November 13, 2018

I Still Don’t Understand How You Can “Manage” Wildlife Without Counting

And evidently, I’m not the only one scratching their head just a bit in trying to figure this nonsense out. It sure appears on the surface as though claiming counting is no longer important as a vital tool to responsibly manage game populations, like bear, deer, moose, and turkeys is another convenient excuse to hide problems or simply provide alibis for where you were when the moose population dropped dead.

V. Paul Reynolds, in his article today, states the following: “When the moose aerial studies were commenced in 2010, getting a handle on the ever-elusive question of how many moose there actually are was an avowed purpose of the surveys, along with understanding moose mortality and productivity. Eight years later, it seems that, although we have gained useful data on moose sex ratios and causes of mortality, and other indices, we have fallen short in counting heads.”

And in and around 2010 (It wasn’t immediately made known to the public that the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) had undertaken a moose study.), I questioned whether MDIFW would ever get to the real, honest, explanation of life as a moose in Maine or would it be just another in a long line of “studies” backed and crafted by Environmentalism’s Scientismic hocus-pocus. So far, it appears it’s leaning toward the scientismic end result.

However, it was encouraging when MDIFW reported that their data “suggested” that ticks were the real culprit in taking control over moose populations, although there still exists fuzzy voodoo science and romance biology over whether it’s Global Warming or too many ticks that are causing moose mortality.

As Reynolds points out, one of the great selling points of this current moose study was the need to get a solid grasp on the moose population and what is controlling it. The Second Grade question remains how do you accomplish this task while at the same time removing from the new Game Management Plan the importance of population densities and replacing it with “healthy populations?”

At the drop of a hat, or perhaps if it fits the current moose management narrative for political purposes, moose biologists and MDIFW officials seemed almost boastful in stating Maine had 76,000 (or lot’s more) moose. After eight years of study and many dollars later, MDIFW is reluctant to utter a guess?

Perhaps what’s really going on is a matter of attempting to save face. Is it that MDIFW has discovered that Global Warming can’t be blamed for a decline in moose? Has MDIFW discovered that winter ticks really are killing off the moose (you know, some of that “natural balance”) and it is NOT Global Warming that has caused the epidemic? Has MDIFW discovered that trying to grow too many moose has caused the prevailing tick problem? Has MDIFW discovered that there isn’t even close to 76,000 moose and, as yet, has not come up with a workable lie as to why they were so far off in their estimations?

If so, perhaps now they don’t know what to do because taking action to scientifically correct the “unhealthy” moose population means bucking the Environmentalists and Animal Rights groups who not only want more moose they want uncontrolled numbers of every wild animal that exists…despite the consequences.

Being politically on the wrong side of Environmentalism is a place MDIFW does not want to be.

For now, better to act stupid and not reveal your hand, and then maybe it will just magically go away.

In the meantime, let’s practice…1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10… I knew you could.

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Maine’s “Coded” Moose Management Messages

The Bangor Daily News printed an article about the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) need to reduce either the moose population, the tick population, or both. Even though MDIFW has announced that the number of moose is proportionate to the number of ticks, one would think the simplest approach – that is one that can be most easily regulated by management – would be to reduce the number of moose, even if only temporary until managers and researchers can explore ways of killing the winter ticks that are killing the moose.

Instead, we are getting odd, coded messages which leave some of us scratching our heads. I admit it doesn’t necessarily take all that much to cause me to scratch my head but consider these words taken from the Bangor article that were placed in “quotations” by the author: “One thing that’s likely to happen in western Maine, in one way or another, is that there’s going to be less moose than people have seen over the years,” Kantar said. “That’s either going to be a byproduct of ticks, or perhaps there will be some management actions we can take as well to try to reduce the parasite issue that we’ve been seeing there.”

We are being told that there will be fewer moose “than people have seen over the years.” Okay, we got that…sort of. With these cryptic messages being published throughout the media about focusing on “healthy” game instead of the number of game, is this another way of alerting Maine people that this shift in management strategy will result in fewer game animals across all species?

We are being told that this result of fewer moose being seen is going to happen one of two ways – either winter ticks are going to kill the moose off or managers are going to take “actions we can take as well to try to reduce the parasite issue.” [emphasis added]

I can read this statement and formulate some speculations, but what exactly is MDIFW trying to say? First of all, if there are going to be fewer moose, by this statement are we to believe the MDIFW only plans to let the ticks continue to do the work managers should be doing to reduce the populations to levels that will mitigate the bulk of the winter tick problem? And what is “some management actions we can take” to reduce the parasite issue? Is MDIFW even considering “some management actions” that include letting moose lottery winners “reduce the parasite issue?” When MDIFW indicates they might “TRY” some actions to reduce winter ticks, it’s easy to assume that doesn’t include issuing more permits to kill moose. What does it then mean? Hope and pray that global warming will go away? Or maybe that sea levels with rise so high that the ocean drives all the moose so far north there are none left to manage. Geez!

MDIFW tells us in another Bangor News article that there’s little managers can do about reducing the bear populations because the Legislature has that locked up. I don’t think this is the case with moose. Isn’t it simply a matter of determining how many moose permits should be issued for each of the Wildlife Management Areas to accomplish moose management goals? If so, and any one area needs a reduction in moose numbers, then MDIFW should issue the appropriate number of permits. What’s the problem?

I can also speculate that the reason for such “coded” messages is that there exists a fear of environmentalist’s retaliation should MDIFW simply announce they intend to kill more moose through permit lottery in order to achieve a “healthier” moose herd.

As the old saying goes, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”

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The Only Way To Control Moose Ticks Is……

This Alaska state veterinary must be as stupid as I am…..She says, “Once (winter ticks are) introduced in a moose population in an area, the only known way to control it is to reduce the moose density, especially calves, so that there are no hosts available,” she said. “It would require an antler-less hunt or even a cull of calves and yearlings, which would not be something that would be easy to sell to the public.”<<<Read More>>>

And this is a classic example of why I end many of my articles by saying:

BUT DON’T GO LOOK!

Old Hunter says:

 

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While Biologists Dither, Hunting Opportunities Are Squandered

Maybe there is some hope…or maybe not. An article in the Boston Globe provides a few statements from so-called wildlife biologists that offer a glimmer of hope, even if ever so slightly.

Recently in an article I had written about how scientists are attempting to seek an answer to the affect of winter ticks on moose by only studying the moose and making huge assumptions about the tick – assumptions that have been passed on through half-ass “science” and incessantly repeated by the Media echo-chambers – I referenced a Boston Globe article echoing “Climate Change” as the reason there are too many ticks killing moose.

However, the latest bit of propaganda from the Boston Globe, might cause some of us to pause in hope that perhaps…just perhaps, there are some things that might be changing. (Note: Readers may or may not understand the extreme difficulty I find is uttering such statements.)

Let’s take a look at some of the comments found in this article.

The author of the piece begins by saying, “Researchers say that over the last few years, ticks have killed about 70 percent of the calves they have tagged in certain regions, an indication that the tick is taking a significant toll.”

Perhaps this statement needs further clarification and some more answers to important questions. The author says that “researchers” claim 70% of moose calves tagged “in certain regions” have been killed and that this indicates a “significant toll” on the moose. Does it?

Maybe it’s a significant toll in that one region but is this indicative throughout the greater region or the state being referenced? Most of these studies are centered around gaining a better understanding of how the tick effects the survival of the moose. In order to better understand this, it only seems plausible that scientists will pick areas they believe have high infestations of ticks and moose.

What isn’t being said here is that, if assuming the reference to “tagged” means collared and tracked, then 30% of collared moose calves are surviving. What also isn’t said is that we don’t know from the information given, whether the moose calves collared and data collected for this study, is representative of the entire state or perhaps just in areas believed to be the most heavily infested with winter ticks?

Under “normal” conditions, what is the “recruitment” or survival rates of moose calves? And what is the benchmark moose calve survival rate believed to be necessary to “sustain” a moose population? Sensational media reports might play to the emotionalism of ignorant readers but does little in revealing scientific honesty – or perhaps that’s an oxymoron.

“The study expanded last year to northern Maine — which Kantar said had a lower mortality rate of 48 percent — and to Vermont this month. There are about 250 moose collared for the study.” Lee Kantar is the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s (MDIFW) head moose biologist. The differences in calf survival rates between 30% and 52% are significant. And yet again, we must ask whether these numbers can, in any way, be attributable to moose and tick interaction statewide?

“Kantar said the study was about moose survival — not climate …..

Every single day when temperatures are above the norm in the fall is another day that the ticks are out there and able to get on a moose.”

At first glance we are told that the moose study is about moose survival and not climate. This is immediately followed by a statement supporting global warming as a culprit of moose tick infestations. So, which is it?

And, let’s examine this statement that temperatures in the Fall making it easier for ticks to find a moose. Where did such a claim come from? And is this statement about fact or is it about what we are not being told? From all the studies and even the echo chambers repeating non-scientific mumbo-jumbo, is there data showing that warmer Falls leads to more ticks on moose? Or is it more repeated emotional, climate-change clap-trap?

In the late Summer and early Fall (September and October) when ticks are making their climb up vegetation to hitch a ride on a passing moose (or other ungulate – cattle, deer, pigs, elk, horses, etc.) temperatures at, or below, freezing will “slow down” activity. It is readily stated that in order for “weather” to significantly kill off ticks, an area needs temperatures to be below 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit for six consecutive days. Not only is this an unrealistic expectation in September and October, it is unrealistic in Maine throughout the winter.

Kantar’s statement that extended warm Fall days “is another day” that ticks can get on a moose, isn’t false. It’s just not very accurate and is misleading. In one breath we read how the studies being conducted aren’t about climate and yet climate appears to be the excuse.

If you want to believe what is written about ticks, the consensus is that “WEATHER” not climate is the biggest limiting or perpetuating factor for moose ticks. Some of the original tick studies that I have read clearly show that the moose tick, at every stage of its life cycle is extremely viable and is virtually unaffected by temperatures. Humidity can limit the productivity of the ticks, but wind is the biggest deterrent to keep ticks off the vegetation they climb where they can attach to a moose when it passes by. Other than any of this, it only makes sense that if you limit the free rides on ungulates, necessary to complete the life cycle, you will limit the presence of ticks.

“More moose, researchers say, mean more hosts for ticks.” Bingo! Give the man a cigar. Finally, I have found somewhere within the hollow, echo-chambers of the mass media that the increase in ticks might actually be directly proportionate to the moose population. In addition to this statement, we also read: “The biologists say that one possible way to control the problem, though counterintuitive, is increased hunting.”

Which brings me to the point of this post – dithering at the expense of hunting opportunities!

We further read: ““It’s just going to be a long and brutal situation for them, until the habitat either changes or humans decide we just need to take more of these animals.” (emboldening added)

Isn’t this part of the problem? Isn’t the extremely high moose population in Maine the result of both ignorance and the caving to the demands of the public for more moose for gawking? What in hell should a scientist expect when decisions are being made based on social demands rather than responsible wildlife management and science?

And lastly, we read, “We hope that the tick numbers are thus going to be reduced and at some point you get a new equilibrium of moose density.”

We hope?

Yes, at some point Maine will reach a “new equilibrium” of moose density. Unfortunately, I have serious doubts that the “equilibrium” will be at all stable if scientists continue to dither and cave to social demands. I really don’t think it requires tens of thousands of dollars to be spent on moose studies (and no money spent on tick studies) to figure out that too much of anything, in wildlife, isn’t very good. No, we don’t have the necessary data to make just about all the conclusions that are being drawn. We don’t know if the number of ticks in Maine now is normal, above or below normal. Maine should have figured out a long time ago that the state had too many moose and done something about it. Instead, they wanted to keep the moose gawkers happy and give them all the moose they demanded that could be seen from their living room picture windows.

Mother Nature is only doing what wildlife managers should have been doing. The old girl is killing off moose in droves in order to mitigate the tick infestation. What is extremely unfortunate in this dithering is, that, while the North American Model of Wildlife Management utilizes hunting as a means of managing and perpetuating wildlife, our new, post-normal, environmentally brainwashed “scientists,” too worried about social whining, would rather the hunting opportunities by thrown in the garbage in exchange for letting the ticks kill and waste the meat.

Maybe the idea is to grow tens of thousands of moose, thinking they can, and really making the moose hunting a bigger and better cash cow. There is a reason that moose don’t grow on trees and fill every corner of the forest. I guess we’ll have to spend a few hundred thousand more dollars and time, letting moose be managed by Mother Nature, in her cruel and wasteful way, stealing away hunting opportunities – which incidentally are funded by the hunters – perpetuating a situation in which the only winners are the companies that make the collars and fly the helicopters.

Does any of this make sense?

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Is Maine Seriously Considering Managing for Moose OR Deer in the Northwoods?

George Smith’s latest article suggests that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) is seriously considering whether to manage the state’s Northwoods for either moose or deer but not both.

It appears that history as been put far back in the darkest closet that could be found at MDIFW headquarters. Maine used to have a “balance” (poor choice of word) of moose and deer in the north country. There also seems to be a major roadblock to any rational discussions about management due to the echo chamber of “loss of habitat” and “global warming.”

In 8th-Grade science, one of the first things we were taught was to look for what might have changed that could have caused a change in results. Evidently blinders exist on things that biologists don’t want to see and that is part of the major roadblock.

Northern Maine has never seen an overgrown population of deer. And I really don’t know of anyone with half a brain that wants it any other way. I spoke with a hunting guide who operates out of the Allagash and he told me that having 4-6 deer per square mile in the “Big Woods” was exactly the way it should be. It is part of the draw that leads hunters to those locations.

I’ve not seen any information coming out of MDIFW that would indicate that the density of deer in Northern Maine has changed much with the overgrown existence of moose, but this dynamic hasn’t existed that long in the grand scheme of things. Moose have been allowed to grow so large in numbers, disease (a natural process) has taken over and is accomplishing what man refuses or can’t do, because of social demands.

In what little information I have seen or heard about in the MDIFW’s draft moose management plan, they are considering using one Wildlife Management District (WMD) to seriously reduce the population of moose in order to see if this reduction will get rid of or effectively ease the presence of winter ticks. This might be a good idea, especially since this department seems only to think the ticks are related to nothing other than global warming.

My fear in creating these draft plans is that decisions are going to be made about the welfare of the moose, deer, bear, turkeys, etc., based on economic idealism and pressure from social groups and demands, including the fake “Wildlife Watchers.” This is a giant loss for wildlife.

Queer isn’t it that what once was a convenient means of “viewing” wildlife, is to visit a marsh or some other location where those wildlife live on a regular basis. If anyone was interested in spotting wildlife other than from a platform, they had to get off the fat rear ends and get into the woods to find those creatures. But not anymore. Somehow this lazy, perverse society demands to see every species of animal from their living room window or their climate controlled automobiles. If those animals aren’t there, they claim hunters killed them all and demand more of them. Disgusting as this may seem, it’s even more disgusting that fish and game managers are dictated to by lawmakers to abandon, to some degree, science in exchange for enabling more social demands. This is absurd.

MDIFW is asking for more money to further study moose. It is only reasonable to be skeptical about this demand as all too often we see governments throwing money after bad. However, giving them money without specific guidelines in how that money should be used, is tossing the money into the toilet. Money must come with specific goals and specific results.

If lawmakers believe that managing the Northwoods for moose and to hell with deer, is in the best interest of the people and the animals, then I would like to see some fast, hard data that shows at what level the economy increases due to moose watching versus the loss of deer hunting. I want also to see some serious research into the so-perceived mystery of winter ticks and moose. It seems to be the number one topic so why isn’t it being researched?

This is all crazy! As I have said, it seems that all of a sudden game managers are incapable of doing their jobs because they HAVE to find a balance between social demands and sound scientific management.

NONSENSE!

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Maine’s Moose Biologist: Epiphany or Slip of the Tongue?

*Editor’s Note* – Actually, I didn’t think I would live long enough to read the below quip found in the Bangor Daily News. I spent about five minutes checking myself, and actually walked outside, found a stranger walking down the street and asked them if they thought I was dead. She didn’t think so.

But, I am curious. Is this statement an epiphany or a slip of the tongue? For surely no modern day wildlife biologists would actually resort to a basic fundamental in understanding animal management, i.e. that when you crowd together too many of any animal, the result is disease. Maybe I got the man all wrong. Maybe under all that “we must manage wildlife according to social demands,” he retains a bit of old fashioned “codgerism.” Therefore, I may have convinced myself his statement is a slip of the tongue.

Not that I think this will in anyway assist in keeping the current moose study going in a direction of the normal scientific process and not be kidnapped by global warming, it does provide just a glimmer of hope.

“And while the moose herd in the western part of the state is struggling to deal with the effect of winter ticks, Kantar pointed out that the problem was likely influenced the abundance of moose on the landscape to begin with.

“We know that the more moose that you have over time, has likely created a scenario where winter ticks have done really well,” Kantar said.  “Our winter tick population has grown with our moose population through the decades. This is not a one-year thing where all of a sudden, one year, something’s happened.””<<<Read More>>>

Question for readers: Is the picture shown below:

A. The result of too many winter ticks?

B. The result of global warming?

C. The result of a hybrid mix due to too many moose?

D. Photoshopping?

E. I don’t get it?

cowmoose

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It Must Be The “New Way” We Are to Talk About Wildlife Management

First, let’s dispense with what we are told are the reasons we shouldn’t react to the increase or decrease in the number permits issued for lottery, to harvest deer and/or moose. An article in the Portland Press Herald informs readers that, according to Maine’s expert deer biologist, hunters should look at how the permit increase for deer is dispersed, i.e. that the increase in “Any-Deer Permits” is for only Southern and Central Maine. The same article tells us that Maine’s moose experts decided that the reduction in moose permits is for one Wildlife Management District (WMD) only – and that these reasons somehow actually make everything ducky.

But, okay! I get that. I completely understand the WMD management scheme. I completely understand the “Any-Deer” permitting scheme for deer. I’m at sea over the decisions in manipulations of moose statewide and within WMDs.

But that’s not what is bugging me. In the article, linked-to above, let’s examine what the expert deer biologist told the reporter the reason the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) decided to increase “Any-Deer” Permits in “Southern and Central Maine.” “There are places that are coming off a very mild winter where we want to increase the harvest to decrease the deer population in those areas where the deer population is above the publicly-derived goals.”

I’m no spring chicken. In my many years of living, hunting, following, studying, and researching deer management in Maine, I’m pretty hard pressed to find any year where biologists made any kind of real manipulation of harvest goals after only one, “very mild” winter. In responsible wildlife management, it’s pretty much unheard of.

This same report states that, “The proposed increase comes on the heels of a 23 percent decrease last season following back-to-back harsh winters.” You might think this is also a knee-jerk reaction but I’ll explain why it is not.

The deer harvest in much of Maine has been far below anything that used to be considered normal. Follow this link for a look at the downward spiraling deer harvest. Let’s employ some simple logic here. If, and I’m only repeating what someone else has written and what MDIFW wants Maine citizens to know, Maine is coming off the “heels of a 23 percent decrease [in Any-Deer Permits] last season following back-to-back harsh winters,” (emboldening added) and those two deer harvests were extremely low (in the very low 20,000 range) then sanity might suggest the deer herd is terrible in most places across the state. Here’s a “wink-wink” for you. If the deer herd in Southern and Central Maine, where most deer hunters hunt, was so high it needed reducing, wouldn’t last year’s harvest have shown an increase? It didn’t! But by a miracle, it’s so big now, because of one mild winter, it’s time to issue lots more permits? Am I missing something?

Now we are being told that because last winter was so mild the deer herd has rebounded (in Southern and Central Maine – wink, wink) and thus, there’s a need to jump up Any-Deer Permits in those regions by 59%. It seems that if  “using data gathered from the harvest in previous years, from health data obtained from hunter- and road-killed deer, and from a winter severity index,” last year the deer biologists did a pretty lousy job of guessing what to do with Any-Deer Permit allotment. Somebody missed the train. There is no way one mild winter boosted the deer herd in Central and Southern Maine to justify a 59% permit increase in those years.

But maybe the real problem here is staring us all smack dab in the middle or our faces. Where’s the 800-pound gorilla? Let’s give MDIFW more credit than perhaps they deserve. Let’s say they collected data over the past few years for the purpose of using it to determine Any-Deer Permit allotments and dispersal. After all, it is THE method they use to control and manipulate deer populations throughout the state. Maybe their hands are tied. Maybe it doesn’t matter what data they access and examine. Maybe something or someone else controls the department and nobody wants to address it effectively.

I’m willing to wager few who read the Press Herald article even paid any attention to what the head deer biologist said as to the reason he wanted to reduce the deer population in Southern and Central Maine – “areas where the deer population is above the publicly-derived goals.”

Tell me how it is possible to responsibly manage deer, moose, bear, etc. when one of the most important aspects of wildlife management – population density control – is determined through “publicly-derived goals,” when the public, seldom, if ever, steps foot in the woods or leaves the comfort of their automobiles?

It’s pretty easy to sit here and say that MDFIW only did this for the money, but I seriously doubt that had much to do with it. Actually, with each passing year, I fail to see the reason Maine, and most states, have a fish and wildlife department.

Were the “publicly-derived goals” a determining factor when MDIFW decided last year that the two previous winters were severe and they drastically cut Any-Deer Permits? We know public pressure forced MDIFW to reduce moose hunting permits in one area of Maine to placate the artificial moose gawkers.

The bottom line is most of this makes no sense. Maine is in the middle of a moose and deer study. Why? For what purpose should taxpayers fork over hundreds of thousands of dollars to count deer and moose and collect “valuable” data, if they can’t use that data to responsibly manage our fish and game? Instead they are bound by “publicly-derived goals” to manipulate deer and moose herds.

If the state insists on propping up these two entities, a lot of taxpayer money is being wasted. Both entities cannot rationally exist.

And, speaking of useful data and wasting taxpayer money, as of this writing, the MDIFW has yet to provide the deer and bear harvest data for 2015 on their website. Pathetic really! Representatives are allowed to go out into the public and spew stuff like this, that makes little sense, and still they will not provide the information for the public to scrutinize. Instead, we are expected to to “TRUST” government.

And while I’m also at it, let me just say, “DON’T GO LOOK!”

Addendum: Recently MDIFW appointed the radical animal pervert, Katie Hansberry, of the Humane Society of the United States, to sit on a sub committee that will be effective in establishing those “publicly-derived goals” of wildlife population management. I do not know who is responsible for that appointment, but so long as MDIFW, and the governor, continue to enable the haters of humans and the continued, unscientific, over-protection of wild animals, there is little sense for license holders to continue to finance a fraudulent government agency. No more than a Dr. Kevorkian should be appointed to an assisted living facility board of directors, should a man-hating, animal pervert be appointed to a game management committee.

Heads should roll over this!

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With Eyes Wide Shut – WE BELIEVE!

Most choose to believe that what their state’s fish and game department tells them is the truth. I think there’s a difference between belief and faith. A belief is a choice to accept something and like it, regardless of any measure of actual existence. Faith is having trust. I suppose therefore, many trust the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) in the decisions they make as they pertain to game management. I don’t believe nor do I have faith. That doesn’t mean I think they necessarily do a terrible job. There is a difference and few can see it. I will not, however, blindly accept statements and decisions without having the data to understand those decisions. And that’s part of what bugs me in dealing with the latest topic of cutting moose hunting permits. Where’s the data? Are we to blindly just accept MDIFW’s word about management goals? Why should we, especially when we are constantly getting contrary statements of fact?

I’ve pointed out before that one prominent newspaper in Maine printed an article stating that MDIFW had decided to reduce moose permits in portions of Northern Maine in order to grow more moose for moose watchers. That was followed up by one blogger who said that wasn’t true and went to work convincing readers that MDIFW was not growing moose for watching but were following their management plans. Now we have another outdoor writer faithfully standing by MDIFW swearing that any decisions to cut moose permits is based on science and adherence to the moose management plan. Where’s the data?

Does any of this matter? To me it does and it should to more sportsmen. Specifically there are two issues that frequently rear their ugly heads in media accounts that originate from MDIFW. The first is that the media provide “statements” from members of MDIFW. Those statement make a lot of claims and are never supported with data and from whence that data came. It’s easy to state that moose numbers in a particular Wildlife Management District (WMD) have met management goals, but exactly what does that mean? As I said, I refuse to blindly and ignorantly accept that statement. What is that statement based on and how was the data collected to make that decision? What is the moose population in that WMD? What is the bull to cow ratio? What is the carrying capacity? What is the management goal for that WMD and how was it arrived at? These are all important questions and few comments should be offered without having that information. When wildlife managers are allowed to get away with making statements without backing it up with scientific data, we are giving them free rein to do as they wish, which makes me wonder if that isn’t what was behind the statement that MDIFW was going to reduce moose permits in order to grow more moose for watching – certainly not a scientifically supported decision.

The second issue has to do with attitudes. I’ve written of this before. For a long time, wildlife managers seem to be caught dumping on sportsmen and other outdoor sportsmen when they provide anecdotal evidence. Odd isn’t it that if a wildlife biologist walks in the woods and sees 3 moose, it’s “scientific evidence,” and when a sportsman walks in the woods and sees 3 moose it’s “anecdotal evidence” and those statements are open season to be scoffed at, ridiculed and tossed aside.

The MDIFW has done this for so long that the media, their complicit mouthpieces, are doing their bidding for them. This is evidenced in the Bangor News article linked to above.

It’s terrible public relations to ridicule the sportsmen who pay these clowns salaries. In addition, without the hunting, fishing and trapping community, about the only thing newspaper outdoor writers would have to write about are piping plovers and counting bats. Exciting! And where would the wildlife managers be?

But, think about if for a moment. When sportsmen, many of whom spend more time in the field than most all MDIFW biologists or any other group of recreationists, comment about the numbers and health of the moose herd (or any other game species), essentially they are told to shut up because they don’t know what they are talking about. Then, when a microcosmic group, fortunate to have been able to create a spin-off business of moose watching due to the efforts and money of the sportsmen, speaks up and want more moose to boost their profits, MDIFW and the media are quick to bow down and grant them their wish. Why does this make any sense and why do we tolerate such behavior? On one hand we are told there’s no shortage of moose and then the actions tell us MDIFW would rather cater to the gawkers and Environmentalist. Why not tell them the same thing that is told to the moose hunters who are working harder to find the moose – get off your fat ass and out of the comfort of air-conditioned vans and find the moose the same way hunters do?

It’s easier to believe in men and have faith in what they do, than to discover the truth.

BeaverMoose2

 

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Maine’s Moose Being Regulated Naturally?

While the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) dithers and collects data from moose and aerial surveys – why I’m not sure yet – I believe what Maine people, at least those that pay attention, are seeing is a form of what will happen when wildlife management is left to the whims of Mother Nature promoted by Environmentalism.

It makes sense that at the peak of the moose herd growth, Maine had too many moose and in some areas it may still be the case. Too many moose, aside from creating too many vehicle collisions, brought us a bumper crop of winter ticks (Dermacentor albipictus), so much so that the abundance of ticks began killing off the moose. That’s what Mother Nature does, the result of which benefits no one and this makes little sense.

Because, generally speaking, wildlife management actions lag reality by about 3 years or more, it’s those interim years that get many of us worked up. Then we are often told that managers must collect data and form scientific opinions before making and/or changing moose management plans. We then begin to see the fluctuations of what letting Nature regulate itself will bring.

During the interim, we see guess work and politics rule the moose management plan. Presently, it appears MDIFW is guessing about the numbers and condition of the moose herd and trying to move the number of moose permits up or down hoping it will meet their whims. At the same time we learn that MDIFW is recommending certain permit changes because moose gawkers are demanding it. Odd that moose gawkers get stroked but when moose hunters, who pay all the bills, suggest more permits to reduce and stabilize the herd, we are ignored. Think about it. If moose watchers are granted their demands for more moose to look at, why then, aren’t hunters granted their demands for more moose to hunt? If the scientific evidence reveals there’s room for more moose to watch, then there’s room for more moose to hunt.

And speaking of moose permit changes, I recently wrote about Maine’s plan to reduce moose permits so that moose gawkers could see more moose. This article was in response to a piece I found in the Portland Press Herald in which the author of that piece said, “A proposal to reduce Maine’s moose permits by 24 percent has struck a discord between hunters and those who simply want to view the state animal.

“State wildlife biologists made the proposal Wednesday to meet public demand for greater opportunities to see moose, particularly in northern Maine.”

In a recent posting on George Smith’s personal website he wrote: “Moose permits are not being decreased this year so there will be more moose for viewing.” Both George Smith and Deirdre Fleming can’t be right. So what gives?

It wouldn’t be the first time MDIFW has decided to reduce the moose hunting opportunities to placate the moose gawkers. Just last year the Department cut moose permits in the Greenville, Maine region to “balance social demands” for the moose gawkers.

MIDFW has mentioned that in at least one Wildlife Management District moose production has dropped below management goals and are using that as part reason to reduce permits. Without questioning the management plans, that would be a reasonable decisions based upon MDIFW’s best available science and not the latest clamoring and demanding more moose for the moose looking businesses.

Through all of this, I was recently asked if I thought what we are seeing, i.e. tons of winter ticks, reduced reproduction of moose, is the result of poor or incorrect management of the state’s largest game animal. I had to agree. When we consider that one of the events that set the stage for a rapid growth in the moose herd was the onset of the spruce budworm – resulting clear-cuts – we have to now understand that with many of those clear-cuts in which moose thrive, along with other animals such as snowshoe hares that feed the Canada lynx and other predators, have grown up and are on the verge of maturation. Doesn’t this tell us that the prime habitat to support a lot of moose is disappearing? This in and of itself will reduced moose reproduction.

Then we see the onset of winter ticks. MDIFW and other researchers, because they have been misled with false science, continue to blame global warming for the growth in winter ticks. I strongly believe that regardless of what the current moose study could reveal, any issues will be promptly blamed to global warming.

I have often asked if MDIFW biologists, who claim to be the front-runners in moose management, have considered what is taught in Biology 101, that too many animals in too small an area promotes disease? MDIFW moose managers admit that right now, the number one cause of moose mortality is the result of the presence of winter ticks. Perhaps they forgot to also mention that within that observable mortality exists the unseen mortality – aborted fetuses and a reduction in moose production.

There’s probably only one thing worse than managing wildlife according to social demands; that is managing it unscientifically, based on unproven, non-scientific, garbage about a man-caused warming planet.

There is one thing that we can count on. If man doesn’t, can’t and won’t manage its wildlife based upon the real scientific principle, that was once driven by providing a resource for the people and food to eat, the often demanded “self regulation” will take hold and I guarantee the majority of people will not like the result, nor is there much sense in managing for scarcity.

Because Maine’s moose population grew to numbers too large to support in the long haul, a small niche business resulted in moose watching. Instead of thanking the hunters for financing moose management, those businesses now want to take away moose hunting opportunities. It may have been a mistake to try to grow too many moose. Now, MDIFW, instead of adding to the problems, need to step up and own the responsibility even if it means some lost revenue for the moose watching business. After all, hunters are always asked to give in and give up if it means a better management plan.

What we see in Maine right now with moose might be just a glimpse into the future.

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Maine Hunting Camp: Why Bother?

As each year passes, I continue to ask myself, why bother? Why bother to go? There are very few deer, as has been the case for going on two decades now and nothing is changing in the woods…nothing.

I just completed my 40th year at a Maine hunting camp – the same family hunting camp I have written about for many years. I saw nothing – Okay, I saw three partridge and a woodpecker on my camp bird feeder.

This morning I was reading The Gun Nut at Field and Stream. He had been in Wyoming on a whitetail deer hunt where he took a 12-point, 200-pound buck. He writes, “At the moment I pulled the trigger, there were six other bucks in the field.”

Then he wrote, “Then I went to Maine, and spent 5 ½ days in an elevated stand waiting for a whitetail. I was in the stand from 5:45 until 4:30, and the only thing I saw the whole time was a coyote, whose furtive existence I terminated. Our party was 15 people more or less, ten of whom are geezers like myself and have 50 years or so of whitetail battles in their past, so when they don’t see deer, it means there are no deer.”

For 40 years I’ve hunted the same lands and have seen it all. Excuses be damned…there just aren’t any deer and I hold out little hope that by doing nothing except wishing and hoping, anything is going to change.

The poor excuses are old to me and worthless. Putting it all together, we see that it appears deer managers don’t know what’s really going on and with each passing year, I am left wondering if they really care. Maybe they care about pensions and benefits, but the excuse making is so poor, some of us have discovered that the managers tell it both ways. Here’s a bold and ridiculous example of what I mean.

The moose population is shrinking. Even though the moose managers keep echoing the fact that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) is in the middle of a multi-year moose study, we know they recognize a dwindling moose herd because they keep cutting back the number of moose permits to be issued during the lottery.

The convenient cover for poor management is winter ticks, which they hide behind by saying the increase in winter ticks is caused by (and we don’t even have to wait for it anymore) climate change. To be specific, the climate change in question happens to be warming. Wildlife managers, evidently without so much as a courtesy glance at any existing science on Demacentor albipictus (winter tick), it’s easier to copy and paste, and/or repeat, what the last guy said.

So, now, we are all supposed to fall to our knees and self-flagellate as a show of mourning for the moose and eagerly swallow the explanation of what is happening to the moose. I believe! I believe! Are you going to pass the offering plate?

Even if we pretend that a warming climate is to blame for the winter tick-caused mortality of moose, what about the whitetail deer?

Of course, all of us must realize that habitat is always a safe bet when a deer or moose manager needs to cover their assets, even though no explanation can be given as to why, if loss of habitat accounts so dearly to deer loss, there’s acres and acres of prime deer habitat where there are no deer. One would think that as habitat supposedly disappears, more and more deer would be crowded into smaller and smaller places. Such is not the case. The woods are empty…PERIOD.

If you haven’t figured out yet where I’m going here, it’s time I told you. Deer managers tell us that there are no deer because of back to back severe winters. That was like 7 or 8 years ago. Without even discussing what constitute a “severe winter,” I don’t even need a brain to figure out that if severe winters are killing off all the deer, then how can, at the same time, on the same landscape, from the same officials, they tell us warmer than normal winters are what’s causing winter ticks that kill moose? Where did you say that bridge was you wanted to sell me?

I laugh until I nearly fall out of my chair, when I hear of some calling for the State of Maine to spend gobs of money they don’t have, in order to market Maine as a destination hunting mecca. This has to be someone’s idea of a bad joke. Because I grew up in Maine and lived there for 47 years, still have a camp there and have gone to the same deer hunting camp for 40 years, I go back each Fall. Each year it’s harder and harder to justify spending the $116.00 for a piece of paper that gives me the privilege of walking in the woods. Without the connections, I would not go. I would not spend $50.00 or $20.00 to travel the 1700 miles to deer hunt in Maine.

Deer hunting in Maine is the biggest draw the state has for hunters. When they lose that, a lot of people and animals will suffer. If MDIFW actually cares about saving the species and the sport, which equals a sizable income to them and the rest of the state, something must change. MDIFW cannot continue to be dictated to by the Maine Guides. Bear play a prominent roll in killing deer. There are too many bears and yet, because the guides don’t want anybody messing with their bear guiding business during the early Fall hunt, managers refuse to implement a spring bear hunt or even to double-up on bag limits.

When you combine this kind of approach to wildlife management with fear of lawsuits from animal rights perverts, there is little hope of anything changing. We see how MDIFW caves in to the public demands to have more moose to view from automobiles. When the day arrived that game managers put more emphasis on social demands than scientific fact, failure was eminent. We are now reaping that harvest.

Maine deer hunting? Why bother?

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