A friend and reader sent me some information found in a book called, “The History of the White-Tailed Deer in Maine.” Below are excerpts from that book about the deer herd in the State of Maine from as early as the 1700s. Readers might note a couple of things:
1.) In early settlement times, the deer were found almost exclusively along the coastline for a number of reasons. Twice in this writing it is mentioned that deer migrated inland with the expansion of the human population due, in part, by the reduction of the wolf population by the settlers.
2.) The deer would not and did not migrate inland as, “…the wolf still held back the deer from making important gains in those areas which were beginning to be opened up.”
Odd, isn’t it, that our history books are filled with accounts of how wolves dictated the scarcity of game and yet, today, this fact is denied by every environmentalist and their phoney organizations.
The latest round of village deer sterilizations removed ovaries from 12 deer in December and cost taxpayers $35,808.
Does were shot with tranquilizer darts and taken to a temporary surgical facility, according to a report by White Buffalo Inc. The company conducted the sterilizations and reported that no deer died during capture, surgery or release….
Costs for this winter’s doe sterilization were well above early estimates, set at $1,000 per animal. The cost for the December sterilizations was $2,984 per deer.<<<Read More>>>
VIDEO: Don’t try this at home.
LINCOLNVILLE — A man shoveling snow off the roof of a summer cottage on Megunticook Lake noticed a distressed deer on the middle of the frozen ice Jan. 8, when temperatures hovered in the teens. The deer lay splayed there, unable to to rise onto its legs. But thanks to Dan Ford, of Hope, and Lake Warden Justin Twitchell, of Lincolnville, who dragged him to land, the deer is now back on its feet somewhere in the Lincolnville woods, with a good prospect of survival.<<<Read More>>> Several photos available.
When I opened George Smith’s article today in the Bangor Daily News, I thought that all of Maine’s northern forests had been wiped out and it was time for all Maine sportsmen, managers and biologists at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to search for the “tanto” for performing an act of “Seppuku.” But let’s not disembowel anybody just yet. And, I am exaggerating just a bit.
The good news is, that it appears as though at least one other outdoor writer has enough passion to put passion into his writing when it comes to what is being done about the Maine whitetail deer herd. And for that I would never suggest he keep quiet.
Mr. Smith makes reference to a recent study from the University of Maine, author Daniel Harrison, about the effectiveness of protecting habitat and specifically deer wintering habitat in the northern climes of Maine.
“I was, frankly, stunned by some of the findings…”
“When I read that, I thought: so it’s not all about predation by bears and coyotes! Perhaps the focus of the Maine Game Plan for Deer needs to be broadened from its almost sole focus on killing coyotes.”
Stunned? Surely, not. That is if you understand what has been going on in the woods, the actual non effort of those fingered to do something constructive about this problem and what’s really behind a study and an examination into what it really says.
I’m also a bit puzzled by Smith’s comment that the Maine Game Plan for Deer is, “almost sole focus on killing coyotes.” I didn’t think the Plan was all that much about killing coyotes, and predators in general, but contained a whole lot of unattainable things…..even some of those George writes of in his article. More on the predator issue in a bit.
The study in reference, has to be taken for what it is, who did it and why. The study needs to be studied and while doing that look for the little things that shed more light on what’s really going on and for whom it benefits, etc.
I’m not going to dissect the entire study but let’s take a couple examples. The study says:
Given that zoning of a small part of the landscape was ineffective for meeting population-level habitat objectives for deer in Maine, other collaborative landscape conservation
approaches will likely be needed to couple forestry and wildlife habitat objectives on managed forests in the region.
How can this one study make that conclusion? What this is saying is that zoning of the landscape didn’t work because the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) is not achieving population goals for deer in those same areas.
An examination of the 14-page report speaks of nothing except habitat. Is the reason MDIFW has or isn’t achieving deer population goals strictly due to habitat? I know MDIFW loves to make that the focus of their excuses du jour, but at least some are willing to admit that weather, climate, predators, disease, etc. also play an integral role.
When the same report also makes statements like: “The extent to which past zoning has been successful in protecting habitat within deer wintering areas is unknown.”, and, “Further, the extent that landscape changes adjacent to DWA’s have affected the ability of DWAs to serve as viable
deer wintering habitats is uncertain(emphasis added),” are we then to assume that any and all efforts to rebuild a deer herd be abandoned? And/or that any effort to protect habitat is “ineffective?”
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not relegating the University of Maine’s report as useless nor am I standing up blindly to the MDIFW’s deer management efforts. As the study suggests, “alterations in deer
management objectives, as well as new approaches to forest landscape and biodiversity conservation are needed.” And perhaps MDIFW should look toward making some changes and using this study as only one part of the plan and not all of the plan.
What I took away from the study was not a sense of fear, dredge and an urge for self-flogging over the future, but a question as to how the administrators of this study can reach a statement that says protecting land areas used for wintering deer is ineffective simply because deer population goals are not being reached. There exists a myriad of other circumstances that readily effect deer population. Habitat and it’s complexities make up only a part of that. I honestly don’t think this report makes any effort in explaining that at all and they should have. It is completely focus on only habitat.
Which brings me back to the point Smith made about Maine’s Game Plan for Deer is all focused on killing coyotes. As I stated, the Plan is not all focused on killing coyotes and neither are the majority of sportsmen in the state of Maine. They mostly understand that predators, those large enough to impact the deer herd, i.e. coyotes/wolves, bear, bobcat, lynx, etc. need controlling just like all the other game species MDIFW is given management responsibilities over.
One needs a deep enough understanding about interactions between predators and deer before suggesting to give up on predator control and management. Abandoning a predator control program at this time in the state’s effort to help a shrinking herd would be catastrophic.
MIDFW and others, and now found in this report, have stated that deer population goals are not being met. Even if we buy into the study that habitat is being destroyed and that it is that which is preventing a rebound in deer populations, then it is even more pressing that we not only maintain a predator reduction program but perhaps increase it.
What makes for a predator pit, that is a situation where there are too many predators that will never allow for the rebuilding of a prey species, such as deer, is when there are so few deer and too many predators. Even if habitat is diminishing, while we work on finding ways to deal with that, we can’t just give up a coyote killing program simply because a forestry group says not cutting down certain zoned forests to protect deer isn’t effective. All efforts should be made to attempt to bring a deer herd to goal levels and/or carrying capacities and neither of those are happening.
In conclusion, we must also consider the authors of the study. Studies are what they are (to use an already overused expression) and one has to consider the source, whose paying for the study and why, etc. I would have expected nothing different to come from this study because it was done by and about the Maine Forest Industry. I would be looking to protect my property and my rights to harvest my timber as well.
It is up to MDIFW and others to look to see what changes might be needed, short of all out abandoning ship.
My fear is that MDIFW will use this study to throw up their hands and exclaim that they’ve tried and there is nothing they can do to save the habitat, suggesting giving up. It’s not ALL about habitat.
It ain’t pretty but it’s far from over…..if you care enough.
And piping plovers I would surmise!
Bringing in predators is more or less what some brilliant folks are suggesting. Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C. has too many deer (someone has determined this because someone else said they were smart and could.) To solve this problem of too many deer, the park service is hiring somebody – defined only as “sharpshooters” – to go into the park at night, whenever they feel like it, and kill a few deer. Their quota is said to be 106 deer.
In a Scientific American article, the author says, “The growth [of deer] has been blamed on a lack of predators and growth of deer-friendly residential areas outside cities.”
Reading the comments from readers below the article explains a lot as to why I have my doubts that man ever really landed on the moon. I guess the solution, by some, is to bring in predators big enough to kill deer and kill humans who want to live in a house.
To swear by the statement that predators balance “ecosystems” (what is that anyway?) is akin to swearing that police departments prevent crime. In case you were wondering, sometimes they show up to clean up a crime scene, but generally speaking that add to crime, just as predators add to the problems of those mystical “ecosystems.”
Some fear the deer will spread disease, like Lyme Disease. I wonder if some of these tick-infested deer could be moved over to graze around the White House and Capital. By dumping a handful of very hungry wolves into Washington, D.C. might give them bastards on Capital Hill a taste of how it feels to be surrounded by and fall victim to ravenous wolves, as we are to their corrupt politicking and robbing us of our money and rights.
As was pointed out in one comment about this article, man is The predator. Let him take care of this problem, kill a few deer and feed some hungry people. It shows the usefulness of deer and intelligence of man, in that they can feed people. Brilliant!
According to Bob Wagner, a forestry professor at the University of Maine, and found in an article in the Bangor Daily News, Maine stands in line for another round of the infestation of the spruce budworm. This worm is a defoliating machine, that during its last war on Maine and the eastern provinces of Canada, it cost these areas millions of dollars in economic losses and the resulting efforts to minimize the effects left the state with hundreds of thousands of acres of clear cuts, done to salvage what timber they could while it was worth something. I’m not sure we have yet to fully understand what happened from the tens of thousands of gallons of insecticide dumped on those forests and what long term effects it may have had on plants, animals and humans.
The questions are already beginning to mount up as to what another round of spruce budworm will do. As an example, one question I have received is what effect this will have on the Canada lynx. I wish I knew. I don’t. I can speculate but mostly just ask questions.
A report I read yesterday in the Bennington Banner said that Canada lynx were on the increase in Northeast Vermont.
The lynx’s favored prey is the snow hare, abundant in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, which also provides the dense forests with a conifer mix where lynx thrive, Maghini said.
History has shown that the Canada lynx will follow the growth and decline of the snowshoe hare. It has been said that the forest clear-cuts from the early-70s into the mid-80s ended up providing ideal habitat for the snowshoe hare. When the hare appeared, so did the Canada lynx. What many surmise is that when the hare disappears, due to loss of ideal habitat, so will the lynx.
So, what will another round of budworm infestation do to the Canada lynx? I suppose with this question, and many more, it much depends upon the severity of the outbreak. One can surmise that if it is true that the last infestation collaterally provided ideal snowshoe hare habitat, in the short term dealing with the worm may have negative effects on the Canada lynx and snowshoe hare, but in the long term, once again we may see the return of ideal habitat for these two creatures.
Another question I was queried about had to do with the moose. Again, my guesses might be similar to those of the Canada lynx and snowshoe hare. Moose seem to thrive in those clear-cuts as they begin to regrow. The plant life available make for a decent diet and the moose generally like open spaces near denser forests.
Presently, the issue that seems to be front and center for moose is the darn winter moose tick. What effect, if any, will a round of spruce budworm have on the winter tick? From my own research, which doesn’t seem to agree with the mainstream and officials accounts, is that the number one determining factor in the severity of ticks ending up on moose, is windy weather. During the time of late summer and early fall the ticks climb vegetation where they will attach themselves to a passing moose. Wind will knock the tick off the vegetation, the result being fewer ticks on moose and fewer ticks that will survive through the winter. Will more clear-cut forests expose ticks to more wind?
Another moose issue that isn’t being talked about is the presence of lungworm, so-called, which in reality is cystic Echinococcus granulosus, or hydatid cysts. Moose are a secondary host of the tiny worm. The worms, from wild canines, are ingested by the moose, resulting in the cysts that appear mostly in their lungs and other organs, i.e. liver, brain, etc. Will a round of spruce budworm increase, decrease, or have no effect on the population of wild canines, therefore having an increase or decrease in moose contracting the cysts? The cysts in moose organs does not necessarily directly kill the moose but can severely limit the animal’s ability to escape predator danger.
Some have described the deer herd in Maine as “recovering” and even “exploding.” Pick whatever adjective you want that makes you feel good. The question that should be on every wildlife biologist’s and deer hunter’s mind is what would a severe round of spruce budworm infestation do to the deer herd? Like the moose, deer find good feed in 2, 3 and 4-year-old clear-cuts. However, too much cutting results in loss of habitat needed to survive the elements of the weather, escape predators, along with other factors involved in the normal everyday of a deer’s life.
It was reported not that long ago, that in 10-15 years, many of those forests that were stripped of trees from the first round of budworm will reach maturity. This is good news but now that we hear about another round of worms, what will become of these mature forests?
It is my opinion that any rebounding Maine has seen in its deer herd comes from 4 or 5 relatively mild winters, following the back to back tough ones that took out a lot of the herd. Would a drastic change in forest habitat coming at a critical time in trying to rebuild a deer herd be devastating to the herd….some more and again? How can we know?
Maine will, more than likely, be facing a referendum in November from radical environmentalists trying to stop bear baiting, bear trapping and hunting bears with hounds. This would effectively remove from the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), their ability to use these tools to manage and control the bear population. Some fear that a successful referendum would result in an even greater yearly increase in bear numbers. Such an increase could have devastating effects on the struggling deer population; bears feed on deer fawns in the spring. We should also realize that if the moose herd is also struggling, an overgrown population of bears will reduce recruitment of calf moose and add to the problems. Too many bears present a host of public safety issues.
With all of this in mind, what would a spruce budworm attack do to the bear population? Would the increased vegetation and berry production, most always found in newly stripped out forests, create a spike in the bear population? Would there be a negative effect or none at all?
There are, of course, other issues to discuss concerning the predicted outbreak, i.e. what the environmental movement is going to have to say?; who pays for what to battle this infestation, to name a couple.
Mr. Wagner suggests that Maine start preparing now for the upcoming event. He’s probably right but how do you plan against this attack unless many of these questions were answered back in the 70s and 80s?
*Editor’s Note* – The following are comments/questions compiled by Jim Beers, retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist, in response to an article found in the Star Tribune. Mr. Beers took certain excerpts from the article (numbered below) and responds to them.
By James Beers
(I.)Excluding the late season, hunters killed about 144,000 deer during the main season, down 6 percent from 153,000 in 2012. Overall, Minnesota’s firearms, muzzleloader and archery hunters have registered 164,500 deer as of last Wednesday. Before the season, the DNR had expected hunter success would be similar to 2012, when they killed about 185,000 deer.
Question – How many deer did Minnesota hunters kill in 2012? Was it 153,000 or 185,000? If it is 185,000 and if the most recent count of deer taken is 164,500, the kill is down 12% and not 6%. Since the “general public” doesn’t catch this stuff, the radicals are happy hunting is “on the way out” and the hunters shrug that maybe it really was only bad weather responsible for the decrease. Like moose hunters, deer hunters are headed to the museum thinking it is a field trip and not their final resting place.
(II.)Steve Merchant, the DNR’s wildlife population and regulations manager, said a lower deer population is likely the main reason hunters haven’t fared so well, though the weather was a factor, too.
The season opener was windy, while it was rainy and windy the next weekend. Bad weather can limit deer movement, as well as discourage hunters from spending as much time in their stands. And the deer population was already down because of the harsh winter of 2012-13, which led the agency to reduce the number of does hunters could kill in northern Minnesota.
Question – The DNR “expert” tells us only “a lower deer population is likely the main reason hunters haven’t fared so well”. Not a peep about predation. How does he “know” it wasn’t increasing predation since the DNR “had expected hunter success would be similar to 2012, when they killed about 185,000 deer”? If it was only the tired and worn excuses (minus global warming and ticks) spewed out by the DNR as moose disappeared, ask yourself why the DNR expected “hunter success similar to 2012” even after reducing “the number of does hunters could kill in northern Minnesota.”? This smoke and mirrors gives White House “transparency” a run for its money.
(III,)Mark Johnson, executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, concurred that the lower deer population is the main factor in the lower harvest. He said success also had a lot to do with the particular area of the state. There have been fewer signs of deer in areas where harvest limits had been set high to bring local populations down, he said. And he said he believes the wolf population is also a factor in northeastern Minnesota.
NOTE: This is an example of a hunter organization (there are many, many more such examples every year) running interference for DNR buddies. Notice that the DNR never mentions wolf predation but this “executive director” does so hunters relax, they have been heard. The DNR stays solid with the radicals and the “director” is buddies with both his deer hunters and his DNR pals. But what does it mean to say he believes “the wolf population is also a factor in northeastern Minnesota.”? What must be done? Who will do it? What does this mean for deer?
(IV.)Johnson said he’s hearing from hunters that they want the state to produce more deer. He said the DNR is likely to respond to that by reducing the antlerless harvest.
NOTE: Wow, his hunters want “more deer” and “the DNR is likely to respond to that by reducing the antlerless harvest”. Why didn’t they try that with moose? I think I will write a thank you letter to Governor Dayton for such responsive government. Future deer success can be expected to mirror recent moose success if wolves are not figured into the equation and dealt with forthrightly – if we are to really have “more deer”.
(V.)This is Minnesota’s second wolf season since the animals came off the endangered list. The DNR lowered the overall target to 220 wolves this time for the two-part season. Hunters killed 88 in the early season. Last year’s overall target was 400, and the final count of wolves killed was 413.
NOTE: Minnesota’s most recent wolf count is 2, 211 (I just love those odd numbers as if the all-but-impossible-to-count wolves were sandhill cranes roosting as a flock on a Platte River sandbar when an aerial photograph is taken and some apprentice biologist sat down with a pin and counted every last one of them in the photo right down to the 211th one!)
For a long list of political reasons, MN, WI, MI, MT, ID, OR, WA et al undercount wolves. This has been true ever since they got into the sack with federal bureaucrats as allies in the wolf wars.
Truth be told, Minnesota has at least 3,000 or more wolves. Last year, Minnesota killed 413 or 13% of their wolves. This year they will kill only 220 or 7 % of their wolves. You can kill 20- 25% of your furbearers, small game or big game every year (as many states do) and you merely stimulate the population by guaranteeing more survive the winter and more reproduction takes place because of less competition and more available food. If you wanted to have “more” deer or moose and you admitted the obvious impact of wolves on deer and moose; you would kill 50-75% of your wolves for 4-6 years and then maintain a harvest of 35-45% of your wolves annually ever after – or you would exterminate the wolves as was done throughout history in Europe and North America.
That is the real reason deer hunting success is down but nobody is going to look into it, much less try to do anything about it. Why don’t we try a government hunter-recruitment program in addition to “reducing the antlerless harvest”? Maybe the reason there isn’t any moose hunting anymore is that the government didn’t recruit moose hunters. I think I’ll put that suggestion in my thank-you letter to the Governor. It is as sensible as the rest of this stuff.
11 December 2013
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Jim Beers is a retired US Fish & Wildlife Service Wildlife Biologist, Special Agent, Refuge Manager, Wetlands Biologist, and Congressional Fellow. He was stationed in North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York City, and Washington DC. He also served as a US Navy Line Officer in the western Pacific and on Adak, Alaska in the Aleutian Islands. He has worked for the Utah Fish & Game, Minneapolis Police Department, and as a Security Supervisor in Washington, DC. He testified three times before Congress; twice regarding the theft by the US Fish & Wildlife Service of $45 to 60 Million from State fish and wildlife funds and once in opposition to expanding Federal Invasive Species authority. He resides in Eagan, Minnesota with his wife of many decades.
Jim Beers is available to speak or for consulting. You can receive future articles by sending a request with your e-mail address to: email@example.com