December 12, 2019

What Will Maine’s Hunter Task Force Recommend To Bring Hunters Back?

Reports are that the Nonresident Hunter Task Force will formally submit recommendations to the Joint Standing Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife on January 23, 2012. George Smith gives readers a glimpse into what he believes the Task Force’s recommendations will be.

In brief those recommendations or perhaps what they will NOT recommend, might look like this:

1. Will NOT recommend Sunday hunting.
2. Recommend to allow nonresident hunters to hunt on residents only day. (What will we name that day?)
3. Recommend a more equitable means of distributing Any-Deer Permits and Moose Lottery Permits.
4. Recommend better and/or different marketing strategies to bring hunters to the state to hunt turkeys, upland birds, ducks and rabbits.

Missing from Smith’s report and presumably missing from any recommendations we can expect by this task force, is increased efforts to control predators that are seriously limiting hunting opportunities for deer. As I’ve written many times before, the overwhelming majority of hunting licenses sold in Maine are to hunt deer. While it’s a good recommendation to market Maine’s other hunting opportunities, Maine is only kidding itself if they think they can somehow replace lost license revenue by promoting bunny hunting (isn’t killing bunnies competing directly with the “threatened” lynx population whose main diet is bunnies?).

Even an obligatory and cursory mention that the Task Force recognizes the need to grow whitetail deer would at least acknowledge they do see this as a problem. However, reading and studying the minutes of the Task Force meetings, the objective appeared to be to ignore that problem and concentrate on trying to hide it from potential or past nonresident hunting license holders.

As Smith points out, “most of the recommendations can (unfortunately) be placed in the category of wishful thinking”, does this then show what a waste of time and effort it all was? Can we collectively compute all the accomplishments of the numerous “task forces” the Maine Government has assembled to “solve” fish and game problems and fit them with room to spare into a sewing thimble? Perhaps another task force to determine if previous task forces have been productive?

Government in action!


Photo Editorial by Richard Paradis

Tom Remington

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83 Less Deer Killers in Maine

COYOTES – Sent in by David Miller

Last year about this time five members of the Carrabassett Valley Trappers reported in an article that the five had trapped and tagged 70 some coyotes. They had taken the coyotes in the early canine season in late October of 2010. This effort helped to reduce damage to livestock and wildlife (deer in particular).

This last year’s (2011) take during the same time frame resulted in the five individuals tagging 83. The period trapped is the special canine season that runs two weeks before the general trapping season and deer hunting season. The five trappers in the photograph are left to right Dave Miller, Gordon Blauvelt, Matt Landry, Steve Rankin, and Jerry LeBeau.

With approximately 2000 licensed trappers in the state, if each caught just 5 apiece, the benefits to our deer herd would be tremendous. With the current condition of the deer herds in western, northern, and down east Maine recovery is about impossible with the current level of predators. These predators that prey on deer size mammals include bears, bobcats, and coyotes; with coyotes being the most prevalent and damaging. At present, the deer numbers are so low that with the level of current predation deer recovery is impossible. This is because the number born and surviving to adulthood is less than that taken annually by the predators.

Trappers, hounds men, and hunters together with effort can reduce the predation by coyotes to a level where recovery is possible along with proper deer wintering area management and the lack of back to back bad winters. The loss of our deer herd has resulted in a tremendous impact to our states economy and in particular that of rural Maine. Deer hunting alone was a multi-million dollar business to the state. In recent years we have seen a great reduction in the number of out of state hunters. The majority of those same hunters (at their own admission) now go to New York, Pennsylvania and other destinations to hunt. They say, why hunt in Maine when there are so few or in some areas no deer anymore.

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In Maine, Black Bears Still About in Mid January

I have been reporting this week of several field reports in Maine as to what is happening. Just this morning I finished posting a report of a coyote(s) chasing a deer and it was captured on a trail camera.

In a completely separate report, by a completely different person, on opposite ends of the state, comes word that bears are still out and about, or at least can be easily roused. Are these creatures not hibernating this winter?

Albert Ladd, from the Western part of Maine, sends me information that he, “Put bait out for coyotes a few days back”. Upon checking his bait pile he discovered that the bait was gone. Ladd says, “I walked out and found out it was dragged into the woods by a small bear.” (See photos below)

Ladd also surmised that being that his bait pile was near a “lot of rock and ledge”, the bear’s den is someplace not so far away. Perhaps the bear, not being snowed under in his den of hibernation, caught wind of the scent from the bait pile and he couldn’t resist.

While part of the contents of the bait pile was leftover bear parts, Ladd referred to the bear as a “cannibal”.


Photo by Al Ladd


Photo by Al Ladd

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In Maine, Coyotes Chasing Deer

I’m receiving some interesting reports from around Maine now that we are into the winter season. Yesterday I posted a field report of a buck that had been killed and eaten by coyotes. From the same person, today I have pictures taken from a trail camera that shows a coyote in hot pursuit of a deer.

According to the report, a trail camera is set up “on two of the major trails deer use to migrate”. The individual filing this report states that they have set up on these same trails for “a few years” and that this year, “the number of deer that have traveled by the cameras is about half of what passed last year”.

Being that last year was an extremely poor year for deer, hearing this kind of reporting from the field is very troubling. I have also been hearing reports that there were more mature bucks taken this year. To some – trophy hunters – they find this encouraging. I find in concerning in that if large buck kill was up and the overall harvest was down or the same low rate as last year, perhaps we need to be paying close attention to what’s happening to the age structure of the herd. This might indicate the recruitment of new deer to the herd is very, very low.

However, the perpetuated myth continues that coyotes only bother deer in winter yards when there is a lot of snow. So far in Maine, there is essentially no snow and in those places that have snow, it’s not very much. Even with no snow, in the past two days I’ve been able to file field reports of coyotes chasing and killing deer.

Below are the two photos taken in sequence from one trail camera from the same location. The first picture shows a deer running (assumed because of the blur of the photograph), followed by the second photo of a coyote coming along the same trail moments later. I think the conclusion as to what the coyote is up to is obvious.

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Even With No Snow, Coyotes Killing Maine’s Deer

This morning a received in my email another account of coyotes killing deer in Maine. The report says:

Found this coyote killed buck today, He had already shed his horns, I judge his size as a 200 lb. deer. While I was up another stream setting a beaver house three coyotes had chased another one across the stream twice, I’m sure they are eating on that one tonight. The coyote sign is the heaviest I’ve ever seen it. SO SAD TO LIVE IN A STATE THAT WAS SO FAMOUS FOR IT’S NATURAL RESOURCES, NOW WE LIVE IN A STATE WITH THE MOST INCOMPETENT FISH AND WILDLIFE DEPT. OF ANY STATE IN THE COUNTRY.

While I understand this person’s frustrations with the incompetence he perceives from the fish and wildlife department, I can assure him Maine has some real stiff competition for that recognition.

Tom Remington

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Letter From a Little Girl in Idaho About Wolves

*Editor’s Note* This photo image of a letter was sent to Steve Alder of Idaho for Wildlife. The letter was addressed to him from a young girl living in Kamiah, Idaho. She asks Mr. Alder for help.


You may need to click on the photo to be able to enlarge it. First click the photo and you will be taken to a landing page. Click the photo again to enlarge.

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Idaho Fish and Game: Contempt, Corruption, Collusion, or Just Outright Incompetence?

A guest blog by Barry Coe –

Having been born and raised in Idaho and as a lifelong sportsman of this state, I have had many issues with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) over the years. I have witnessed their actions on several issues that have directly lead to diminished fish and wildlife, and diminished sporting opportunities. In attempting to be involved and to protect our culture and interests, I have had one very consistent attitude and response from the agency that has become very proficient at taking whatever position they seem to think will best further their own agenda. That attitude is pure and raw contempt. And no other issue has exposed and proven this contempt more than the Canadian wolf introduction has.

IDFG has attempted to take the ‘we hold no blame’ position concerning wolves in this state. I feel it has been well proven that they, in fact, hold a large percentage of blame. A prior director actually wrote support letters to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and drafted an illegal permit that allowed the Canadian wolves to be dumped into this state in a blaring contempt for Idaho state code. It was so contemptuous that the Idaho state legislature actually reacted to the action, although they failed to implement accountability. Yet those were the days before the Internet and the ability to transfer information quickly and thoroughly throughout the population. Those were the days of running under the radar and outright collusion between state and federal agencies. There is little doubt in my mind, and I suspect anyone with more than a cursory knowledge of this issue would agree, that outright collusion between IDFG and the USFWS did, and continue, to take place. Wolves, grizzly bears, soon to be wolverines and all other claimed endangered species are a vast source of federal dollars and we all know, IDFG loves nothing like they love the federal dollar.

In a recent article, Jim (salt shaker) Hayden (IDFG Panhandle Regional Wildlife Manager) made yet another revealing comment. In this interview “Salt Shaker” Hayden seemed surprised that about 50% of the wolves harvested in this current wolf season have come from areas that IDFG didn’t even know contained wolves. Now, on the surface this comment may seem unimportant, yet when one considers the past 16 years, it’s importance is almost undefinable.

I have to ask this question of Mr. Hayden. Just exactly how can you manage a declining elk population when you obviously have no concept of the level of predation impacting those elk?

For years IDFG took the politically correct avenue of clinging onto the obviously and intentionally low official numbers of wolves. As hunters and outdoorsmen screamed from the rafters that those numbers were so far off it was incredible, IDFG turned a blind eye and a deaf ear. After all, the federal bucks were rolling in and the hunters were still buying licenses and tags. All was well and good at IDFG. Biologists were being hired (most directly out of the wolf introduction program) and the rumblings were contained to a small population of people who never knew how to get the truth out, especially in the face of IDFG and green eco-groups. The old tactic of ignoring and marginalizing was rolling along just fine.

It was only in the last year or two that IDFG was forced to admit that, ‘well, golly, okay, so our wolf population is around 1000 wolves’. Again the sportsmen and sportswomen of Idaho claimed that number was also an intentional down playing of the actual number of wolves in Idaho. As we witnessed the great elk herds disappear from first hand observation, IDFG still clung to the deceit that all was fine. They twisted a few numbers here, changed a few “objectives” there, rewrote a few algorithms, adjusted some seasons and continued to play both sides of the fence. After all, this has always been the status quo for this department. The level of contempt IDFG obviously has for anyone outside of the department or the federal system is amazingly apparent.

Wolf math just is not that hard. They breed like rabbits, yet have no predators. The lie just became too hard to cover up anymore and so, the science changed – I use science here with my tongue stuffed soundly into my cheek. For a decade we had manipulated science stuffed down our throats that exonerated their revenue generating wolves from any cause of any problem we were experiencing anywhere in the state they inhabited. When it became obvious that the truth was coming out, and that delisting was imminent, in spite of the department’s best efforts to keep them listed, and even drafting and submitting an illegal wolf management plan, they decided to flip over. In typical IDFG fashion, the wolves were now the cause of it all! Boy, aren’t we happy that they finally have seen the light! After all we have been telling them this for 10 years.

But, they now face a wiser and more connected sportspeople. We’re not buying it and they know it. We are now very informed and politically connected; we have communication outlets and media connections. But again, in true IDFG fashion, they have decided to try another avenue to generate their revenue. They want nothing worse than to have the hunters of this state out of the equation. We no longer forget past actions or play in the manner they want us to, paying more for less. They now turn to the tactic of pandering and collusion.

In what seems on the surface to be a politically correct action of seeking information concerning wildlife management in the state of Idaho, they have committed a few obvious mistakes that exposed their true intention. Their highly publicized ‘Summit’ was rolled out as that meeting. Conducted DURING hunting season, and with invitations extended to several anti-hunting, eco-green groups, and a group of actual past and present IDFG employees, IDFG now wants input on wildlife management. And, they want that input from everyone that doesn’t pay for it or expect the department to do anything other than perpetuate predators and sustain their job at all costs.

Rumor has it that this little summit has caused a rift in the ranks. It seems to have been generated right from the new director Virgil Moore; or at least that is where all the fingers are pointing. It seems that this long-time employee of IDFG, and new director, is attempting to return to the status quo of ignore and move forward. Instead of moving in the direction of attempting to get out from under the wolf issue, he now seems to want to change gears and get back in bed with the green, wildlands agenda, and he wants their money. Public input on management? How quaint! If only it didn’t reek of corruption, contempt and collusion. If, in fact, this is the brain child of Mr. Moore, he just flatly needs to go; it is far past time to get a director that is not a long time member of the IDFG’s good old boys club. We have flatly had enough! I suspect if our legislature is not willing to overhaul this department, the time has come to turn to the citizen and the ballot box. We have one very powerful tool at our disposal; initiatives, which are binding if passed and can be used to circumvent a lack of appropriate action by those in government. They do have the ability to change this department in ways that will both form the department in a manner the citizens of Idaho want and to also bring accountability to this long-time rogue department. The good old boys club must be dismantled.

Actual wolf numbers? Let’s return to Jim “Salt Shaker” Hayden for a few moments. I have heard sportsmen and women, who spend an immense amount of time in the outdoors, claim the wolf numbers in Idaho are at least double what IDFG claims. It now seems “Salt Shaker” Hayden has validated those claims. And in that claim, his statement speaks volumes. It is very sad that a department that is charged with the management of Idaho’s wildlife have failed so miserably, and stayed the course of ignoring sportspeople to the extent they have. There are but a few explanations for this miserable failure: Corruption, Collusion or outright incompetence. I will leave it to you to decide which it is or how much longer you are going to stand for it.

Barry Coe
Save Western Wildlife

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Finding Wolves Where Wolves Weren’t Thought to Be

Imagine that? For years now, outdoor sportsmen in Idaho have been pounding on the heads of officials at the Department of Fish and Game telling them there are a lot more wolves than the department thinks there are and they are in places IDFG believes they don’t exist.

On Wednesday, January 4, 2012, in a radio interview on KUOW.org website, Jim Hayden, the regional manager for IDFG in the Panhandle region is said to have claimed:

Though Hayden thinks the biggest reason for hunters’ success is -– more wolves. He says at least half the wolves hunters have brought in came from areas Fish and Game didn’t know had wolf packs.

Hayden evidently was making this claim when being questioned about why he thought wolf hunters and trappers had already killed more wolves during this season than the one held in 2009.

What an epiphany!!

Tom Remington

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WGL Delisting of Wolves Complex and Left Open For Failure

What some consider the world’s most difficult puzzles to solve, are those where large written documents are essentially shredded and the participants must put all the shredded pieces back together again. The Department of Interior’s third stab at removing gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes (WGL) Distinct Population Segment (DPS) from federal protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), while not capable of standing up to the world’s most complicated puzzles, appears to be much more complicated than it needs to be, leaving me wondering if this is the intent in order to leave room for costly and time consuming lawsuits. Sigh!

During the last attempt to delist wolves, a lawsuit, Humane Society of the United States v. Kempthorne, was awarded to the plaintiffs that failed at removing gray wolves from federal protection. Judge Paul Friedman ruled that he was going to place protection of the wolves back under the ESA until such time as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), i.e. Department of Interior, could show how they had the legal authority to create a Distinct Population Segment of gray wolves, or any other species, for the purpose of delisting that same species.

Shortly after that ruling, I wrote that Friedman’s decision was not at all based on scientific evidence and that the Judge had no legitimate reason to return wolves to protection other than the fact that as a judge, he could.

For what it’s worth, the Solicitor for the Department of Interior, on December 12, 2008, issued an official opinion as to how the USFWS has authority under the ESA to create a DPS in order to delist a species.

In the most recent proposal to delist wolves, the USFWS briefly explains their authority:

Our authority to make these determinations and to revise the list accordingly is a reasonable interpretation of the language of the Act, and our ability to do so is an important component of the Service’s program for the conservation of threatened and endangered species. Our authority to revise the existing listing of a species (the gray wolf in Minnesota and the gray wolf in the lower 48 States and Mexico, excluding Minnesota) to identify a Western Great Lakes DPS and determine that it is healthy enough that it no longer needs the Act’s protections is found in the precise language of the Act. Moreover, even if that authority were not clear, our interpretation of this authority to make determinations under section 4(a)(1) and to revise the endangered and threatened species list to reflect those determinations under section 4(c)(1) is reasonable and fully consistent with the Act’s text, structure, legislative history, relevant judicial interpretations, and policy objectives.

The information presented to support the USFWS’ authority to create a DPS for the purpose of delisting a species within that DPS is not new information. The same information existed in 2008 and yet somehow the USFWS in Humane Society of the United States v. Kempthorne, couldn’t sufficiently explain to Judge Paul Friedman where it got it’s authority; another example of ineptitude or corruption in representing the people in the court of law.

This is but one issue that could possibly derail an attempt to delist gray wolves. If lawsuits, which are as sure to happen as the sun rising in the morning, are intended to stop the delisting, will the explanations given in this proposal satisfy Judge Friedman’s query as to where USFWS gets its authority?

Unfortunately, this proposal to delist is further complicated by adding to it a determination by the USFWS not to recognize another species of wolf cohabiting in the same DPS. Why was it necessary to do this? Why couldn’t the USFWS made a separate announcement or proposal that it did not feel that sufficient scientific evidence existed to determine the existence of another species of wolf(eastern wolf)?

As complex as proposals to delist a species can get, why would the USFWS choose to clutter up this delisting with information pertaining to separate petitions? Efforts like this leave people like me wondering if the real intention of the USFWS is to derail the delisting for personal agendas, etc.

While I and others place our attention of things like whether the USFWS has sufficiently satisfied the courts to explain their authority to create DPS’s for delisting, and whether or not a proposal cluttered with explanations aimed at nefarious petitions and claims of the existence of a brand new species of wolf, in the end all that will matter is what one judge thinks.

Sportsmen in the WGL region shouldn’t spend too much time just yet honing their wolf hunting and trapping skills.

Tom Remington

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Wolves in Maine – Part VI – (Did Wolves Leave Maine and Why?)

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI

In the book “Early Maine Wildlife” – Historical Accounts of Canada lynx, Moose, Mountain Lion, White-Tailed Deer, Wolverine, Wolves, and Woodland Caribou, 1603 – 1930 – by William B. Krohn and Christopher L. Hoving, as the reader progresses through the chronological order in which the book was laid out, a few things become clear in the debate about game animals and predators during this time frame.

For instance, in recent times I have heard information being passed about by biologists within the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and others, that whitetail deer never were abundant in the northern part of the state and that moose and deer did not and could not survive together. In this claim some have said that when the deer moved north, the moose disappeared and/or when the moose were plentiful through the state, the deer were not. Accounts recorded in this book do not show that to be the case at all in my opinion when considering all written accounts. In actuality all three species of moose, deer and woodland caribou existed throughout the state together, at times very plentiful and other times not.

What does become apparent is that the proclivity of more or less game animals, i.e. caribou, moose and deer, was all dependent on the presence of wolves. What remains unsettled is when, if ever, did wolves leave the state of Maine and what was the reason for their exodus?

Most accounts in this book seem to agree that widespread and numerous packs of wolves in Maine had disappeared by the 1860s – 1870s, even though there are accounts of wolf encounters by people into the early 1900s. As is typical even to this day, hunters and trappers reported seeing wolf tracks many times and yet the continuing presence of wolves would not be acknowledged unless someone killed one and brought it out of the woods.

As an example, appearing in the Maine Sportsman, of an account in 1899, an anonymous writer says, “Thaddeus Coffron of Grand Lake Stream, claims to have seen two large gray wolves not long since on Big Lake near the mouth of Little Musquash stream. He walked up within a few yards of them, being armed only with an axe. Their tracks had been frequently seen in the vicinity previously.”

But as appears in “Forest and Stream”, we read this, “Again there are reports of wolves in Maine with their tracks followed by old wolf hunters, who ‘could not be mistaken.’ They do not bring out the trophies, however, and until they do the ordinary individual is inclined to regard their stories in the same light as that of the well-read fable.”

According to the editor of Shooting and Fishing in 1920 the last officially recorded wolf kill happened in Andover. “The report of the State Treasurer of Maine for 1895 shows that there was one wolf killed in the state during that year, for which a bounty was paid. This single specimen was killed in Andover, and is said to be the only wolf killed in Maine for many years.”

The editor further accounts that even though there may be a stray wolf killed sometime into the future, his “trustworthy sources” believe the wolf is “practically extinct” in New England.

What we don’t know for certain is why the wolf became “extinct” or “practically extinct” in Maine and New England. We have been led for decades to believe that the wolves were all shot, trapped or poisoned by man. Accounts in the book don’t seem to readily agree with this hypothesis nor does it that the caribou were killed off due to uncontrolled hunting.

As was recorded in the Maine Sportsman for the year 1900, a man who worked as a log scaler in the Penobscot region and traveled by foot as far away as 60 miles between lumber camps tells of his observations. “During the whole winter we saw no deer and but few moose, the entire absence of deer being due to the wolves with which the woods were overrun. Caribou we saw everywhere and I plainly remember that one day, coming out upon them trailing along in single file was a herd of 17 caribou.”

However, the scaler’s recall of what was once is soon become reality as he wonders where the caribou went. According to several writings in this book, deer, moose and caribou had once been reduced drastically, probably from a combination of predators and uncontrolled hunting. When the wolves disappeared, the deer and moose recovered and caribou for a time before it is believed, for whatever reasons, they just migrated out of the state. Perhaps they were simply tired of being harassed by predators, including man.

F. E. Keay writes in 1901 that wolves were the “most dreaded” of wild animals and that by their nature were found to be “ferocious and cunning” and did “incalculable” damage to livestock. In dealing with these large predators, Keay describes the effort this way: “They traveled in companies, sometimes of ten or twenty, and were caught or killed only with great difficulty.”

As I have pointed out in other parts of this review of wolves in Maine, the majority of reports all seem to agree that wolves were quite prevalent in Maine until around the year 1860, in which most also agree the wolf simply left the state with the exception of pockets of areas where some packs remained. While it is inarguable that the efforts of hunters and trappers, in conjunction with bounties being paid over 130 years and more, a sizable dent was put in Maine’s wolf population but evidence from these accounts can support the notion that this was not the cause of the final “extinction” of wolves in Maine.

While some accounts in this book of “Early Maine Wildlife” say that wolves for the most part left on their own, coinciding with a time in which many accounts tell of very little game, i.e. moose, deer and caribou, this would support the theory that large predators, like the wolf, will move into an area and essentially devoid it of prey and then move on. We seem to see that here, although several wolves and packs remained behind until the late 1800s when “trustworthy sources” declared the wolf “practically extinct”.

In having a better grasp of more recent coyote/wolf history in Maine, we discovered that it was not long after the wolf had become “practically extinct” that what was called the eastern coyote began populating the region. I recall in the 1960s seeing a stuffed eastern coyote that had been killed in Maine. This version of coyote was approximately 30 pounds in weight. This is a far cry from the more abundant sizes of coyotes now present in Maine, commonly reaching 50 -70 pounds in size.

It has been determined that what roams today’s forests in Maine and are commonly referred to as coyotes, are actually some concocted conglomeration of mixed breeds of wolf, coyotes, and domestic dog. It became common knowledge after the influx of eastern coyote into Maine that this varmint, perhaps because of a very small migrating population, interbred with “wild” dogs or domesticated dogs left to run unrestrained. No one is sure of how the wolf mix got into these animals.

It has been theorized that what was once called the gray wolf in Eastern Quebec, Canada, began migrating or random scatterings of these wolves, entered northern Maine and as such resulted in the inbreeding of the already inbred coyote/dog.

Considering the evidence provided in “Early Maine Wildlife” one has to honestly consider that given the relatively short period of time from when “trustworthy sources” declared the wolf in Maine “practically extinct”, that some of those earlier wolves remained behind and began breeding with the migrating coyotes.

It would be intellectually dishonest not to consider all the facts in educating ourselves to the changes of wildlife, including predators and large game animals and use them to better be able to effectively manage these species. It is reasonable to consider that man’s efforts to eradicate, – and make no bones about it, that was their intent – was not wholly what drove wolves out of Maine. If this is the case, then it would be beneficial to gain facts and knowledge to understand what events total caused this to happen.

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