December 16, 2018

MDIFW Commissioner Opposes Question One

“You are not going to hunt them like deer. If you think you are going to walk in the woods and follow them you are wrong,” Woodcock said, as additional measures mentioned in the referendum question are needed to have a chance at getting a bear. “Hunting over bait is probably one of the best and most ethical ways to hunt. You have a choice of what you want to do.”<<<Read More>>>

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Maine’s Deer Harvest for 2012 Tops 21,000

According to a report filed on the website of WCSH-TV in Portland, Maine, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) released preliminary estimates of the 2012 deer hunting season harvest. That estimate tops 21,000. The report states this as an 11% increase over last year’s dismal performance.

While it may be an 11% increase, an indication that there are probably a few more deer around, it still remains approximately 45% below the last ten-year high in 2002 of over 38,000.

From the report:

Biologist Lee Kantar said the increase is due in large part to last winter’s mild weather, resulting in a high survival of fawns that produced a bumper yearling crop.

This statement probably indicates that there were a lot of yearling deer taken during the hunt.

Maine has miles to go before it sleeps as far as rebuilding a destroyed deer herd, as most all of Northern Maine, Downeast and the Western Mountains remain mostly devoid of deer. Efforts at predator control are underway and with serious continued efforts at this, in about 3 years time, Maine citizens should begin seeing results from that effort and investment.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the MDIFW press release with the preliminary numbers made available. This is something Maine sportsmen have been asking for for years; simply an unofficial tally of the deer kill.

Upon finding the information, I immediately emailed Chandler Woodcock, MDIFW Commissioner, Lee Kantar, MDIFW deer biologist and Governor Paul LePage to thank them for their efforts to get this done.

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Yes! MDIFW King Doesn’t Want Subjects Playing With His Wildlife

According to comments submitted to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) by Gerry Lavigne representing the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (SAM), concerning the department’s proposal to “restrict” winter deer feeding, my earlier statement about the proposal rings true.

Two quick issues here. One, why is this proposal mentioning “other wildlife”? Is this proposal about feeding deer or all wildlife in general. Lumping it all together gives one the feeling that the “king” is being a turd and doesn’t want the subjects playing with his wildlife.

Lavigne writes: “Of particular concern is the list of activities that the Department considers detrimental to the deer population (Sec D. 3. a. to h.), which are considered a rule violation and a Class E crime.”

Seriously? Lavigne is spot on in that nothing MDIFW proposes is deliniative. All listings of events that are subject to criminal charges are “vague and entirely subjective”; a typical governmental tactic to leave space for arbitrary law enforcement.

You can go to the SAM Website and read all of Lavigne’s comments here.

It appears that my original hunch is accurate. In the grand scheme of things, i.e. the metamorphosis of state fish and game agencies from a sportsman’s focus to one of government expansion and control while kowtowing to the environmentalists, Commissioner Woodcock has legitimized my theory that fish and game departments have little or no interest in what the people who pay their salaries want. It’s all about dictatorial control over something they don’t even own; a real display of self-importance.

If Commissioner Woodcock would like to prove me wrong, then I suggest that while this proposal is not only extremely unpopular with the people of Maine, it has no solid basis for implementation and should be scuttled.

It just looks like what has become the norm these days; more of the king being a turd and wanting his way because he is king.

Kill the proposal and focus on something important.

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Protecting the Fish and Game Biologist Brotherhood

Once again, Outcome Based Education, political bias and perpetuated myths are on display in Maine. A retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist and a Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologist, says that politicians are the cause of Maine’s depleted(ing) deer herd, not coyotes.

Politicians are to blame for many things and readers know I would be the last in line to stand up for one unless I knew them personally and could trust them. As far as whether politicians are the sole blame for Maine’s vanishing deer herd, I don’t think, as much as I would like to, I could put all the blame on them.

The author was a wildlife biologist and worked for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), so I doubt he would dare place any of the blame for a terrible deer management execution on his “brotherhood” at MDIFW.

Getting beyond the political bias and nonsense, let’s examine a few things that the retired biologist had to say.

Since the early 1900s, expensive and barbaric coyote bounties have failed miserably in western states, but that knowledge carries no weight in Augusta.

History is full of accounts of how “barbaric bounties” very effectively controlled predator populations. Maybe the author needed to rewind his history clock a few more years to discover that….or maybe the seeming failure was intentional.

One has to simply reread many of the journals and accounts from years ago in the West to learn what actually happened. A favorite account of mine is that of C. Gordon Hewitt.

It always amazes me how that the evils of hunting swing in both directions, when convenient. While wolves and coyotes were virtually wiped out in the West as the settlers moved in, hunters were blamed. When there is talk of killing predators, such as coyotes and wolves, those same people who blamed the destruction of coyotes and wolves on hunters, swing the door in the other direction and tell us as did the opinion piece in question:

It seems counterintuitive, but the war on coyotes has actually increased their numbers and breeding range. The Colorado Division of Wildlife reports that coyotes are more numerous today than when the state was first settled by trappers. Colorado and other western states no longer waste taxpayer money on futile coyote control programs.

There exists no scientific evidence that killing coyotes causes them to automatically breed more of themselves. There are just too many factors that come into play when examining reproductive habits of any wild animal. And is the author of this opinion piece actually suggesting here that all those coyotes now in Colorado are solely to blame on hunters and trappers? Once again, a reading and studying of the history of settling the West shows that aside from certain pockets, this nirvana of the West was not so Disneyesque as many would like to believe. Man’s expansion created a vast habitat to support coyotes and all other wildlife. In time, the implementation of the North American Model for Wildlife Conservation allowed for the growth and health of our wildlife systems.

The retired biologist intimates that Maine plans to implement a one year program to kill coyotes, saying it wouldn’t be effective. Agreed, and I know of no honest person who has indicated that it would. I happen to know explicitly that both MDIFW Commissioner Woodcock and Governor LePage have been told and I believe understand that predator control is an ongoing part of wildlife management and this should have been taking place years ago. The MDIFW fell flat on their faces in this regard.

The article shows us the author’s real colors when he begins his rant about how the Maine politicians failed because they did not steal land rights away from American taxpayers. The crying and gnashing of teeth is about the State Legislature failing to tell landowners they can’t use the resources on their own land; an unconstitutional land grab straight from the pages of the United Nations Agenda 21 program, whose goal it is to take all land and resources worldwide and forbid you and I from owning or having access to any of it, saving it instead for them. I’m all for protecting our wildlife, but never at the expense of man’s life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. There are better ways than forceful takeovers.

We are then treated to what appears to be an expert on the deer management in Minnesota and Michigan stating:

If you remain unconvinced that lack of winter shelter is the primary reason northern Maine supports few deer, please consider this: Minnesota and Michigan deer herds are much healthier than Maine’s. Minnesota and Michigan winters are as difficult as Maine’s. Deer in both of those states must also avoid being eaten by coyotes and wolves.

So the logical question LePage, Woodcock, Martin and deer hunters should ask is this: What are Minnesota and Michigan doing differently to maintain healthy deer populations? The answer: Both states prioritize protecting deer wintering areas through land purchases, conservation easements and regulating excessive timber harvests.

The proof is in the pudding they say, and with the help of a reader, we have been able to provide a couple of graphs that show that since the late 1990s and early 2000s, both Minnesota and Michigan have seriously reduced deer harvest numbers, dropping over 30% and more.

You don’t suppose that one of the reasons that Minnesota and Michigan have a declining harvest of deer, an indication of a declining deer population, has anything at all to do with the years of over protecting predators and now the results of that over protection are showing up? In addition, I have yet to get anyone that pretends to have all the answers explain to me why, if there are no more deer wintering areas left in Maine to support more deer, the ones we have are not being used?

It appears that the basis for the author’s opinion piece in the paper is mostly wrapped around his dislike of Gov. LePage and his republican administration, while at the same time blaming politicians in general for a deer demise, the fate of which was left in the hands of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife; a department that the biologist was an employee of. Surely we couldn’t expect someone to point a finger at their brotherhood of hoodwinked biologists….or even perhaps at themselves.

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Deadline for Online Any-Deer Permit Lottery Application is This Week

“We encourage those who have not applied to do so online,” said Chandler E. Woodcock, Commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. “The August 15 deadline is rapidly approaching and we want everyone who wishes to apply to have the chance to do so. Good luck to all.”

PERMITS: This year the Department is issuing 34,160 Any-Deer Permits for Wildlife Management Districts 12-13, 15-17, 20-26 and 29. It is Bucks Only in all other Wildlife Management Districts.

ONLINE DEADLINE: Online applications are due by 11:59 p.m. on August 15, 2012.

SEASON DATES: Deer hunting season (firearms) begins with Youth Deer Hunting Day on Saturday, Oct. 20. Youth may take a buck statewide or an antlerless deer only in wildlife management districts where any-deer permits will be issued this fall.

This year, Maine Residents Only Day is Saturday, Oct. 27, and deer season (firearms) runs Oct. 29 through Nov. 24.

For more any-deer lottery information, please select this link: http://www.maine.gov/ifw/licenses_permits/lotteries/anydeer/index.htm.

It is free to apply for the lottery. The drawing will take place on Sept. 7.

APPLY NOW! The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and InforME, its licensing partner, have made it easier to enter the Any-Deer permit lottery online.

Here’s how it works:

To apply now, please select this link http://www5.informe.org/online/nedeer/.

If you applied for an Any-Deer permit last year, all of your information is pre-filled into this year’s online application. To start, type in your first name, last name and date of birth as you printed it on last year’s application. We’ll look up your information. Please review your personal data and make any necessary changes. It’s easy!

If you fill out an application this year – and happen to move or change your phone number before the application deadline – you can go online and edit your previously submitted Any-Deer permit application.

Once you’ve filled out your application, you’ll be able to print out a confirmation page. Also, a confirmation will be e-mailed to you. (If you do not see it in your email, check your spam box.) This way you have a printed record of the day/time of your application as well as all of the information you provided to us.

Thank you for your interest! GOOD LUCK! If you need further information, please visit www.mefishwildlife.com or call (207) 287-8000.

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Maine Fish and Game Commissioner Devises Three Fish Groups

I’m sure there are some readers who remember the Dean Martin Roasts. For those that do, perhaps you will even recall Red Buttons’ comedic act during those roasts. Buttons always came across as one holding a grudge, his most famous line being: “I never got a dinner”, as he lamented through the process of who was getting roasted and why. While all the attention was supposed to be bestowed upon the roastee, Buttons would always bemoan: “I never got a dinner”.

Perhaps some will see this article as bemoaning. I don’t, as I find nothing wrong with pointing out the obvious, raising questions and creating discourse in outdoor matters. Having said that, George Smith, independent writer and former executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, wrote on his blog site on Monday, April 2, 2012, that Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) Commissioner Chandler Woodcock “Chooses Three Fisheries Groups”.

Mr. Smith points out that it appears the members of the three groups “provide a wide diversity of thought.” I would concur but that is not my bone of contention, save one. Smith also makes this comment: “Chandler [Woodcock] is making fisheries a strong focus of his tenure.”

I have no issue with Mr. Woodcock making fisheries a strong focus. No sour grapes here. What I might question is the need for three advisory groups – one for trout, one for salmon (landlocked variety) and another for bass. While I have not seen anything to indicate otherwise, I’m assuming all of these seats on these boards are voluntary. Thanks go out to those volunteers.

First, let me explain that fisheries is not my specialty. I seldom stick my little toe into fisheries issues. I’m sure there are arguments for and against the need for three fisheries advisory groups. I suppose it’s nice, like one on one attention a student might get in a classroom, for trout, salmon and bass to get special attention. One could argue that a fisherman is a fisherman is a fisherman, however, if you pay attention, you’ll find this is not true. Some fishermen spend the greatest part of their time with a focus on one particular species of fish. Perhaps then, they bring a lot to the table. But then again, I hope their focus isn’t so narrow they can’t see a bigger plan for all fisheries. Is this dynamic only manifested in fisheries?

Once again, no sour grapes here. Provided that no one specie-specific group gets preferential treatment and as such or any treatment comes at the expense of another preferred specie or discipline used for catching, perhaps lots of good can happen.

It may be too early to exclaim, “I never got a dinner”, but what about hunting and trapping. There are two very important issues here to bring up first. One is the issue that Maine hunters got several deer task forces and coyote task forces, none of which accomplished anything in the end. In addition, the deer hunters got a “Plan”. Which brings me to the second issue. We’ve already learned that, while the “Plan” sounded good to some, there was no money to do anything with the plan.

Is there money to do something with the advice from the volunteers of these three fisheries groups? If there is, where did it come from?

So, was the deer and coyote task forces (okay, let’s toss in the recent task force to figure out why nobody wants to buy game licenses in Maine.), along with Maine’s Plan for Deer, the equivalent of three fisheries groups? Or should we look for announcements to come later in the year.

I raised the concern earlier in this piece as to whether MDIFW needed three fisheries groups, i.e. one for trout, one for salmon and another for bass. If this is the new trend or Commissioner Woodcock’s disclosure of him being “serious about fisheries”, then I suspect we should see later the formation of hunting and trapping groups that also are species specific. In other words, hunter volunteers can advise the commissioner on deer, moose, bear, turkey, grouse, etc. and trappers can advise on beaver, muskrat, mink, otter, marten, bobcat, fisher, coyote, fox, etc.

Or will I not get a dinner?

I applaud Mr. Woodcock on what appears to be his attempt to reach out to the sportsmen to get them involved in fish and game issues and help in setting policy that more closely reflects the wishes of the sportsmen (I am in hopes that’s his intention.). God knows I’ve beat that drum enough times. So this is not about sour grapes. If nothing else comes from these three fisheries groups other than finally getting a collective voice in direct communication with the commissioner, then it would appear only good can come from that. That’s one giant step.

And with only that one very important accomplishment showing itself proud (I hope), then I strongly encourage Mr. Woodcock to already be thinking about his volunteer advisory groups for earmarked species for the hunters and trappers. Let’s really expand that base of communication and get those with the investment the chance to be heard, once again.

While you are at it, please don’t put anyone from Maine Audubon, the Nature Conservancy, the Humane Society of the United States or any other anti-hunting, animal rights and environmental representatives on these boards. Thank you.

I’m anxious for my dinner.

Tom Remington

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Actions Speak Louder Than Words

*Editor’s Note* This article first appeared in the Northwoods Sporting Journal in Maine.

Last February, Maine’s brand new IFW commissioner released “Maine’s Game Plan for Deer”. This article is not about the Plan but instead about the commitment or lack thereof, to implement the plan and resolve the problems of a depleted whitetail deer population.

During the gubernatorial campaign of 2010, then candidate Paul LePage convinced hunters that he was committed to rebuilding the herd. LePage’s selection of Chandler Woodcock as IFW commissioner brought with it the promise that Maine was committed to saving the deer and thus keeping the industry itself part of Maine’s heritage.

If the governor and the commissioner have made this commitment, and some would question even that, where is the engagement in the effort from others?

My work puts me in touch with fish and game issues nationwide. Of late, I have been a party to events taking place in the state of Utah where they are attempting to rebuild a depleting mule deer herd. I read with comparative amazement the vast differences in the devotion to the two causes.

A recent email tells of plans to double the herd from 200,000 to 400,000 in Utah and that effort is “strong” from government and non government agencies alike. I read about the devotion by several in the Utah Legislature to increase deer numbers. I’m told deer recovery in Utah “has a high priority from powerful and influential people in Utah”.

I observe the communication between the governor’s office and that of U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch in conjunction with all sportsman’s groups. In one email exchange, I learned how Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, a neighboring state, assisted the contingencies in obtaining millions of dollars for habitat restoration along with predator control, etc.

Through the demands of Utah sportsmen, a study was finally done and paid for that determined the reason for a declining deer herd was a near non existent fawn recruitment. While the fish and game department, only one stakeholder in this statewide investment, dithers, all other efforts are directed at what can be done now, i.e. predator control and into the future habitat restoration and protection.

So, where is Maine’s commitment? What has IFW done? Are there studies that could be done with a commitment of money? Who is finding that money? What has the governor done? When was the last time that senators Snowe and Collins got involved in Maine’s commitment to restore the deer herd? If Sen. Reid can find millions of dollars, can we assume that Snowe and/or Collins could as well? Have all Maine’s hunters and trappers and outdoor sportsman’s groups anted up?

If the commitment is lacking, then perhaps there is also lacking a firm belief in the seriousness of the problem. Or, the belief exists but a poor job of selling and recruiting all influential people stands in the way. Perhaps consideration that inexperience and/or political savvy at many levels within the state presents a river with no means to cross.

Whatever it is, Maine’s effort to save a deer herd and a hunting industry, will fail miserably if there isn’t a stronger commitment at all levels.

It’s time for the Governor, the Commissioner, Sens. Snowe and Collins, Reps. Michaud and Pingree and all sportsmen and their organizations to get serious about the deer herd problem if they believe it is a problem.

Tom Remington

Tom Remington is an independent, well-published writer, researcher, syndicated columnist and public speaker, focusing on hunting, outdoor issues, rights and the environment. Much of his work can be found at his website http://www.tomremington.com

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Maine DIF&W Lacks Mission Statement and Commitment For Harvest Opportunities

It’s nearly impossible for any establishment to achieve success without a distinct and clear vision of what their mission is. On the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife(MDIFW) website, there is no “mission statement”. If one gleans through the many pages, they might be able to pick up certain statements that would tend to make them think certain things about what it is that MDIFW is aiming to do. However, is that clear and concise planning that guarantees success?

An example of what I mean can be found on the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources web pages. While it matters not to me or perhaps to you whether we agree with the information contained on those pages, at least there is a brief mission statement and stated goals and objectives. This gives the department written goals and objectives to strive for, provides that same information to the citizens of Utah and creates a written benchmark in which citizens can keep the department on task by a continual reference to those goals and objectives. This is basic.

Some states, like Montana, and approximately 12 other states, have gone so far as to amend their constitutions in order to protect the right to hunt and fish. Montana’s amendment reads: Section 7. Preservation of harvest heritage. The opportunity to harvest wild fish and wild game animals is a heritage that shall forever be preserved to the individual citizens of the state and does not create a right to trespass on private property or diminution of other private rights.”

While it’s impressive that Montana has such an amendment, read carefully exactly what it protects concerning hunting. It protects “opportunity to harvest wild fish and wild game animals”, nothing more and nothing less. As citizens wishing to fully protect that heritage, wouldn’t it make sense to mandate fish and game departments to manage wild fish and wild game animals for surplus harvest for all citizens, along with protecting the opportunity?

This is the transformation that has taken place over the years by fish and game departments, hijacked by state governments, along with non governmental, environmental, and animal rights groups, to turn these departments into wildlife protection agencies. While most states’ fish and wildlife departments toss about the use of “opportunities” to hunt and fish, no longer do we find departments willing to state that their goals are to manage game animals for surplus harvest.

Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife(MDIFW) lacks a clearly written, well defined and accessible mission statement, complete with goals and objects. It also has no constitutional guarantee to provide surplus game or protection of “opportunities” and spends much of its time not only being manipulated by social pressures rather than using science, it goes out of its way to seek out and involve the public in setting management and population goals based on what the public will tolerate.

Evidently fed up with the bitching and complaining from hunters and associated industries, Maine crafted its “Maine’s Game Plan for Deer“. Prompted by a dying population of whitetail deer in Northern, Western and Eastern Maine, this plan was devised believing it would be the road map to recovery. What the plan lacks, once again is what I, personally, would consider clear goals and because of this, leaves sportsmen unsure of what exactly is going to take place, what the specific plan and achieved goals will be, specifically population objectives, and exactly who the Maine’s Game Plan for Deer was written for.

As a hunter, one would wish to see a statement from the Governor or at least the MDIFW Commissioner, stating that the objective of Maine’s Game Plan for Deer is to restore surplus populations of deer in all Wildlife Management Districts(WMD) for harvest opportunities. This would tell the sportsmen, who by the way are paying the bills at MDIFW, that the department intends to grow deer to levels that will give them surplus deer to harvest. Such a statement does no exist in Maine’s Game Plan for Deer.

As second choice, hunters might be satisfied for now if they could read or hear from the same sources that Maine’s Game Plan for Deer sets goals to rebuild deer populations that would increase hunting opportunities. That didn’t happen either.

As a matter of fact any wording or written statements that provide hunters any kind of reasonable assurances are quite lacking. The best I could come up with I’ll share below.

The MDIFW, after releasing Maine’s Game Plan for Deer, dedicated an entire newsletter to publish its new plan and discuss the whys and wherefores. Surely here hunters would find assurances.

In the newsletter, the following statement can be found:

While we’ve all been impressed by healthy deer populations, including trophy bucks, in parts of Maine, we’ve been concerned about low deer numbers in northern, eastern and western Maine. The population is below our publicly derived goals, and below the desires and expectations of hunters, guides and outfitters, rural Maine business owners, and those who enjoy watching deer.(emboldening added)

What does “publicly derived goals” mean? I can guarantee you it doesn’t mean more, better and guaranteed opportunities to harvest your deer to feed you family next fall. Further research shows us that Maine’s Game Plan for Deer is broken down into five elements.

One might also think that while publishing Maine’s Game Plan for Deer, an opportunity would be seized upon by MDIFW to assure the hunters, again those paying the bills, that this plan is for them (we are the ones who bitched and complained) and the purpose is specifically to grow deer to hunt. Instead, the preamble is about deflecting any notion of placing any blame for an abysmal deer herd away from MDIFW by stating: “there are several inter-related factors that are suppressing deer numbers” and the list does not include any slight hint of poor management. As a matter of fact, Commissioner Woodcock tells readers, “I’ve heard hunters claim that mismanagement on the part of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife caused the numbers to go down. That’s not true.” The dog ate my homework? Why does MDIFW exempt itself from blame?

So, if Maine drafts a Maine’s Game Plan for Deer, and in it there is nowhere that it even assures hunters that the plan is to grow surplus deer for harvest, then why are we paying for this and supporting it?

Element Two of Maine’s Game Plan for Deer is titled: Deer Population Management. Here’s what’s listed:
Strategies:
• conduct research to
refine our current deer population model
• better understand interactions between deer,
habitat, and predation
• understand how moose management may affect
our ability to increase the deer population
• work with landowners to eliminate deer mortality
where winter feeding makes deer susceptible to
vehicle collisions
• increase law enforcement efforts to target illegal killing
of deer
• work with the legislature to increase penalties for
illegal killing of deer
(emboldening added)

If I wanted to write a book, I would address all of these issues. However, a strategy to “refine our current deer population model” needs attention because, after all, isn’t this what Maine’s Game Plan for Deer is about? How does MDIFW plan to “refine” this and what’s more, what IS the current deer population model? Oh, yeah! I recall. Maybe the statement made the other day that was published in the Bangor Daily News from Maine’s head deer biologist tells us what Maine’s “current deer population model” is.

We realize, more than anything, that moose are valued economically for viewing as well as hunting opportunity as well as being on the landscape and just the aesthetic of moose,” Kantar said. “We balance all those things. That’s our job.”

Just replace the word “moose” with “deer” and that probably fits aptly.

But I think Element Four should give us a better indication why Maine’s Game Plan for Deer is not a plan to increase your odds of bagging a deer next year or any year into the foreseeable future. It’s a plan to appease the public and in particular environmental and animal rights groups. Element Four is: “Deer Planning and Public Involvement”.

MDIF&W has employed public participation to develop management goals and objectives for many species of Maine’s wildlife, including deer. The Department has conducted species planning since the early 1970s and has refined and expanded the process with each planning update. Most recently, the 1999 Big Game Working Group set the Department’s deer population management objectives for 2000-2015.

Deer are a public resource, but live on private lands. For any wildlife management effort to be successful, especially those occurring on private property [including deer wintering area management] society must determine: 1] the wildlife management result it desires, 2] the effort that it will undertake or require to achieve the result, and 3] to achieve the result, how much of the effort / cost will be borne by the private landowner and what, if any, society will bear.

You may view this statement in much the same way as does MDIFW, the governor’s office, the Maine Legislature and probably the majority of the Maine population. You agree with it and/or find no fault with it. However, it’s this mind set of “we’ve been doing this “since the early 1970s” that people think because they have it must be right. It’s not! It’s wrong on every count. It’s why there are no more deer! Why is this difficult to comprehend?

Deer is a resource that must be managed scientifically. We are now at a point where our fish and game departments allow the dictates of social pressures, and yes, even the social perversions of extremism, to directly influence how it manages wildlife. We, as yet anyway, don’t directly control our human populations based on what society dictates, do we? Please say no.

As a hunter, here I sit trying to figure out how we have gotten to this point. Since I was ten years old, I have invested in the Maine fish and game department. I didn’t do it because I had nothing better to do with my money. I did it because I like to hunt and fish. I did it because I was told that coughing up money each year for a license was a good thing and that money would be used to make sure that I had fish and game to harvest when I was hungry. This is my investment and your investment. We are still paying for it and we have nothing to say about it while the environmentalists and animal rights advocates have infiltrated our fish and game departments and all through state governments. And they pay nothing for the privilege of telling MDIFW what it will and will not do. There once was a time when sportsmen had ownership and the influence. No more, and that’s very sad as well as a troubling commentary for our future.

Maine’s Game Plan for Deer, like the hapless MDIFW without goals, without strategies, without a mission, is not a plan that will promise to increase your hunting and harvest opportunities. The Plan makes no such promise, while only stating it will work to increase deer populations that fit social demands only. With a department that protects the predators that destroy the deer, you might get some limited opportunities to hunt deer but it certainly is not what most hunters have in mind…..or at least used to.

Tom Remington

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Maine’s F&G Biologist Kantar Will Oversee Fate of Moose, Leave Deer Behind (Literally and Figuratively)

*Scroll Down for an Update and a Correction*

Last week George Smith, former head of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine now turned blogger/journalist/reporter, wrote on his blog that as part of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s (MDIFW) “restructuring”, Commissioner Woodcock, with the approval of Governor Paul LePage, decided that MDIFW needed a separate head deer biologist and a separate head moose biologist. Currently Lee Kantar has held the position as both deer and moose head biologist.

In addition to Smith’s report of the restructuring, he stated that Kantar was given his choice by the Commissioner, of whether he wanted to be head deer or head moose biologist.

Lee Kantar, the agency’s deer biologist, “assumed responsibility for moose as a favor to the department,” said Chandler, who also announced that he offered Kantar his choice of species, and he took moose.

Favor? Hmmm, interesting perspective.

In a separate report filed by John Holyoke of the Bangor Daily News, we read about comments made by Lee Kantar, efforts by MDIFW to conduct moose and deer aerial count surveys and some data that seems to support earlier claims that Maine’s moose herd is at least triple what hunters and wildlife enthusiast have been told for many years now.

While the first part of Holyoke’s report attempts to gloss over the dismal deer harvest report by stating:

While Kantar hasn’t crunched all the numbers from the 2011 hunting season, he expects that more than 18,000 deer were taken by hunters. That’s a significant increase from preseason projections, which put the number under 17,000.

The numbers are out and the actual harvest number stands at 18,170 deer taken. However, somehow trying to make the 2011 deer hunt a success by spinning the facts to make it look like there’s a “significant increase” because what could have been didn’t happen, isn’t getting the job done.

Aside from that, Holyoke’s report along with data from Kantar, tells us Maine may have as many as 100,000 moose, all the while for the past decade we have been told that Maine has 29,000 moose and that moose lottery permits have been allotted during that time to maintain a moose herd of 29,000.

George Smith reported in one of his earlier blogs and Holyoke brings it up in his report, that former moose biologist Kim Morris recently stated that Maine probably has around 60,000 – 90,000 moose. However, Kantar is sure there are less than that but far more than 29,000.

Without fully analyzing the new data that has been collected, Kantar feels fairly confident that an estimate of 75,000 moose is accurate.

His new data comes from last year and this year doing helicopter aerial surveys to count moose.

It should be extremely disturbing to everyone that Maine has been saying the state has 29,000 moose and now they “feels fairly confident” that there are 75,000. This isn’t chump change. Who has been heading up the moose management in Maine up to this point?

Also, is this statement a misprint or an attempt at humor?

“One of my biggest concerns is, we have a lot of moose in certain areas, and then we have a lot of areas where we have a lot of moose,”

Assuming it is a stab at humor and bears a resemblance to some truth, what Kantar is saying is Maine has a lot of moose. He then turns around and tells Holyoke that just because we have three times the number of moose the state has been managing for, doesn’t mean we can increase permits so hunters can take more moose. This is followed by this ridiculous comment:

“We realize, more than anything, that moose are valued economically for viewing as well as hunting opportunity as well as being on the landscape and just the aesthetic of moose,” Kantar said. “We balance all those things. That’s our job.”

Balance, balance, balance. I wonder if wildlife managers anymore have any idea what they are doing except hiding behind some kind of shroud that requires invoking that magical word “balance”, as though balance was some kind nirvana achieved only by those most enlightened?

Are we to pretend to be stupid and say nothing when for years we have been told that 29,000 moose in Maine is a good number, perhaps even “balanced”, by using their own jargon? And then, within weeks we are told there are 75,000 moose but that’s not enough to provide more hunting opportunities and Maine is “balanc[ing] all those things”. This makes little sense and stinks of agenda-driven wildlife management.

Mr. Kantar does not make MDIFW policy but this kind of crap sandwich issued by our fish and game department is the stuff that drives hunters away in disgust. The state is trying to figure out why nobody from out of state wants to come to Maine to hunt deer and they act clueless. What are they going to do when the residents stop buying licenses? And here’s an even bigger question somebody at IFW ought to answer. Whose money and efforts set the stage to provide the resources necessary that Maine now has 75,000 moose? Here’s a hint for all you at MDIFW. It wasn’t the environmentalist clowns and animal rights freaks or even those who use are resources and contribute nothing to them. Now that we’ve fronted the money and made our investment, you want to send us away telling us these aren’t our moose.

I don’t have to be a biologist to understand that 75,000 moose, the majority of them living in the same regions of Northern Maine where the deer herd has been run into the ground, isn’t a very promising prospect when those same moose are in direct competition with the deer.

As long as MDIFW and the governor of the State of Maine insists that 75,000 moose or more is good for moose watching and helps to “balance” the landscape and provide increased “aesthetic of moose”, there will never be a rebuilt deer herd because I don’t think they know how to do it.

Here’s the key question: If Lee Kantar was the head deer biologist and the deer herd is in the poorest condition it has been in, perhaps in the last century, should the Commissioner have given him the choice to move on to another species?

If Maine has been managing its deer herd in the same fashion as stated above, “economically for viewing as well as hunting opportunity as well as being on the landscape and just the aesthetic(s)”, and we now have a deer herd that may never return in 2/3rds of the state, what then are we to expect of the condition of our moose herd a decade from now?

*Update*: March 14, 2012, 1:45 p.m.

If you look below at the comments left concerning this article, you will notice a comment left by John Holyoke, author of the Bangor Daily News article linked to in this report. Mr. Holyoke states: “John Holyoke here: A clarification: The passage attributed to Lee contained a mistake (on my part). It should have said, ‘We have a lot of moose in certain areas, and then we have a lot of areas where we have hardly any moose.'”

It is important to make this clarification because of my reference in the article wondering if Mr. Kantar was making an attempt at humor. One would assume after reading Mr. Holyoke’s comment, there was a misprint or typo and not an attempt at humor. This eases the thoughts that coming at a time of serious discussions about the condition of both Maine’s deer and moose herds, the head biologist was not attempting to pass off the seriousness through ill-timed humor.

This is not a case of humor, however, this does not change the fact that Mr. Kantar did state that he is comfortable with an estimate of 75,000 moose in the state of Maine.

Tom Remington

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Open Letter to Maine Trappers, Hunters, Commissioner Woodcock and Governor LePage

*Editor’s Note:* The below letter was sent electronically to Gov. Paul LePage, MDIFW Commissioner Chandler Woodcock and several hunting industry leaders throughout Maine.

I have spent much of the last three days studying and researching the laws governing trapping, snaring and in particular the Coyote Control Program. I finished up a 30 minute session on the telephone with the Maine Law Library this morning and learned some very interesting pieces of information. I’ll try to spare all the details and provide only those of importance.

PL2003 c. 655 an act by the Legislature, effective Aug. 31, 2004, repealed all of Title 12, section 10105 subsection 3. In other words there is no longer a Coyote Control Program in Maine. Prior to the repeal, the language of 10105 sub 3 was as follows:

“3. Coyote control program. Pursuant to section 10053, subsection 8, the commissioner shall maintain a coyote control program as follows.
“A. The commissioner may employ qualified persons to serve as agents of the department for purposes of coyote control. These agents must be trained by the department in animal damage control techniques and must be utilized by the department to perform coyote control duties in areas where predation by coyotes is posing a threat to deer or other wildlife. Each agent shall execute a cooperative agreement with the department specifying the conditions and limitations of the agent’s responsibilities as an agent, including any terms for reimbursement of expenses or payment of wages.
“B. Agents must be trained in the use of snares and must be deployed in the unorganized townships to control coyotes during the winter months. All snaring must be carried out under the direction of department officials and with the knowledge of the local game warden. All areas of snaring activity must be adequately posted.
“C. Agents may be utilized for the benefit of agricultural interests as long as the department is reimbursed annually for the cost of those efforts by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources from funds specifically appropriated or otherwise made available to the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources for that purpose.”

All that exists now in Maine Statute Title 12, Section 10105 is:

3. Coyote control program.
[ 2003, c. 614, §9 (AFF); 2003, c. 655, Pt. B, §21 (RP); 2003, c. 655, Pt. B, §422 (AFF) .]

The history line across the bottom tells us the process of the elimination of the Coyote Control Program laws.

All that governs snaring in Maine is Maine Statute 12252 which bans snaring and Maine Statute Title 12, Section 10105, subsection 1:

1. Authorize taking or destruction of wildlife. Whenever the commissioner determines it necessary for the accomplishment of the commissioner’s statutory duties, the commissioner may authorize a person to assist the commissioner in the taking and destruction of any wildlife. The commissioner may place conditions or restrictions on any authorization granted under this subsection. A person who violates a condition or restriction placed on an authorization granted under this subsection invalidates that authorization and subjects that person to applicable laws under this Part.
[ 2003, c. 614, §9 (AFF); 2003, c. 655, Pt. B, §20 (AMD); 2003, c. 655, Pt. B, §422 (AFF) .]

This repeal, which by the way includes LD237 which provided the guidelines in which the IFW Commissioner could implement a snaring program, could have effectively been undertaken during the recodification process that became law in 2003. I don’t know that this happened but it is a possibility. Regardless, it is my opinion that the laws of the State of Maine and the wishes of the people have been circumvented through manipulation of the “process” in order to achieve certain goals and agendas.

So, it would appear, by law, the ONLY thing the Commissioner has a legal right to do is hire or appoint trappers/hunters to target coyotes, with limited traps due to lynx lawsuit protections or rifles, that are killing our deer herds. And with no more Coyote Control Program, in which the Legislature once many years ago and reiterated several times after, mandated that the Commissioner/IFW formulate a Control Program, does this not make Maine more susceptible to lawsuits by targeting coyotes or any other predator to save deer?

Any notions anyone has that Maine will ever implement a snaring program again should be flushed out of their minds. We can waste time blaming anyone and everyone for what has happened but it fails to change the facts.

Snaring is not supported by IFW, I don’t know if the Legislature or the Governor’s office supports it, but it will never happen and it will definitely not happen with the approval of the USFWS. So, let’s stop wasting our time and energy. It’s just NOT going to happen.

As sportsmen, who care about our opportunities to hunt for deer and fill our freezers for food for the year, how do we change 1.) the laws and support needed from the Joint Committee and the Legislature to save this industry?, and 2.) how do we change the attitudes of those at IFW who support the propagation and spread of predators, rather spend their time and efforts on non game programs and view hunting and trapping as activities that they deem as socially unacceptable activities? These attitudes have no place in a fish and game department in which I invest my hard earned money to support. This MUST change!

It’s time for IFW, the Legislature and the Governor’s office to come clean on where Maine stands in its statutes to govern trapping and snaring and move forward in an aggressive and meaningful manner to remove harmful predators and rebuild the deer herd. If this can be done, it is my belief that there will be more support from the sporting community to dig in and help.

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