October 23, 2019

Maine’s Nuisance Wild Turkeys

Roll the film! Quiet on the set. Action! The scene begins with a line of people getting ready to board the colorfully decorated 15-passenger van headed out on a wildlife tour. The passengers are obvious city folks – dressed like city folks and acting like city folks – after all who would pay money to go “view” wildlife from a 15-passenger van and 14 other smelly people? I rest my case.

The first stop? Timberlake’s Apple Orchard in Turner…..cut! cut! cut! What to hell is this? The customers are not happy. They have to interest in seeing wild turkeys destroying an apple orchard. And perhaps that is one of the reasons that not enough noise is being made about the wild turkey nuisances that, in the case of the Timberlake’s, is costing them in excess of $1 million in lost produce each year.

It’s the city dwellers, the “Environmentalists” that instill fear in what the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) does. No, no, no. Science no longer dictates the necessities of wildlife management. It’s which group with the most money and the loudest voices who get the oil for the squeaky wheel. Environmentalists don’t care about wild turkeys nor do they care that some family in Turner, Maine is using up THEIR environment and habitat to produce food. After all, to them food is found in a grocery store.

MDIFW caves to the Environmentalists when they demand that the state grow more moose so that city dwellers, who have no skin in the game, can board one of those 15-passenger gas guzzlers (carbon producers – wink, wink) and sip their lattes and hope to gawk out the window and see a moose beside the road mucking themselves up to get out of the torment of the black flies and mosquitoes – even at the expense of increased wildlife diseases and parasites. But we don’t talk about that stuff because that isn’t what animal lovers do.

It appears that now the introduction of wild turkeys back into Maine was such a resounding success (in the eye of the beholder) that the animal has reached a point that it has become a nuisance. Just the simple example of one business losing $1 million in produce a year to turkeys, should be reason enough to start killing turkeys. Environmentalists, who by the way have infiltrated every crevasse of government agencies, including fish and wildlife departments, are probably glad the Timberlakes are losing money and turkeys are an animal, thus all animals should be protected and hunting stopped. Business and food growing is bad to the Environmentalist. So, there you have it.

But it appears that MDIFW, even with new authority to increase bag limits and lengthen hunting seasons on turkeys, doesn’t seem much interested in doing something about the nuisance. I wonder if the public tolerance part of the equation is losing its bite. Where once the ONLY way that something like turkey reintroduction could work is if the public was in support and how long turkeys remained depended on how long that support continued. It appears the support is dwindling faster than a stack of pancakes at Dysarts. If MDIFW waits too long to act, it may be too late.

There have been some changes to the hunting seasons, bag limits and fees charged but that doesn’t seem to have had any effect on the growth of wild turkeys or the number of the critters being harvested. According to George Smith, outdoor writer and political activist, in 2014 his proposed legislation, which passed with amendments, created some changes and gave MDIFW authority and flexibility to mitigate the problem: “The final bill in 2014 reduced the turkey hunting permit to $20 for both residents and nonresidents, with no additional fee for a second tom in the spring, expanded the fall season to the entire month of October and added a second turkey of either sex to the fall bag limit, reduced the tagging fee from $5 to $2 for each turkey (with all of the fee going to the tagging agent), extended the spring season to all-day, and authorized all-day hunting for Youth Day.”

Smith said that even these changes has not solved the turkey problem. Probably a bit understated.

In 2013, before the new legislation described above was enacted, the combined wild turkey harvest for both Spring and Fall hunts was 8,718. Those totals dropped to 7,554 for 2014 and essentially remained unchanged for 2015 adding up to 7,570 birds harvested.

2016 harvest data remains incomplete. The Spring harvest for 2016 was 5,154 turkeys, which when compared with previous years is below the average.

So, yes! Clearly the changes have done nothing to increase the wild turkey harvest, thus reducing the population. So what’ll it be? Is Maine going to fall in line with far too many other states that sit on their hands, fearful of the repercussions from the Environmentalists and allow Maine businesses to go under because of a damned animal? Time will tell but there may not be that much time left.

It would seem to me that given the implementation of more liberal turkey hunting guidelines and showing no results to reducing the wild turkey population, that’s it’s time MDIFW began looking at the turkey as a nuisance and a problem, allowing for harvesting the birds without any special permit or tagging requirement with fees. Set daily bag limits like those of grouse and monitor the situation. If it gets to a point that turkeys begin reaching low levels, adjust the seasons and bag limits to accommodate.

To hell with the Environmentalists. Apple growers and other private farms and business don’t need to be run out of town because perverts want to protect a bird that doesn’t need protection.

Just more of the same nonsense.

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Department Seeks Input On Maine’s Most Popular Wildlife And Fish Species At Public Meetings And Online Town Hall Forum

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

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife wants to hear your ideas and opinions about Maine’s most popular wildlife and fish species.

Over the next month, the department will hold a series of statewide public meetings that will focus on moose, deer and turkey; bear, and freshwater fisheries. The meetings are designed to gather ideas and information from the public that will help shape management of these species over the next fifteen years.

“We want to hear from the public concerning some of Maine’s most popular species,” said Jim Connolly, IFW Director of Resource Management. “We’ve already conducted extensive public surveys, but this is your chance to provide additional input on the management of these species for years to come.

In addition to public meetings, IFW is creating a dedicated “Town Hall forum”  at www.metownhall.org to provide a further opportunity for residents to voice their opinions on big game issues specifically (the forum will cover deer, moose, turkey, and bear issues).

Starting March 1, residents will be able to access the Town Hall forum website and leave comments and suggestions at www.metownhall.org.  The website will stay live until March 31, at which point comments will be reviewed.  Residents are encouraged to log onto the website during the month of March to submit responses to prepared questions as well as interact with one another in an exchange of opinions and ideas.

Throughout March and April, there will also be a series of public meetings around the state to hear people’s thoughts and ideas regarding species management.

There will be three public meetings that will focus specifically on bear management. The dates, time and location are:

Bear Management Public Meetings

  • Wednesday, March 16 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.; Embassy Suites, 1050 Westbrook Street,Portland, ME 04102, Katahdin Room
  • Wednesday, March 16 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.; Northeastland Hotel, 436 Maine Street,Presque Isle, ME 04769, Red Room
  • Wednesday, March 30 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.; Black Bear Inn, 4 Godfrey Drive, Orono, ME04473, Blue Room

There will also be three Moose, Deer and Turkey Management public meetings that will meet on the following dates and these locations:

Moose, Deer and Turkey Management Public Meetings

  • Saturday, March 19 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.; Embassy Suites, 1050 Westbrook Street,Portland, ME 04102, Katahdin Room
  • Saturday, March 19 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.; Northeastland Hotel, 436 Maine Street, Presque Isle, ME 04769, Red Room
  • Saturday, April 2 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.; Black Bear Inn, 4 Godfrey Drive, Orono, ME 04473, Blue Room

Maine’s freshwater fisheries will be the focus at these locations on the following dates and times:

Fisheries Management Public Meetings

  • Thursday, March 17 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.; Embassy Suites, 1050 Westbrook Street,Portland, ME 04102, Katahdin Room
  • Thursday, March 17 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.; Northeastland Hotel, 436 Maine Street, Presque Isle, ME 04769, Red Room
  • Thursday, March 31 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.; Black Bear Inn, 4 Godfrey Drive, Orono, ME04473, Blue Room
  • Tuesday, April 5 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.; University of Farmington, Lincoln Auditorium, 224 Main Street, Farmington, ME 04938

The meetings and online town hall are part of a larger study designed to assess priorities for bear, other big game, and fisheries management, including the issues residents see as important; their attitudes toward the current and desired population levels of various fish and game species; management techniques for these species; and any ideas for potential changes to the current management programs.  Input from the public will help MDIFW to create the best management plans possible.

MDIFW contracted with Responsive Management, an internationally recognized public opinion research firm, to conduct the research for the state.  Responsive Management is handling the facilitation of the public meetings as well as the administration of the Town Hall web forum.  The firm has also conducted focus groups and surveys with Maine residents, hunters, anglers, and landowners as part of the research.

Maine residents may have received a call, email, or letter in recent weeks inviting them to participate in one of the scientific surveys conducted for the project.  The next phase of the project calls for a wider opportunity for residents to submit comments and suggestions in an open-ended manner via the public meetings and web forum.

For more information about Responsive Management, please visit www.ResponsiveManagement.com.

For further information about the research study, please contact Nate Webb, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, at nathan.webb@maine.gov.

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Virus in Maine’s Wild Turkey Population

LPDV

Turkey hunters should be aware of Lymphoproliferative Disease Virus (LPDV), which has been found in Maine turkeys. Read below to find out more about the virus and what to do if you shoot or see a turkey that has LPDV.

What is Lymphoproliferative Disease Virus (LPDV)?

This is a virus that causes minor to extreme lesions on a turkey’s head and legs. It is thought to spread between turkeys by direct skin contact or through mosquito bites. Some turkeys can fend off minor infections and survive while others can develop extreme lesions that inhibit their sight and ability to eat, which ultimately leads to death.

Are there health risks for humans?

The disease poses no risk to human health. However, like all infections, caution is advised while handling a bird with LPDV. There is a potential for secondary bacterial infections if birds are handled improperly. Thoroughly cooking the meat to an internal temperature of a minimum of 165°F is also advised.

What should I do if I shoot a bird that looks like this?

Although wild turkeys cannot pass this virus on to humans, if you shoot a bird that looks like the above pictures and you do not want to eat it, do NOT register it and please contact a Wildlife Biologist at one of the offices listed below or call the Department of Public Safety in Augusta at (800) 452-4664 to be connected with a Game Warden. After examining the bird, the Department staff member will determine your eligibility to harvest another turkey.

Where did it come from?

Little is known about the origin of LPDV in the United States. LPDV was first detected in domestic turkeys in Europe. The first confirmed case in the United Sates was in wild turkeys in Georgia in 2009. MDIFW confirmed Maine’s first case of LPDV in April 2012. Since that time, we have confirmed several cases throughout the state. Currently, known cases occur virtually wherever wild turkeys are present. We speculate that a combination of a very good turkey production year in 2011 and the mild winter of 2011-2012 may have contributed to the apparent increase in occurrence recently. It is likely to be encountered in 2013 as well.

If you shoot or see a wild turkey with these lesions, please contact the IFW office closest to you:
Ashland – (207) 435-3231
Bangor – (207) 941-4466
Enfield – (207) 732-4132
Gray – (207) 657-2345
Greenville – (207) 695-3756
Jonesboro – (207) 434-5927
Sidney – (207) 547-5318
Strong – (207) 778-3324

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Wild Turkeys Fighting Back

Tell me this is some kind of April Fool’s joke on Thanksgiving. Or tell me it could only happen in Brookline, which isn’t all that far from Plymouth Rock.

People are complaining because “aggressive” wild turkeys are attacking them.

“They were attacking the vehicle,”

“Then, the turkeys came and started attacking my front door,”

“I looked back and three of them charged me,”

“The turkey flew in my face and scratched my neck,”

“There was a gentleman who took a picture with a flash and they flew right into his face.”

“I can’t believe we’re living this way,”

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Lee Kantar: “Talk of a Declining Deer Herd is Old News”

I have used as an analogy many times over the years a story of my nephew, when at the age of perhaps 4 years, got me to laughing. I was visiting my brother one day and when I arrived he was struggling to get his son to eat his lunch. My brother and I retired to the living but only after he had told his son that he was to stay in the kitchen and eat his lunch and only then could he be free to play.

After about 5 minutes, my nephew walked into the living room and said to his dad, “Dad, I ate all my lunch….but don’t go look!”

Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) deer biologist, Lee Kantar, told Mark Latti in an interview published in the Portland Press Herald yesterday, that concerning the state’s whitetail deer population, “(It’s) 150,000-200,000, but things are definitely towards the higher end (and) talk of a ‘declining’ deer herd is old news. We are trending up.”

BUT DON’T GO LOOK!!!

There are two issues worth discussing here. First, it is easy to say that the number of deer in Maine is “trending up” when there really is no other direction to go in. And from that perspective one could not be talking of a continuing decline in the population. However, calling it old news is pushing it just a bit. Sportsmen still want answers and action.

Secondly, Latti’s column is about game population estimates. He writes about black bears, turkey, woodcock, moose and grouse. According to what is written in the article, Maine has 31,000 black bears, 60,000 turkeys and 76,000 moose. The deer population is somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 but Kantar believes the actual number to be more towards the 200,000.

Why isn’t there a specific number for the deer? Maine announced it was going to spend $100,000 to aerial survey the whitetail deer population and while they were at it would do some moose counting as well. So, where’s the results of the deer count?

It seems it didn’t take very long to whip out a number for moose, being that everyone was making comments about how many there were and perhaps so many that the winter tick infestation is very high. Has all the complaining and grumbling about the deer herd scared the biologists away from publishing a more exact count of deer or are they trying to hide from sportsmen something?

They flew with helicopters to count moose and have determined there are 76,000 of them. They flew with helicopters to count deer and have determined that there are somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 deer and maybe it’s closer to 200,000. Or maybe there’s 50,000 or 350,000? Why don’t we know?

If the deer population in Maine is trending upwards, which I believe it is in places, it comes as the result of nothing MDIFW has done. The article linked to attributes the increases to, “After severe winters in 2008 and ’09, Maine’s deer herd was blessed with a relatively short winter in 2010, and then two mild winters in 2011 and ’12.” Lee Kantar takes credit for helping that increase by reducing the number of “Any-Deer” permits for a couple of years. This probably did help grow the population in zones where the herd isn’t in serious danger. In those zones where deer are in the most threat, there are no “Any-Deer” permits issued.

I would think that if MDIFW can state that there are 76,000 moose, then I think they can do a better job of informing sportsmen of what the real deer population is rather than a +/- 25% guess.

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MDIFW: This Year’s Turkey Brood Survey in Full Swing

It’s that time of the year when turkeys are in the air and on fields and roads, exploring and looking for nuts, seeds and berries.

That makes this month the best time for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to conduct its annual Turkey Brood Survey, which can impact the hunting season.

“These counts are very important because it gives us an idea of how many poults, or baby turkeys, we have entering the population,” said Information and Education Biologist Ashley Malinowski. “We can use that information combined with harvest counts from the previous fall to monitor the population and aid in determining season dates and bag limits in the future.”

The count has been conducted annually in August by a band of loyal Department biologists, National Wild Turkey Federation members and citizens interested in assisting in the effort.

The count helps the Department track the hatch and builds an index into the annual productivity of Maine’s turkey population. Monitoring the population allows the Department to fine-tune wild turkey management, both in areas that already have a healthy, harvestable population and ones that have the potential for initial or additional hunting opportunities.

When considering whether to open an area to spring or fall turkey hunting, wildlife managers look closely at the August brood survey to determine the productivity of turkeys in that specific area.

From the count, biologists can determine how many turkey poults have survived to an age where they can be considered as contributing to the population.

Members of the public who are interested in participating in the count only need the ability to recognize a turkey and distinguish males from females and adults from poults.

When participants see a brood, they need to count all of the birds in a flock, determine how large the poults are in comparison with an adult, only count turkeys in the month of August and make sure not to count the same flock twice.

Participants can record their findings on a survey form available online. It’s also a great time to count for female deer and fawns too, which are both included on the same form.

“When members of the public tell us how many flocks they saw for the month and how many birds in each flock, that’s one less area our biologists have to spend resources to go out surveying,” Malinowski said. “It also allows us to get information from all over the state, including in places we may not travel regularly, but other people do. Citizen science, or studies in which the public’s information is called upon, is extremely important in a lot of biological surveys because any time you are counting things, the more eyes you have on the look-out, the better.”

To find a printable version of our August 2012 Turkey Sighting Report Form or to learn more about the Turkey Brood Count, go to http://www.maine.gov/ifw/hunting_trapping/hunting/turkey-broodsurvey_august.htm.

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