December 6, 2019

Media Mantra Says Maine’s Deer Harvest Has Increase

deerdeepsnowMedia reports all throughout Maine’s recent whitetail deer hunting season mostly are in agreement that it appears the deer harvest took a 20% increase from last year. It will probably be 3 or 4 months before official harvest data are released; a time when most hunters have forgotten about the season and moved on to other things, i.e. ice fishing, sledding, etc. Some examples of media reports can be found here and here.

Some don’t think getting the facts in a timely manner, as other states do, matters much, but I say, especially under the current conditions in Maine concerning the deer herd, timely data is more important than ever before. It’s easy for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), along with the aid of their complicit media outlets, to hype the deer season as being one of great success. It’s the close examination of the compiled data that tells the real story.

I have no faith in the mainstream media in these affairs as their intent it to sell copy and historically, their exists little in the way of “journalism” these days. It has been co opted by copy and paste cloning of text.

If Maine’s harvest statewide should come in at around a 20% increase over 2012, that would fall in line with what the new deer biologist, Kyle Ravana predicted going into the season. That harvest number would still be 20% – 30% below historic maximum harvests. It certainly isn’t time to blow one’s horn about the successful rebuilding of a deer herd, when the majority of the success can be attributed to mild winters. What happens when another bad winter or two hits again?

However, all this talk and media hype of overall hunting success and increases in statewide deer harvest, does nothing to educate and inform the hunters of what’s going on with the deer herd town to town and Wildlife Management District (WMD) to Wildlife Management District. If planned properly, a media campaign can convince enough people the MDIFW has waved their magic wand and saved the deer herd. That’s not good enough for me and that’s why I have always been so adamant about getting the deer harvest stats out in a more timely fashion; while it’s still fresh in everyone’s mind.

So, once again, Maine sportsman will, more than likely, have to wait until late March and perhaps in April before we can have access to data to examine to see where harvest increases took place and where they didn’t. In the meantime, I do hope that the majority of hunters had success and filled their freezers.

I want hunters to be successful and I want a healthy, robust deer herd. However, logic dictates that for that to happen, something must change or we are programmed to repeat the failures of the past. I’m not convinced the necessary changes have taken place to prevent the disasters of 4 and 5 years ago.

For those who may not regularly follow and read my articles, I have long promoted solutions that I feel need to be done in order to manage deer to better rebuild the herd and prepare for and prevent another disaster as the winters of 2007/2008. Here are links to some of those articles: Here, here, here.

It is readily admitted that since 2009, the winters have been relatively mild and as a result has allowed for a reduced mortality during winter months. Implementation of a deer management plan that heavily relies on global warming (more mild winters), especially at a time that science is forecasting a transition into about a 30-year period of rapid cooling, will only spell continued disaster. Something must change.

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Maine Gov. LePage Signs Bill To Appropriate Money for Predator Control

I had reported on Maine’s efforts to pass appropriations legislation for predator control to help rebuild a seriously depleted deer herd. The linked-to article questioned Maine’s full commitment to saving the herd and thus saving the hunting industry.

According George Smith, blogger and former executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, Governor Paul LePage has signed LD 372 that would add another $100,000 to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) budget to be used for predator control. In addition to this bill, the governor signed other MDIFW related bills appropriating funds for fish stocking, increased tagging agents’ fees and adding a “check-off” on the licensing application for sportsmen to donate money toward predator control.

I applaud Governor LePage’s signing of LD 372 as it seems to indicate more of a commitment to save the deer herd. He promised during his campaign he would and while it has taken 2 years, this is certainly better than nothing. However, Maine still lacks real commitment from all stake holders to make this happen.

The other issue is that Maine sportsmen are now left wondering if the money will actually be spent on killing predators that kill deer, i.e. coyotes/wolves, bears, and bobcats. Last winter MDIFW had $50,000 budgeted for coyote control and only used $15,000, in a piddling effort in only 9 deer yards scattered across the state, to kill coyotes. The excuse was it was a poor winter to kill coyotes in deer yards.

Time will reveal now whether MDIFW has the stomach and determination to kill predators to save a dying species. Sportsmen should keep a watchful eye on MDIFW to make sure this money gets spent on what it was legislated for and that real effort is made to reduce the number of predators that kill deer.

In addition, email the Governor’s office and thank him for signing these bills and remind him to make sure MDIFW does what it has been commissioned by the Legislature to do. Governor@maine.gov

Tom Remington

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