January 16, 2018

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?