December 13, 2018

Maine: Recommended Record Number of “Any-Deer Permits”, Moose Permits Not So Much

It was announced recently that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) has decided to issue an all-time record number of doe permits (Any-Deer Permits). The reason they give for this unprecedented increase is: “…that in all but six of the state’s Wildlife Management Districts the projected doe harvest was not reached last fall.”

There could a number of reasons the doe harvest fell short statewide – the number of hunters, weather conditions, available food supply (for the deer, not the hunters), more hunters with doe permits taking bucks instead – to name a few.

So the question becomes, will increasing doe permits to a record number achieve the desired harvest? Another question might be, does MDIFW have a clue as to the reason the harvest wasn’t achieved? Was it simply not enough permits issued? What the rate of does harvested comparable to the rate in other years? Or, is MDIFW just issuing more permits and hoping for the best? We’ll never know.

It appears that the issuance of permits and the bulk of the increase is focused on much of Central and Southern Maine where deer survival has been good. This increase in those areas makes sense.

Key to this decision might be what MDIFW reportedly said about what was behind this increase other than achieving harvest goals: “The proposed increase in permits is a result of the goals and objectives set by the public in the state’s big-game management plan, which was recently revised.” (Note: I find it interesting that at least certain members of the MDIFW seem to be going out of their way to tell us that the “public” has made all these decisions about the ins and outs of game management. It wasn’t until recently when the Draft Management Plans for deer, bear, moose, and turkey were made available to the public for their comments. It is quite dishonest, therefore, to label those members who gave of their time to assist in formulating new management plans, the “Public.” In addition, MDIFW likes to give lots of weight to the fake “surveys” they paid a lot of money to get. I have written on this topic before and it is quite unfortunate that MDIFW decided to, not only conduct this biased, outcome-based survey but to put so much emphasis on it and then call it the “Public” and thus the “Public” devised these game management plans. Isn’t this a convenient scapegoat when and if management goals fail?)

So, from the perspective of deer management, according to MDIFW the public wants a lot fewer deer in Central and Southern Maine. And where’s the science in this decision or is it all society demands? Giving the benefit of any doubt to MDIFW biologists in meeting harvest goals is understandable. What is not is a move to issue a record number of doe permits because the public demands such.

If MDIFW is saying these decisions are based on the new management plans, then are we to assume also that this is being partly justified as part of achieving a “healthy” deer herd rather than a focus on the population?

It will be interesting to see if making this decision to liberally increase doe permits results in MDIFW reaching their harvest goals.

As far as the moose hunt and management goes, issuing a meager 2,500 permits, to be taken by lottery, doesn’t seem to be fitting the explanations we have been given for moose management and the new healthy moose agenda.

When you consider that at a time when the Maine moose population was estimated at anywhere between 70,000 and 90,000, permit issuance reached a high of over 4,000 permits, 2,500 is out of proportion. According to CentralMaine.com, that estimated “healthy?” moose population is estimated at 50,000 – 70,000. Information gathered from an ongoing moose study indicates that the density of moose is directly proportionate to the number of deadly winter ticks, and yet, if MDIFW is gearing toward a healthy moose population, the increase in permits appears a bit meager to me.

And, the majority of the increase in moose permits, from 2,080 to 2,500 are for those areas where MDIFW has been studying moose. Is this increase really about achieving a healthy moose population or a move to manipulate study results? Hmmm.

From this study area, we were told that winter tick presence had dropped around 68% and that moose calf survival rates were at near 100% – for collared moose.

In some ways, I can understand the “conservative” approach to moose permit issuance, but indications are MDIFW doesn’t really want to accept the fact that too many moose results in too many ticks and that it can’t be blamed on global warming.

So, we will have to wait two years to know whether the 2018 deer season will result in the Department’s doe harvest goal, and over one year to find out about the moose. God only knows how long it will take before MDIFW decides exactly what they plan to do with the moose.

It would be nice to have updates on study findings and to get game harvest results in some kind of reasonable fashion. Instead, I expect that with this announcement of paying less attention to game numbers, placing the focus on “health” (wink-wink) MDIFW will eventually stop counting harvested game. With it will disappear even more accountability.

Government as usual.

 

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Maine “Any-Deer Permit” Lottery Results for 2017

You can find the results of the lottery drawing by visiting the MDIFW web page. Click on the letter of the first letter of your last name and then scan the list.

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