July 17, 2019

Maine Counts Piping Plovers and Brown-Nosed Bats – To Hell With the Hunters

Pennsylvania had a bear hunting season. It was a four-day rifle/gun season that began on November 18, 2017. One week later, the fish and game department sent out press releases with information about the bear hunt. Not only in one week’s time did the government provide the number of bears harvested, they also provided in which counties/towns/wildlife management units the bears were taken, the weights of the biggest bears taken, and the names of the hunters who harvested the bears.

In Maine, a state that brags upon itself as having the greatest black bear population in the country, along with the greatest black bear management team in the country, once took over a year to release any bear hunting harvest information. They no longer have that problem. They simply removed all game animal harvest information from their website and apparently have no plans to provide taxpayers and license holders with any information about deer, bear, moose, and turkey harvests.

With today’s technology, some states have taken advantage of the access to instant information while others, like Maine, seem to be headed in the opposite direction. Perhaps the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) has something to hide.

All hands at MDIFW seem eager to count piping plovers and brown-nosed bats, but when it comes to stroking those who pay their salaries (license buyers) it seems they are pissing on our boots and telling us it’s raining out.

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Is MDIFW Out Chasing Down Drug Dealers for the Governor?

One has to wonder what the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife are up to these days. As we enter the 6th day of the 2016 bear hunt, MDIFW has yet to publish results of last year’s bear harvest. I wonder why not. Hiding something?

Oh, I know. They are “hoping” and “encouraging” somebody to get the job done. At this rate, harvest reports will be coming in one, two, three….years after the event. So why bother?

SleepingOnTheJob

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Maine’s Bear Hunting Season Approaching. Biologists Have Yet to Post Last Year’s Harvest Data

According to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) website, bear hunting season begins in just about a month and hunters can begin setting out their baits on August 1. I would imagine excitement is building and plans are being made. HOWEVER….

I wonder if hunters actually care about the effort that is supposed to go into compiling data and crafting a report for bear hunting, as well as deer and moose? Does anyone else bitch, moan and complain that it’s been nearly ONE YEAR and the Department has failed to make available last year’s bear hunting harvest data?

Getting any data from MDIFW is like looking for hens’ teeth, so essentially when there is nothing to review and compare except one annual harvest report, it is important to have that information. Some of us want to know the effects of the bear, deer and moose harvest. We just are not getting this information in any kind of timely manner.

We live in an age of instant information and yet, as we progress through this age, it certainly appears that MDIFW is headed in the other direction. I would like to know why. Are biologists so busy counting bats, bees and piping plovers they are not allotting time to compile harvest data? Maybe MDIFW believes they deserve a pass on this one because they worked so hard last year fighting the environmentalist freaks who want to end bear hunting?

Many things happen when there are failures like this. One thing is that sportsmen become suspicious. When sportsmen become suspicious they think terrible things and soon begin talking terrible things. Of course this does not bode well for the Department and in particular the head biologists from each game department. And let’s not forget the commissioner.

Another issue is that while the negative talk is going on, writers, like myself and serious hunters and “watch dogs” do not have the data to make comparisons in order to form opinions as to direction the managers are going in taking care of bears, deer and moose to protect our investments.

The reality of it is, the only explanation there is for the failure to do the job is that they have failed to do their job. I don’t want to hear about lack of funds. That’s BS. The department is scurrying around writing reports so they can be held hostage to the Federals at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and obtain grant monies to keep biologists counting bees and bats, as well as pay salaries and retirement benefits. If they have time to pimp for prostituted money, certainly they should be making time to compile a report and get it out to Maine citizens.

MDIFW can look so great at times, like they did during the bear referendum, and then appear as incompetent slobs when it takes a year to post a harvest report.

I think MDIFW and the leadership there, need to take a deep breath for a minute and once again try to realize where their money comes from. It makes little sense to me that the majority of their means of making a living comes from license buyers and yet their actions appear to be focused on taking care of the environmentalists, some of whom are offering extortion money in order to play on their playing field. Perhaps the paying sportsmen are being taken advantage of?

This is a recipe for failure and a looming disaster that all sportsmen should not be supportive of.

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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 Needs a Better System to Share Game Harvest Data

*Scroll Down for an Update*

*Editor’s Note* Below is a copy of a document that I just emailed to Maine’s Governor Paul LePage and Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife commissioner, Chandler Woodcock. It is no secret that I and many other hunters are displeased that we should have to wait 3 or 4 months after the close of deer, bear, moose seasons to get any information on harvest numbers – and how about a turkey harvest? Most all other states provide rapid, and in some cases, real time harvest data. I took the time, with some help from some of my friends, to craft a plan that I think will work, if nothing more than providing a starting point.

We live in an ever-changing world of technology and it is a reasonable request to have more timely access to this data. If you agree, let Mr. LePage and Mr. Woodcock know. I would like your support.

A Plan to Create More Timely Game Harvest Numbers and Data

It is my sincere belief that hunters want and would appreciate a more timely report on the deer/bear/turkey/moose harvest numbers during and immediately after the season has closed. In the last several years, deer harvest reports are not made available to anyone until at least March and sometimes April; bear and moose harvest information takes longer than that.

For comparison, I include a small sampling of how other states do their registering/tagging. Please not that all of these states listed are able to provide near real time harvest numbers at any point during the deer hunting season.

Ohio – mandatory reporting, done either by telephone, online or by visiting a licensing agent. I believe this year is the first year that Ohio has fully eliminated a visit to a tagging station.
Nebraska – Uses a combination of tagging stations and telephone registering.
Kentucky – Uses a “Telecheck” harvest reporting system. Fully automated and provides real time information.
Wisconsin – Uses a system very similar to Maine’s current system but still can provide harvest data within 2 days.
Iowa – Mandatory reporting by either online, telephone or at licensing agent.
*Note – In those states that that still use tagging stations, it is my understanding that the fish and game departments require the tagging agents to submit harvest data daily or weekly.

Below I have suggestions on how Maine might be able to accomplish faster harvest information and at the same time collect better data.

Please understand that I’m not suggesting an end to the gathering of important data used for deer management. As a matter of fact, I’m offering ways of collecting more and better data which can only help the process and provide for a better product, and this system will free up more staff time in order that more time and personnel can be utilized counting deer, checking deer yards and implementing predator control when circumstances demand it.

We live in a rapidly advancing age of technology and therefore the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) should take advantage of that, while at the same time putting some of the onus onto the sportsmen, to more positively participate in the process. This will accomplish several things, the crux of which will be a tremendous public relations benefit to MDIFW and a greater sense of ownership for the sportsmen. An achievement such as this can be a great benefit to all parties concerned.

Here are my suggestions: (Please understand also that automated telephone reporting systems as well as computer data collecting software is readily available at a low price or even perhaps free is some shopping around was done.)

Mandatory Reporting – All licensed hunters will be required to report their game take along with hunting activity and all other data desired by MDIFW. This reporting can be done Online or by telephone. Any game taken, i.e. deer, bear, turkey, moose (all currently tagged game) can be reported online or by telephone within 12 hours (or 24hrs). The reporting systems will be automated and designed to collect and compile the data provided. Vital information can be collected and processed electronically at the time of reporting. This immediate reporting will enable MDIFW to have up to date, almost real time harvest numbers to report to sportsmen and the public. At the end of the season, all licensed sportsmen will be required, within one week, to report online or by telephone, and fill out a survey. This must be done by all sportsmen whether they are successful or not. Better information can be collected that will vastly improve on the ability of wildlife managers to set seasons and bag limits, as well as better understand what is taking place in the field. This information can be collected about all aspects of hunting to gain a better and more accurate understanding of how many, how often and how many hours hunters go afield and what game they are seeking and taking.

Setting up Check Points – MDIFW gathers vital biological data at some tagging stations. I believe the same information can be collected by strategically placing check stations where hunters will be required to stop for data collection. This is done very successfully in other states; states that also have mandatory reporting.

Data Collection with Commercial Meat Processing Plants – MDIFW should continue to collect biological data from meat processing facilities.

Dealing with Non Reporters – Several states do not use a tagging system as Maine does. Instead they implement a mandatory reporting system (either required by the hunter or the tagging agent), and with pretty good success, I might add. I’ve taken the time to include only five states that do that now. See above. I’ve already pointed out the positives that can come from reporting. Mandatory or not, we will still run into a certain percentage of sportsmen who will not report, particularly those not successful in taking game or poachers who will fail to obey any laws; as the events that took place recently in Turner. There are ways to deal with this. While not wanting to appear as some heavy handed authoritative figure, full implementation of this plan is necessary for the greatest success. A suggestion might be that for those failing to complete a hunter survey, will be ineligible to buy a license the following year.

*Update – December 5, 2012 12:50* It took approximately 11 minutes to receive an email response from Commission Woodcock:

Tom,

I sincerely appreciate your efforts with this important discussion. We at IF+W, and many other sportsmen and women, have similar observations. Here at the department, have had several discussion about electronic tagging possibilities as well as reporting requirements. We are currently investigating electronic options.
I share your desire to have immediacy. It also appears that we share similar concerns.
We continue to examine the issue and I believe that there will be changes forthcoming reasonably soon. The discussion has complexities as you are well aware and we certainly need biological data.
Again, thanks. And safe travels.

Chan Woodcock

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