June 6, 2023

Rangeley’s Deer Forage Project Ends, But……..

For three years the Rangeley community planted 35 food plots designed to, “address the sharp decline of the area deer herd.”

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) recently stated that supplemental feeding of deer was not beneficial in most cases. Here’s what is written about the Deer Forage Project on the website of the Rangeley Region Guides and Sportsmen’s Association.

Results Gratifying. There is ample evidence that deer and other wildlife are using the food plots. Besides deer, other wildlife such as moose, bear, turkey, grouse coveys, and song birds are thriving on the landings. These plots produce ten times the forage grown without wood ash or lime preparation. This increase tonnage adds confidence to the benefit it has for wildlife sustainability. A low ph seed mix is now being experimentally seeded on Seven Islands plots, and they have indicated a willingness to use the two new seed mixes in the future. As RRG&SA steps down, Wagner will continue using ash to remedy the soil intended in the original project. Two deer plot workshops have been conducted with small land owners, and Baker now consults state-wide to other land owners hoping to grow private deer plots. Another educational workshop is being planned for Farmington in November. There is an educational blog http://deerandwildlifeforageproject.blogspot.com/ to further elaborate on the project. The Rangeley Seed Mix is available for sale at River’s Edge Sports in Oquossoc.

Along with the MDIFW’s announcement that supplemental deer feeding was not beneficial, the department is proposing a ban or at least some levels of restrictions on feeding deer. In an article I wrote recently about winter supplemental feeding of deer in Maine, I didn’t consider year round supplemental feeding into the equation at that time.

So now the question becomes, will MDIFW’s proposal to limit or ban feeding, affect projects such as this one? Obviously, this project above is at least considered worthy of more and more businesses, organizations and individuals becoming involved. In addition, organizations like the Aroostook County Conservation Association has undertaken planting food plots for deer and other wildlife. I happen to know a number of individuals who do it and I am in the planning stages of one for myself.

If such projects are as big a success as is boasted of in this report, then MDIFW is going to have a difficult time convincing tax payers that they can’t contribute to the saving and regrowing of their deer herd and other important wildlife.

If MDIFW puts draconian restrictions on deer feeding, both winter and summer/year round, one would have to wonder what the motivation is behind the department’s move to restrict this activity.

Does it not make sense that if the complaint from MDIFW is that there is a lacking of ideal deer wintering areas, that at least giving the deer extra fat supplies to get through the winter would be a desirable thing to do?