May 20, 2019

Maine/New Brunswick “Magic Kingdom” of Deer Research

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Deer population’s changes studied by N.B., Maine researchers

*Editor’s Comment* – I wonder if, during these costly “studies” of deer, moose, bears, elk, etc., in attempting to make a determination as to why populations of these animals have dropped, sometimes precipitously, any of these “scientists” ever sat down with a pencil and paper and made two lists?

In the following article, it reads: “the deer population has declined by 70 per cent in the past 30 years — from 270,000 in 1985 to 70,000 in 2014.” So, two lists – one list of what things were like in the field for deer in 1985; a second list of how things are today. Then a “scientist” can extract from the two lists those things that are different. Logic (yeah I know) might suggest that these differences could be the culprit. What you think? Three to four thousand dollars per collar? Hmmm

“Besides winter conditions, other factors that impact deer populations are the increased number of coyotes, herbicide spraying and hunting and forestry practices.” <<<Read More>>>

Geez! I hope their list of possibilities is bigger than this one.

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GPS Radio Collars Tracking Maine Deer – WHY?

“In use since 1950s, Maine’s deer allocation system has worked very successfully; however, with a changing climate, changing landscapes, and perhaps, missing data for the 2 extremes of our winter weather – the very mild and the very severe – it was time for the WSI system to be re-evaluated. Kyle Ravana, the lead MDIFW deer biologist, recently initiated a 5-yr study to conduct deer population monitoring using GPS satellite collar technology to track survival and mortality trends in Maine’s antlerless deer – i.e. does and fawns.

The Goals of the project are to:

1) Reevaluate the correlation between WSI and WMR for white-tailed deer

2) Assess seasonal survival rates for the adult female (?1.5 years) and fawn segments of the population

3) Assess cause-specific mortality of our adult female and fawn populations

4) Reassess the current winter severity index and try to identify a new, and more simplistic metric” <<<Read More>>>

It’s not so much that I was born a skeptic and struggle to find “good” in things that are loaded with bad, it’s just that I’m given few reasons to be optimistic about deer management (game management) in Maine. I also do not see putting on blinders, in order to only see the good, and feel good, as an honest means of building for a better tomorrow.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) has, of late, repeated the claim that the deer herd in Southern and Central Maine has recovered to a point a 59% increase in Any-Deer Permits (ADP) has been issued in order to reduce deer populations to levels determined by the public. If it is a fact that MDIFW is basing the determination of how many ADPs to issue for the following Fall deer hunt, almost completely on the Winter Severity Index (WSI) for one winter, no wonder the state, overall, struggles to grow a deer herd.

Now MDIFW is in the beginning stages of conducting a deer study – the goals of which are listed above. What I find of interest is the statement before the listing of the goals, claiming that MDIFW’s use of the WSI since the 1950s “has worked very successfully,” and this if immediately followed by a “however.”

The usual scapegoat of “climate change” and “changing landscapes” (wink, wink) leads the list of why there’s no deer but now we see a “perhaps.” This “perhaps” is saying that the previous two “extreme” winters had “missing data?” Can that be? Why is there missing data? Maybe we should radio-collar snow flakes? I hate pulling the logic card, because in today’s society and particularly in the Romance Biology and Voodoo Environmentalism entrenched in a mindless society, such nonsense as rational “thinking” often stands in the way of fulfilling narratives. I find it irresponsible, if there was missing data from the two previous “extreme” winters, enough so that this is worthy of consideration in a very expensive deer study program, to jerk one’s knee and increase ADPs 59%, while claiming the deer population in certain areas needs reducing. How do they honestly know this? Can they see this on their computer screen? And if that is the claim, what is it they are seeing, or not seeing, if there is “missing data?”

MDIFW now claims they are going to collar a bunch of deer in “one” Wildlife Management District- WMD 17. “With approximately 20 deer per square mile and a good variation of winter severities, habitats range from hard and soft wood stands, logging operations, agricultural lands; with some urban forest on the fringes of small towns and cities like Newport, Bangor and Skowhegan.”

Again, shouldn’t we ask WHY? Why WMD 17? So what if it has all those things stated above. I want to know if WMD 17 is representative of areas where deer aren’t growing. Or is this insurance that any results will fit the desired outcome? Screw the logic, again, but shouldn’t we be more interested in what’s killing the deer in places where the deer are being killed? This tells me MDIFW doesn’t want to know and/or they have already made up their minds. Hell, what do I know. I’m just a freak who can’t see things the same as other people. None of this makes me “feel good.”

And, once again, we return to the same point I brought up yesterday. Why spend the resources to collect any of this data, when MDIFW makes decisions to manage deer based on what the Environmentalist tell them? With a prominent member of the Humane Society of the United States sitting on a committee that will help decide bear management practices, a person who recently, through referendum, tried to ban bear hunting and trapping, and during the same time span sued the State of Maine; and, a group of people wanting to make more money conducting moose watching tours tells the MDIFW how many moose permits to allocate in their WMD; and, surveys and public meetings from the public at large being used as the major factor in determining game species populations; and, Maine Guides dictating to MDIFW how to run their hunting season in order for them to maximize profits, and there is little reason to think anything other than fish and game management is going to hell in a hand-basket…quickly.

But, by all means, DON’T GO LOOK!

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Whether it’s Weather – Deer Movement and Temperatures

A former student, who is now a deer biologist for a northeastern state, asked if our data might provide some insights into the 2015 hunting season.

Harvest data are still being tallied and summarized for most states, but anecdotal observations suggested the harvest may have dipped across multiple northeastern states this year. There are potentially many reasons, but one possibility is that the unusually warm autumn affected deer (and hunter?) behavior.

Or maybe it’s a bunch of hogwash.

Anyway, it got me thinking. We now have 3 years of deer movements during October-December. Would comparing deer movements over 3 years reveal any secrets?

There’s one way to find out.

Source: Whether it’s Weather — Deer-Forest Study — Penn State University

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The Life and Times of Buck 8917

*Editor’s Note* – This is really quite cool and educational.

We have followed him 24/7 for 2 years. Find out what he did to survive.

On March 29, 2013 we captured an adult buck (he had his first set of antlers in autumn 2012) on the Bald Eagle State Forest. We slapped a GPS collar and some ear tags on him and number 8917 was born.

We followed him through 2 hunting seasons.  So how did he do it?The map below shows all 2,570 locations we collected on him during 2013. Every 7 hours from 3/29/2013 through 9/30/2013, every 3 hours from 10/1/2013 through 11/16/2013, and every 20 minutes during the rifle season (11/25/2013-12/8/2015).

Source: The Life and Times of Buck 8917 — Deer-Forest Study — Penn State University

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Straight Facts: How Coyotes Impact Deer Herds

Clearly, removing predators can increase the number of fawns that survive. We did not “scientifically” measure the increased pleasure of hunters on this farm, but I will report that they were very happy. Why wouldn’t they be? I like seeing deer and work hard to help folks grow healthy deer. Predators, especially coyotes, eat a lot of deer. They also cause deer stress. Stress can keep those deer from expressing their full potential in weight, fawn production, and—yes—antler size!

Does this mean I think all coyotes should be killed? Heck no. I enjoy hearing coyotes; they are part of the wild experience I crave. However, as a biologist and hunter, I know it is important for predator and prey relationships to be kept in balance. This rarely happens “naturally.” There are plenty of records of predators doing extreme damage to prey populations. Most hunters have heard about the substantial decreases in some elk populations, where the wolf populations have been allowed to go unchecked.<<<Read More>>>

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