October 17, 2018

Wow! Maine’s New Digital Tagging System Sure is a “Benefit” to Hunters?

How is Maine’s bear hunting season going? How is Maine’s moose hunting season going? How is Maine’s deer hunting season going? Your guess is as good as mine. Although we weren’t promised that the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) would share their “instant” tagging information, we were told that it would be a great benefit to hunters. Really? In what way?

We were told that MDIFW would have virtually real-time tagging data. One might assume that would be shared with the public. One might also assume that because it is a law that MDIFW has to make this data available, steps would have already been taken to get this data onto their website where those who are interested can go there and see how the harvest is shaping up. It’s what hunters care about…don’t we?

The secret remains with MDIFW officials. Evidently, their intention is to keep hunting harvest data a secret but to let us know when the next report comes out on piping plovers.

And taxpayers/licensed hunters paid how much to have this digital tagging system put in place?

I guess that no longer matters.

Maybe if you decide to go to the polls and vote for governor in November, you better ask the candidate of your choice who he or she will pick as commissioner of MDIFW and whether or not they care to share the data from the new tagging system.

Share

And The Bear and Moose “Instant” Harvest Data Is………?

The baiting season for black bears is over. The black bear hunting season with hounds has been ongoing since September 10 and will run until October 26. Black bears can still be taken during the regular deer hunting season.

The first week of moose hunting for Zones 1-6, 10, 11, 18, 19, 27, 29 ended September 29th.

With the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife promising that they would have virtually “instant” tagging data, why haven’t they published any of this information? MDIFW extolled the benefits to hunters and the department but evidently, those benefits must be prioritized to MDIFW only and they will wield their full control over the wishes of some of us and withhold that data until such time as it is beneficial to them.

Business as usual I guess.

And how much did WE pay to have this new system???

Isn’t the Department required by law to share this data? Or do we have to beg to get it?

I’m still waiting for a web page on the MDIFW site that is live, i.e. that when a tag is registered digitally, it shows up immediately on a page that can be viewed by everyone…at any time.

We have the technology!!!!!!!!!

As an aside: Maine is in the middle of the busiest time of the year with hunting seasons. The state is busy, busy, busy with bears, moose, turkey, upland birds, migratory birds, and small game and we get to find out that MDIFW has completed their bald eagle survey.

Nice!

 

Share

Old Hunter: Maine IFW Asleep at the Wheel

Old Hunter says:

Press Release from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife:

MDIFW News — Deer Kill Largest In Last Ten Years

For Immediate Release: June 12, 2018

AUGUSTA, Maine – Deer hunters in Maine harvested 27,233 deer in 2017, the highest total in the last ten years and an increase of 15% from 2016.

“An increasing deer herd in southern and central Maine, and favorable hunting conditions contributed to the best deer hunting season in ten years,” said Nathan Bieber, MDIFW Deer Biologist.

Maine’s deer hunt is broken down into several seasons for firearm hunters, muzzleloaders and bow hunters. This year the season framework stretched from September 9 to December 9. Most deer are harvested during the general firearms season (23,288), which started on October 28th and continued until November 25. Bowhunters took 2,099 deer, and hunters took 970 deer during the muzzleloading season. Maine’s junior hunters were also very successful on youth day, with 876 youth hunters taking a deer this year.

“Deer hunting is large part of Maine’s cultural heritage. Each year, over 200,000 hunters head into the woods of Maine,” said Bieber. “Hunting also provides many in Maine with a sustainable source of high quality, organic, free-range protein.”

The deer hunting season allows the department to manage the deer herd and provide wildlife watching and hunting opportunity in much of the state while decreasing the deer population in other areas in order to reduce deer/car collisions and property damage, and prevalence of lyme disease.

Adult bucks by far comprised the vast majority of the harvest, with hunters taking 18,255 antlered bucks. With 66,050 anterless permits issued, hunters harvested 8,978 antlerless deer.

According to Maine’s deer hunter surveys, on average deer hunters spent 37 hours hunting deer during the season, averaging 4.3 hours afield each trip.

For this coming deer season, a total 84,745 any-deer permits are proposed for 22 of the state’s 29 wildlife management districts across the state, an increase of 28% Last year, there were 66,050 permits available to hunters. Hunters who do not receive an Any Deer permit are only allowed to shoot an antlered deer (with some exceptions during archery season and on youth day). The proposed permit numbers await approval by the IFW advisory council. There will be a public hearing on the proposed permit numbers on Tuesday, June 26 at 6:00 p.m. at room 209A in the Augusta Armory.

“Last year’s winter was more moderate in central and southern Maine, while up north, winter was a little more severe on average than years past. The change in the number of any deer permits reflect that,” said Bieber.

Permit numbers are increasing in nine southern and central wildlife management districts, are decreasing in 11 WMDs and staying the same in nine WMDS. You can find the complete numbers at https://www.maine.gov/ifw/news-events/rulemaking-proposals.html.

The department uses the any-deer permit system to manage the white-tailed deer population in the state. The ability to adjust the state’s deer populations derives from the ability to increase, or decrease, the number of breeding does on the landscape. White-tailed deer are at the northern edge of their range in Maine, and winter severity is a limiting factor concerning population growth. By controlling the harvest of female deer in the 29 regional wildlife management districts throughout the state, biologists can manage population trends.

Last year, MDIFW wildlife biologists examined over 20% of the state’s deer harvest, collecting biological data to monitor deer health throughout the state. In addition to examining registered deer and gathering biological data, lymph nodes were collected in ongoing efforts to monitor for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in Maine.

CWD sampling efforts were targeted around towns with active captive cervid facilities, winter feeding operations, and/or high cervid densities. We collected samples from 476 deer, which were sent to the Colorado State University- Veterinary Diagnostics Laboratory for testing. All samples tested negative for CWD prion.

The deer harvest for the past ten years is as follows: 2007 — 28,885; 2008 — 21,062; 2009 –18,092; 2010 — 20,063; 2011 — 18,839; 2012 — 21,365; 2013 — 24,217; 2014 — 22,490; 2015 — 20,325; 2016 — 23,512; 2017 — 27,233.

Share

Maine’s Disturbing Deer Harvest Trends

Although still not published on the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) website, some news outlets are reporting that Maine hunters surprisingly harvested a total of 27,233 deer in 2017, an increase over the previous season of about 15% but far from the near 37,000 in 2000.

The increase is being given to a growing deer herd…well, at least in southern and central Maine, while the rest of the state evidently is just devastated by global warming (severe winters). MDIFW intends to issue more “Any-Deer Permits” hoping that even though last year’s ADPs never got filled in the majority of Wildlife Management Districts. Without more hunters, I’m not sure how more ADPs will cause more deer to be killed. But we’ll see.

Below is a completed graphic by my graphs guru which includes the 27,233 harvest figure. But I am more and more clearly beginning to see a disturbing pattern that needs some answers.

From the graph we see that while the number of deer harvested in 2017 increased 3,721, the number of 200 lb. bucks harvested actually dropped by one, instead of a logical near 15% increase if all things were remaining relative. The graph also shows that the percentage of big bucks harvested in relation to the overall kill continues to shrink and that we are approaching half the number of big bucks that were taken in the year 2,000.

There could be several contributing factors to this event but the trend appears to be putting Maine in the same league with a lot of other small deer states further reducing the appeal to hunt deer and/or come to Maine and hunt big bucks.

I’ll take a closer look at this if we EVER get to see the harvest reports for 2017.

Share

Maine Deer Harvest Report: The Dog Ate My Homework

As of this writing, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) has not published the deer harvest results for the 2017 season. They are approaching a record:

According to V. Paul Reynolds, who used to work for this outfit, says MDIFW still blames the tagging stations for not filing their information with Augusta. Really? “During my three year-tenure with IF&W, it never changed. Blame was placed on the deer tagging stations.

Guess what? It’s no better today. In fact, it is worse. Much worse. As of the first of June, nobody in officialdom, including the state deer biologist Nathan Bieber, can tell you how many deer were taken in last fall’s hunt. Don Dudley, chairman of the IF&W advisory council, said that it is frustrating for policymakers who keep asking for the deer harvest summary and are told that the foot draggers in the tagging stations are the culprits.”

So, there are “foot-draggers” in the tagging stations that refuse to send their tagging data to MDIFW in a timely manner. Who is captain of this piece of a crap sinking ship? Why does a governmental agency, that thinks nothing of running roughshod over any private citizen who stands in the way, not have the balls to tell tagging stations “NO MORE! WE ARE TAKING AWAY YOUR TAGGING PRIVILEGES?”

Oh, what is it? MDIFW is so desperate for tagging stations they are at the mercy of owners of businesses that tag game that they have no say? Give me a break!

I recall one time when, as commissioner of the local Little League program, during a championship playoff game, two women stood behind the backstop and verbally accosted the home plate umpire to a point the umpire called a time-out and asked to speak to me. We asked them to leave the grounds, but they refused. What was was to do? What could we do? It had gotten out of hand and the players and the rest of the spectators were getting angry.

I gathered the coaches and umpires together and we decided that, short of calling the local sheriff to assist with evicting them, I turned on the microphone to the public address system and announced that due to difficulties with two parents the baseball game was suspended until such time as the two women left the property.

What worked was that the two felt isolated and embarrassed because those they thought were on their side, were not. The crowd began to become vocal themselves, insisting the two women leave the park in order that the children could finish their game and enjoy it.

Maybe it is time for MDIFW to use a similar tactic with these irresponsible clowns – if it is really them that are the problem. I have my doubts.

You know what I think it is? I think that MDIFW finds placing the blame for not doing their jobs on tagging stations because it is convenient to not have the data and not have to process it until they get damned good and ready – you know, like when everyone has already forgotten about how lousy the hunting was and have already forgotten they were thinking about never buying another license.

I contend there is only a handful of us who want the specific data – and much more than what is stingily provided. It is our way of sifting through information as a means of checks and balances of this government agency. The majority of those who have a little bit of concern would like for the MDIFW to issue a press statement within hours or a day or two after the close of the hunting seasons with an “ESTIMATE” of numbers of game animals harvested. Is that difficult? If a tagging station is not giving up their data, how about a quick phone call and ask them how many deer they have tagged so far? Crissakes Anyway!!!

Back before there were computers to do all the work, the fish and game department was sending out press releases each week during the season. Today, we are told MDIFW doesn’t want to release any information that isn’t 100% accurate and so conveniently blame tagging stations.

And, Reynolds wants to know how MDIFW can, with a straight face, formulate how many permits and Any-Deer Permits to issue if they claim to not have all the returned data from tagging stations.

Telling the teacher that the dog ate my homework has never worked. I guess what has changed in this modern era of governmental totalitarianism is that there just aren’t enough taxpayers who care enough anymore to hold MDIFW’s feet to the fire and MAKE them do a much better job.

And that’s why MDIFW doesn’t feel any sense of responsibility to do what should be expected of them.

I would be embarrassed, but then again, I’m a weird, son-of-a-bitch who expects a minimum of production out of those who work for me.

 

Share

And Maine’s 2017 Deer Harvest Total Is………?

Awe shucks! Maine is the last New England state to let people know anything about the deer harvest for 2017.

Maybe that new guy they hired to be the new head deer biologist doesn’t know how to count either. Question: How many piping plovers does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Share

Maine IFW Website Now Has Game Harvest Data Published

I have written in recent past of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s (MDIFW) appearing to have scrubbed of a lot of hunting, fishing and trapping information from their website. At the time of the first writing, I wrote: “Perhaps MDIFW has released their new website a bit prematurely in hopes of tying in all their previous pages of information in time.”

Evidently, that has been part of the scenario taking place. Just today, I returned to the MDIFW website and found links to harvest data for game animals. This is good news. I doubt that the revamping of the website will be a reason to think harvest data will be published in a more timely manner.

However, and there are a few, finding that data isn’t an easy task due to poor navigation. Landing on the “Home Page,” one can see a typical menu bar near the top of the page. One of those menu titles is “Hunting and Trapping,” where one might expect to find harvest data.

If you hover your cursor over the drop-down menu, the options include, Hunting Rules & Laws, Trapping Rules & Laws, Licenses & Permits, Safety Course, Accessing Private Land, Wildlife Management Areas, Opportunities for People With Disabilities, Commercial Shooting Area, and Safety Tips. There is no headline to find “Harvest Information” and there should be.

If you click on the menu icon in that menu bar and scroll down the landing page, eventually you will find a link to game harvest information.

The good news is, there is now some of the information that was on the old website available once again on the new site. However, there are still some pages that I have links to that the links are no good and I can’t find the data.

Maybe in time.

 

Share

Maine: Contradictory Deer Management Goals vs. Reality – Shameful

Here are some interesting, to say the least, deer management graphics the property of which are from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), with the exception of the deer harvest graph which is private property. These graphs and tables should show hunters that what MDIFW puts out in their deer management plans and long-range goals, is a far cry from the practices that are being carried out and the results that those practices give. One has to wonder if anyone holds the department accountable for this farce?

The first table here shows the Wintering Deer Population goals, per each Wildlife Management District (WMD), by the year 2030. Note that the total deer population goal for 2030 is 383,550. Yeah, I know. I’m still spaying coffee on my computer screen.

According to information that I’ve been able to get my hands on, the largest estimated deer population, after the deer hunting season, came in 1999 – 331,000 (found on second chart below).

We find ourselves near the conclusion of the 2017 deer hunting season and it appears as though the estimated deer population in Maine must be about, or less than, 200,000. That’s a bit shy of the hoped-for 383,550 set for 2030…a mere 13 years from now. Maybe the hope is global warming will do the trick?

From available data, between the years 1999 and 2008, the average deer population (after harvest), estimated by the MDIFW, was 214,600. Using data from the deer harvest chart below (the harvest total is information provided by MDIFW, the chart was made by an individual and his calculations), during that same time frame, an average of 30,353 deer were harvested each year…or about 14% of the estimated state deer herd.

Using that data, and knowing that Maine harvested about 22,000 deer last year (and as low as 18,000 in 2009), at 14% harvest rate, the population might be as low as 150,000 deer at present and has dipped to below 125,000 in 2009/2010.

And yet, when we examine chart two below, we see that as the estimated deer population shrank, the number of “Any-Deer Permits” (doe permits) increased significantly. Why? We are told by MDIFW that the “Any-Deer Permit” allotment is the management tool they use to manipulate the deer population by WMD. We are told that if MDIFW wants to lower a deer population within a WMD, they increase the allotment of “Any-Deer Permits,” and vice-versa. So this action makes very little sense, as far as deer management goals. Perhaps it makes more sense concerning meeting budget income requirements to pay inflated salaries and retirement.

I would surmise that if I were presenting a deer management goal of 383,550, when in reality there may be only 150,000 deer left roaming the state, increasing the sales of “Any-Deer Permits,” and at the same time telling the public that Maine has lots of deer due to a bunch of “mild” winters in recent years, while Maine set records last year for total snowfall, I’d scrub my website of any data that showed me to be a poor, and perhaps dishonest, wildlife manager too.

So what’s really going on and why? We will never know because finding out makes people uncomfortable. Evidently, it’s better to be on the ins with the MDIFW, with no deer to hunt, than on the outside…with still no deer to hunt. One has to ask themselves if this is the nonsense we are seeing when it comes to deer management, what else is going on in Augusta?

Share

Doing a Rotten Job

Share

Playing With Maine’s Big Bucks…Numbers That Is

I recently wrote an article for a local newspaper in Maine, The Bethel Citizen, about how “Statistics Prove that Statistics Can Prove Anything.” That article didn’t have room for all, or even any, of the graphs and charts I’ve been collecting about Maine’s “Big Bucks,” i.e. those bucks weighing in excess of 200 lbs and those registered with the magazine Maine Sportsman.

If you examine the chart below, you will see in the left column the years 1999 through 2016. Please note that the total deer kill for 2016 is an estimate because the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) has not released data as of this writing.

For Big Buck comparisons, focus your attention on the column that shows the % of Big Bucks as to the total deer harvest. This chart might tell us that not only has the number of Big Bucks killed over the past 16 or so years decreased but something worth paying attention to is that the % of Big Bucks to the total harvest has not remained steady. Logic should force us to conclude that if all things are relative and in line with management goals for deer, regardless of the number of deer harvested, the % of Big Bucks should remain virtually the same. It doesn’t.

This next graph, which I found on the Face Book page for Maine Deer Hunters, posted by Troy Frye, gives us a great glimpse at the number of bucks harvested versus the number of “Antlerless” deer for each season, 2000 – 2015. I see an interesting graphic. After the severe winters of 2007/2008, MDIFW cut “Any-Deer Permits” allocation drastically. By doing such, hunters were not able to take the first deer they saw, providing they had a permit that allows harvest of either sex. In other words, an “Any-Deer Permit” does not limit the bearer to shooting only an “antlerless” deer. While during those years, the total deer harvest did drop, the buck harvest didn’t drop by the same percentage as the total harvest.

The percentage of bucks to “antlerless” harvest was considerably higher from the years 2008 through 2015. How does this affect the percentage of Big Buck harvest in comparison with total deer harvest, as shown in the chart above?

That may be a difficult task to answer, however we can see from the above chart that the number of Big Bucks and the percentage of total harvest dropped and essentially has remained low since at least 2008 – none of these numbers remaining consistent.

To provide us with an easier comparison, my techno guru put this graph together for me. I must give credit where credit is due. The basic graph that shows the total number of Big Bucks harvested, from 2000 – 2016 was also posted on the Maine Deer Hunter Face Book page. My techno guru overlaid (in red) the percentage of Big Bucks as compared to total deer harvest. Note: There are some slight differences in numbers used from one source to another. Those differences should not have any measurable influences in determining, or attempting to determine, trends.

The last two charts attempt to make comparisons of the average weights of the top ten heaviest harvested Big Bucks for the years 2006 – 2016. Does anything here jump out at you?

Deer management is a very complex science. While it might be interesting to play around with statistics, with what is presented essentially anyone could make an argument for or against most anything related to deer management. While I, or anyone else, might recognize a possible trend, it is most difficult to make any real firm statements without having at one’s disposal all the data for the years in question due to the many influences that can alter any data from one year to the next.

Having said all that, here’s something that I think should provide information the Maine Legislature, or the MDIFW Committee, or anyone else should consider BEFORE proposing another Sunday Hunting Bill.

The chart, found on Maine Deer Hunter Facebook page, posted by Troy Frye, shows the 2016 Big Buck Harvest and what percentage of that harvest occurred on what day of the week. For example, 31% of the total Big Buck harvest took place on Saturday. That’s because more hunters have that day of the week off from work and take it to hunt.

When you consider that Maine can only sustain a deer herd with a limited total deer harvest, adding Sundays to the hunting season would not necessarily add 3 or 4 weekend days a season to hunt. In short, to maintain a desired and limited deer harvest, the total season would need to be shortened to offset the increased hunter effort.

Share