December 13, 2018

Deer Poaching is a Problem – So Is Misleading Information

A well-respected Maine outdoor writer, whose column I read just about every week, published a column this week about poaching. Before I write any further I want to clarify that I do not condone poaching or unethical hunting – unethical meaning not following the laws governing the sport.

However, there are a couple issues I have with the writer’s information, not that these are big deals and I certainly do not want to distract from the important point of the cost of poaching and all the implications.

The article states that Maine’s deer population is estimated at 300,000, “give or take.” Is that pre or post-harvest? Maine hasn’t had a deer population near 300,000 for many, many years. Perhaps the real estimate is closer to 200,000 than 300,000 and that’s a problem.

As the author explains how “poaching” destroys deer numbers and robs legal hunters of prized opportunities to hunt, the line gets a bit muddled between the number of deer killed due to the poaching where people kill deer anytime and any place and do not legally tag that deer and the unlawful and unethical practices used and the deer are actually tagged.

You can’t count these numbers twice if you’re trying to calculate how many deer are killed by “poaching.” Does one wonder how many tagged deer were taken by strictly abiding by the rules and regulations that govern the sport and which ones were taken by “cheating?” We’ll never know. One also must wonder just how many deer are taken in a distinct criminal fashion in which the perpetrators have no regard for the law and thus never tag or report their kills?

As far as counting deer and calculating success rates, tagged deer by “cheating” cannot also be counted as poached deer.

Which brings us to the last thing I want to mention. The writer states, “Average success rates for Maine deer hunters run about 10 percent – abysmal when compared to the national level. Somehow we’ve gotten used to it. But consider that number could nearly double in the absence of poaching.”

I’m a bit puzzled by this statement but it sounds good. In an ideal situation where ALL poaching, even those sneaky things hunters do to increase their success rates, was ended, what would the harvest and success rate look like? If the success rate doubled, would the harvest double? If half the licensed hunters didn’t cheat anymore, would their success rate be cut in half while the honest hunters would double?

I don’t know. What I do know is that as the deer herd dwindles, for whatever the reasons, I am tired of spending the time trudging through the woods staring down a 10% chance of taking a deer. I’m hungry.

Because you can’t measure “poaching” to any degree, I wouldn’t suppose you could measure changes in the success rate to any degree. The author writes that a 10% deer harvest success rate is “abysmal when compared to the national level.” Why is it abysmal in comparison? Is it because there is that much more “poaching” going on or is it because a deer herd numbering around 200,000, the most of which are concentrated in high human population areas where hunting is heavily restricted, and 200,000 licensed hunters means the hunting sucks? Under these conditions, one might have to say that if the licensed and legitimate hunter didn’t “cheat” now and again, that 10% success rate might drop to 5%.

But doesn’t the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) kind of have a “fudge factor” for this sort of thing? Perhaps they don’t know precisely how many licensed hunters are doing things to press the envelope of rules and regulations but the harvest is the harvest and that is the number they use in their calculations, knowing full well there is little they can do to stop this kind of “poaching.”

Total deer mortality and fawn recruitment are the major factors in determining deer populations. When total mortality gets too high and/or recruitment too low, deer hunting is in serious trouble. To stop poaching would help but I have serious reservations that my success rate would double.

Having talked about all of this, I wonder how much any of us would be even taking the time to write about such problems if there were simply ample deer (like there used to be) to go around. I also wonder if “poaching” goes up proportionately as the deer herd perpetually shrinks?

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Illegal Deer Hunting “Causes Animal to Suffer Extreme Pain”

I generally avoid publishing stories about poaching, but this one caught my attention. It’s not the fact that a man shot at a deer in the nighttime, which is against the law, and that he went back the next day to find the deer he had wounded. The man has been charged with various items of law-breaking but the one that has me puzzled is that he has been charged with “felony aggravated cruelty to animals.” According to the charges, the poacher, “manifested a depraved indifference to animal life or suffering, did intentionally, knowingly or recklessly cause extreme physical pain to an animal, cause the death of an animal, or physically torture an animal.”

I need a little help here in figuring out how this alleged deer poacher did all these things. First he “manifested a depraved indifference to animal life and suffering.” How did he do this? Were there witnesses that heard him say he was going to go shoot at a deer, in the dark, and he hoped or didn’t care whether he wounded the deer or not because he was going to let it suffer all night long, and then kill it? And he knew that shooting and wounding a deer, intentionally mind you, would cause “extreme physical pain (and torture) to an animal?” Or that he knew shooting at a deer at night might kill the animal? Whether one is poaching a deer or legally hunting a deer, the object is to kill it…unless, in this case, the Maine Warden Service intends to prove the alleged poacher only intended to wound the deer and make it suffer – cruelly, with extreme physical pain and torture.

I have hunted deer for many years. I’m not as good a shot as I used to be when I was younger, but I still consider myself better than average. I have never met anyone who ever expressed the ability to shoot at a deer, or any other animal for that matter, to intentionally wound it. That’s one hell of a good marksman. To shoot and kill a deer is a bigger target to hit, and that’s difficult enough. Now we are supposed to believe this guy, at night, making it even more difficult, aimed at and pulled the trigger of a weapon with the intention of only wounding it, so he could intentionally cause “extreme physical pain,” and “torture,” along with “suffering?”

I think what we are witnessing is just another example of what I have been writing about for years – the mind manipulation by Environmentalists of wildlife managers (in this case wildlife law enforcement) in order to brainwash them into believing the nonsense of the charge. Don’t get me wrong. If this guy was illegally taking game, throw the book at him. But to somehow think a felony charge of “aggravated cruelty to animals,” as the charge claims, is demented thinking. Unless this warden has proof of what I have just described, he better drop those charges. What’s more important, if this particular warden, and/or the Maine Warden Service, actually is of the position that shooting at and wounding a deer deserves felony aggravated animal cruelty charges, the department should be shut down.

The question I have is this: If this guy was legally hunting and fired at a deer, 10 minutes before the end of legal hunting, discovered he had wounded the deer, and tracked it as best he could, deciding to come back in the morning to pick up the track again, eventually finding the deer, dead or otherwise, would this hunter then be charged with the same felony aggravated cruelty to animals?

The only difference that I can see between the case where charges were filed and the one I just described, is that the first one happened after dark. I hope like hell there ain’t a judge anywhere in the world that would agree that this alleged poacher, went about his business of breaking the law, to intentionally cause pain and suffering by deliberately aiming to wound the deer and not kill it.

God help us!

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Maine: Two Canada Lynx Found Dead

*Editor’s Note* – Perhaps this is as suspicious as when, only weeks after the USFWS granted Maine an Incidental Take Permit for lynx, three dead lynx “mysteriously” turned up in “traps.”

BUT DON’T GO LOOK!

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

A reward of up to $5,500 is being offered in connection with the recent illegal killings of two Canada Lynx in Maine. The Maine Warden Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigators are seeking information regarding two separate Canada Lynx shootings in northern Oxford County and Aroostook County.

The Canada Lynx is listed as a threatened species under the Federal Endangered Species Act. Unlawfully killing a Canada Lynx carries a maximum fine of up to $100,000 and or imprisonment up to one year. Maine’s Operation Game Thief, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Maine Trappers Association are all contributing considerable reward money.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife long term monitoring of lynx indicates that lynx are increasing in number and expanding their range in Maine. Vehicle accidents involving Canada Lynx, sightings of lynx, and verified lynx tracks are increasing in number and location. A record number of Canada Lynx, 11, have been killed by vehicles in 2016.

The Maine Warden Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Investigators are seeking information in the following incidents:

Case 1 [T14 R7 – NEAR Portage Lake, Maine] On November 17, 2016, a Canada Lynx was shot and found dead alongside a logging road that connects the Hewes Brook Road and the Wilderness Island Road, west of Portage Lake. This was reported to the Maine Warden Service after a concerned sportsman discovered the shot lynx in a legally-set foothold trap.

Case 2 [Near Aziscohos Lake – western Maine] U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Maine Warden Service are also investigating the recent shooting of a Canada Lynx that is believed to have occurred on or about November 15. This took place on a logging road that connects to the Parmachenee Road on the New Hampshire/Maine border near Aziscohos Lake, approximately seven miles north of the Parmachenee Road/Route 16 intersection.

It is believed that this Canada Lynx was shot and killed with a rifle. This adult male lynx was wearing a GPS radio collar that was affixed by IFW wildlife biologists in 2015 as part of an ongoing IFW lynx study.

Currently, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologists are in the midst of a three-year Canada Lynx study that will provide an updated lynx population estimate. Early results support an increasing range and number of lynx in Maine. A 2006 Canada Lynx population survey by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife estimated the population between 750 -1000 adult lynx in their core range of northern Maine.

Maine Operation Game Thief is offering a $2,500 reward for each case ($5,000 total) to anyone with information that leads to a conviction for the person(s) responsible for killing either of these Canada Lynx. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is offering an additional reward of up to $2,500 for each case ($5,000 total) to any person who furnishes information which leads to a conviction in either case. Additionally, the Maine Trappers Association will add a $500 reward for each case to any person ($1,000 total) who can provide information that leads to a conviction in either Canada Lynx case. Total reward dollars for these cases has now reached $11,000.

Anyone with information about either incident is urged to call Maine Operation Game Thief at 1-800-ALERT-US (207-287-6057), you can remain anonymous. People may also call Public Safety Dispatch in Bangor at 1-800-432-7381 (207-973-3700).

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Maybe Maine Needed an Undercover Game Warden

A West Paris, Maine fire chief, poaches a bear, trespasses, tears down no trespassing signs, discharges a firearm too close to a dwelling, kept a loaded firearm in a vehicle, charged with criminal mischief and failing to tag a bear. For all that, we read this:

“In exchange for the plea, entered in Oxford County Unified Court, prosecutors will drop all charges against St. Pierre if he does not commit any crimes over the next year.”

Maybe he IS an undercover agent.

PlayDead

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Maine Newspaper Continues Attack on Maine Warden Service Undercover Tactics

Once again the Portland Press Herald has published an article describing others who were targets of the Maine Warden Service (MWS) undercover investigations, claiming they were wrongfully treated. Why is there no real focus on a more serious situation in which it appears the MWS stonewalled and refused to send information to the Press Herald requested through FOIA laws?

Whether Maine citizens like it or not, in all of these cases being written about in the news, the undercover investigations and the subsequent charges leveled against many people, have all gone through the Court System. We know of one case where the judge made a statement that the tactics were questionable, but, they were within the laws.

This week a dog and pony show will likely begin to “investigate” the accusations being made by the Press Herald against the MWS and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) – a case of government investigating government. Governments are incapable of self-policing.

If what has come out in the Press about the tactics being used by undercover agents is remotely accurate, it is my opinion that legal tactics need to be changed. If any citizen has a “predisposition” (to give or furnish a tendency or inclination) to commit a crime – a term used to describe a precursor to actually formulating an undercover sting – why is there a need to bait them into doing it? Whatever happened to the simple infiltration of a gang only to observe and record behavior for later prosecution? Isn’t it worth it? Is there no fame, glory and money in this? Because it is “legal” (as recognized by the Court) is it right? Did the people of Maine and/or the Maine Legislature approve the “legal” guidelines to be employed during undercover operations? Do other branches of law enforcement follow the same guidelines or do they craft their own?

If Maine people don’t like the use of the tactics being described to them via the Press, it’s time to change those laws. It’s somewhat silly to keep harping about tactics, seemingly allowed by the Courts, without offering any solutions. We are told we are a government by and of the people. Is this not true?

So, is the Press Herald head hunting? Makes you wonder, although we do know they have created a hot topic and hot topics sell copies and puts money in the coffers. The governor thinks his administration is being targeted.

Why then, isn’t the Press Herald more heavily pursuing their own accusations that the MWS and MDIFW withheld and is still withholding information available to the public? We know what the law says about our supposed right to access public information. Perhaps they are pursuing that as I write. If the Press Herald is head hunting the LePage Administration, isn’t non compliance of an FOIA law a better opportunity than chasing butterflies?

It would seem to me that any investigation should be focused on FOIA actions and that if the Press and the people have issues with how law enforcement carries out their mission, they should work to get it changed.

The people have created themselves a tightrope to walk. After 9/11, Law Enforcement seemingly can do no wrong and even when they do, they are still glorified for doing it. The people cannot allow any government or law enforcement to trample on their rights, out of fear for any reason. When we fear government, including law enforcement, what then is there of value in any of our perceived rights given by God or men?

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Seeking Felony Charges for Poaching?

*Editor’s Note* – Missing from the below quote and the entire article linked to, is that another result of a “felony” rap for poaching, is the right to have a gun. Now, don’t go flying off the handle before you hear me out.

Throw the book at poachers. Each state needs to decide the penalties for poaching. If Minnesota wants longer jail terms and heftier fines, then go nuts. Leave it in the state’s hands and discretion. Few people want lesser punishment for poaching.

But consider if you will, the times in which we live. As unfortunate as it might be, my first reaction when I read that the governor’s proposal was to up the charges for “certain” offenses that, “unlawfully take animals above a restitution value…” was one of distrust of government, gray areas, interpretations and lawyers.

A simple read through this article, it’s pretty easy to read it and say, “Damn right! Throw the book at these poachers!” And rightly that should be the case.

For me, I have no confidence in any government, especially a government led by a crook and an idiot (that’s Obama today. Who will it be tomorrow?) who wants to disarm the people and will use any tactic to do it. I could smell a rat here. The rat could and probably would, monkey with these laws in order to turn poaching into another means of gun control/disarmament.

Color me untrustworthy, but with the most corrupt government in existence today, and little faith it is going to get better any time soon, Minnesotans need to be careful what they ask for.

The governor’s request is to take gross violations of game and fish harvest laws from gross misdemeanor offenses to felony offenses. That changes the following: Potential jail time goes from up to a year to a year or more. Fines go from $2,000 to $3,000. Game and fish licenses could be revoked for up to 10 years.

Source: Amp up fines to stop flagrant poaching

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Warden service investigating killing of doe

ST. ALBANS, Maine — Officials from the Maine Warden Service are investigating the killing of a doe in Somerset County earlier this month. Cpl. John MacDonald said the adult doe was shot and killed on Jan. 8, and was part of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s winter severity study on white-tailed deer.

Source: Warden service investigating killing of doe — Outdoors — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine

StAlbans2

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Maine game wardens host regional conference on poaching

*Editor’s Note* – To make such a claim that the same number of deer are tagged in Maine legally as are taken illegally, requires some serious proof. First, the Maine Warden Service should define exactly what, in their professional standards, “poaching” is, and how that is used to illegally kill deer. Then, provide something more for proof other than “we estimate.”

Poaching is a crime and should not be tolerated. However, if law enforcement is looking to play on the emotions of the public by sensationalizing and embellishing game poaching data for political and/or economic reasons, they are no better than the poachers themselves.

Last year In Maine 25,000 deer were tagged legally. Wardens estimate nearly that many were taken illegally. Poachers will go out at night, use bait or exceed limits, all against the law. But it is not unique to Maine.

Source: Maine game wardens host regional conference on poaching

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Jury convicts man who shot wolf without required tags

COEUR d’ALENE — A North Idaho man who shot and killed a wolf will spend six months on unsupervised probation.

…the case came down to the fact that Mize didn’t have the required tag before he shot the wolf.

Source: Jury convicts man who shot wolf without required tags | The Spokesman-Review

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Game Officials Hike Reward for Information of Deer Killings 

AUGUSTA, Maine – The reward has again been increased for information leading to the conviction of those responsible for the shooting deaths of four does.

Source: Game Officials Hike Reward for Information of Deer Killings | Maine Public Broadcasting

Rich

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