June 17, 2019

SAM’s Executive Director Testifies Before House Subcommittee on Quimby National Monument

Condensed SAM Testimony
Delivered by David Trahan, June 1, 2016

It is SAM’s mission to defend the rights of sportsmen and firearm owners. In addition, we promote the responsible conservation of our natural resources. On several occasions, including last year, we polled our members on whether they supported the creation of a National Park for the Katahdin region of Maine, as proposed by Roxanne Quimby. Each time the answer was a resounding NO, with our last poll at 92% opposition.

Through the generations Mainers have struck a delicate balance with landowners, sharing the land for all sorts of recreational uses, like hunting, fishing, trapping, and snowmobiling. Over time, large landowners have leased land and camps to outdoor recreationists, and as a result, thousands of camps have sprung up in the wilds of Maine. During these adventures into the Maine woods, moms, dads, grandfathers, uncles, aunts, and friends learned how to hunt, fish, camp, and conserve our natural resources, and in the process built bonds that made families stronger, and men and women better citizens.

Unfortunately, that delicate balance between landowners and Mainers was threatened in the early 1990s when the radical group Restore the North Woods appeared on the scene. They proposed abandoning traditional recreation like hunting, snowmobiling, and other motorized recreation, as well as ending logging. Instead, they proposed creating a 3.2-million acre wilderness National Park surrounding Baxter State Park. The opposition to this attempt to place northern Maine in federal ownership was swift, and overwhelming.<<<Read the Rest>>>

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David Trahan Testimony on LD1228

Source:

Had a great public hearing on LD 1228. Here is my Testimony-had no one in opposition.

Testimony in Support of LD 1228 An Act To Amend the Ballot Initiative Process To Ensure Support in Maine’s Congressional Districts
Before the Joint Standing Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs
Presented by David Trahan, Executive Director, Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine
April 15, 2015

Senator Cyrway, Representative Luchini, and distinguished members of the Committee on Veterans and Legal
Affairs, I am David Trahan, Executive Director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine testifying in support of LD LD 1228 An Act To Amend the Ballot Initiative Process To Ensure Support in Maine’s Congressional Districts. Our organization would like to thank Representative Short for sponsoring this SAM Bill.

For decades, many Mainers have argued that there are two Maine’s, North and South. Many in the North feel as though they have no voice in Augusta politics. In March of 2012, State Representative, Henry Joy of Crystal even proposed Legislation that would have allowed Aroostook, Piscataquis, Somerset, Franklin, Penobscot and parts of Washington, Hancock and Oxford counties to become their own State called Maine. Southern and coastal Maine would be renamed the state of Northern Massachusetts.

I served in the legislature at the time many of us could not figure out whether it was a joke or whether he serious, I think he was dead serious. Never could the North v. South divide have been more defined than during the bear referendum signature gathering effort and in the final vote on Election Day.

We have submitted LD 1228 to restore some level of fairness to rural Maine and when I am finished with this testimony it should be crystal clear why this bill is necessary.

In early February, Katie Hansberry, HSUS Director announced that Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting had submitted 78,528 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office and that the signatures collected came from 417 cities and towns, in every County throughout Maine. This sounds like statewide support, except the devils in the details. First of all, of the 78,528 signatures turned in, only 63,626 were valid, just 5000 more than required.

Of the 63,626 certified signatures, three quarters, or 46,463 of those came from 115 First Congressional District towns. To pare it down further, 12 towns, mostly in Cumberland County, were responsible for 46 percent of the signatures. Twenty-two towns, again, mostly in Cumberland County, were responsible for 58 percent of the total valid signatures collected.

For those living in the other rural counties, what is extremely unfair about this lopsided collection effort is that if the referendum had passed, nearly no one in southern Maine would have been affected by the loss of rural Maine bear guiding jobs or from new bear nuisance problems.

There are 24 states that have a citizen initiated referendum system, of the 24, 12 have geographical requirement to qualify for the ballot. LD 1228 is identical to Nevada law that requires qualifying signatures come from each Congressional District. In order to qualify for the ballot in Maine, it takes at least 10 percent valid signatures of those that voted in the previous election for Governor. In Nevada, the Congressional geographical requirement in LD 1228 was tested in the United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Angle v. Miller, September 1, 2011. In upholding the law, the Federal Court said:
[2] All Districts Rule did not dilute political power in violation of the Equal Protection Clause;
[3] All Districts Rule did not discriminate against an identifiable class in violation of the Equal Protection Clause;
[4] All Districts Rule did not impose severe burden on communication between petition circulators and voters, as would trigger strict scrutiny under First Amendment;
[5] there was no evidence that All Districts Rule significantly inhibited ability of proponents to place initiatives on ballot, as would trigger strict scrutiny under First Amendment; and
[6] In a matter of first impression, Nevada had legitimate interest in making sure any initiative had grassroots support that was distributed throughout the state.

The First District is 20 percent the size of the Second District, yet it holds half the state’s population. Maine’s Second District is the largest East of the Mississippi, it is the second most rural in the country, with 72 percent of its population in rural areas; in contrast, 50 percent of the First District is considered urban and the rest rural. The Second District is like its own country and because of its size the politics and opinions of its inhabitants are diverse. When considering policies like wildlife management, it is easy to understand why the people of rural Maine feel disenfranchised, they are.

As our population migrates further south toward Massachusetts, the distance between urban and rural Maine is growing. According to MapQuest, it takes six hours to travel from Kittery Maine to Fort Kent Maine. It takes just 4 hours and a half to travel from Kittery Maine to New York City, NY. Rep. Joy was right to some degree, southern Maine is an extension of Massachusetts, but that doesn’t mean in order for the rest of Maine to have fair representation in the initiative process they need to secede. Instead, the legislature needs to find ways to bring fairness to processes like our referendum. I urge you pass LD 1228 it will finally bring geographical fairness to state ballot initiatives. This bill will not impede debate or suppress voters; on the contrary, it will insure that ballot initiative signatures represent a diverse and more accurate geographical sample of Maine voters.

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Trahan: The Rise of the Animal Rights Movement

By David Trahan — In politics today, it is virtually impossible to expose the true motives of an individual candidate or special interest group; in addition, with technology and the vast media resources available to manipulate film and written media, special interests can use highly paid media consultants to hide their real agenda. Unfortunately, voters are easily swayed by thirty second television ads and 10 second sound bites. Compound this problem with individuals so blinded by cult like beliefs they are willing to dishonestly spin the truth and you have a recipe for disaster.<<<Read More>>>

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Sending The Wrong Message to Maine’s Youth Hunters?

Rep. Gilbert of Jay, Maine is sponsoring a bill that would give youth hunters, age 10-15, a chance to shoot an antlerless deer, without a special permit, during the regular firearm season. Let’s be clear, youth hunters in Maine already have their own Saturday before the commencement of the regular firearm season on deer to hunt and bag any deer, while abiding by the existing harvest laws. The bill is being opposed for all the wrong reasons from what I can see.

In an article that appeared in the Bangor Daily News today by Scott Thistle, middle school students from the Spruce Mountain School in Jay, appeared before the Maine Legislative Joint Standing Committee for Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, to tell why they support this bill.

The article offers two people who oppose this bill: David Trahan, executive director for the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and Don Kliner, Maine Professional Guides Association. Trahan says:

“This testimony does not reflect any of my personal or SAM’s position against young people hunting in the woods,” Trahan said. He said SAM opposed the measure because the number of youth that would be allowed to shoot a doe would have a big impact on the deer that are shot.

And Kliner adds:

The bill sends the wrong message, Kliner said.

“The reason why hunting has been so successful in not only bringing back wildlife populations that were once nearly extinct, including whitetail deer, is that we have rules,” Kliner said. “Rules to promote the conservation, the wise use of the species that we all hold so dear and reverently. I would argue that allowing children to disobey or not take part in the rules robs them of the opportunity to participate in the covenant of conservation that is hunting.”

Can anyone argue the fact that if we can’t get and keep kids in the woods hunting, trapping and fishing, it will not matter the impact on the deer herd or whether or not the wrong message is being sent? We can do better than this.

I fully understand Trahan’s and Kliner’s positions on why they oppose this bill. In addition, I would have to say that this bill, as written and blindly implemented would, more than likely, be a bad idea. This news report and the sponsor of this bill is void of any data needed to convince anybody the bill would work. Where are the data? Where are the numbers that can show the impact would be inconsequential and the effort beneficial?

I recall during the debate as to whether to allow a day for only youth hunters prior to the regular season giving those kids a chance to shoot any sex of deer, bald-headed or not. The claims went up then that the kids would destroy the deer herd. Question: Has that happened? Question: Where are the data to show the impact for or against?

While Trahan boasts of his ability to get the Youth Day hunt going, expanding on that program would seem a positive thing and not something to stop simply by stating it will impact the deer herd enough it shouldn’t be allowed. Will it? Where are the projected numbers to show that? Can the bill be amended so it will work? Is anyone looking into that possibility?

Kliner says we would be sending the wrong message to our kids that they need to follow rules too. Agreed, but is a flat rejection of this bill, without an honest effort to modify it to work, also sending the wrong message? A message that says I really don’t care enough to craft a bill that would work well.

We have had Youth Day for a few years. Certainly there must exist data that can give us an indication as to the impact. If my memory serves me correctly, Lee Kantar, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) head deer biologist, told me at the time of consideration to implement the youth hunt, that he didn’t believe the number of deer taken by youth on one day would have much impact at all. Does he still feel that way?

It is my understanding that in the wording of Rep. Gilbert’s bill, all youth hunters would have to abide by all the existing hunting laws, with the exception that they could harvest an antlerless deer without a permit. That would mean they follow the same harvest restrictions as everyone else, meaning they cannot shoot an antlerless deer in those Wildlife Management Districts where taking of antlerless deer is prohibited. That leaves those zones where permits are issued because the population of deer is such that a harvest of does is part of the management plan for deer.

It seems to me that biologists and wildlife agencies nationwide spend gobs of money creating computer models for just about anything they want an outcome for. Would it be that difficult at the onset of such a bill, to create a model, based on past history, as to how many of those youth hunters would shoot an antlerless deer and with that information, factor it into the logarithm used to determine the allotment of Any-Deer Permits? Can adjustments be made as part of the lottery drawing for Any-Deer Permits, that would give an advantage to youth? Can there be a way for an adult who draws an Any-Deer Permit, to sign it over to a youth? (Perhaps that already exists. Seems there is some amount of swapping of moose permits allowed.)

I think there are ample ways to make hunting laws that will encourage kids to hit the woods, rather that prop up a half-hearted effort thinking your doing the youth a favor. Now, you want to talk about sending wrong messages? Maybe it’s time to show the kids we adults really do care about the hunting heritage and their future in this sport by finding ways to make such proposals work.

I understand the process of proposing bills and the debates etc. I also understand that when bills are poorly crafted – no or little thought going into them, providing no data to support the need and impacts – they sometimes require an up or down vote. It sounds like David Trahan may have found himself in such a predicament. I don’t know.

It also appears that Rep. Gilbert, while his heart and his intentions where in the right place, a better effort should have been made to craft a bill that would benefit the youth, who are the only future to our hunting heritage, and at the same time providing statistical proof of how and why a well-constructed bill would not impact negatively the deer herd.

Rep. Gilbert, in my opinion, is on the right track. He just needs some help and cooperation from MDIFW and others more knowledgeable about crafting good legislative bills.

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Has Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine Endorsed Angus King or Not?

It appears there’s much confusion in the last couple of days as to whether the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine is endorsing independent Angus King for the U.S. Senate or not. I was the recipient of an email that listed some exchanges and a photograph of what appears to be an endorsement of King by David Trahan, Executive Director of SAM. I’ll share those below, including the photo.

October 16, 2012 – The following email was sent to Becky at Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine:

Hi Becky, I received a political card from Angus King with an endorsement from SAM. I find it a little perplexing to learn that David Trahan, as Executive Director of a 14,000 member organization, is supporting an independent instead of a Republican for U.S. Senate when it is imperative to the survival of our country that we have a majority in the U.S. Senate so we can kick Harry Reid out of his majority leadership seat & get our country back under Mitt Romney.

Disappointed ___________

Assuming the above email went to a number of undisclosed recipients, here is a response to this topic by Rep. Jonathan McKane, House District 51:

Not true – SAM did not endorse Angus or any candidate. SAM said that all of the candidates were good candidates. It appears that Angus changed the quote.

And Rep. McKane posted the following news article which can be found in the Kennebec Journal for verification. The Kennebec Journal article is dated September 24, 2012:

Maine sportsman’s group endorses Courtney

September 24, 2012, 1:57 pm

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The largest hunting and fishing advocacy group in Maine is endorsing Republican Jon Courtney in the 1st Congressional District race, but isn’t endorsing anybody in the 2nd District or Senate races.

The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine interviewed Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud and his 2nd District Republican challenger, Kevin Raye, as well as Republican Charlie Summers and independent Angus King in the Senate race.

SAM Executive Director David Trahan said the alliance’s board of directors decided that Michaud, Raye, Summers and King were all “friends” of the alliance and decided to not give an endorsement in those races.

For the 1st District race, the board endorsed GOP candidate Jon Courtney, who is running against Democratic incumbent Chellie Pingree. Trahan said Pingree did not respond to the alliance’s questionnaire.

In addition, on the 17th of October another email goes out asking someone, who’s name I will not show, to seek a retraction of the endorsement by SAM from Angus King, shown in the photo above.

______, please see attached PDF showing SAM endorsement of Angus King. David [Trahan] needs to have Angus do a retraction before the Nov. 6th election. The stakes are too high.

Sportsmen might like to know if, in fact, SAM or David Trahan personally, is endorsing Angus King for U.S. Senate. In addition, did Angus King take liberties with something Trahan might have said, and present it as an endorsement by SAM?

The photo shows other so-called “Outdoor Leader Endorsements”, that I take as personal endorsements, even though who each person might be affiliated with or represent is shown. The question becomes, is this shown endorsement an official endorsing of Angus King by the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine or is it a personal endorsement of David Trahan’s?…..or neither? I think clarification on this would be imperative heading into an election in less than 3 weeks.

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Who’s Counting Deer in Maine Anyway?


Photo editorial compliments of Richard Paradis

While some media outlets across the state of Maine are reporting on Gov. LePage signing a handful of bills to fund portions of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), from the perspective of someone who has a slightly higher than average grasp of the deer herd situation in Maine, I have to wonder who’s counting deer and making deer density estimates. Somewhat in fairness to those who might be creating the numbers, what makes its way into press pieces may be more of a product of poor reporting, the result of accepting numbers without substantiating the claims.

The Portland Press Herald this morning reports on the governor’s efforts to do something about saving the deer herd. In laying out claims of deer densities across the state, the article states that, “it hovers around 40 to 50 [per square mile] in southern and some coastal areas and islands”, as they say was reported to them by David Trahan, who is Executive Director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine. It should be made clear here that all of “Southern Maine” is not populated with deer densities running 40 – 50 per square miles. I think this is a matter of poor choice of words to describe that in some pockets of Southern Maine and some coastal areas and some islands, you will find those densities. It is not the norm.

But the blaring error, at least from my perspective and I don’t think I’m alone, is the claim that Maine’s deer population is around 250,000. In Maine’s hay day years of record deer populations of around 300,000 plus, historically the harvest struggled to reach 10% or 30,000 deer. If Maine’s present deer population was 250,000 one might expect the harvest numbers to be approaching 25,000. The deer harvest over the last 3 hunting seasons has averaged just under 19,000 animals. That statistic alone would draw one to conclude that the population might be closer to 200,000 than 250,000, a near 25% difference.


Photo editorial compliments of Richard Paradis

In the Press Herald report was the following: “a new law that expands the mission of a state deer-management fund to include preserving deer yards, in addition to its traditional focus on controlling coyotes.” (Emphasis added)

The “new law” in reference here will do little to “preserve deer yards”. At 19,000 deer tagged, times 2 dollars is $38,000. While all help should be welcomed, let’s not paint a picture of something that isn’t going to happen on $38,000 a year. There is a bond issue that awaits the Governor’s signature (most doubt he will sign it) that would appropriate hundreds of thousands of dollars to Land for Maine’s Future. Some of that money is to be used in the “protection/preservation of deer yards”. Even George Smith, former executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, says this amount of money will do little in buying up and protecting deer yards. Perhaps if a plan could be devised first, it might be helpful.

Laughable was the phrase, “traditional focus on controlling coyotes”. Traditional? Before something can become a tradition, it first has to have been tried…..at least once if I may be so generous. Maine has no tradition of focusing on controlling coyotes. Quiet the contrary. Maine’s tradition has been more to ignore problems and protect the predator, while members of the MDIFW, along with animal rights groups and environmentalists lay false claims that coyotes make for a healthy ecosystem.

I would also like to point out another thing that caught my eye in media accounts of Gov. LePage’s bill signing. I found it in the Press Herald article as well as other press releases.

Deer hunting and viewing in Maine generate at least $200 million per year in spending on guide and outfitting services, hunting camps, motels, restaurants and related businesses, Burns said.

Burns refers to Rep. David Burns, R-Whiting, who is the sponsor of one of the pieces of legislation that Gov. LePage signed. What has happened here, as has happened all across the nation, is that environmentalists have hijacked the claims of revenue generated from hunting and related businesses to include “viewing”. It’s a farce and a shame really. There are no statistics or studies to prove that so-called wildlife viewing generates any substantial amount of revenue to the state. Some have attempted to steal the reality by invoking information provided by polls done that show how many people like to “watch wildlife”. What has never been differentiated in these polls is how many “wildlife watchers” are hunters and how many pure “wildlife watchers” there really are.

A prime example of this hijacking is found in Yellowstone Park. Officials there polled visitors and asked them if they saw wolves or would like to see wolves. They took those responses and concluded that that number of people came to Yellowstone Park for the sole purpose of viewing wolves. They attempt to use these numbers to falsely pin a monetary value to wolf watching. It’s almost criminal.

At the rate the environmentalists are laying claim to things they don’t own, or had anything to do with, they will soon be claiming they are responsible for every nickel that comes into the state and as a result will demand control over it. Oh, wait! They already are!

Tom Remington

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David Trahan and Gerry Lavigne On a $5 Million Bond to Protect Winter Deer Yards

The Bangor Daily News carries an opinion piece coauthored by David Trahan, Executive Director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine(SAM), and Gerry Lavigne, former deer biologist for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife(MDIFW) and member of SAM. The piece is a call to the governor, the Legislature and voters of Maine to pass LD852, a $5 million bond to fund Land for Maine’s Future.

For readers to better understand exactly what this means as it pertains to protecting deer wintering areas, first please consider the Summary as provided in LD852:

The funds provided in this bond issue are to recapitalize the Land for Maine’s Future program with $36,000,000 to continue Maine’s land conservation efforts, leveraging a minimum of $36,000,000 in required matching funds. It provides $12,000,000 for natural resource industry based infrastructure improvements and enhancement related to natural resource industry and to provide capital for state park maintenance and improvements. It also gives land conservation projects that protect and enhance deer wintering habitat preference and directs the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Department of Conservation to pursue projects that protect and conserve deer wintering habitat(emboldening added).

I would strongly suggest that all voters thorough read and understand LD852 before voting on it. Below is part of LD852 which speaks of disbursement of funds if the bond is passed. I’ve highlighted some key points as it relates to protection of deer yards.

Sec. 5. Disbursement of bond proceeds. The proceeds of the bonds must be expended as set out in this Act under the direction and supervision of the Executive Department, State Planning Office; the Department of Conservation; the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources; and the Department of Marine Resources.

1. The proceeds of the bonds for the Land for Maine’s Future Board as set out in section 6 must be expended by the Executive Department, State Planning Office for acquisition of land and interest in land for conservation, water access, outdoor recreation, wildlife and fish habitat, farmland preservation in accordance with the provisions for such acquisitions under the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 5, chapter 353 and working waterfront preservation in accordance with the terms of this Act, including all costs associated with such acquisitions, except that use of the proceeds of these bonds is subject to the following conditions and requirements.

A. Hunting, fishing, trapping and public access may not be prohibited on land acquired with bond proceeds, except to the extent of applicable state, local or federal laws, rules and regulations and except for working waterfront projects and farmland protection projects.

B. Payment from bond proceeds for acquisitions of local or regional significance, as determined by the Land for Maine’s Future Board, may be made directly to cooperating entities as defined in Title 5, section 6201, subsection 2 for acquisition of land and interest in land by cooperating entities, subject to terms and conditions enforceable by the State to ensure its use for the purposes of this Act. In addition to the considerations required under Title 5, chapter 353, the board shall give a preference to acquisitions under this paragraph that achieve benefits for multiple towns and that address regional conservation needs including public recreational access, wildlife, open space and farmland.

C. The bond funds expended for conservation, recreation, farmland and water access must be matched with at least $36,000,000 in public and private contributions. Seventy percent of that amount must be in the form of cash or other tangible assets, including the value of land and real property interest acquired by or contributed to cooperating entities, as defined in Title 5, section 6201, subsection 2, when property interests have a direct relationship to the property proposed for protection, as determined by the Land for Maine’s Future Board. The remaining 30% may be matching contributions and may include the value of project-related, in-kind contributions of goods and services to and by cooperating entities.

D. Of the bond proceeds allocated to the Land for Maine’s Future Board, $4,000,000 must be made available to protect farmland in accordance with Title 5, section 6207.

E. Of the bond proceeds allocated to the Land for Maine’s Future Board, $4,000,000 must be made available to protect working waterfront properties in accordance with Public Law 2005, chapter 462, Part B, section 6.

F. Because portions of the State have deer populations that are struggling and deer wintering habitat protection is vital to the survival and enhancement of these populations, projects that conserve and protect deer wintering areas are considered to have special value and must receive preferential consideration during scoring of new applications for support under Title 5, section 6200, et seq.

2. The proceeds of the bonds for the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources must be expended on agricultural infrastructure improvements.

3. The Department of Conservation and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife shall take a proactive approach to pursuing land conservation projects that include significant wildlife habitat conservation, including conservation of deer wintering areas. The departments shall include in conservation negotiations under this section provisions for the appropriate management of deer wintering areas. The proceeds of the bonds for the Department of Conservation must be expended as follows.

A. Two million dollars allocated to the Maine Forest Service must be used for forestry infrastructure improvements.

B. Two million dollars allocated to the Bureau of Parks and Lands must be used for public recreation infrastructure improvements.

C. Four million dollars allocated to the Bureau of Parks and Lands must be used to preserve state parks and lands managed by the Department of Conservation.

4. The proceeds of the bonds for the Department of Marine Resources must be expended on commercial fishing infrastructure improvements.

5. To the extent the purposes are consistent with the disbursement provisions in this Act, 100% of the bond proceeds may be considered as state match for any federal funding to be made available to the State.

Yesterday, I shared some thoughts on this subject.

Tom Remington

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Maine’s “Game Plan for Deer” Getting Nowhere Fast

Growing up, my father was forever angering me with his platitudes in hopes of proving his point or putting you into a context of uselessness. Growing up poor we spent many hours of many days doing physical work around home, such as firewood, weeding gardens, mowing lawns, etc. I recall sometimes being told to do things I didn’t think possible and my first and repeated reply was, “I can’t”. His scripted retort was always, “Can’t never did anything!”

Is it me and my expectations of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) are too high or has the passage and implementation of the Maine Game Plan for Deer, become a useless instrument supported by “I can’t”?

Some say I’m not fair in my criticism of MDIFW but frankly what criticism is ever considered fair when you are the target of the criticism? Criticism should always be followed by suggested remedies, which I usually try to do.

Maine sportsmen held out hope going into the last election of governor, thinking that an administration change at both the Blaine House and regime change at MDIFW, that resources and attention would shift back toward actual game management, particularly deer, addressing a decades-long downward spiral in the state’s deer population.

When all the changes took place, personnel went to work to draft an official plan to rebuild the deer herd. George Smith, former executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and now writer and outdoor/environmental pundit, attended a long meeting with members of the MDIFW to update the progress of the Game Plan for Deer. George files an initial report on the meeting.

I did not attend the meeting so I can only comment on Smith’s perspective of what he took away from the event. In essence, Smith relates that there was little optimism for the future and little had been accomplished and little projected to take place. Perhaps he puts it best when he wrote:

expectations are now high and his [MDIFW Commissioner Chandler Woodcock] ability to deliver is low

In reference to the content of the meeting, Smith says: “A lot of time was consumed with a discussion of deer feeding problems, predator controls, and deer/vehicle collisions.”

I’m not sure that I agree, as Smith writes that the number one issue facing a depleted deer herd is habitat, it appears nothing is even being done to address that problem.

But very little time was devoted to habitat protection and enhancement – the key problem and the major reason for the state’s diminished deer population according to the agency’s wildlife staff. Surprisingly little is actually being done on this.

I guess the catch phrase here might as well be, “I can’t!” After reading this assessment, once again my blood pressure spiked and I began breaking pencils and tossing them across my office. One stuck into the screen to the side door. What I sputtered about for the next 20 minutes sort of came out something like this:

It’s all about habitat! I’m so sick and tired about hearing how everything must be blamed on habitat. Well, you know, habitat is important but nobody has ever answered my question about why if there just isn’t any deer wintering areas left there are many acres of deer wintering areas where there are no deer. I could better understand this excuse if the deer herd was near the state’s carrying capacity, but it’s not. And yet, according to George Smith nothing is planned to deal with that so………

We can’t do anything about the weather and MDIFW is not going to do anything about habitat, so………

Then logic would force a sane individual to ask, what CAN we do? Let’s take what we CAN do and prioritize it into what has the biggest negative impact on down to the least and begin there.

So once MDIFW gets done forming more task forces, putting up more signs of deer crossings, paying to fly around and count deer, reduce Any-Deer Permits, shorten the deer season, close it in some areas, raise the license fees, pray for more global warming, take the dog for a walk, go out to lunch, form another task force, walk the dog again, investigate how many deer are being killed by farmers, then perhaps they could get down to predator control or does that have any negative effect at all? Maybe they see coyotes and other predators as positive effects on the deer. I mean take the wolf. They are like the wonder drug, geritol, spandex and lycra, WD-40. I think the presence of wolves cures cancer. Can coyotes be that much different?

And I still haven’t calmed down yet!

I can’t! MDIFW doesn’t have the resources. I can’t! The demands are too high. I can’t! I can’t! I can’t! I can’t!

CAN’T NEVER DID ANYTHING!

Where’s the effort here? Who’s on board with this effort to rebuild Maine’s deer herd? Has the state really made a commitment to rebuild the deer herd? Does Maine honestly see and understand the economic as well as cultural impact the loss of a deer herd and ultimately a hunting season would have on the state?

I have to seriously question that commitment.

Recently I received an email from a gentleman who is head of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife in Utah. I shared that email with a few select recipients on my email list, including the MDIFW Commissioner Chandler Woodcock.

The email was a call to arms for Utah and other sportsmen from the Western regions of the United States, to come together in a united effort to rebuild a depleted mule deer herd. The email begins by clarifying what efforts had been done to date to fix the problem.

While more than 750,000 acres of habitat has been restored, cougar populations have been reduced, and $650,000 a year in coyote control is spent, $50 Million has been invested to fence highways with underpass crossings, still not enough has been done. It is the feeling that 80% of Utah’s deer herds are still in decline, and only 20% or so are doing well.

How many acres of this much needed habitat restoration has been done in Maine? Oh, that’s right. I can’t. What concerted efforts are underway in Maine to reduce predators, including black bears, bobcats and coyotes, even if only temporarily until the herd rebuilds? Oh, that’s right. I can’t. How much money has been put toward coyote control in Maine? Oh, that’s right. I can’t. How much has been invested in other projects around the state to protect and build the deer herd? Oh, that’s right. I can’t.

WE already know Senator Hatch has helped get tens of millions in habitat restoration money, personally toured Habitat restoration areas, won the wolf war for sportsmen etc.

In Maine, it appears the Governor has promised to do everything he can do, but when was the last time Sen. Snowe, Sen. Collins, Rep. Michaud, Rep. Pingree attended one of any meetings on the issue of rebuilding Maine’s deer herd? Or toured any deer yard? Oh, that’s right. I can’t. How about the last time one of these elected officials sent a key staff member to assist? Oh, that’s right. I can’t. When was the last United States senator or representative who “helped gets tens of millions” to help do anything with wildlife management in Maine? Oh, that’s right. I can’t.

As was written about in this email, there is an election coming up again next November. Maine sportsmen should be looking at every candidate and demanding that they have an agenda to actually do everything they can to save Maine’s deer herd or they won’t get your vote.

The overall effort here is just coming across as pathetic. Certainly there are pockets of positive accomplishes and isolated individuals doing what they can, but Maine’s overall effort is poor. The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, once the backbone of lobbying for the sportsmen is in disarray with a sinking membership and disunity among those members still hanging on. Perhaps David Trahan can right the ship. It is imperative for Maine’s future for sportsmen. The governor makes promises to “do what he can” but is he? Isn’t it time to rattle the cages of the 4 Congressional delegates and tell them it’s time for them to get involved. If Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah can “find” millions of dollars to help with restoring habitat and mule deer there, isn’t it reasonable to expect the same might be available somewhere for Maine?

Can’t never did anything. As long as the current administration in Augusta insists that there’s nothing they can do or they are doing all they can, what hope is there? To exclaim that “expectations are now high and his ability to deliver is low” is a loser attitude. There is no room for this when a state is faced with such a serious problem. But, then again, maybe the real problem is that those in high places don’t really view a lost Maine deer herd as a serious problem or even a small problem.

The Maine Game Plan for Deer is a worthless document until a strong and united effort is undertaken. It has to be more than task force creations, meetings, talk and rhetoric, while fractured small groups or individuals practice futility. It appears Maine has to learn how to build a coalition that brings everybody onto the same page. Until that happens the only rebuilding of any deer herds will be happenstance.

Maybe David Trahan, if he were to successfully pull all this together in a united and powerful force to reckon with, this would, at the same time, resolve the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine’s membership problems. Just a thought! Let me know when you are ready to fight.

Tom Remington

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