November 17, 2019

Maine’s New Commissioner Intends to Recruit New Hunters, Anglers

In a Sun Journal article about Maine’s new commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (sorry, at this time the link in Google search is no good. Perhaps at a later time if you search “Meet the New Wildlife Boss: Judy Camuso” you will have better luck.), it is stated about Camuso that, “Her top goals are to recruit new people into the agency with the “Citizen Science Program,” recruit more hunters and anglers, and improve communication with the public about how they can participate in outdoor programs.” (emboldening added)

According to the latest report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the number of hunters and fishermen has seriously declined. From a high of 14.1 million hunters nationwide, that number is now down to 11.1 million.

According to this latest survey and previous ones, some of the major factors that have caused a drop in participation are, land access reductions, available time to hunt and fish, and opposition from environmentalists who oppose hunting and fishing.

I should like to take a moment and point out that although the same survey shows an increase in “wildlife watching” the numbers are misleading if not downright dishonest. Let me simply state that any hunter or fisherman is automatically labeled as a wildlife watcher whether that was their intent or not. So the numbers presented are not an exact representation of the number of people who purposely set out to “wildlife watch.”

If it is a top priority of Commissioner Camuso to recruit more hunters and fishermen, she has a monumental task before her. It has often been stated that although there may be somewhere around 10% of the nationwide population who hunt and fish, an overwhelming majority of people support hunting and fishing as part of a viable wildlife management program. Sadly, that support is dwindling.

One has to wonder what, exactly, can Camuso do to recruit sportsmen, when so many things are now stacked against such an attempt.

If land access is a big wall of prevention, what can the commissioner do to convince land owners to “tear down that wall?” Are there incentives worth pursuing that would prompt a landowner to offer access to their land for hunting and fishing? Some have tried. Few have succeeded. Are there fresh, new approaches to this dilemma? Maybe she has ideas that will work. Let’s hope.

I’m not sure how a wildlife commissioner would approach the problem of sportsmen claiming they don’t have time to hunt and fish like they used to or would like to. Economics is the driver of many things and when a person has to work to make ends meet, how do you convince them that they need to take the time off work to hunt and/or fish?

Perhaps the lack of motivation to take some time off is prompted by lousy hunting and fishing as well as a tiring of the opposition Maine has faced often in recent years from environmentalists and animal rights activists willing to spend millions of dollars to put an end to hunting and fishing. This all tends to spell more doom than encourage more participation.

Which brings me to the third part in this discussion. It would seem to me that if Maine could do a better job at providing bountiful game populations, mainly deer, recruiting would be easier. Deer hunting is really the cash cow but you wouldn’t know if from past management practices and the politics behind them. However, try as they may, the deck is stacked against such an approach.

With the exception of deer, Maine has an abundant bear population that needs to be better controlled. The turkey population is near out of control, judging by the number of landowner complaints and the visual of seeing turkeys overrunning peoples’ property. Moose have always been a favorite of both hunters and wildlife watchers, but managers don’t seem to understand the balance between a healthy moose population, void of deadly winter ticks, and the cash cow that comes from a moose lottery and moose gawking.

So generally speaking, Maine has an abundance of bear, turkey, and moose and yet there is a need for hunters to take this game but few are willing. Why? I hope Camuso has some answers. History shows us that public support is lost when that public sees these valuable game species as nothing but nuisances.

It would seem plausible to me that with so much game (not considering the deer) that’s one deterrent not missing and that the Department should be doing more to get hunters in pursuit. So far nothing has worked. Does Camuso have something up her sleeves? Let’s hope so.

I believe the biggest obstacle is the opposition that exists in this modern culture that have their ideas about animals out of skew. This includes some of the employees at MDIFW. While this opposition may not be that large in numbers – but those numbers are growing – they are well-funded and very vocal. Ongoing threats of lawsuits dampens the courage of any new commissioner regardless of their intentions.

Note: Camuso mentions that several in her department will be retiring and she will have jobs to fill. If she is serious about recruiting, she should make sure those that are hired are not environmental activists anchored in animal rights; that they are believers in the North American Model of Wildlife Management and that hunting, fishing, and trapping are integral and necessary parts of the management policy. It’s time to weed out those more interested in the rights of animals and their protection against hunting and fishing.

How do you curb these threats of lawsuits and do what you know is the right and scientific thing in a wildlife management plan?

The Maine Legislature stopped a recent bill that would have provided hunters with a chance to hunt bear in the Spring. When will the MDIFW stop caving in to the demands (always, always, always) of the Maine Guides Association and do what is scientifically right instead of what is politically best? And while I’m on this discussion, when will MDIFW stop attempting to responsibly manage wildlife when all decisions are too heavily influenced by social demands void of sound science?

Judy Camuso probably has great intentions when she says she wants to recruit more hunters and fishermen. If she is sincere about this and determined enough, there has to first be management changes within the department. Is she prepared to do that? Can she? Maybe?

During the latest anti-bear referendum, we got to see Camuso in action, working for the MDIFW, convincing the Maine population that baiting bear was a necessary part of bear management. It was a great job done and perhaps the one act in many years that gave hunters hope that proper and necessary management took a front seat to the demands of environmentalism. That act probably did more to save, or perhaps recruit, more hunters than anything else the department has done in many years.

Is there more where that came from? Was Judy Camuso’s actions at that time driven by her own perspective of things or was she just following orders from then commissioner Chandler Woodcock? I think we are going to find out…or at least I hope so and the sooner the better.

The new commissioner should take immediate action to save the hunters and anglers Maine already has and then head down that road that will actually recruit more of them.

A monumental task and good luck.

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Maine Leg. Committee Up and Down of Bill Votes

I recently wrote of the Maine Legislative Joint Standing Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s unanimous vote of “ought not to pass” on a bill that would have allowed for a Spring bear hunt. The JSC has been up to more tricks.

In a bill (LD27) that will allow the use of crossbows during the bowhunting season on deer was unanimously approved. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s (MDIFW) commissioner, Judy Camuso, argued in favor of the crossbow use and even supported its use for turkey hunting. The JSC did not vote on such a move.

LD 79 is a bill that would grandfather any shooting range that existed before a recent bill banning shooting ranges within 100 yards of any building. The JSC was unanimous in its recommendation to pass.

A bill (LD 490) to expand the trapping season up to 21 days also passed the committee, while a bill (LD 525) to raise the registration fee for snowmobiles failed.

Next week the committee will vote on a brand new proposal from the Humane Society of the United States that would require all female bears to report to MDIFW headquarters in Augusta to receive the yearly supply of birth control pills. Bears wishing to avoid ingestion of chemicals can option for an IUD. (This is a joke. Ha Ha)

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Brainwashing the Cause of Loss of Youth Hunters

This morning I was reading an article in the Portland (Maine) Press Herald about the woes of the loss of youth to the activity of hunting, specifically the reduction of license sales.

Bills are being proposed to mitigate some of that loss including increasing the Youth Hunting Day from one to three days and one bill proposed to create a turkey hunting season for youth around Thanksgiving. Maybe more effort should be given to coordinate hunting seasons for youth that line up with school vacations and/teacher workshop days.

It seems that these proposed bills are coming from young people who already enjoy hunting and are looking for more opportunities designed exclusively for youth hunters under the age of 16. Not that these proposals and ideas are bad, but are such acts targeting the non hunters? I don’t think so.

To interest a new, let’s say Middle School-aged person, to hunt, shouldn’t we at least be attempting to devise ways of generating interest where there is none?

If you might agree that there is no interest and nothing being done to change that dilemma, then the question might become why can’t this be done?

I think the explanation is quite simple. It’s because our schools, media, etc. have successfully brainwashed the masses to view animals as creatures of intelligence, feelings, love, and should be bestowed the same rights, or more, as humans. When you combine this with a fish and wildlife department trained in the same indoctrination factories, what hope is there?

Yes, there is no doubting that the youth of today sometimes more resemble zombies with their noses pressed firmly to anything electronic. This is by design. What better way to control the future of our world than to completely manipulate the minds of the youth through music, cellphones, and all electronic gadgets that have been designed to target and control?

Efforts underway to recruit more youth hunters might collect a stray here and there but until such time as we put a stop to the ongoing indoctrination and brainwashing of our children, nothing will get better and much will get worse.

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Advice and Suggestions to the Maine Department of Fish and Wildlife

A reader sent me a copy of the Maine Sportsman, specifically George Smith’s article about his “advise” to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW). After reading it, I thought perhaps I would offer something similar. Sometimes I am accused of being only critical of the MDIFW seldom offering constructive criticism or even suggestions on better or different ways in which to do things.

Smith writes of the need to “unlock that door” that prohibits visitors access to the commissioner of the MDFIW. I understand the concept and how convenient it would be to just “drop in” someday and chat with the commissioner. I would like to think that the real situation playing at the offices of the MDIFW has more to do with security than a want to lock themselves up and separate them from the public. I might be wrong. We do live in a strange time in which most people are always aware and subjected to enhanced security measures.

TURKEYS

George writes about what he would do about turkey management and the role that hunting plays in that management. For the most part I think he brings up some good points, i.e. too many turkeys, too few hunters, and the barrier of license fees that prohibit more people from trying or getting involved in turkey hunting and harvesting a turkey that would aide the MDIFW with their management goals.

Originally, I had thought that Smith’s idea of including turkey hunting as part of a Big Game Hunting License wouldn’t fly because the MDIFW would not be willing to give up that revenue from turkey license fees. Is there a trade-off here? Will somehow opening up the turkey season to reduced cost (and loss of fees to MDIFW) be made up in other ways? Perhaps.

I think that consensus must be reached as to whether there are too many turkeys and how critical it is that turkey populations be reduced. If, more people gained interest in turkey hunting, perhaps down the road, as populations came more in line with management goals, turkey license fees could be levied again. If a reduction in the number of turkeys is urgently needed, and I think if we haven’t gotten there yet we soon will, then the MDIFW must do what is expedient to make the reductions in numbers necessary to be responsible for the healthy management of these game birds.

FISHERIES

Fisheries is far from my strong point and knowledge base. I am not at all that qualified to offer the MDIFW advice on how to specifically manage the fisheries in the State of Maine. How fortunate for some.

MOOSE

Odd isn’t it, in many ways, that some are opposed to the reduction of moose populations to mitigate the winter ticks’ destruction of the moose herd but think nothing about advocating the complete destruction of a herd of deer to get rid of Lyme disease. Perhaps if more evidence pointed a finger at the health risk to humans from the winter tick, mindsets might change.

I have written extensively on Maine’s moose and what I believe to be the need to bring the moose population in Maine to levels that seriously reduce the presence and perpetuation of winter ticks that are inhumanely and unnecessarily causing moose to suffer and die during long and cold winters.

Smith laments about the loss of businesses associated with moose watching now that Mother Nature took over where wildlife management failed. During the heyday of the overgrown moose populations, some scrambled and took advantage, as any good entrepreneur might do, looking for ways to exploit the abundant moose for profit. It might have been fun while it lasted but the lesson that should be learned here might be at what price do we exploit any wildlife animal for lucre? As grown adults we should see that having enough moose around that many got into the business of moose watching tours was but a flash in that pan. Time to move on. We have learned that attempting to grow moose in numbers for capitalistic enterprises is a terrible thing to do to the animal – part of the downside of attempting to manage any species while being driven by social demands.

More recent studies are suggesting what some of us knew a long time ago – that too many moose was the cause of the aggressive expanse of winter ticks resulting in high mortality rates on the large beast.

The MDIFW should move quickly to determine at what population Maine’s moose will be most healthy while still providing opportunities for Maine residents to harvest a moose and fill their freezers.

I suggest that the MDIFW, once establishing moose populations, based on sound science and not social demands, issue enough permits or a long enough season to bring the population under a control that reduces the tick infestation. Once that is accomplished, permit for the future can be issued accordingly. Letting Mother Nature do the job is not only irresponsible but is a waste of a terrific natural resource.

DEER

Smith tells readers that the MDIFW stopped managing deer in northern Maine and only “manages” moose. I don’t know if this is actually an official position taken by the MDIFW, but it appears there is at least quite a bit of evidence to support that statement.

Smith claims that because Maine failed to protect winter habitat in Northern and Western Maine, the deer herd “was lost.” I concur the deer herd was lost but I think it had other influences than just a loss of habitat. A lot of things have changed over the years, one thing being the behavior of the deer. While deer are learning how to adapt to that loss of winter habitat, we humans remain locked in our unadaptable behavior of insisting on things being the way they were when our fathers hunted the whitetails.

Each time I have listened to the worn out excuse that deer have disappeared because of loss of winter habitat, I have always asked why, if that is true, thousands of acres of old winter habitat, still in winter habitat condition, is void of deer? Never an answer.

Loss of winter habitat in the classical sense, can and does have an effect on the deer population. Attempting to somehow “manage” deer to return to unwanted winter habitat, is an example of managers failing to learn and adjust to changes of the deer population and their habits. When we see this failure, one can’t help but wonder how much we can rely on the deer managers “estimate” of deer populations and other management shortcomings.

We failed to learn quickly enough that attempting to manage moose populations at high enough levels that tourism benefitted, the moose herd suffered terribly due to exposure and anemia from blood sucking winter ticks. Deer populations are suffering but perhaps in different ways because the ecosystem in which they have traditionally comfortably inhabited have and are changing. The deer are adapting as best they can but our management tactics are not. Evidently the preference is to give up.

Too many moose compete with deer. Too many large predators kill deer and fawns and this is challenging the stability of the deer population and in some places we are witnessing the unsustainability of a deer herd. Are we to just blame it on loss of winter habitat and Climate Change or should we be responsible stewards of our wild game animals?

If we are to mitigate the cause for the lack of deer in portions of Northern and Western Maine, isn’t the responsible thing to do is to reduce the bear and coyote populations to give the deer a chance? If we simply stop deer management because loss of habitat and Climate Change is the excuse, what then can we expect of all of our game and wildlife species going forward?

Managers have a responsibility to care for all of these game species. Giving up on one species in certain areas, tells me that there is lack of knowledge and poor management skills involved. The epitome of wildlife management failures is giving in to some man’s fictitious notion that the globe is warming and the northern border of the whitetail deer’s habitat is moving south, while our neighbors to the north continue to work at managing their deer. If Climate Change is causing such chaos that is forcing the destruction of habitat for deer, then it makes sense that other more northern species are migrating south according to the changes. Is this happening? No. A warming climate, as claimed, should be reducing the affects of severe winters. Is that happening? No.

There’s little more that managers can do to stop the perceived reduction of winter habit and deer habitat in general short of demanding more totalitarian tactics to take property and property rights away from people and corporations. It’s easy, from afar, to stand in judgement over landowners, demanding they relinquish their rights as property owners in order to enhance the habitat of any wild animal. The tough part to deer management is maximizing what is left and working in earnest to make the best of what we have. Even if deer densities in Northern and Western Maine aren’t at ideal levels, is that reason enough to simply walk away and say, we tried?

There is no need to kill off all the coyotes/wolves in Maine or reduce bear populations to levels that give us more deer than are needed to balance a very valuable resource. All that is stopping this effort is the MDIFW’s insistence on caving to social demands. I suppose to them in the short term it is easier to cave in than to stand up to those demands supported by strong scientific evidence. And that may be the actual problem. Does the MDIFW have or want the strong scientific evidence?

BEAR

The MDIFW has a very good bear study program. Some claim that program is the envy of all other fish and wildlife departments. Only radical animal rights groups or individuals would argue that there are too many bear. The MDIFW publicly admits they need to reduce the bear population, but so far, have done little to solve that problem. Perhaps they are moving at a speed that only politics and social demands allow them. Time for change.

Having too many bears presents several problems – public safety and a disruption of population goals of other species such as deer and moose. Fortunately, bear hibernate, otherwise God only knows what kind of destruction they would wreak on weakened deer in deer wintering areas.

Some studies suggest that the presence of bear has more negative impact on deer than do coyotes/wolves. Maybe the current studies that the MDIFW are conducting on moose and deer will help us gain better understanding on this concept.

Regardless, it appears Maine must reduce bear populations. But how? One problem that jumps out immediately is the power of the guides and outfitters placing demands on the MDIFW to manage bears according to their wishes that would best maximize their business profits. While it is understandable that this is important to the private enterprises, should the MDIFW continue to allow increased public safety concerns and actual reductions in deer populations, and perhaps even moose, simply to appease these groups? Of course not, but when will the MDIFW move to do anything about it? Perhaps the time is now.

Like with turkey hunting, Maine needs to find easier and less expensive ways to encourage more hunters to take up the challenge. Hunters that have little interest in bear hunting might change their mind if hunting bear were part of a Big Game License all the time during open season on bear.

Bag limits should be raised. The late summer bear hunt should have a minimum of a two-bear limit – perhaps three in some areas. If that doesn’t do the trick, then a Spring bear hunt may be necessary. Regulations can be employed to mitigate the killing of cubs as has been proven in other places that have Spring bear hunts.

The MIDFW has done a respectable job of working to ward off the radical animal rights groups bent on closing down bear hunting. They should increase and improve this effort to include everything they do with wildlife management. Two bear referendums have proven that maintaining a passive posture and making management decisions based on social demands is not only irresponsible, but ridiculous, almost childish. If wildlife managers and their administration don’t have or believe the science necessary to responsibly managed their wildlife, they should be out of a job. There should be little room given to social demands when it comes to scientifically managing game.

OPERATIONS

There are certain aspects of running a fish and game department that should be within the control of the commissioner, who, of course, answers to the governor. Open and closed seasons should be within the control of the commissioner. That person, along with the managers and biologists in the department, are the ones who should know what is going on and what is needed, not the Humane Society of the United States, other animal rights groups, or even the Legislature. Such social and political powers spoil any scientific approach at wildlife management. It may take an act of the Legislature to effect such changes.

We live in a time where these powerful animal rights and environmentalists have gained control over our factories of higher indoctrination. The result of this is now showing up in our fish and game departments where the concerns are more about the “rights” of animals and away from a consumptive, use of a natural resources approach to wildlife management.

Scientifically, it has been proven that the North American Model of Wildlife Management works. Those opposed to this form of wildlife management know this and have been working tireless to “change the way wildlife management is discussed.” Along with this has come the social demands to place equal rights and protections on animals as are given to humans.

Outdoor advocates, hunters, trappers, fishermen, as well as all those who understand and believe in the necessity of consumptive use to best manage and control wildlife, should demand that the commissioner be more selective and demanding of those that are hired as biologists and wildlife managers. Candidates should be screened as to their idealism and positions on animal rights and hunting, fishing, and trapping. To responsibly utilize hunting and fishing as part of the overall plans for wildlife management, cannot have room for animal rights advocates or those opposed to this system.

Some have called for money from general taxation to support the MDIFW. It is my opinion this would be a very big mistake. First of all, before any MORE money is dumped in the lap of this department, a complete audit should be undertaken so that all will know exactly what every penny is spent on and where every penny comes from to run the department. If more money is needed, then that has to come from fee increases and not from general taxation. Here’s why.

With money sent to the MDIFW from general taxation, along with it will be demands from the general taxpayer for bigger representation. This opens the door even further for more infiltration by environmentalists who want to “change the way we discuss wildlife management.”

We have seen this already. Where once the MDIFW used to be the department of fish and game, other states have gotten rid of their fish and game names completely, replaced with departments of natural resources.

With a weakening of the managerial understanding and knowledge of how wildlife management should run, further expedites the dreaded end to responsible wildlife management, replaced by VooDoo Science and Romance Biology.

The only way the MDIFW can survive as a bonafide fish and game department is if it remains out of the control of Environmentalism.

The MDIFW does many things well. Some things they have little control over. Certainly there is room for improvement and if others, like me, realize that if we don’t do something to change those things that are sending us in the wrong direction and away from the North American Model of Wildlife Management, the good that we enjoy now will soon be lost. Let’s not let that happen.

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There’s More To Managing Game Than Technology

David Trahan, executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, writes a very interesting and compelling article that is published in the Kennebec Journal and is found at CentralMaine.com.

In his article he suggests how the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) can use their new technology of digital tagging of game to better manage turkeys. He brings out many good points, explaining that the management of wild turkeys is mostly a best-guess monstrosity of hoping and wishing. “IF&W describes their turkey management goals as very conservative and based on best-guess population estimates.”

“As these population attributes are being refined, it is time for the department to develop a more flexible and adaptive harvest management system for wild turkeys.”

What Trahan is proactively suggesting is that there are far more turkeys that are suffering and dying from disease and starvation each year that instead of going to waste should be made available for resource harvest and utilization. In other words, it’s time to increase the bag limits and lengths of season to accomplish this task and that MDIFW can use the “technology” to accurately monitor the harvest of turkeys in Wildlife Management Districts (WMD) and close the season when harvest goals have been reached. This is common sense game management…that is when managers have a better than “best-guess management goals.”

Trahan writes: “With the new tagging technology and the department’s long-established wildlife management units, IF&W should be able to heavily crop over-abundant populations while also protecting others. And they can monitor the progress of turkey harvests on a daily basis, if they so desire.”

He also suggests the following management model: “In practice, IF&W would issue fall turkey tags based on harvest quotas for each district. Hunters would be capped at eight birds a year — two male birds in the spring and six turkeys of either sex in the fall. There would also be a provision for the department to exceed this individual limit if it were not achieving adequate harvesting rates.”

The only question I might have is are there enough turkey hunters, even with the new bag limits, to accomplish the goals of responsible turkey management.?

I had one reader answer my question this way: “Maybe you don’t need as many hunters if the bag limit is increased.  A greater bag limit may increase the number of hunters both residents and non-residents, Also – manage it like the special deer hunt – after ya got your deer you can go get another deer permit.”

Maybe. Maybe not! However, the management model suggested would be difficult to abuse and end up with terrible results that might be a danger to the turkeys themselves. If MDIFW was closely monitoring the harvest of turkeys in all the WMDs, keeping a close eye on harvest goals per WMD, along with the legal flexibility to modify seasons and bag limits as necessary to remain within practical, and sensible, scientific turkey management, what could go wrong?

Thank you David and SAM’s suggestions for improving on Maine’s turkey management and harvest goals.

Surely something positive must be done.

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Maine’s Move To “Digital” Big Game Harvest Reporting

One has to wonder! With the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) announcing – officially or not – that they are mostly abandoning the concept of keeping track of game populations and replacing it with concentrating on a “healthy” game herd, what bag of tricks they are sitting on that, as quoted, “will give the department more flexibility” in managing that wildlife.

Yesterday, we read that MDIFW is making plans to begin implementation of a digital form of recording game harvests to replace the paper version that some believe to be antiquated. What could go wrong?

Reading the article and trying at the same time get a grasp on what exactly MDIFW is planning to do left me scratching my head. Perhaps poor reporting or a worse explanation..maybe just a dumb reader. My take is that MDIFW plans to work slowly, starting with a “beta” version for the turkey season and then gradually overspreading the rest of the game harvests.

But what, precisely, are they going to do?

It sounds like they intend each tagging station to have a computer with Internet access. Instead of filling out the paperwork and then months later get around to mailing their harvest report to the Department, each game tagged will instantly be reported and sent to MDIFW. Sounds great.

It was quite a few years ago now, that I was told that an employee of the state approached the MDIFW with a proposal to design a computer program that would give the Department any and all data they wanted…instantly. They rejected the plan stating if they did that there would be nothing for biologists to do in the winter sitting in the office. Hmmm.

Depending on the design of the software that will be used to record this harvest data, this could mean that a harvest report should be available within hours of receiving the last tagging from the last station…well, providing that every station is so equipped. It seems that is not the case. If it is impossible to get necessary and needed tagging stations Online, then each of those stations should use the same program and then at the end of the season, download the data to a thumb drive and drop it in the mail – right frigging now!!!

If this is actually how the new harvest reporting system is going to work, I think it will be a great idea and about time. I have always bitched and complained that we have to wait nearly a year from the close of each hunting season to get harvest data. MDIFW blames it on stations refusing to mail in their data in a timely manner. Really? The dog ate my homework? Who is charge around here?

When you read some of the people at certain tagging stations say, “It usually takes me five minutes to tag each animal. I have to fill out the paperwork. It’s a process. It’s a pain.” perhaps MDIFW should consider not giving an inspection station to someone who views the process as a pain. With an attitude like that, it’s probably a “pain” to also gather together all the reports and mail them in. What kind of a “pain” is it going to be for some to go digital?

However, it seems that for some they think the digital form of reporting game harvest should go even farther. “David Trahan, executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, said his group is going to introduce legislation that would allow hunters to tag remotely rather than going to tagging stations.”

As much as I have complained about the lateness of game harvest reporting, I wouldn’t and neither should MDIFW, give that important data up simply to get a report to the people more quickly. Regardless of whether or not MDIFW thinks they can utilize more “flexibility” by concentrating on the health of the game herds rather than population numbers, it is still impossible to responsibly manage the wild game without having reliable data which includes numbers – yes, counting populations.

To allow hunters to simply pick up their cellphones/smartphones and register their harvest will spell disaster. States that have done this sort of reporting for years are only now struggling to find a better way of collecting harvest data – with some states moving toward having tagging stations or check stations.

A good software program loaded onto a computer for each tagging station – and one that is more than willing to do the job properly – will take the same data collected at present but make that data available to MDIFW instantly. Risking losing important data by allowing remote registering by the hunter is a move in the wrong direction. The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine should rethink that position.

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Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Given Authority Over Turkey Hunting Dates and Bag Limits

An amended bill, LD98, gives the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife authority to set hunting season dates and bag limits on wild turkeys. In addition, the Department can implement special hunts for wild turkeys when it is deemed a necessity.

Each of us will have to decide whether we think granting this authority to the Department is a good thing or a bad thing. But then again, does it really matter if the Department never uses it? For those who are suffering crop damages and/or other livestock or property damage issues, I hope the Commissioner at least opts to implement some special hunts to mitigate the losses.

One report is being spread around the state that an apple orchard company is losing over $1 million a year in crop damage. MDIFW should begin immediately to stop this problem.

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Maine’s Nuisance Wild Turkeys

Roll the film! Quiet on the set. Action! The scene begins with a line of people getting ready to board the colorfully decorated 15-passenger van headed out on a wildlife tour. The passengers are obvious city folks – dressed like city folks and acting like city folks – after all who would pay money to go “view” wildlife from a 15-passenger van and 14 other smelly people? I rest my case.

The first stop? Timberlake’s Apple Orchard in Turner…..cut! cut! cut! What to hell is this? The customers are not happy. They have to interest in seeing wild turkeys destroying an apple orchard. And perhaps that is one of the reasons that not enough noise is being made about the wild turkey nuisances that, in the case of the Timberlake’s, is costing them in excess of $1 million in lost produce each year.

It’s the city dwellers, the “Environmentalists” that instill fear in what the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) does. No, no, no. Science no longer dictates the necessities of wildlife management. It’s which group with the most money and the loudest voices who get the oil for the squeaky wheel. Environmentalists don’t care about wild turkeys nor do they care that some family in Turner, Maine is using up THEIR environment and habitat to produce food. After all, to them food is found in a grocery store.

MDIFW caves to the Environmentalists when they demand that the state grow more moose so that city dwellers, who have no skin in the game, can board one of those 15-passenger gas guzzlers (carbon producers – wink, wink) and sip their lattes and hope to gawk out the window and see a moose beside the road mucking themselves up to get out of the torment of the black flies and mosquitoes – even at the expense of increased wildlife diseases and parasites. But we don’t talk about that stuff because that isn’t what animal lovers do.

It appears that now the introduction of wild turkeys back into Maine was such a resounding success (in the eye of the beholder) that the animal has reached a point that it has become a nuisance. Just the simple example of one business losing $1 million in produce a year to turkeys, should be reason enough to start killing turkeys. Environmentalists, who by the way have infiltrated every crevasse of government agencies, including fish and wildlife departments, are probably glad the Timberlakes are losing money and turkeys are an animal, thus all animals should be protected and hunting stopped. Business and food growing is bad to the Environmentalist. So, there you have it.

But it appears that MDIFW, even with new authority to increase bag limits and lengthen hunting seasons on turkeys, doesn’t seem much interested in doing something about the nuisance. I wonder if the public tolerance part of the equation is losing its bite. Where once the ONLY way that something like turkey reintroduction could work is if the public was in support and how long turkeys remained depended on how long that support continued. It appears the support is dwindling faster than a stack of pancakes at Dysarts. If MDIFW waits too long to act, it may be too late.

There have been some changes to the hunting seasons, bag limits and fees charged but that doesn’t seem to have had any effect on the growth of wild turkeys or the number of the critters being harvested. According to George Smith, outdoor writer and political activist, in 2014 his proposed legislation, which passed with amendments, created some changes and gave MDIFW authority and flexibility to mitigate the problem: “The final bill in 2014 reduced the turkey hunting permit to $20 for both residents and nonresidents, with no additional fee for a second tom in the spring, expanded the fall season to the entire month of October and added a second turkey of either sex to the fall bag limit, reduced the tagging fee from $5 to $2 for each turkey (with all of the fee going to the tagging agent), extended the spring season to all-day, and authorized all-day hunting for Youth Day.”

Smith said that even these changes has not solved the turkey problem. Probably a bit understated.

In 2013, before the new legislation described above was enacted, the combined wild turkey harvest for both Spring and Fall hunts was 8,718. Those totals dropped to 7,554 for 2014 and essentially remained unchanged for 2015 adding up to 7,570 birds harvested.

2016 harvest data remains incomplete. The Spring harvest for 2016 was 5,154 turkeys, which when compared with previous years is below the average.

So, yes! Clearly the changes have done nothing to increase the wild turkey harvest, thus reducing the population. So what’ll it be? Is Maine going to fall in line with far too many other states that sit on their hands, fearful of the repercussions from the Environmentalists and allow Maine businesses to go under because of a damned animal? Time will tell but there may not be that much time left.

It would seem to me that given the implementation of more liberal turkey hunting guidelines and showing no results to reducing the wild turkey population, that’s it’s time MDIFW began looking at the turkey as a nuisance and a problem, allowing for harvesting the birds without any special permit or tagging requirement with fees. Set daily bag limits like those of grouse and monitor the situation. If it gets to a point that turkeys begin reaching low levels, adjust the seasons and bag limits to accommodate.

To hell with the Environmentalists. Apple growers and other private farms and business don’t need to be run out of town because perverts want to protect a bird that doesn’t need protection.

Just more of the same nonsense.

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11 Months and Three Weeks Later IF&W Counted the Turkeys Shot in May 2016

Because IF&W Really, Really, Really Gives a Damn!

We could go over to New Hampshire and live and nobody in Maine would miss us!

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A Bill Proposal to Eliminate a Turkey Permit Fee

Evidently turkey hunting in Maine is a dead duck. Or maybe it’s too expensive. Maybe having to travel as many as 30 miles to be a law-abiding citizen to register your turkey, is prohibitive. Maybe I should have called it something other than a dead duck. There’s a proposed bill that will eliminate the permit and tagging fees, increase bag limits and allow Online and telephone tagging.

Maybe those agog about more and easier turkey killing should keep in mind that in a few more years the only hunting left in Maine might be turkeys and bears and replacing deer and moose will be wild hogs and opossum. What puzzles me though is that deer can’t grow in northern and western Maine because deer are “at the northern fringe of their habitat, but I guess New Brunswick is south of Maine? And moose are dying because of global warming, causing ticks that kill moose. So, the confusing part is that if the climate is warming, then the “northern fringe” of the deer habit should be moving to the north, allowing more deer to flourish and moose will eventually not be found in Maine’s warm climate. Right? Let’s adjust those mirrors and apply smoke in different places to see if we can remove all doubt.

But I don’t want to get off the subject. According to reports there were only 16,000 licensed turkey hunters last year in Maine. At $20 a pop that’s $320,000 dollars in revenue for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW). One might think (rationally) that with 200,000 deer hunters more than 16,000 would want to turkey hunt and that would mean more from the cash cow to fatten up the coffers. Rational thinking belongs with the wild hogs.

In one article I read, MDIFW Commissioner Woodcock told the Joint Standing Committee he didn’t want to lose that turkey hunting license revenue, if the proposal passed to eliminate the license fees. If they lose the revenue, is the incentive gone to do anything about growing more turkey hunters, or even managing turkeys at all? If it’s not a “game species” anymore, what is it? Wild hog hunting is sounding better all the time.

Maine’s Wildlife Division Director said, “The Department is opposed to this bill because it does not allow us to manage Maine’s wild turkey population based on biological principles and sound science.” Really?

So let’s see. One report says that too many turkeys have cost one apple farmer $250,000 in damages a year. That’s no small potatoes apples! But, all we hear about is that MDIFW must consider the social demands and toleration levels before they can make decisions. What to do, what to do? Too bad that apple farmers are a minority group. Maybe he should team up with the Humane Society of the United States. There is a member on one of MDIFW’s boards helping to make decisions – based, of course, on social demands. No, wait. That’s right. She wants to stop all hunting…along with human existence. Looks like the apple farmer is all out of luck. She might even insist apple growing stop due to the rights of worms and maggots.

And, we can’t disregard the honey-hole of information created in the recent survey that will justify just about any issue with MDIFW. “overall Maine’s public is very satisfied with the management and population levels of Maine’s Big Game species.” But what about turkeys? Time to begin some education seminars on how to effectively hunt wild pigs. I’d suggest someone start up a helicopter service for shooting pigs but Maine doesn’t have many open fields like Texas.

In the latest report to the Maine Legislature about the status of deer management in Maine, the report is a doozie! We read several times similar claims to self-importance, “95% of landowners rated the Department’s ability to manage deer as fair to excellent.” WOW! That’s a big number. But look closer. This statement could just as easily have read, “100% of landowners rated the Department’s ability to manage deer (turkeys) as piss poor to excellent. Fair is but one notch above piss-poor.

Smoke and Mirrors it appears.

But then one, or at least a whiner like me, has to ask if MDIFW really gives two rats’ stomach tumors about how many turkeys there are, or are they more interested in just the money? After all, the turkey harvest results for the Spring and Fall 2016 hunts haven’t been published on the website yet….or deer…or bear….or moose. Alas! So busy “managing” turkeys?

We may need to protect the turkey for the only remaining “Big Game” hunt for Maine. Supplement that with an extended season on coyotes and wild pigs and Maine’s hunters will be sitting in fat city.

America is great again?

 

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