September 22, 2023

One Bear, Two Bears, Three Bears, Four

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has yet to publish black bear harvest data on their website. So far, this is the second longest it has taken the Department to count bears. How long does it take to count bears? Oh, yeah! It’s the teeth that slows them down. RIGHT!


Investigative Report of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Mexican Gray Wolf Program

For whatever the dog and pony show of a fake “investigative report” of the USFWS is worth, you can read and/or download a copy of the report that reads, “This is a version of the report prepared for public release.”



How Long Does it Take to Count 22,490 Dead, Registered Deer?

I’ll go out on a limb here, but mind you I’m quite conservative, unbrave and often resort to just laughter, and say that 99% of Maine deer hunters are pretty much only interested in how many deer get tagged each deer season. All deer that are shot and handled legally, are tagged at a volunteer (that gets paid a small fee) tagging station and reported to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW). So how long can it take to count registered deer? (See the 2014 deer harvest report just posted.)

Evidently quite a long time (see chart below).

There’s very few people, other than a couple of biologists at MDIFW (maybe), who care about how many bucks, how many does, what the weather was like or whether or not Aunt Mabel wore her thermals this year when hunting. Aside from interest in “trophy” deer, hunters just want to know how many deer were taken so they can compare it to many things…the most of which MDIFW couldn’t give a dried up deer bladder for.

Why then, do Maine deer hunters have to wait for a report that includes the number of deer tagged in each town, etc.? Perhaps a few like to have that information and wouldn’t bother them too much to get it in June or July even, and I question why that would take so long. (Note: I like every piece of data that COULD be gotten from MDIFW but still is like a slippery eel trying to get it.)

We live in an age where information is available in just about real time. “Unofficial” deer harvest numbers should be available, at a minimum of once per day; once a week would be nice or even one or two days after the conclusion of all the deer hunting seasons around mid-December. (Another note: Many states have near-instant reporting of deer harvest now. Maine doesn’t need to invent this on their own.)

Over the years, I have heard probably all the excuses of why it takes so long to report. The two that seem to rise up to the surface the fastest are: 1. The tagging stations take so long to report, and 2. It takes deer biologists(?) a long time to process all the data in order to put the report together. Both excuses are BS.

You and I could have a discussion about the hows, whys and wherefores of devising a deer harvest report but at least consider this. If MDIFW is still living in the dark ages, i.e. they can’t get registered deer information to August in a timely manner and it takes months to draft a report, then by God it’s time for a change – a change that would save license fee payers lots of money. Aside from the initial outlay of a handful of computers and Internet modems, if service is not available in remote areas, a tagged and registered deer should be on MDIFW’s hard drive in a matter of hours from the time the deer is tagged. A simple computer program can accomplish all tasks assigned to it. This becomes electronically accomplished, instead of hours of man-hours paid – how much per hour?

Any business taking 3-7 months to take data and devise a report has inefficiency and unnecessary costs plastered all over it. It is also destined for failure.

I’ll leave this rant with another thought. I hear unending calls for more money for MDIFW. Some work tirelessly to get general tax dollars to prop up MDIFW. I’m not necessarily against responsible funding of MDIFW. However, I have called for a complete audit, made available to the public, BEFORE any more money is thrown at MDIFW. The above example might just be proof of one incident where money is being wasted and could easily be corrected through efficiency.

Who knows. Maybe combine this with some sound deer management and Maine could once again have deer to hunt. Cheer up. According to many of these managers, global warming is going to save the deer.



Maine Deer Harvest Slightly Above Abysmal

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

Deer harvest second highest in the past six years

AUGUSTA, Maine – Deer hunters in Maine harvested 22,490 deer in 2014, the second-highest total in the past six years.

“Hunters had an unusual year with heavy snow hitting much of the state on opening weekend, and then again during Thanksgiving,” said Kyle Ravana, IFW’s deer biologist. “Those are always two of the busiest weekends of the year for hunters, and it gave many hunters the chance to track and harvest a deer.”

Maine’s November firearms season for deer attracts the most hunters and accounts for most of the state’s deer harvest (18,510). Maine’s deer season starts in early-September with expanded archery, and ends with the muzzleloader season in mid-December, providing hunters with over 80 days in which to pursue deer. The deer hunting season allows for the department to manage the deer herd and provide wildlife watching and hunting opportunity in much of the state while decreasing the deer population in other areas in order to reduce deer/car collisions and property damage, and prevalence of lyme disease.

While the 2014 buck harvest was similar to 2013 (15,986 to 16,736, a difference of 4%), a decrease in the number of harvested does was expected due to a previous winter (2013-14) that was above average in its severity which resulted in a corresponding reduction in any deer permits.

The department decreased the number of any deer permits last season by 20% in order to compensate for deer that may have succumbed to the harsh winter conditions. As a result, fewer adult does were harvested. In 2014, 4,401 adult does were harvested, which was approximately 17% below the 2013 harvest of 5,308 adult does. The Any-Deer Permit system plays a vital role in the management of Maine’s deer since it was first implemented in 1986. By controlling the harvest of female deer in the 29 regional wildlife management districts throughout the state, biologists can better manage population trends.

For the 2015 deer season, the department is again suggesting a decrease in the number of any deer permits due to another harsh winter.

For 2015, the department is recommending a total of 28,770 any deer permits. This is a decrease of 23% (8,415 permits) from 2014. Most of these any deer permits will be issued in southern, central and midcoast Maine, where the deer population is growing, remains highly productive, and usually experiences milder winter weather. There also will be some permits issued in eastern Aroosotook, as well as southern Piscataquis and southern Penobscot counties. In most of northern and downeast Maine, there will be no any deer permits issued and hunters will be allowed to take only bucks.

“By decreasing the number of any deer permits available, we can offset some of the impact of the now two consecutive harsh winters,” said Ravana.

The any deer permit recommendation is still in the comment period until June 6. Once the comment period closes, the Commissioner’s Advisory Council will then vote whether to accept the any permit recommendation.

The deer kill over the past five years includes: 2014 –22,490; 2013 – 24,795; 2012 – 21,553; 2011 – 18,839; 2010 – 20,063; 2009 – 18,092; 2008 – 21,062.


New York State Bear Harvest Summary

Follow this link to a short story about the successes of New York bear hunters. Here also you will find what the DEC in New York is calling a bear harvest “summary.” I’ve seen full reports that weren’t as detailed and filled with information. What a fantastic tool for outdoor sportsmen who are interested enough to have data look at to better understand what’s going on.


Maine: Unity College Bear Study – Year 1

Based on our limited, preliminary data, bears in the UCBS study area seem to be growing faster than their counterparts in MDIFW’s Northern and Downeast parts of the state. Also, initial radiotelemetry data suggest that UCBS females have larger home ranges and move more than those in MDIFW’s study areas. Hopefully, as we continue the study, we will gather enough data to determine if these differences are real, and define any bear management implications.<<<Read the Entire Study>>>


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Maine IFW Hunting Report for November 8, 2013

Compiled By Mark Latti with IFW Wildlife Biologists

Region A – Southern Lakes Region

In Southern Maine, The deer hunt is off to a fine start.

“Good weather so far, people are seeing a lot of deer, but not necessarily taking a deer, especially those with any deer permits,” said IFW Wildlife Biologist Scott Lindsay.

Lindsay did say that quite a few hunters were successful on opening day this past Saturday, and most of the deer brought to area tagging stations were younger age class, yearlings that were born last year. As the season moves along, older deer start to appear at the tagging station.

One deer of note was taken in Otisfield. Lindsay said this buck topped out at 260 pounds.

“Usually the week of Veterans Day, we start to see some of those older deer being registered,” said Lindsay.

There are a lot of hunters out, but Lindsay said they are spread out, and that while there are pockets of heavily developed areas, there certainly are plenty of undeveloped areas to hunt.

Interestingly, Lindsay has noticed that he is seeing a lot of people from other parts of the state coming to southern Maine to hunt.

“This past month, I received two calls from hunters who live in the St. John Valley,” said Lindsay. After hearing so much about the number of deer in southern Maine, the two hunters were calling to learn more about hunting in southern Maine and what they could expect if they came down here to hunt.

Region B – Central and Midcoast Area

What’s the one word that comes to mind when describing deer in central Maine?

“Exceptional,” says IFW wildlife biologist Keel Kemper, who uses the word when describing the number and size of the yearling deer in his area.

Kemper made his rounds Sunday to area meat cutters in order to gather biological samples of deer. He is excited by what he has seen.

“It’s a bumper crop,” says Kemper, who noted that the Sundays after opening day in recent years has been “dismal” when it comes to the number of deer at area cutters. However, this year is different.

“One cutter said business was terrible, only because he had to turn away deer,” said Kemper, who noted the cutter had no more room to store deer and was at capacity. “Guys that had five deer at this time last year now have 18 deer in the freezer.”

“These yearling deer are exceptional in size, quality and abundance,” said Kemper, who said they are getting yearling deer that are dressing out at over 160 pounds.

“There’s no shortage of enthusiasm, as the hunting conditions are good, and hunting effort is up in central Maine,” said Kemper.

If you are lucky enough to have tagged out on deer this season, try heading up to the Frye Mountain Wildlife Management area for some grouse hunting. Kemper said that several hunters have had good luck up there, and there is a “good crop of grouse.”

Region C — Downeast

“Obviously, it’s still early, but the early returns show a surprisingly good opening day in terms of success,” said IFW wildlife biologist Tom Schaeffer.

While it was a little warmer than some hunters would have liked, it didn’t seem to impact many.

“Registrations are way up at tagging stations,” said Schaeffer, “They are showing some numbers that we haven’t seen in recent history.”

It’s still moose season in WMD 19, and there are 50 cow permits for the November season. Schaeffer has seen a few registered moose that were tagged earlier in the week.

Schaeffer noted that he got two unusual nuisance wildlife calls in the past two weeks that occurred on different coastal islands. The first was a moose that swam out to one of the islands, and a landowner was concerned about the moose browsing on his fruit trees.

On another island, a black bear was wreaking havoc with landowner’s lawns and fields. The bear was turning over the sod in search of food, and Schaeffer said it looked “like someone took a bulldozer to a field.”

The Islands provide very poor habitat for both moose and bear. A hunter shot the bear, which was malnourished and extremely emaciated, and Schaeffer expects that the moose will swim back to the mainland, if it already hasn’t.

Region D – Rangeley Lakes and Western Mountains

Deer season is off to a strong start in the western mountains region of the state.

“Things are looking pretty good. In the southern part of the region, our deer numbers are back to where we were even pre-2008,” said IFW wildlife biologist Bob Cordes.

Word travels fast of big deer in the region, and already there was a 276 pound buck that was taken on opening day in Avon.

Cordes is encouraged by what hunters are telling him.

“People are seeing a lot of deer, and the number of big deer is swinging back up,” said Cordes who noted that it takes about three and half years for deer in this area to make the 200 pound mark.

It still is moose season in parts of this region, so biologists are out taking biological samples from harvested moose. The data collected will give biologists a clearer picture of the moose population in the area once it is analyzed this winter.

Region E – Moosehead Region

In the Moosehead Lake area, deer season has started, but for IFW wildlife biologist Scott McLellan, his focus is on moose season as the Greenville headquarters is a tagging station.

When a hunter brings in a moose to register, McLellan gathers a lot of biological data.

“We are collecting lungs, ovaries, checking lactation, taking a tooth, taking weights and taking blood samples,” said McLellan.

In some states, winter ticks on moose are a major concern. Maine wildlife biologists count the number of ticks in four different small areas of a moose to determine how prevalent winter ticks are in the area.

Biologists will also check to see if the moose is lactating, which tells if the moose had a calf this summer, and will preserve the ovaries to examine at a later date in order to help determine rates of calf production.

A tooth is also taken and later examined to determine the age of the moose, lungs are saved to see if there is lungworm and then finally a blood sample is drawn which will be examined to see if there is any signs of EEE (eastern equine encephalitis).

Opening day of deer season brought news of a piebald deer taken in the area. While not a true albino, these deer are mostly white, and their coloration is due to a recessive gene.

McLellan noted that there have been several deer over 200 pounds taken already, and one lucky hunter who came to the tagging station had both a deer and a moose.

Region F – Penobscot Region

The deer season has started strong in the Penobscot region

“In the southern part of the region, Corinth and Hudson, they are getting good numbers of deer,” said IFW wildlife biologist Allen Starr, “They are up to 40 in Corinth and 25 in Hudson.”

Starr has already seen some large deer, including several over 200 pounds.

“I’ve seen one that was 218 and another at 245,” said Starr, “there was another from the Katahdin Ironworks area that was 12 points and 232 pounds.”

“The deer are in really good condition and the necks on these bucks were swollen,” said Starr. “The season started a little later this year and the bucks are already moving.”

Starr is encouraged by what he has seen.

“Numbers are up at all of our tagging stations,” said Starr.

Region G – The County

The numbers are coming in, and hunters of all ages are doing well in the County.

“Youth day went well, we had 12 deer registered in Ashland, 11 in Presque Isle, and 7 in Mapleton,” said IFW wildlife biologist Rich Hoppe. “On residents opening day, effort was up considerably.”

“People are seeing more deer. The weather is good as it has been fairly cool most mornings. The bare ground and the cool weather keeps the deer moving,” said Hoppe.

It is also the last week of moose season in the county, and the numbers keep coming in.

“The first day, Quigley’s in Fort Kent tagged 67 moose and we tagged 65 in Ashland. The next day, Quigley’s was in the 60s and Ashland was in the 40s. Overall, people are still seeing a lot of moose,” said Hoppe.

Hoppe also noted the condition of the moose taken is excellent.

“The percentage of body fat on the moose is a lot higher. The just have tons of fat, and that goes hand in hand with the quality of the bulls. Calves seem to be 20-25% percent heavier,” said Hoppe.

“We’ve got excellent habitat, had good winters and the moose that are coming in are high-quality animals,” remarked Hoppe.


Maine IFW Hunting Report for October 12, 2013

Southern Lakes Region

Hunters are enjoying the pheasant season in southern Maine.

“We have had two pheasant releases so far, and we have one final release for the season on Sunday, October 20,” said IFW Wildlife Biologist Scott Lindsay. “We have received some very positive comments about our two dozen release sites.” You can find a list of the pheasant release sites on the department website at

Lindsay said there has been a lot of outreach with area landowners about the release sites and very good cooperation with the area rod and gun clubs.

“One member even set a new standard for landowner relations by baking and delivering apple pies to about a dozen landowners,” said Lindsay. “That type of outreach goes a long way towards keeping land open, and allows us to keep stocking pheasants.”

It is also the middle of the archery season for deer, and Lindsay said that during the first week, “some very impressive animals were brought to registration stations,” but as is typical, it slowed down after the first week.

Lindsay noted that there are also a lot of turkey hunters out taking advantage of the expanded opportunities for turkey this fall.

“We have a pretty good number of turkeys coming through the registration stations,” said Lindsay, who said a lot are poults but there are some pretty good adults as well. “We have noticed a lot of people out turkey hunting, particularly compared to past falls.”

Central and Midcoast Maine

“Reports out of Merrymeeting Bay is that birds are moving around, but location is the key” for waterfowl hunters, said IFW Wildlife Biologist Kendall Marden. “Some areas are hot, others are not. Warm weather is holding up the migrating birds coming through, as well as the woodcock flight.”

Marden said that there are small groups of partridge here and there, and you can find them if you are willing to look for them. Several groups have had days with multiple flushes. Those with dogs are getting more flushes than others.

“Turkey hunting has been somewhat slow, but people are picking up birds here and there,” said Marden, who noted there are lot of small broods, and late broods as well with younger birds.

If you are looking to go duck hunting, Marden suggest the Merrymeeting Bay WMA. There are over 5,000 acres in the WMA, spread out in multiple locations in the bay. Check out your DeLorme Atlas Map 6 for where these parcels are located. Green Point in Dresden is also a good location for launching and setting up.

Downeast Region

“We’ve had some goose hunters who have done well with the early goose season. Some are even getting them in the blueberry barrens, where the geese are picking up what has been left behind,” said IFW Wildlife Biologist Tom Schaeffer, who noted that most successful hunters were in the green, grassy areas and pastures.

Upland birds haven’t been showing in great numbers, and moose hunters haven’t been reporting many grouse sightings either. Hunters shouldn’t be overly worried, however.

“For the last three or four years it seems that a lot of our birds don’t appear until later in the season,” said Schaeffer, who added that waterfowl hunting will pick up as well once it cools down and birds start moving.

Rangeley Lakes and Western Mountains Region

“Grouse numbers seem to be down in the region, but the woodcock numbers seem to be good,” said IFW Wildlife Biologist Chuck Hulsey.

Hulsey also noted that he is seeing lots of turkeys in his region, but contrary to southern Maine, he is not seeing a lot of hunters. “

“If someone is wants to hunt turkeys, they should have great hunting,” says Hulsey.

Hulsey added that if someone wanted to go archery hunting for deer, they should try the Chesterville WMA and take a canoe ride down the river. It is quite an effective way to take a deer. Be aware the first one hundred yards of the river is a little low right now, but it is pleasant paddling for the remainder.

Moosehead Region

In the Moosehead region, moose season is Monday, and even though this season is a little later with the way the calendar falls, there is plenty of opportunity for hunters.

“Some bulls will definitely be able to be called because they will be without cows, but they are probably going to be in the young vegetation where the food and visibility is good,” said IFW Wildlife Biologist Doug Kane. “Hunters may even see groups of moose, because post rut, that is what you often see.”

Kane also noted that this year, there are a lot of bears around.

“The beechnuts are here this year, so the bears are probably going to be out late this season, so they will probably even be available to deer hunters,” said Kane.

Kane added that the grouse are just starting to show in the region, and that he is seeing a variety of sizes of turkeys in the region, indicative of the females renesting.

Penobscot Region

In the Penobscot region, birds are spotty as well, indicative of a poor nesting season.

“I was out hunting last week myself, and didn’t see much for birds,” said Mark Caron, IFW Wildlife Biologist.

Caron notes that hunters should take heart, as it will get better as the season goes along.

“It will get better as the season moves along. Once it starts to cool off and the leaves come off the trees, hunters will be seeing more birds,” said Caron.

Caron also noted that while he has seen a lot of turkeys, he hasn’t seen many turkey hunters in his region. He notes that part of the reason is the unfamiliarity with the fall season.

“It is a whole different ball game,” said Caron, “Right now, many of the birds are taken incidental to the grouse hunting and even bowhunting season for deer.”

It’s moose season Monday in Enfield, and the regional headquarters is one of the moose tagging stations.

Aroostook Region

“The birds are spread out up here,” said IFW Wildlife Biologist Rich Hoppe, “The grouse hunting is fair, nothing great, but fair. The birds aren’t bunched up a lot, which is typical of failed nesting.”

Woodcock are spotty, but there are some fair to good numbers this year compared to last year, added Hoppe. “We haven’t seen many flight birds yet, but we feel they will be coming through soon.”

Moose hunting resumes next week, and bird hunters in the North Maine Woods are saying that they are still seeing a lot of moose, which bodes well for the upcoming moose hunt.

Waterfowl hunters have been having a difficult time, not due to a lack of ducks, more because of an abundance of water in the region. Ducks are spread out, many making temporary homes in puddles and shallow ponds that used to be farmer’s fields.

Hoppe did say there is still plenty of natural food in the woods, and it looks like bears will be out late this year, which will offer some lucky deer hunters an opportunity to take a bear during deer season. In lean years, bears will den up early, but this year, the rains and warm weather means plenty of natural food.

In an unusual task, department biologists are busy with the remnants of a tornado that touched down in the area several weeks ago. Hoppe is working with several large landowners concerning salvage operations for timber that was downed during the storm. The storm hit some deer yards where there are cooperative management agreements, and work is being done to remove the timber while protecting the deer yards.