August 19, 2019

Maine Bear Biologist: Bears Kill As Many Deer Fawns as Coyotes; Not Opposed to Spring Hunt

V. Paul Reynolds interviewed Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MIDFW) biologist Randy Cross on his radio program on the Voice of Maine radio which airs Sunday nights at 7 p.m. (101.3 and 103.9 FM). Reynolds shares some of that interview in his weekly column.

There are two things in that interview that I would like to discuss just a bit. The first is Cross’ comment about whether black bears kill as many deer fawns as coyotes.

We are really not sure how much bear predation there is on deer. A Pennsylvania study suggested that there is a lot, but that state is not a valid comparison to Maine for a number of reasons. A New Brunswick study suggests that bear kill quite a few fawns, and it’s hard to deny that bears kill young deer. They are good at finding the most calories for the least effort. I’d say it is possible that bears in Maine take as many fawns as coyotes.

Cross seems willing to admit that it is “possible” that bears take as many fawns as coyotes. Perhaps they would actually know this if they used their management dollars for this purpose. This all may sound good to those of us hunters screaming for something serious to be done about predator protection that is resulting in the destruction of the deer herd in many places. However, it is difficult to understand the actual meaning of this comment as MDIFW has been reluctant to admit that coyotes have any substantial effect on the deer herd. If biologist Cross maintains the common notion, as MDIFW as a whole, that coyotes don’t really present a problem for the deer herd then one can just as easily assume his thoughts are that bears or any other predator doesn’t either.

The second issue concerns a spring bear hunting season.

I would not oppose a spring bear hunt. For a bear manager, a spring hunt can be a precise and powerful tool. Success rates are high ( in a spring hunt) and very predictable, unlike the fall bear harvest.

Anyone who is somebody knows there are way too many bears in Maine. Hunters have been asking nicely for a spring bear hunt for some time and seemingly falling on deaf ears. The numbers are there, Cross doesn’t oppose a hunt, therefore we should be able to conclude that it would be justified scientifically, or wouldn’t he have said so? Then the only stumbling block would be sociopolitical reasons. We know a certain amount of fear of being sued exists and the power that Maine guides have over MDIFW when it comes to seasons and bag limits is overwhelming.

It is time for Commissioner Woodcock to now take the lead and get Maine a spring bear hunt. It is scientifically necessary, particularly at a time when these large predators are preventing the rebuilding of a seriously diminished deer herd.

And while he’s at it, let’s increase the number of moose permits and get those numbers down to a better manageable number…..at least until the deer herd has recovered.

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Streaming Live Video/Audio in Maine Black Bear Den

Dear Friend,

On behalf of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, I am sending you this email today to inform you of an exciting new endeavor the Department has undertaken with the Wildlife Research Foundation.

We urge you to visit the Foundation’s new website by clicking here. A camera has been placed in a bear den in northern Maine, providing 24/7 streaming of one of our radio collared bears, “Lugnut” who birthed two cubs on January 16. This is the first time a live streaming video has been placed in a wild Maine Black Bear den.

The website provides us with an opportunity to share Lugnut’s world and watch her as she raises her cubs. You will also see videos of our bears “Spunky” and “Nell” and as the project develops, we will follow those bears and others.

There are videos that tell the story of the north Maine woods, its habitat, including how the camera was installed in the den. Fascinating stuff.

The video in Lugnut’s den provides not only a unique visual, but audio as well; the two cubs (yet un-named) often squeal and protest quite loudly as they adjust to life in the den.

The Foundation’s mission statement states their goal is to provide funds and support to the scientific community and wildlife managers to enhance wildlife and habitat research and inform and educate the general public concerning the value and necessity of wildlife research.

The bear cam allows us to do that in a fun and exciting way!

The Foundation approached the Department with this unique opportunity and we are pleased to work with them to educate the public on Maine’s Black Bear population and urge donations to the Department’s wildlife research projects. Maine is fortunate to have two of the most well respected bear biologists in the nation, Randy Cross and Jen Vashon, and I know the website will be an effective and exciting tool to educate people around the world about Maine’s Black Bears.

The website has become popular right out of the gate. It has been live for just two weeks, and has had over 15,000 visitors.

We encourage you to share this email and the link to the website with your family, friends and colleagues, urging them to follow the story of Lugnut and her cubs and to also support the work of the Foundation and Maine’s wildlife research projects.

Thank you very much and I hope you will follow Lugnut’s journey as I will on a daily basis!

Sincerely,

Chandler E. Woodcock
Commissioner
Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

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