2014 – 2017 where he shows the greatest part of Maine’s deer harvest occurs in 9 of the 29 Wildlife Management Districts (WMDs) – 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25. These 9 WMDs comprise the southwest corner of the state as is depicted on the map below.

I should like to point out that this shaded area of the map also includes the most densely human populated section of Maine. However, even though the human population is heavier in this region, the data tell us that the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) issues 93% of all the “Any-Deer Permits” within this region – not because of the human population, we are told, but because of the deer population. (Are there more deer or more social conflicts?)

Here are some more interesting data that Frye provides:

82% of all “antlerless” deer are harvested in this region.

62% of all bucks harvested in the state are taken in this region.

68% of the total deer harvest is taken in this region.

And, in 2018, 95% of all the 84,745 (80,725) “Any-Deer Permits” allotted were issued for these 9 WMDs.

Looking at this from a geography stand point, it shows how deplete the majority of the state must be when it comes to deer population and harvest. Clearly, 3/4 of the state provides “OPPORTUNITY” to hunt deer but with slim chances of harvesting.

I would suppose that the way things are going, so long as the MDIFW blames all management failures on Climate Change, we should be hoping for more global warming in order to move that notorious “northern fringe” of the whitetail deer habitat further north. And once you buy into that, I’ve got a bridge in New York City I’m looking to sell.

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They Say It’s Mud Season…Somewhere

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Maine Bill Proposal Would Provide Authority to Commissioner to Manipulate Bear Hunting/Trapping Seasons and Bag Limits

Maine bill proposal LD 1118 is a provision that grants authority to the commissioner of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife power to set and manipulate bear hunting and trapping seasons according to the management needs Wildlife Management Districts (WMD). Contrary to the misleading information being spread around by some anti-hunting groups, LD 1118 is NOT a bill that necessarily lengthens a bear season nor does it necessarily increase the seasonal bag limit.

According to the WildWatch Maine FARCEbook page, they are misleading their readers by presenting information contained in this bill proposal that simply is not necessarily true. The information is being presented as though this bill establishes a bear hunting season that begins August 1st and ends December 31st. The actual bill proposal amendment reads: “The commissioner shall by rule establish a bear hunting season beginning no earlier than August 1st and ending no later than December 15th annually.” Nothing more…nothing less. This simply authorizes the MDIFW commissioner flexibility to be able to adjust seasons according to management needs established under the reigning commissioner’s administration – whatever those needs might be perceived as.

Absent from the hunting haters’ misrepresentation is that this new authority given the commissioner also hands over the power to control how, if, and when bait can be used for bear hunting. This authority provides the commissioner the means to end bear baiting. Think about that for a moment.

About the only thing the group relayed that was completely accurate is that the license fees for bear hunting would be reduced.

Some might automatically assume that hunters would be eager to support this bill proposal. Not necessarily. I personally think that the MDIFW should make changes to all hunting, trapping, and fishing rules and regulations as they become necessary for the proper scientific management and control of all game species. I am not keen on handing over a blank, signed check of authority to any commissioner. This may be giving this unelected official too much power and control over the legislative mandate to provide a harvestable resource.

It has always been my bone of contention that use of the term “opportunity” when it comes to hunting, trapping, and fishing is not much for giving anyone any sort of real assurance that there will ever be sufficient game to hunt or fish. It merely provides “opportunity.”

With power given to the MDIFW commissioner, in the wrong hands harvest may become a thing of the past with emphasis put more on opportunity.

Before you support or reject LD 1118, please take 10 minutes out of your life to read the proposal and try to think beyond the moment and consider possibilities and potential abuses that might happen. Remember also, you and I did NOT vote for the commissioner. Do you want that position to have that much power?

Maybe, or maybe not!

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