March 19, 2019

Maine Not “All In” In Commitment To Restore Deer Herd But We Should be Encouraged

According to George Smith, blogger and former executive director for the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, the Maine Legislative Appropriations Committee, approved a supplemental spending budget for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) for $350,000, of which $100,000 is supposed to be used for “LD 372, An Act to Reduce Deer Predation”.

On January 24, 2012, in an article comparing efforts by outdoor sportsmen groups from Maine and Utah, I seriously questioned whether or not promises made by Maine’s Governor Paul LePage, during his gubernatorial campaign, was all talk and no action.

If Maine and the governor honestly are committed to the rebuilding of the deer herd to keep a vibrant industry providing jobs and upholding traditions and heritage, the value of investment would be realized and the Governor and Legislature would find the money to kill a lot of coyotes, reduce bear populations, protect wintering habitat, etc.

To continue my expounding on the doubts of Maine’s total commitment to deer hunting as a necessary part of that state’s economy, along with the long and storied heritage that has been a part of what makes Maine great, on March 15, 2012, I exposed MDIFW’s sparce commitment due to it’s lack of a publicly written and easily accessed “mission statement.

In all honesty, how can the people of Maine feel any kind of certainty that MDIFW is committed to managing it’s game population for surplus harvest, if they cannot publicly state that? Not doing so only leads us to believe that is NOT their goal and as such, why throw away tax dollars for MDIFW’s wildlife hobbies?

On March 28, 2012, I wrote an article in which I questioned whether Maine was “all in” when it comes to this commitment to rebuild a deer herd. I asked many questions.

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.

On May 1, 2012, I wrote:

I am assuming, which might be a mistake, that before the Governor and MDIFW made a public announcement of their commitment to rebuild Maine’s deer herd, they crunched some numbers and explored all aspects of the hunting industry in order to decide whether or not declaring “all in” was an investment that was responsible and in the best interest of the people of Maine.

Surprising many, the Maine Appropriations Committee has coughed up $138,000 on two programs to be used to directly or indirectly help the deer herd. It’s now up to the Governor to sign these bills. Will he?

If Gov. LePage signs these bills, it will be far from “all in” but it would be far more encouraging than the crickets we were hearing prior to this and no positive words that any money would be available.

I suggest sportsmen get on the phone and email and let the governor’s office know you urge him to sign these bills.

Tom Remington

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Perhaps Maine Approaches Game Management as a Hobby

There’s an old expression that I learned perhaps 55 years ago about doing something in a pot or getting off it. I’m beginning to wonder if the State of Maine, specifically the office of governor and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) approaches the entire functional aspect of fish and wildlife management as nothing more than a hobby. The present governor promised to rebuild the deer herd. The present commissioner at MDIFW promised to rebuild the deer herd. Maine government devised a plan to rebuild the deer herd and nothing has been done to rebuild the deer herd. I think it’s time to do something in that pot or get off it and put the pot away.

We are in tough times. There’s no doubt about it. Maine’s governor, Paul LePage, is doing what he thinks is best to reduce wasteful spending, something that must be done, and so it’s a big pill to swallow in any attempts to convince the taxpayers that borrowing and spending more money is in the best interest of all. So, the question for deer hunters becomes: Is spending money now or in the immediate future a good investment for all of Maine?

George Smith, a journalist, blogger and former executive director for the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, beats a steady drum. Agree with him or not, when he latches onto an issue he remains persistent until the issue is dead……and then some more. His latest attack has to do with funding Land for Maine’s Future(LMF), a governmental program that, “seeks to conserve lands that have exceptional recreational or ecological value along with working lands for farms, forests, tourism, and working waterfronts.”

Smith says the Land for Maine’s Future program is broke and he has a problem with the governor’s dislike of spending money by saying, “Governor Paul LePage’s antipathy to bonding is well known”. Smith sees this as a problem because he wants money to fund LMF in order to buy up and protect deer wintering forest areas.

In Maine’s Game Plan for Deer, one of the many things identified that contributed to the demise of the whitetail deer herd, is the loss of habitat, specifically deer wintering areas (DWA). Smith wants the $5 million bond issue to pass to fund LMF in order to buy up DWAs to protect deer.

This is probably a good idea but I am not aware of anyone, at least with any position of legislative authority or otherwise, who has come up with a plan of just how we are going to convince private land owners to sell off a deer yard that happens to sit in the middle of their property? Smith even says, “No landowner is going to sell the state a stand-alone deeryard.” Not to be accused of taking Smith out of context, he also stated that the habitat surrounding a deer yard is important as well, implying all of the land, inside and out, of the deer yard areas need protecting.

With a deer management plan, that contains no specific information about how it is going to protect deer habitat, is it then prudent to bond out $5 million to LMF, with the target goal for that expenditure deer yards in Maine?

Personally, I would like to see two things happen. One, I want to see a viable plan worked out between the State of Maine and private landowners about how a program could function that would, hopefully, provide for the needs of both parties. Once a workable plan is in place, that is one that isn’t Marxist by nature, strong-arming landowners to give up land or else, then let’s proceed with the funding. The only way money should be appropriated for this action is only AFTER a majority of private landowners, i.e. those who own the deer yards needing protection, have agreed to such a plan.

Secondly, I think there are things that can be done right now that will have an immediate effect on the deer herd, if and when the governor’s office and MDFIW makes a real commitment to it. So far, the people, even though they were promised during those dreadful campaign days, have seen nothing. Should I put that in all capitals? NOTHING!

Here’s the deal, in case you really haven’t caught on yet. Campaign rhetoric is cheap. Anyone can spew it and all do. Why we insist in getting caught up in it is a lesson that might never be learned. The only thing any of us can ever get out of it is to throw it back in the politician’s face that he or she lied. Big deal! They all do it because we let them. These days the end always justifies the means.

So the governor, in this case Mr. LePage, gets elected and as is the usual case, promises are forgotten and he hires an expert to make excuses for his lack of action. But this case puzzles me a bit. Governor LePage pushed for this Game Plan for Maine’s Deer. Why? Is this a double entendre? Perhaps political naivete to offer twice a broken promise? A lack of a commitment brought on by the absence of understanding money would be needed? Or perhaps the governor and his cohorts didn’t fully examine the deer hunting industry and whether it was an investment worth the money and the commitment? Or, maybe something else.

I’ve written a few times about this lack of engagement at all levels of the State of Maine; HERE, HERE, HERE. I am assuming, which might be a mistake, that before the Governor and MDIFW made a public announcement of their commitment to rebuild Maine’s deer herd, they crunched some numbers and explored all aspects of the hunting industry in order to decide whether or not declaring “all in” was an investment that was responsible and in the best interest of the people of Maine. Why would you do it anyway?

If it has been determined, again I’m assuming here, that it was a worthy investment and the Governor made a public announcement, twice actually, of his “commitment” to rebuild the deer herd, then where is this commitment? It’s not like the economic difficulties that Maine and the rest of the nation experience crept up on us overnight.

If there is no concentration of effort, including funding, then either the Governor and MDIFW knowingly misled the voters and hunters because they knew, specifically the Governor, that he would not fund any effort to save the deer herd. In other words, he was placating the voters and again the sportsmen with his hollow promises.

Therefore, without any further explanation available that I am aware of from MDIFW or the Governor’s office, I am left believing that the MDIFW is an expensive hobby and is promoted as such from the Governor’s office. The only commitment that I see is to keep enough funding going to pay a lot of salaries, the most of which have nothing to do with management of game species. This is an expensive hobby. I have contributed a lot of money over the years, as have hundreds of thousands of others, to support this hobby.

It is time to get off the pot because obviously nothing is being put into the pot. If the Governor and MDIFW cannot see the deer hunting industry as viable enough to warrant investment, surely my money should not fund a department in which I no longer have a vested interest. The governor and MDIFW can go play with their wildlife on their own time and money.

Tom Remington

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