October 31, 2014

Mount Desert Island Has Too Many Deer and Too Many Ill-Informed People

The residents of Maine’s Mount Desert Island lament the familiar cries of many across this land – too many deer causing too much disease, causing too many accidents, eating too many plants and veggies, etc. And not only does Mount Desert Island face all the same problems of trying to figure out what to do about it, they also face having the majority of the land mass of the island taken up by a National Park.

According to an article by Bill Trotter in the Bangor Daily News, he is correct in passing on what Len Bobinchock, deputy superintendent of Acadia National Park said about people refusing to allow hunting on their land and yet complain about the deer issue.

because individual property owners can determine whether to allow hunting on their land (if there’s not a state-imposed ban), MDI residents should be asked not just if they support a hunt, but also if they would allow hunting on their property. If residents in each town say a hunt should be allowed, but if few people would allow hunters on their land, having a hunt might not be practical, he said.

However, Bobinchock is very wrong when he says that it would take an act of Congress (literally) to get a hunt for Arcadia National Park.

Stu Marckoon, a town official of many titles in Lamoine, asked Bobinchock what it would take to get the federal government to allow a hunt in the park, but was told such a scenario is not likely.

“Congress,” the deputy superintendent said. “You’d have to introduce special legislation.”

We’ve been down this road a hundred times before but I’ll write it again. There is no mythical ban against hunting in a national park and special legislation is not required. Hunts have taken place in other national parks across the country and hunts are being discussed as well currently. Rocky Mountain National Park comes to mind as it is believed there are too many elk and anything from reintroducing wolves, to closing the park for a general elk hunt, to paying sharpshooters to kill elk have been discussed.

Having a hunt or deciding what to do about too many deer on MDI is up to the park superintendent. If the superintendent wanted to have a hunt, whether by closing the park or hiring sharpshooters, he or she has that authority. It’s just the same old rhetoric coming from the same people who just are opposed to wildlife management that involves population controls.

It’s always good to push opportunities for hunters but often times the problem of too many deer presents serious public health and safety issues. I advise the towns of Mount Desert Island, along with the superintendent of the national park, to get the facts FIRST, and then decide collectively what needs to be done.