May 7, 2015

Moose casually walks down Main Street

The video shows police following the moose until it made it safely back into the woods.

Source: Moose casually walks down Main Street

Ogunquit

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Snowmobilers asked to give moose a break

While there is new snow on the snowmobile trails and still some riding left this season, riders are urged to stop for moose and let them go on their way.

Source: Snowmobilers asked to give moose a break | Escape Outside – WMUR Home

ErrolMoose

Maine Moose Permit Auction Raises Over $122,000 for Scholarships

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

AUGUSTA, Maine – Over $122,000 was raised for youth conservation education scholarships in Maine through the 2015 Maine Moose Permit Auction. Ten hunters bid a total of over $122,000 in an auction for the opportunity to hunt moose in Maine during the 2015 season.

Proceeds from the auction fund partial scholarships that will help send over 600 Maine youngsters to the University of Maine 4-H Camp & Learning Center at Bryant Pond and to Greenland Point Center in Princeton. These camps provide boys and girls ages 8 through 17 the opportunity to participate in a variety of outdoor and classroom activities. Students are taught by experienced instructors and counselors, as well as staff from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and other state and private conservation agencies.

“While the auction winners have the opportunity to partake in the hunt of a lifetime, their winning bids also ensure Maine children have the chance to learn outdoor skills that will give them a lifetime of appreciation of the Maine outdoors,” said Chandler Woodcock, Commissioner, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

The auction was created by the Legislature and begin in 1995. It allows the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to publicly auction ten moose permits each year. Applicants submit bids through a written bid process. Permits are awarded to the ten winning bidders each February. The average bid ranges between $11,000-$13,000. Funds from the auction are specifically directed to youth conservation education programs.

Conservation camp programs are designed to teach Maine boys and girls the importance of conservation, a respect for the environment and a working knowledge of a variety of outdoor skills. Subjects taught at camp include wildlife identification, fishing, boating safety, archery, firearms handling, hunter safety, forest conservation, map and compass work and much more.

For more information on Greenland Point Center and the 4-H Camp and Learning Center at Bryant Pond, please visit their websites at www.greenlandpoint.com and www.umaine.edu/bryantpond/

For more information on the Maine Moose Permit Auction or moose hunting in Maine, please visit our website at www.mefishwildlife.com

Discrepancies in Issuance of Moose Permits

Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont have a wide discrepancy in the implementation of moose hunting permits as part of its moose management plan. Why?

Keeping in mind that animals don’t see boundaries, there are geographical and habitat availability differences between the three northern New England states. These issues and many other factors, drive the plans and decision making processes of each state’s fish and wildlife department.

However, in a news report found in the Concord Monitor, we find that each of the three states use the issuing of moose permits for moose management in different ways – very different.

Vermont sends out one hunter for every 10 moose, Maine sends out one hunter for every 23 moose, while New Hampshire sends out one hunter for every 38 moose.

These numbers are based on moose population estimates for each of the three states as follows: Vermont – 2,400; Maine – 65,000; New Hampshire – 4,000.

Without having every available data to make comparisons, these numbers provide for interesting debate over a cup of joe.

This is Where You “Debark”

Hungry moose have stripped all the bark off this fallen tree.

DebarkedTree

Photo by Al Remington

Is Maine Going in the Wrong Direction With Moose Harvest Plans?

mooseI have questioned whether the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) should be reducing moose densities rather than taking efforts to keep population levels where they are or even considering increasing them. This question, from my perspective, is based mostly on whether or not the objectives created by MDIFW for moose population density goals within categorized Wildlife Management Districts (WMD), is in the best interest of the health of the moose herd.

In an article by the Associated Press, it said that Maine plans to reduce moose permits for this year’s coming moose hunt to, “the fewest number in 12 years and a reduction of nearly 10 percent over last year.”

In addition, the article quotes Lee Kantar, MDIFW head moose biologist, as saying, “We have to be cautious. Coming out of this winter, we’re already seeing less of an effect [from ticks].”

This, on the surface, would appear to be the prudent and responsible thing to do. But perhaps we first need to ask if Maine’s present moose population is too high.

While Maine is undergoing moose studies and aerial count surveys, the guesstimation on the moose population in the last 3 or 4 years has run from a high of 90,000 to a more conservative estimate of around 75,000. This same article, referenced to above, states that Maine officials currently estimate the population at around 60,000 to 70,000.

It is my understanding that MDIFW will be or perhaps they already have, begun work on a new moose management plan. The current one is outdated and appears to have not been adhered to. For example, the current assessment states that in 1999, the time the assessment was done (only 16 years old but we can gather some valuable information from this), the estimated moose population in the state was 29,000. At that level, MDIFW assessed the population densities for each of the WMDs. Densities seemed to range anywhere from 0.8 moose per square mile (WMD 10, 11, 19 and part of 18) to a high of 3.4 moose per square mile (WMDs 9 and 14).

In examining each of the assessments, it appears that all of the zones where labeled as being at least half the estimated carrying capacity (the number of moose that habitat could handle). Under ideal conditions, and in some areas, the report states that moose could be as high in density as 5.6 moose per square mile.

If the moose population estimate at 75,000 was accurate, then that puts it at approximately 2.6 times the 29,000 estimate of 1999. If all things were relative, simple math says that moose must be well above carrying capacity, at least in some areas.

The Moose Management System plan calls for a recommended goal of moose density at 55% – 65% of carrying capacity (K). If the 1999 objectives were even close to reality, Maine is certainly managing moose populations at far greater than 55% – 65% of carrying capacity. These estimations calculated at the time were for both moose density and carrying capacity.

Granted, new science brings changes to goals and management strategies, but these numbers sure leave some of us scratching our heads wondering what was going on and still is.

By the way, it should be noted that in these reports that I have referred to, it was estimated that the moose populations were not expected to grow over the next 10 years. What happened? Either the 1999 estimates were so far off they were worthless, or the calculation used to model the population trends for moose was flawed – as were perhaps the carrying capacity.

So, we come back to the same question as to whether Maine is attempting to grow and manage too many moose? In the management plan, it is stated that one of the two major considerations being taken in determining at what level the population of moose should be, is demands by the viewing public. While this activity might be exciting to the viewers and offers guides and others to pocket some extra cash, is manipulating moose densities to a level high enough to keep moose watchers happy a scientific and prudent thing to do?

Perhaps it is time to consider other factors when determining at what level to target moose populations. If 29,000 moose in 1999 were somewhere just slightly less than the 55% – 65% of carrying capacity (as estimated), what, then, is 75,000 moose doing to the moose and the state?

I visited the New Hampshire fish and wildlife website to see what they were trying to do with their population. They presently are at a crossroad of determining what to do, i.e. should they have a moose hunt at all because of population reductions.

New Hampshire’s most densely populated moose area is in the Connecticut Lakes region – 2.23 moose per square mile. In 1994, 3.12 moose per square mile was considered above carrying capacity. And, New Hampshire also has a tick problem. Are these related?

While some seem to just be puzzled by this confounded tick problem, I am wondering just how puzzled some scientists are. Maybe this is a good opportunity to get some of the grant money to do more studies? In digging through New Hampshire’s Moose Assessment, and found this bit of a jewel:

Musante (2006) has shown that winter tick is our greatest mortality influence and our monitoring programs have revealed that it is ubiquitous in time and area in the northern regions. Scarpitti (2006) and Bergeron (2011) have suggested that available browse does not seem to [be] an issue in the northern regions although actual browse productivity studies were not conducted. Both Scarpitti (2006) and Bergeron (2011) also indicated that tick loads alone could influence body weight and productivity as did Garner (1993). This means that in areas where the moose population is large enough to support ticks, the Central region and northward, we have lost a relatively easy method of using reproductive output to measure where we are in relationship to K as defined by food availability. Winter tick is now felt to be the biggest influence on pregnancy rates and weights of yearlings and adults. As such, it is now a measure of the populations relationship to K as defined by levels of animals that can be supported without severe adverse impacts from parasitism. (emboldening added)

This statement clearly admits that first, there must be a population of moose large enough to support ticks, and second, that in determining at what density moose should be in relation to carrying capacity, it must be considered the impact of ticks (parasitism).

Maine has decided to be “cautious” in not reducing moose numbers lower than the current estimate of 70,000 (or in order to grow more moose?) Is MDIFW considering the two things above that I just mentioned? By all accounts, Maine certainly has a large enough moose population to support a tick infestation. But is MDIFW considering that perhaps the population is too high and is only exacerbating the tick problem?

Somebody has to make a decision on this because in all honesty I don’t think we can rely on global warming or global cooling to cure the tick problem.

New Hampshire Thinks About Ending Moose Hunts

As with any game specie that reaches population levels, backed by scientific research, that call for the limitation or end of hunting, it should be done for obvious and not so obvious reasons. What is utterly sickening, non scientific and fraudulent, among other things, is to end a hunt, as is being suggested in New Hampshire, and to blame the reduction of moose on global warming.

According to Field and Stream:

Biologists are concerned that warmer winters and hotter summers have lead to an increase in parasites that are drastically affecting moose across the state.

Few will argue that the moose population in New Hampshire has decreased. To place the blame on global warming and its effects on parasites, including the winter tick, is just plain lazy dishonesty. As more and more scientists are finally admitting, the theories and the fraudulent “settled science” of global warming, mostly promoted by Al Gore, can not be backed by any real scientific research, people should be demanding that states, such as New Hampshire, stop using global warming as an excuse for incompetent wildlife management.

Computer modeling has become the new-science, post-normal science way of managing wildlife. Computer modeling might present interesting results, especially when they are designed and used for outcome-based results, the realities are that the results are worthless nonsense.

In the meantime, wildlife populations, like the moose, are suffering from fluctuations and the only excuse officials choose to use to hide their own incompetence is blame it on global warming.

Winter ticks, for example, have been around for a long time and are persistent from Texas to the Yukon. The theory that some are floating is that due to a warmer climate the tick is moving further north. How much further north can you go than the Yukon?

The fish and game departments are responsible for wildlife management. It’s time the fraud of global warming is taken out of the excuse bag and real science is implemented in order to honestly assess the problems at hand.

If, in fact, it is climate change, also known as normal climate cycles, that is the cause for moose reductions, then let’s discover it with honest scientific approach and not rely on some fake computer modeling derived from outcome-based “scientist” designed for the purpose of human control and tax fraud.

Warden Frees Moose Tangled in Child’s Swingset

Are We Losing the Desire for Quality Whitetail Deer in Maine?

dennisThe other day George Smith wrote in his column in the Bangor Daily News:

The differences between deer and moose management are fascinating. In areas of the state with few deer, we still allow unlimited harvests of bucks. But Lee [Kantar, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife head moose biologist and former head deer biologist] says any increase in the harvest of bull moose will negatively impact the quality of those bulls. Do we not care about the quality of our bucks?

This prompted me to start asking around from those that would know about this sort of thing and where I might actually get an answer. It is a complex issue where one element does not necessarily control the “quality” of bucks or bull moose. The first hurdle would be to determine what is meant by “quality”.

One might gather from this short statement, a claim made by Smith, that there appears to be a concern for preserving and/or protecting the quality of bull moose. Fine. Does there exist the same feeling toward protecting the quality of Maine’s whitetail deer buck population? I certainly can’t answer that question, only to resort to the plan that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) devises every 15 years and the most recent amendment to that plan in the Maine’s Game Plan for Deer. I will say that, while certain aspects of the plans are followed, too much of it seems to be treated as suggestions rather that actual management goals that are worked at to achieve.

In my mind there is a difference between a “quality” deer herd or even a quality buck population and “trophy” deer. Those would need to be defined. Yet, in my mind a quality deer herd would contain a desired population percentage of trophy animals.

Troubling in the statement made above is that it leaves readers second guessing what the MDIFW is thinking about growing quality bucks and/or trophy bucks. If, as Smith points out, there is unlimited take on antlered deer, even in Wildlife Management Areas where overall deer populations are low, is this a sign that there is little concern about a “quality” deer population, or a “quality” buck population, or a “trophy” deer population?

I asked Dr. Charles Kay, Wildlife Ecology, Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, Utah State University, about this issue. He sent me a copy of an article he wrote and was published in the November/December issue of MuleyCrazy Magazine – 2008. The article deals mostly with what is required to grow trophy mule deer, i.e. “large antlered” mule deer and Kay well points out that mule deer do not achieve maximum antler growth until 6-8 years of age.

Let’s not lose sight of the fact that in Maine are we discussing “quality” deer/bucks (ideal deer populations) and/or “trophy” bucks? In addition to trophy mule deer, Kay gives us a lesson as well in how to grow and maintain quality deer populations that just might solve the concern over trophy deer. He writes:

“Based on studies of other cervids, three factors are key to growing large-antlered mule deer – genetics, nutrition and age. First and foremost is age. The deer simply must live long enough to reach their full biological potential. Bull elk, for instance, do not achieve maximum antler growth until they are 7 to 10 years old. Mule deer bucks too do not achieve maximum antler growth until they are 6 to 8 years. To have mule deer of that age, you need 60 to 80 bucks per 100 does post hunt – a figure most sportsmen can only wish they had. If your post-hunt sex ratios are in the range of 10 to 15 bucks per 100 does or less, as is the case in many mule deer herds, the chances of a deer living long enough to produce maximum antler development is between zero and non-existent.

The only way to achieve the necessary post-hunt sex ratios and age structure is to curtail the buck harvest. [emphasis added] Point restrictions will not work: a fact that has been proven time and again. A four-point minimum antler size might appeal to hunters, but it will do absolutely nothing to produce trophy mule deer, because hunters simply shoot the first small four-point they see and few deer live long enough to reach maximum antler growth. So while point restrictions will increase the average age of the bucks harvested by a year or so, point restrictions, in and of themselves, will do nothing to produce trophy mule deer. Instead only limited-entry seasons have the potential to produce quality mule deer and then only if state game departments do not oversell the number of permits. This is usually not a problem with whitetails since virtually all the land in the Midwest, Texas and back East is privately owned. If the landowner or leasee wants to grow trophy whitetails, it is a relatively simple matter to restrict the harvest. [emphasis added] In fact, according to Dr. James Kroll, who has spent most of his career studying whitetails and who has written a 590-page book on A Practical Guide to Producing and Harvesting White-tailed Deer, it is much easier to raise a trophy whitetail than it is to kill that deer!…

“Under quality management, it is possible to produce a Boone and Crockett whitetail in as little as 3 or 4 years!…

“To produce trophy deer, the animals simply must have a year-long diet of high quality foods. Which brings us to the number one problem in rearing trophy whitetails – too many deer. If the deer population is not kept at one half, or less, of the land’s carrying capacity, the deer will simply not grow big enough to develop large antlers. That is to say, antler quality is density dependent.”

We come back to the question of why, in Maine, does it appear that an unrestricted bull moose hunt would have a negative effect on the herd and an unrestricted buck deer hunt does not?

Certainly much of Maine doesn’t fall into the category Kay wrote about that the problem with growing trophy bucks is too many deer. In many Wildlife Management Areas, overall deer populations are, not only half or less of the carrying capacity, they are near unsustainable levels. What is the buck to doe ratios, post hunt, in these areas? We dunno. It’s like pulling teeth to get the data. I’ve asked before about getting the data and….I gave up.

I would wager that if Mr. Kantar is not willing to offer suggestions to the Joint Standing Committee on what to do about winter ticks on moose, because he doesn’t have enough data, why then should we think there is enough data to know all the conditions pertaining to the moose herd that a determination can be made that killing more bull moose would have a negative effect on the herd?

And has whitetail deer hunting in Maine just become a cash cow? The process has always been that if Maine wanted to grow the population of deer in an area, just limit the number of “Any-Deer” permits. Is that still working? Does it still work in areas with very small deer numbers? If it is working, why aren’t we seeing more deer in those areas where there’s no deer and permits have been reduced? Or have they? Ah, it’s not that simple is it.

If, as Dr. Kay says, in an area where you really want to grow trophy deer, “restrict the harvest”, that certainly has been accomplished because there are so few deer to harvest. Should we then just close the deer hunting season in those areas? Or is this contrary to growing quality deer?

The carrying capacity is far below 50% in many places and the harvest is limited only through the issuance of “Any-Deer” permits because there just aren’t any deer. So then there must be other problems. Yes, there are but I don’t think it’s responsible to just keep blaming it on habitat and climate. I might buy into the habitat argument if I didn’t enter the forest where thousands of acres of prime deer habitat lay vacant. And if a warming climate was a problem, then Maine would be starting to grow too many deer and less moose and Canada lynx.

Maybe there are other problems!

It seems to me, and I might assume here that Dr. Kay would agree with me, this discussion about growing quality and/or trophy deer is dependent upon certain elements of the deer growing and maintainance equation exist in order to accomplish the tasks Kay points out. He says genetics, nutrition and age are necessary to grow quality deer. It seems Maine’s problem isn’t growing quality deer, it’s growing deer.

Maybe an examination of the Maine Antler, Skull and Trophy Club data on “quality” deer harvest in Maine over the past several years will give a better indication about growing quality and trophy deer.

It seems to me that the size of the trophy deer is diminishing slightly, but I still contend that Maine’s bigger problem is growing deer. So long as the mantra persists that it’s the climate change and the loss of habitat, Rome will keep burning.

Watch Out For Moose and Deer

ST. JOHN VALLEY, Maine – Wildlife including deer and moose are beginning to make an appearance on northern snowmobile trails, according to a Feb. 25 snowmobile trail report issued by Caribou Parks and Recreation Department.

Read more: St. John Valley Times – Deer and moose appearing on snowmobile trails