December 18, 2017

Eastport, Maine’s Continuing “Deer Problem”

Actually, I don’t think Eastport has a “deer problem.” I think they have a people problem who think they can cure a perceived problem with a “new way to look at wildlife management” – i.e. Romance Biology and Voodoo Scientism.

If you live in Eastport, Maine, you have the right to keep and bear arms. However, if you are attacked within the city limits and need to defend yourself, make sure the gun you have for self-defense is small enough to throw but big enough to cause some damage if it should strike a violent criminal. That’s because in Eastport, like many other towns and cities in America, there is a law about discharging a firearm in the city. Why are these laws not being challenged?

That’s part of the so-called deer problem.

Another issue is that a deer committee, formed to look at ways of resolving the “problem” admit they are anti-hunting and seek alternative ways of “learning to live with” the deer. A Bangor Daily News article states that a member of the town’s deer committee said, “…And Bartlett made it clear the committee wasn’t a deer hunting group but rather a deer deterrent group.”

The two biggest limiters of deer populations in Maine are severe winters and depredation by large predators, i.e. bears, coyotes, bobcats and mountain lions(?). What better place to mitigate these life-threatening problems than to take up residence in a town that only wishes to “deter” deer, where they probably get fed by residents and where, usually, these large predators are not interested in having much to do with…until they get really hungry. Then they can take a bunch of pets, livestock and an occasional child or two in their quest for a meal.

Here’s my prediction. According to this news article, “…each of the deer that has been taken during the special hunt has been checked for ticks, with Lyme disease being a concern. Over the past two seasons, none of the deer have had ticks. The deer deterrent committee seems mostly unconcerned about private property and public safety of Eastport residents – at least not enough to do anything serious to lessen the problem. When deer become numerous enough and predators hungry enough to come to town for dinner, along the way they will begin eating up citizen’s pets. People can be put at risk and have their property destroyed, but when something causes harm to their pets, attitudes will change. Add to that the likelihood of increased risk of contracting some kind of disease that hits close to home, and soon bullets will replace arrows.

There’s a reason why the North American Model of Wildlife Management is still the best way to manage wildlife.

It works!

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Maine: Contradictory Deer Management Goals vs. Reality – Shameful

Here are some interesting, to say the least, deer management graphics the property of which are from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), with the exception of the deer harvest graph which is private property. These graphs and tables should show hunters that what MDIFW puts out in their deer management plans and long-range goals, is a far cry from the practices that are being carried out and the results that those practices give. One has to wonder if anyone holds the department accountable for this farce?

The first table here shows the Wintering Deer Population goals, per each Wildlife Management District (WMD), by the year 2030. Note that the total deer population goal for 2030 is 383,550. Yeah, I know. I’m still spaying coffee on my computer screen.

According to information that I’ve been able to get my hands on, the largest estimated deer population, after the deer hunting season, came in 1999 – 331,000 (found on second chart below).

We find ourselves near the conclusion of the 2017 deer hunting season and it appears as though the estimated deer population in Maine must be about, or less than, 200,000. That’s a bit shy of the hoped-for 383,550 set for 2030…a mere 13 years from now. Maybe the hope is global warming will do the trick?

From available data, between the years 1999 and 2008, the average deer population (after harvest), estimated by the MDIFW, was 214,600. Using data from the deer harvest chart below (the harvest total is information provided by MDIFW, the chart was made by an individual and his calculations), during that same time frame, an average of 30,353 deer were harvested each year…or about 14% of the estimated state deer herd.

Using that data, and knowing that Maine harvested about 22,000 deer last year (and as low as 18,000 in 2009), at 14% harvest rate, the population might be as low as 150,000 deer at present and has dipped to below 125,000 in 2009/2010.

And yet, when we examine chart two below, we see that as the estimated deer population shrank, the number of “Any-Deer Permits” (doe permits) increased significantly. Why? We are told by MDIFW that the “Any-Deer Permit” allotment is the management tool they use to manipulate the deer population by WMD. We are told that if MDIFW wants to lower a deer population within a WMD, they increase the allotment of “Any-Deer Permits,” and vice-versa. So this action makes very little sense, as far as deer management goals. Perhaps it makes more sense concerning meeting budget income requirements to pay inflated salaries and retirement.

I would surmise that if I were presenting a deer management goal of 383,550, when in reality there may be only 150,000 deer left roaming the state, increasing the sales of “Any-Deer Permits,” and at the same time telling the public that Maine has lots of deer due to a bunch of “mild” winters in recent years, while Maine set records last year for total snowfall, I’d scrub my website of any data that showed me to be a poor, and perhaps dishonest, wildlife manager too.

So what’s really going on and why? We will never know because finding out makes people uncomfortable. Evidently, it’s better to be on the ins with the MDIFW, with no deer to hunt, than on the outside…with still no deer to hunt. One has to ask themselves if this is the nonsense we are seeing when it comes to deer management, what else is going on in Augusta?

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Information Regarding Whitetail Deer Dispersal

Although I’m not a huge fan of Quality Deer Management, they have provided some interesting graphics on deer dispersal, ages of dispersal, timing, distance and what effects all of that.

Please visit this link to view.

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Buying Into Deer Management by Political Influence

Recently a Maine outdoor writer expressed his newly found knowledge he had acquired from reading a 10-year-old study about how deer can destroy a forest. What is most unfortunate for readers is that lacking in this report was the actual history of what took place during that time that prompted this politically biased report, placing pressure on the Pennsylvania Game Commission, forest management companies and private land owners to side with the Game Commission in carrying out their newly crafted deer management plan to radically butcher the existing deer herds throughout the state by up to 70%.

If for no other reason, one has to look at the very top of the study to see that the study was composed by, essentially, the forest industry. With knowledge and understanding, which so few people have these days, of the realities of “studies,” founded in Scientism and outcome-based, agenda-driven, “science,” one can easily discern that this study is the work of scientists, paid by the forest industry, to show a need to protect the forest, even at the expense of a deer herd.

There is, of course, more than one side to any story. The Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania sued the Pennsylvania Game Commission to try to get them to stop the destruction of the deer herd. However, many believed the number of deer in Pennsylvania to be much too large, in some places sporting numbers in excess of 60-70 deer per square mile. Growing up and hunting in Maine, where at times to find 1 deer in 60-70 square miles was a feat, it’s difficult to muster up support for those complaining that reducing deer populations to 15-20 deer per square mile would be a total destruction of the deer herd. There is a balance in there somewhere and it’s not based strictly on numbers but on a wide variety of items, often mostly driven by habitat and available feed on a continuous level.

The study in question is more of a political influence prompted by a very nasty set of events set in the mid-2000s. No study should be blindly accepted as the gospel without a deep forensic research into the background of the study and the whos and whys it is being done. Few would argue that too many of any animal within a defined area of the landscape can be destructive, in more ways than simply eating too much vegetation. But at the same time, a biased study, bought and paid for by the forest industry, has to be taken with a grain of salt and definitely within the context of the events at that moment in time. That is why the author should have spent a little more time in conducting his own research about the politics behind this study before extolling its “scientific” virtues as high value.

At the time this study was being compiled, those of us who followed the event, saw typical political nonsense loaded with contradictions. As an example, the forest industry, seemingly having convinced the Game Commission, that the only way the forest industry could survive was to have the deer densities slashed to around 15 deer per square mile. The same forest industry and Game Commission said that their new deer management plan would manage and maintain populations at that level, and yet in May of 2008, we read in the news that a member of the Pennsylvania Game Commission said that in one region, where deer densities had been reduced to 15-20 per square mile, the deer where healthy, the forest had “regenerated,” and that now the deer herd could be rebuilt. Rebuilt? Huh?

The author’s piece also revealed, what he called, “troubling,” a statement made by an author of the study in question. “It doesn’t matter what forest values you want to preserve or enhance – whether deer hunting, animal rights, timber, recreation, or ecological integrity – deer are having dramatic, negative effects on all the values that everyone holds dear.”

This is, of course, the root of all things bad when it comes to wildlife and game management. The real scientific method has gone absent. The study in question is a work of Scientism, in which those with authority present their opinions and perspectives as scientific evidence, understanding full well the power derived by such a position. When scientific decisions are disregarded and replaced with caving in to social and socio-political groups because deer, or any other animal, is having “dramatic, negative effects on all the values” that these, sometimes perverse groups “holds dear,” what hope is there for responsible game management? We can always expect to read more fake “studies” bought and paid for by political groups for political purposes.

Interesting that the reality is that none of these social groups would be in any position to be seeking the preservation of their perceived values as they might pertain to wildlife, if, over the past century, the hunters, trappers and fishermen had not been the financiers and willing participants in the execution of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. And yet, these social and political groups, who are now dominating the fish and wildlife agencies across the country, have never paid a lick of money or given any time toward real conservation of wildlife, are looking to destroy the one proven existence that has brought us to this point. Go figure.

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People in Eastport, Maine Complain of Nuisance Deer and Complain About How It’s Done

Nearly a year ago I shared a report that in far eastern Maine, the town of Eastport wanted the state to do something about the slew of deer that had moved into town. Of course there are reasons the deer have moved into town but, as usual, that issue is never addressed. Instead, according to George Smith, columnist at the Bangor Daily News, a mere 30 permits were issued to kill up to 30 deer. With those permits, 11 deer were taken.

It appears as though the town and its people are complaining about the deer and yet don’t seem willing to remove all or some of their restrictions in order that the job can be done. Perhaps it is time to tell Eastport that if they aren’t willing to give a little, they are on their own to figure the problem out.

Eastport has a ban on the discharging of a firearm, and so only archery can be employed to kill the deer. As Smith points out, “This is not hunting. This is killing.”

The Town of Eastport is not entirely to blame. Because of new zoning, it became unlawful to hunt does in the Eastport region. The allotment of “Any-Deer Permits” by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) is to control the growth or decline of deer populations. This is why the state stepped up and issued 30 permits for just one year. Realizing this effort did nothing to mitigate the deer problem, the MDIFW has issued another 30 permits and when 30 deer have been killed, they will issue another 60 permits.

With continued restrictions on the use of firearms, that hunters are restricted to using designated tree stands and the outlawing of baiting, the stage remains set for the killing of perhaps as many as 11 deer.

Evidently the deer problem isn’t THAT bad.

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VooDoo Science, Social Demands and Lyme Disease Drive Any-Deer Permit Allocations

So, let me get this straight! According to John Holyoke’s report in the Bangor Daily News, the excuses the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) give for increasing the allotment of “Any-Deer Permits” (ADP) to over 66,000 is because of 10 consecutive years of mild winters. I can say they were mild for me because I was in Florida, but record breaking snowfall evidently doesn’t account for any part of the Winter Severity Index.

We hear also that most of those ADPs are being handed out in Wildlife Management Districts (WMD) in Central and Southern Maine where populations of deer are the highest, and yet ADPs are being issued in zones where there haven’t been any for a few years and where record deep snowfalls occurred.

And if that isn’t enough to start your blood boiling just a tad, read what Lee Kantar, acting deer biologist(?) said (because the former deer biologist quit and moved on): “Kantar said that as the DIF&W continues to work on its next generation of long-range management plans, a subtle shift is emerging. In past years, it was common for biologists to issue population estimates for various big game animals. When asked for a statewide estimate on deer, Kantar said biologists are focusing more on the health of the population than sheer numbers.

“We’re not abandoning the thought of ‘How many critters are there out there?’ but the means for us doing that, we do as part of monitoring health, as well,” Kantar said.”

This “subtle shift” is a convenient new tool that is part of a continued reduction in accountability for wildlife managers. The ONLY way a biologist can honestly determine how many ADPs to issue to meet population goals is to know how many deer are within a WMD. To somehow approach things from the perspective of “I think the herd is healthy in WMD 27, therefore I will increase ADPs,” is a step backwards of about 40 years.

Now, it appears, the convenient excuse will be that managers don’t really have a handle on deer populations and will, with the onset of a new Romance Biological deer management plan, sense the condition of the herd and make excuses from there. In case you hadn’t figured it out yet, this is right in line with the convenience of Climate Change (CC = 33). With Climate Change and managing deer for “health” is there really any reason Maine needs any wildlife biologists?

The third excuse of convenience is now emerging where the issuance of 66,000-plus ADPs is Lyme Disease. Deer are carriers of ticks that spread Lyme disease. With the perpetual effort to scare the living hell out of people over Lyme disease, social pressures will demand that MDIFW kill more deer. Historically when those demands are made, the deer get killed and licensed sportsmen are not allowed to do the job and residents are not allowed to benefit from the resource. Also, understand that where Lyme disease is said to be most prevalent is in areas where land is heavily posted to prevent access for hunting those deer. As with any Totalitarian society, the problem is created by the totalitarians who in turn demand that government solve their problems. And we know what kind of job government does at anything they do.

Maine residents and sportsmen should look of a “subtle shift,” or maybe not so subtle shift, toward a new movement of Romance Biology and Voodoo Science to guide the wildlife managers to wallow in their own brilliance of disease creation and scarcity because they are fully engaged in the effort to “change the way we look at and discuss wildlife management.”

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QDMA Whitetail Deer Report for 2016

Below is the link to the 2016 Quality Deer Management Association Report on whitetail deer. Bear in mind a couple of things. One, I am not a very big fan of QDMA for various reasons. One reason is because I believe they put too much focus on “trophy” hunting and manipulating the resource towards that end. Another issue to consider, should you choose to review this report, is that it is a great example of the saying, “Statistic prove that statistics can prove anything.” While QDMA is presenting information about declines and increases in yearling buck harvest and/or buck harvest in general, as well as antlerless deer, it offers no explanations of why. It’s one thing to report declines or increases in yearling buck harvest, for example, even to go to the point of suggesting trends, but to make specific claims requires much greater knowledge and information about all aspects that effect deer management and hunting harvests.

One might suspect that with QDMA’s insistent pushing for antler point restrictions (for trophy hunting purposes), it would seem logical that the buck harvest might decrease when such restrictions are put in place. The same kind of unknown comparison can be applied to reports in changes of antlerless deer. In states, like Maine, that use “Any-Deer Permits” to regulate the populations of deer, significant changes in the allotment of such permits, as has been the case in recent years, obviously affects the harvest data.

That isn’t to say the report is worthless. It contains interesting data and if taken in its context and applied subjectively and honestly, within the smallest denominator of available data in each state, one might find some interesting comparatives, assuming most things remain consistent…and they don’t.

QDMA’s Whitetail Report 2016

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Out of Control “Any-Deer Permit” Allocations?

You can do most anything with numbers to make a point or to raise a lot of questions. If you add some smoke and mirrors, the sky is the limit in what you can do.

Maine deer managers are proposing to increase “Any-Deer Permits” (ADP) to over 66,000 – a tripling of the number of permits issued in 2011 (26,390). Has Maine’s deer population tripled statewide or within Wildlife Management Districts in six years?

State deer managers use the issuance of ADPs in specific Wildlife Management Districts (WMD) to control deer populations. Reports are stating that deer managers say they now need to reduce deer populations in some WMDs and therefore the need to increase ADPs. However, they also report that they are going to go ahead and issue some ADPs in WMDs that are in desperate need to grow the deer population simply to “provide hunting opportunity.”

Not that many years ago, Maine told people that the deer population exceeded 300,000 and the goal was to grow it even larger. During those banner years (if they even existed) ADPs issued amounted to around the mid -70,000. Now one report from a spokesperson with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) said the state has 240,000 deer. I doubt that, but we have few options than to use that as a baseline.

What doesn’t quite add up for me is even when taking into account the issuance of ADPs according to the needs of each WMD, how can the issuing of 66,000 ADPs for a population of 240,000 deer be reasonable when 70,000 permits were issued when it was guessed the deer population to be over 300,000? Something has changed.

By issuing permits in WMDs that have in the range of 4-6 deer per square mile, simply to “provide hunting opportunity,” seems irresponsible, especially when managers claim they are trying to figure out how to grow deer in these regions.

Another question that needs to be asked, it appears that the largest increases in ADPs come in regions where the human population is higher. The MDIFW has also said that it is important to reduce the number of deer in some Southern and Central regions to reduce the spread of tick-born diseases. Is this decision based on pressure from those claiming to have scientific evidence on this issue, or does MDIFW actually have scientific evidence to show the need to reduce deer numbers? We know that MDIFW, and most all wildlife management departments nationwide, manage wildlife mostly according to the demands of the public, while putting science on the far back burner. Is that what’s going on here and how much so?

It seems odd to me that MDIFW seems to be saying that too many deer causes the population to become unhealthy and may cause a public health concern. For that reason they are eager to cut down the deer population. However, when it comes to moose management, too many moose has resulted in a severe outbreak of winter ticks, which are in turn killing the moose population, and yet MDIFW wants to continue to grow the moose population. What’s going on anyway?

At a time when Maine is still in need of growing and stabilizing a deer herd, even preparing for the next round of “severe winters,” it may be necessary in a few WMDs to reduce deer numbers (a feat difficult to achieve because there is limited land access to hunt), but seems utterly irresponsible to issue any ADPs in WMDs that have no deer to begin with.

One has to wonder if this effort to appease hunters isn’t more about finding ways to cover up the decade long dismal deer harvest.

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It’s Always About Habitat: It’s What’s Easiest to See

Several years ago I asked the question that if Maine’s loss of a deer herd was mostly to be blamed on loss of habitat, including so-called “Deer Wintering Areas” (DWA), then why are there many acres of DWAs throughout Maine that are now empty during the winter months or have reduced numbers of deer in them? One would think that if there’s less habitat/DWA that more deer would be crowded into available space.

I’ve never received an honest answer and know that I never will.

It’s much easier to bitch and complain about loss of habitat. Why? People can look out the windows of their climate-controlled SUVs and see trees that have been cut down. That equates to man is a destructive, non caring, greedy SOB and their actions are killing all the animals and plant life.

Of course I am forced to attempt to explain to the emotional, mental midgets, that habitat is vitally important for all living things…that is ALL LIVING THINGS. Last time I checked I was a living thing, although some mornings I wonder.

Realizing also that there are many who don’t understand that good habitat for a yellow warbler isn’t necessarily the same as good habitat for a Canada lynx. In addition, because habitat changes or is changed deliberately by the actions of man, does not necessarily mean some animals and plants die or are in danger of going extinct, as media and environmental groups state for the purpose of playing on our emotions.

In short, wildlife will adapt and in some cases certain species are more readily equipped to adapt than others.

A decade ago I wrote about predator/prey relationships, which included information about which negative influences had the most effect on prey. In other words, it is easy for most people, lacking any knowledge or understanding of facts, to continue their perverse hatred to the existence of man (excluding themselves of course) to say that hunting kills more deer, elk, moose, bear, etc. than any of the other influences. However, that’s not true, as you might discover if you bothered to take the time to learn.

If you take the time to read the article at the above link, you may learn something about those relationships. Along with your learning, you might discover that protecting habitat, believing the act will mitigate prey losses, is not going to achieve what most people think it will.

If it was a fact that loss of habitat was the major factor in the loss of deer in the State of Maine, then we might expect that protecting and or growing that habitat will help. Saying it is and proving that it is are not the same thing.

I applaud those major landowners who have volunteered to work with the fish and game people to come up with ways of protecting deer habitat, including DWAs, but doing so will not grow the deer herd because habitat is not the largest factor in the loss of deer. Understand loss of habitat may be the major contributor in some areas, but statewide it is not the major problem.

According to all the excuses, climate change and severe winters are the two items that kill the most deer. Are they? Climate change be damned. To believe that climate change is killing deer is to believe that deer cannot survive in warmer climates, when the facts are the opposite. So, then, the deer herd should be growing, right? It is also to believe that such effects happen overnight. Why don’t more people ask deer managers why, if climate change is killing our deer, that severe winters are still killing deer?

When deer managers fall heavily on these excuses, toss in the sob story of how loss of habitat is putting management over the edge, why bother to even have a fish and wildlife management department? According to what we hear, nothing about deer management is within their control. We’re all going to die!

Evidently, while all this is going on, we’ve come to be taught that whitetail deer are worthless creatures incapable of adapting to a changing environment. There is hope, however, when one of Maine’s wildlife biologists was caught saying that there is a “new normal” when it comes to understanding deer behavior. Essentially he stated that increased predator pressure, combined with the public’s deer feeding programs, have changed how deer are spending their winters. Could this be the answer I’m looking for as to why many, many acres of traditional DWAs are going unused? It appears perhaps the deer have adapted but the deer managers are many years behind.

Expending effort to protect habitat for deer and other wildlife can be a good thing. Placing all your markers on forcing land owners to protect the king’s deer, will do nothing except anger a lot of landowners.

The “new normal” theory makes good sense. The wild canines in Maine’s woods are a hybrid of coyote, wolf, domestic dog and just about any and all kinds of dogs, wild or domestic. Their numbers are probably the highest they have ever been. Combine this with a very large bear population and it makes sense that deer must adapt or die. One has to wonder what the mortality rate in those DWAs would be minus the coyotes, and what the fawn recruitment would be like minus a couple thousand black bears? Perhaps those “severe” winters wouldn’t be quite so severe on the deer.

Habitat is not everything and it is not THE answer. Get over it. Time to move on.

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Antler Point Restrictions Eliminates Still Hunting/Stalking

As is often the case, Quality Deer Management and their associates, continue to push for antler point restrictions on whitetail bucks for what I see as mostly satisfying the selfish trophy hunter determined to fill the woods with larger antlered deer. I think the decision should be based on biology and management goals, which I think the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is attempting to do.

When you stop and think about the proposed antler point restrictions, at least three points longer than one inch on at least one side of the antlers, one is almost exclusively regulated to tree stand “hunting” or hunting from a blind. I’ve hunted for many years in Maine, long before the “bucks only” law, or the issuance of “Any-Deer Permits” were formulated. Whether stalking, still hunting, in a tree stand or a ground blind, it’s relatively easy to determine if a deer has horns longer than 3 1/2 inches. In other words, if you see your target long enough to make that recognition, you are therefore, sure of your target, which is the law. It is also my assumption that this length of antler restrictions was decided upon because typically a deer that has antlers longer than 3 1/2 inches, the length is longer due to age. If a fawn (button buck) has started to grow antlers, they are typically just knobs. A 1 1/2 year-old-buck would generally have larger antlers but not necessarily three points of at least one inch. Yes, there are exceptions to that observation.

If you were to change the law to require 3 points of at least one inch in length, that requires the hunter to be in a position where they can see a standing deer long enough to assess the antler points and length, i.e. a tree stand or blind. This would, by default, remove one tactic of hunting and severely limit a hunter’s opportunity to harvest a deer.

I don’t like that idea very much because I am and always have been more of a still hunter/stalker than a sitter. Occasionally I might sit in a ground blind but never in a tree stand because of physical difficulty in climbing.

However, I would support an antler point restriction, different from what it is now, if and when somebody can give me the science to support the need, rather than the want,  in Maine. I have read most of the literature and I just don’t see much of it applying to the State of Maine and its deer herd. But I’m ready to see more proof of need.

On a related note, I read where Maine is in year one of a five your deer study on land in northern Maine owned by the major land owners. Why is stuff like this not announced except as an aside to other issues?

In the same article where I read that, I also read, “The deer are not rebounding the way we think they should despite protection of deer yards.” Now that’s something to think about for all you that blame loss of habitat and global warming for the demise of Maine’s deer herd.

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