April 19, 2015

Rescued Deer Gets Put Down

ST. ALBANS — Hours after people saw firefighters rescue a small deer from thin ice on Weymouth Pond, the animal was killed by a game warden who saw it suffering and believed it was unlikely to survive.

The deer was rescued Wednesday night, but “when I checked on it this morning it was laying on the shore,” Maine Game Warden Josh Tibbetts said Thursday. “They had put some corn down to try and feed it, but it wasn’t eating it. It didn’t even raise its head.”<<<Read More>>>

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GMO Food Crops Killing Deer

“A North Carolina friend recently told me deer had all but quit using a local bean field since the farmer switched to RR[Roundup Ready] beans. Now, he says, most feed in a nearby clover pasture instead.

Do those deer know something science doesn’t? It’s hard to say. Depending on where, when, how and by whom a given study was done, reported GMO impacts range from zero to catastrophic.”<<<Read More>>>

In addition to this:

52 U.S. Congress Members Sign Letter Warning of GMOs Killing Monarch Butterflies

“Dozens of House Democrats have signed onto a letter sent to President Obama claiming that the spread of GM crops is leading to the death of monarch butterflies.”<<<Read More>>>

Best Available Guessing

Most like to call it “Best Available Science.” I prefer to recognize it as cherry picking what best fits the plan of garnering monies and promoting agendas. However, perhaps we can call efforts in making decisions in wildlife management as best available guessing.

Case in point: In an area of Connecticut officials are setting up study areas in hopes of learning more about the best ways in which to reduce or eliminate ticks that carry Lyme disease. It seems that there is some disagreement over how many deer live in the area.

The “official” counting method has determined that within the four study areas, there are approximately 29 to 30 deer per square mile – a high amount when it is considered that the management goal is around 10 deer per square mile. However, an independent effort at counting deer, has determined there to be 7.42 deer per square mile.

Is this significant? Well, when you consider that the effort to control ticks has evolved into reducing the number of deer to accomplish that task, I think it might be safe to say that those differences of estimated deer populations are highly significant and detrimental to arriving at reliable data from any study.

Bill Hyatt, bureau chief of the bureau of natural resources for the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), said, “The counts we’ve been doing are accurate to the level we need them to be.” I’m not sure I understand that statement. Two things that scientific studies depend on are constants (control) and accurate data from within the control area. Without these how reliable does any study become?

If a proposed theory is that the density of the population of deer is a driving factor behind the spread of Lyme disease, it only seems prudent that a count of deer must be highly accurate and not “accurate to the level we need” it to be. To make that statement, in my mind, is saying that deer densities from two different counts showing a wide disparity in numbers isn’t an issue of concern. I think it should be. There are other influencing factors that can become part of the overall equation depending up deer densities to begin with. Are those being calculated? How could it be if they don’t know the population density to begin with?

To further complicate this study and effort, in addition to having to question any results determined from this study, are the results of recent studies that birds may be the biggest factor of all in the spread of ticks that carry Lyme disease. Can you accurately determine the effect of deer on the spread of Lyme disease if birds within these four study areas are contributing to the spread?

We all must question whether or not best available science is being used here in making decisions in wildlife management and disease control. If methods used to count deer end up with such vast differences in outcomes, then how can any method be anything more than best available guessing? Or is this another one of those studies whose main purpose is to grab grant monies and/or tax dollars to keep people employed with the government?

ReddingCT

Saving Deer: Will Words Do That?

I got a chuckle out of reading this article this morning in the Bangor Daily News. The article was about how the town of Falmouth, Maine was going to harvest a certain amount of timber from a town-owned parcel of land – the Woods Road Community Forest. The purpose? “to help out wildlife, Larrivee said, particularly deer.”

Don’t get me wrong. I think helping out wildlife is a good thing…to a point. I have also lived and worked in Maine long enough to have seen hungry deer in the winter time coming out of the forest and munching on the tops of trees, minutes after they have been dropped by loggers. The hungry animals will stay and feed while loggers run their chainsaws, skidders and other power equipment, mostly unfazed.

I chuckled over a couple of things, both not that obvious. Evidently there exists the need to change the narrative in order to justify cutting down trees. I mean, who could argue that destroying trees to save animals isn’t the right thing to do?

We live in a time when saving plants and animals takes precedent over saving humans. Some might disagree with that but it can be easily seen once one removes their heads from certain hiding locations. I suppose that should the town of Falmouth decide it would be best forestry practice to “selectively cut” trees from the forest, there would be opposition from Gaia worshipers. However, if the purpose or “goal” as is stated in the linked-to article is to “help out the wildlife” who dares to complain about that?

The other issue is the mild attempt to humanize the hungry deer issue, I would guess to help substantiate the narrative shift. It is written here that the deer are “very, very hungry” because they are eating evergreen browse. I would have to be hungry too before I’d eat balsam fir and hemlock browse. But, then again, I’m not a deer…am I? In normal winters, it’s what deer eat. Deer enter into a biological state in which what they put in their stomachs is really not for nutritional value but to stop the hunger pangs. This is not unlike humans eating many “foods” these days.

And I guess this is not a “normal” winter and some just feel the need to “help” starving deer…or do they? Is this really about helping hungry deer? I mean really? The article at the end says, “The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife requires a harvest there every 10 years.”

Oh, that’s why they are cutting some trees. Just checking.

I guess the narrative of “it’s for the children” doesn’t cut it so much anymore.

Save the animals!

BuildingNarrative

It’s Not a Hunt. It’s a “Deer Removal Program”

I’m glad we have the terminology down pat. Hunting evidently is bad. Systematic slaughtering of deer, while luring them to bait, is good, providing the corporate-fascist government runs the “program” and the socialist-communist society approve. I think it was bad to hunt and kill deer until “the habitat destroyed”, “unhealthy”, “not enough food”, “particularly stressed”, “deep snow”, “more frequently seen”, “both alive and dead”, “18,000 deer-vehicle accidents”, “deer-vehicle accidents”.

Hunting bad! Deer Removal Program good! The only thing good about it is the food isn’t being wasted; or at least that is what is being told to us.

BluffPointCt

Are We Losing the Desire for Quality Whitetail Deer in Maine?

dennisThe other day George Smith wrote in his column in the Bangor Daily News:

The differences between deer and moose management are fascinating. In areas of the state with few deer, we still allow unlimited harvests of bucks. But Lee [Kantar, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife head moose biologist and former head deer biologist] says any increase in the harvest of bull moose will negatively impact the quality of those bulls. Do we not care about the quality of our bucks?

This prompted me to start asking around from those that would know about this sort of thing and where I might actually get an answer. It is a complex issue where one element does not necessarily control the “quality” of bucks or bull moose. The first hurdle would be to determine what is meant by “quality”.

One might gather from this short statement, a claim made by Smith, that there appears to be a concern for preserving and/or protecting the quality of bull moose. Fine. Does there exist the same feeling toward protecting the quality of Maine’s whitetail deer buck population? I certainly can’t answer that question, only to resort to the plan that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) devises every 15 years and the most recent amendment to that plan in the Maine’s Game Plan for Deer. I will say that, while certain aspects of the plans are followed, too much of it seems to be treated as suggestions rather that actual management goals that are worked at to achieve.

In my mind there is a difference between a “quality” deer herd or even a quality buck population and “trophy” deer. Those would need to be defined. Yet, in my mind a quality deer herd would contain a desired population percentage of trophy animals.

Troubling in the statement made above is that it leaves readers second guessing what the MDIFW is thinking about growing quality bucks and/or trophy bucks. If, as Smith points out, there is unlimited take on antlered deer, even in Wildlife Management Areas where overall deer populations are low, is this a sign that there is little concern about a “quality” deer population, or a “quality” buck population, or a “trophy” deer population?

I asked Dr. Charles Kay, Wildlife Ecology, Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, Utah State University, about this issue. He sent me a copy of an article he wrote and was published in the November/December issue of MuleyCrazy Magazine – 2008. The article deals mostly with what is required to grow trophy mule deer, i.e. “large antlered” mule deer and Kay well points out that mule deer do not achieve maximum antler growth until 6-8 years of age.

Let’s not lose sight of the fact that in Maine are we discussing “quality” deer/bucks (ideal deer populations) and/or “trophy” bucks? In addition to trophy mule deer, Kay gives us a lesson as well in how to grow and maintain quality deer populations that just might solve the concern over trophy deer. He writes:

“Based on studies of other cervids, three factors are key to growing large-antlered mule deer – genetics, nutrition and age. First and foremost is age. The deer simply must live long enough to reach their full biological potential. Bull elk, for instance, do not achieve maximum antler growth until they are 7 to 10 years old. Mule deer bucks too do not achieve maximum antler growth until they are 6 to 8 years. To have mule deer of that age, you need 60 to 80 bucks per 100 does post hunt – a figure most sportsmen can only wish they had. If your post-hunt sex ratios are in the range of 10 to 15 bucks per 100 does or less, as is the case in many mule deer herds, the chances of a deer living long enough to produce maximum antler development is between zero and non-existent.

The only way to achieve the necessary post-hunt sex ratios and age structure is to curtail the buck harvest. [emphasis added] Point restrictions will not work: a fact that has been proven time and again. A four-point minimum antler size might appeal to hunters, but it will do absolutely nothing to produce trophy mule deer, because hunters simply shoot the first small four-point they see and few deer live long enough to reach maximum antler growth. So while point restrictions will increase the average age of the bucks harvested by a year or so, point restrictions, in and of themselves, will do nothing to produce trophy mule deer. Instead only limited-entry seasons have the potential to produce quality mule deer and then only if state game departments do not oversell the number of permits. This is usually not a problem with whitetails since virtually all the land in the Midwest, Texas and back East is privately owned. If the landowner or leasee wants to grow trophy whitetails, it is a relatively simple matter to restrict the harvest. [emphasis added] In fact, according to Dr. James Kroll, who has spent most of his career studying whitetails and who has written a 590-page book on A Practical Guide to Producing and Harvesting White-tailed Deer, it is much easier to raise a trophy whitetail than it is to kill that deer!…

“Under quality management, it is possible to produce a Boone and Crockett whitetail in as little as 3 or 4 years!…

“To produce trophy deer, the animals simply must have a year-long diet of high quality foods. Which brings us to the number one problem in rearing trophy whitetails – too many deer. If the deer population is not kept at one half, or less, of the land’s carrying capacity, the deer will simply not grow big enough to develop large antlers. That is to say, antler quality is density dependent.”

We come back to the question of why, in Maine, does it appear that an unrestricted bull moose hunt would have a negative effect on the herd and an unrestricted buck deer hunt does not?

Certainly much of Maine doesn’t fall into the category Kay wrote about that the problem with growing trophy bucks is too many deer. In many Wildlife Management Areas, overall deer populations are, not only half or less of the carrying capacity, they are near unsustainable levels. What is the buck to doe ratios, post hunt, in these areas? We dunno. It’s like pulling teeth to get the data. I’ve asked before about getting the data and….I gave up.

I would wager that if Mr. Kantar is not willing to offer suggestions to the Joint Standing Committee on what to do about winter ticks on moose, because he doesn’t have enough data, why then should we think there is enough data to know all the conditions pertaining to the moose herd that a determination can be made that killing more bull moose would have a negative effect on the herd?

And has whitetail deer hunting in Maine just become a cash cow? The process has always been that if Maine wanted to grow the population of deer in an area, just limit the number of “Any-Deer” permits. Is that still working? Does it still work in areas with very small deer numbers? If it is working, why aren’t we seeing more deer in those areas where there’s no deer and permits have been reduced? Or have they? Ah, it’s not that simple is it.

If, as Dr. Kay says, in an area where you really want to grow trophy deer, “restrict the harvest”, that certainly has been accomplished because there are so few deer to harvest. Should we then just close the deer hunting season in those areas? Or is this contrary to growing quality deer?

The carrying capacity is far below 50% in many places and the harvest is limited only through the issuance of “Any-Deer” permits because there just aren’t any deer. So then there must be other problems. Yes, there are but I don’t think it’s responsible to just keep blaming it on habitat and climate. I might buy into the habitat argument if I didn’t enter the forest where thousands of acres of prime deer habitat lay vacant. And if a warming climate was a problem, then Maine would be starting to grow too many deer and less moose and Canada lynx.

Maybe there are other problems!

It seems to me, and I might assume here that Dr. Kay would agree with me, this discussion about growing quality and/or trophy deer is dependent upon certain elements of the deer growing and maintainance equation exist in order to accomplish the tasks Kay points out. He says genetics, nutrition and age are necessary to grow quality deer. It seems Maine’s problem isn’t growing quality deer, it’s growing deer.

Maybe an examination of the Maine Antler, Skull and Trophy Club data on “quality” deer harvest in Maine over the past several years will give a better indication about growing quality and trophy deer.

It seems to me that the size of the trophy deer is diminishing slightly, but I still contend that Maine’s bigger problem is growing deer. So long as the mantra persists that it’s the climate change and the loss of habitat, Rome will keep burning.

Watch Out For Moose and Deer

ST. JOHN VALLEY, Maine – Wildlife including deer and moose are beginning to make an appearance on northern snowmobile trails, according to a Feb. 25 snowmobile trail report issued by Caribou Parks and Recreation Department.

Read more: St. John Valley Times – Deer and moose appearing on snowmobile trails

Bobcat Wrestles With Deer

I was sent a series of photographs of a bobcat attempting to get a meal made out of deer meat. The pictures are remarkable if for no other reason than someone was able to capture on film a bobcat, one that appears to be of some size, attempting to get a grip on a deer and haul it away for safe munching.

It is obvious from the first of just two photos that I will include, that the photos were taken from inside a vehicle. Thus, this event took place roadside.

I’m not an animal forensic expert and don’t want to pretend to be one. I would like however to at least raise a couple of questions, not to somehow discredit the photographer or the little bit of information contained in the email I received, but to help understand exactly what this event is.

When I received the photos, in one of the many “forwarded” emails, it was written that these were pictures of a bobcat taking down a deer. I have some doubts that that is what is going on – not that I don’t think a bobcat is capable of taking down an adult deer.

If this was an attack site, I would expect to find blood – at least some. On snow, and this snow appears rather fresh, red blood would easily show up. In looking at all the pictures, it seems that the deer might have been at this location for awhile as at least some degree of stiffness has set in.

The photos indicate this is beside a road, at least a road that is plowed which leaves me to think maybe this is road kill and the bobcat is being opportunistic.

There could be reasonable explanations for the questions I have provided and would like to hear them if readers would like to share. Things I don’t know about is what the temperature was outside at this time, whether there are drag marks through the snow to indicate if this deer was dragged to this point by the bobcat, or something else, before he was caught on camera.

Regardless, these are quite remarkable pictures and I am grateful for being the recipient of the sharing.

Perhaps the take away from this is another example of why bobcats should be classified as viable, large predators.

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The Effect of Coyotes on Deer Populations

“It appears coyotes negatively influence deer populations. The elimination of coyotes have been known to double the survival of fawns. The removal of predators, especially coyotes can significantly increase the deer population. Do your part to put these fawn slayers in check by trapping and hunting and to bring back a thriving deer herd, but be sure to check your states laws before you go out!”<<<Read More>>>

Do We Really Need More Collaring To Know Predators Kill?

CollaredDeerWhile I understand interviews with media outlets and the perpetual screwing up of a story, sometimes readers must be left wondering all sorts of things. And yes, during those interviews, sometimes we are asked really stupid and/or questions that the answer is so obvious it doesn’t deserve an answer.

Depending on what region of the country you are from, would depend upon whether or not and how many and different species of large predators exist that are ripping into the whitetail deer populations. In a report filed in North American Whitetail, Kyle Rivana, Maine’s head deer biologist, says that Maine doesn’t have enough information to know whether coyotes are causing damage to the deer herd.

“We really don’t have a good handle on the relationship between predator and prey in Maine,” he notes. “And partly because of that, we’re getting ready to begin a survival study in which we’ll collar 40 whitetails. One of [the] things we’ll try to measure is cause-specific mortality. Are the coyotes really having the impact we think they’re having?”

Here’s a suggestion. Depending upon who you might talk with, coyotes have been filling up the forests of Maine since the 1950s, give or take a decade. I can remember back to the late 1960s and early 1970s listening to outdoor sportsmen complain about the negative impact of coyotes then. It’s been 40, 50, 60 years and Maine “don’t have a good handle on the relationship between predator and prey”?

It should be embarrassing the state has wiled away its time and resources, poorly managing the whitetail deer, and claiming they don’t have any idea if coyotes are having an impact, when much of everybody and everywhere else understands the problem.

So what’s the solution? Rivana says, “…we’re ready to begin a survival study…” Save your money. You don’t need to put collars on deer in hopes you might find out what’s killing them. Predators are killing the deer. Not all of them but predators kill deer. That’s why they are called predators. And besides, if Maine collars 40 deer and finds out that coyotes, or bears, or bobcats, or lynx or mountain lions or wolves, or Big Foot, or all of them combined, are killing off the deer herd, what is the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) going to do about it? NOTHING! Oh they might toss some money in the air and for a year or two pay $200-$300 a varmint to have them killed until such time as those making complaints are placated and forgotten. Then it’s back to business as usual.

Does the new deer biologist understand anything about the relationship of predators and deer in Maine? Here’s what he said:

“In some areas of the United States, bears can have more of an impact (on whitetails) than coyotes or wolves,” says Kyle Ravana, who heads up Maine’s deer management program. “In other areas, it could be coyotes or bobcats that are having the biggest impact. It kind of depends on where you are.

“When you’re in a state like Maine, that has a full suite of predators — coyotes and bears and bobcats and wolves — you can’t point your finger at any one predator. It could be all of them combined, including hunters.”

And notice that he had to, just had to, because that’s how he was indoctrinated in his educational institution, that it could be HUNTERS that are causing the reduction of deer in Maine. Really? So Rivana, and anyone else at MDIFW or across the country that wants to say that it is hunters that are destroying game herds, then what that REALLY means is that the fish and game departments of each state aren’t doing the job that their state mandated them to do. If Maine has a problem with too many deer being killed by hunters, that is the responsibility of deer managers to reduce that impact. So, let’s quit with the blaming the hunter BS. But I understand it’s impossible to lose that brainwashing, and it might be just as likely that some environmental groups are funding the collared deer study, which means….well, you figure it out.

I’m done buying vowels and so, I’d like to solve the puzzle: Predators exist in Maine and many, many other places. They have for many, many years and those predators are growing in numbers for a variety of reasons. Predators kill prey. Deer are prey. When there are more than one prey species for predators to kill, when they’ve depleted one, they will switch to another. Predators, like coyotes and wolves, keep growing in numbers partly because there is ample food – they just switch from one prey species to another. If nothing is done about controlling the predators, there’s a possibility that the predators, in combination with other things, such as severe winters, disease, etc., will reduce their prey base so low and keep it there, they will either move on, starve or resort to cannibalism. It isn’t the responsible way of managing wildlife.

Therefore, because it’s been 50, 60, 70 years that coyotes have been around in Maine and bears have always been here and now in historic high populations, bobcats as well and Canada lynx, my solution to the puzzle would be to implement predator control into the deer management program. It has to be part of any game plan – that is game that is a food source for large predators. What’s to get a handle on. DO SOMETHING!

But no. The answer is always one of two things; form a study group or put a collar on an animal. The results? NOTHING! (global warming) Another year goes by and then another and another and the only thing that has been taken care of is someone’s pension fund.

Save your damned money. You don’t need collars to find out if coyotes are having an impact on deer. All of Maine’s large predators are having an impact on deer. It’s what they do. It’s time to do something about it other than forming another study group and putting on collars.