March 30, 2023

Maine Trapper Submits Bill to Create Standards for Trail Development in Deer Wintering Areas

Dave Miller, a Maine trapper, hunter, conservationist and concerned citizen, is drafting and submitting a bill to the Maine Legislature to create standards needed for the development of trails in deer wintering areas. Below is a letter that accompanied his proposal followed by an informational outline of the draft proposal.

I fully support the efforts of Dave Miller, and others, in this regard. Where Maine is struggling trying to find ways to protect deer habitat, developing trail construction standards to avoid further disruption of deer wintering areas and prohibiting the unnecessary stress deer can suffer during tough winters by intrusion from outsiders, is one of those efforts that should be easily undertaken and is very reasonable.

It is my understanding in speaking with Dave about the trails, it seems that deer wintering areas have been targeted for trail construction for the purpose of tourist observation of the deer. I understand and actually support the development of trails but also know the need to have them built responsibly.

To this end, I am asking readers and outdoor sportsmen to please pass the information contained in this blog to all your friends and acquaintances. In addition, I would request that each of you, in the professional manner in which we are all accustomed to, contact your representatives and ask them for the support necessary to see this bill to fruition. It is something all of us can participate in, knowing that every small effort is a giant helping hand for our deer herd.

A lot of time and trouble from many and varied individuals and organizations have gone into finding a solution that I find to be quite workable and needed.

I am informing you all that I have submitted a bill “An Act to Establish Standards for the Construction of Trails Within Deer Wintering Areas” through my State Representative.

I am doing this after a number of years addressing the disruption to our deer herds by trails being constructed by various organizations within designated deer wintering areas. They have purposely been targeting these areas to allow observation by tourist of the deer during the winter months. The adverse affect of human intrusion during this critical period of the year is well documented.

So as a result, I am submitting Standards that have been developed by various wildlife biologist within the state, The Land Use Regulation Commission staff, and myself over a period of several years that address the issue of trail construction to minimize its impact on deer. Other methods of getting these Standards in place has not materialized for various reasons.

We all know that our deer herd has been greatly impacted in recent years and its affect on our local rural economies and that of the state in general. This is a result of various impacts, such as that of several bad winters, timber harvesting, predation, expanding development, and other land use practices.
Human intrusion is one of these that require a level of control. The construction Standards we have developed will provide a level of control in the disruption of our deer herd during a critical time of the year.

I am hopeful that you will support our efforts to provide a level of protection to our deer herd by supporting this bill and letting your legislators know that you would like the bill supported.

This bill is currently in Augusta being processed and has not yet been assigned a number. The basic information (minus the actual Standards) submitted to start the process is attached for your information.

David Miller

An Act to Establish Standards for the Construction of Trails Within Deer Wintering Areas

This bill is to establish Standards for the Construction of Trails within Designated Deer Wintering Areas on private and public lands within the State of Maine to enhance the survival rate of the state’s overall deer herd.

A. Establishes Standards for the Construction of Trails that enter/penetrate designated deer wintering areas throughout the State of Maine on both private and public lands.

B. The enactment of the attached Draft Standards by both the Maine Department of Conservation and its Land Use Regulation Commission “state wide” and a joint enforcement effort by the responsible state agencies will enhance the growth and management of the states’ deer herd, benefitting both rural and urban economics. The tourist industry as related to big game hunting would be rejuvenated by the return of a well regulated/managed state wide deer herd returning a multi-million dollar industry (deer hunting) to Maine. Maine could again recover its designation as one of the best hunting states in North America helping in a state wide economic recovery.

C. Existing trials currently penetrating deer wintering areas would be grandfathered by this act.

D. The attached Draft Standards were drafted by various staff members of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, The Maine Department of Conservation, The Maine Land Use Regulation Commission, and myself (David L. Miller) to become a Draft Rule Amendment to Protect Deer in Deer Wintering Areas (P-FW) Sub district from disturbance in Chapter 10 (Land Use Districts and Standards) of the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission.
As areas designated as Deer Wintering Areas are found both within and outside of LURC’s jurisdiction these Standards should be utilized/enacted state wide to best protect the states deer herd.

Attachement: Proposed Draft Rule Amendment to the Regulation of trails.

David Miller