October 3, 2022

Wisconsin Gets $2 Million for Deer Management. Maine? Not So Much

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Wisconsin’s and Maine’s deer management problems aren’t the same but both states say they want to “invest” in their deer herds because they see value in it and hopefully a return on their investments…..don’t they?

About 2 years ago, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife introduced to citizens of the state, “Maine’s Game Plan for Deer.” If you will also recall, the Plan laid out Five Elements, of which was going to rebuild the deer herd in those portions of the state where the deer seemingly all went on vacation, and better manage those areas that were not getting much attention but have a deer population a bit closer toward target goals than up North, Downeast and the Western Mountains.

Briefly, here are those five elements:

1. Deer Wintering Area and Winter Severity – The plan calls for finding active deer yards, and work with landowners for a number of ideas to help protect habitat.

2. Deer Population Management – Figure out how deer live. Stop people from feeding deer. Stop poaching. More laws to stop poaching.

3. Predation – Target coyotes in specific areas. Try to stabilize bear populations. Get an Incidental Take Permit. Try to find money to do this.

4. Deer Planning and Public Involvement – Ask the public how many deer they want to see when they go for a joy ride.

5. Information and Outreach – Ask the public how many deer they want to see when they go for a joy ride or from their office windows.

There’s no way of even catching a glimpse as to whether or not these five elements would have an affect of Maine’s deer because there’s no money to do any of it, with the exception of $100,000 allocated by the governor to kill coyotes. And even that isn’t working.

Any real attempts to do anything about the overgrowing bear population gets railroaded by the Maine guides and bear hunting camp owners. Odd that in one part of the Plan for Deer, it states how the game is a resource for all the people but I guess bears belong to guides and camp owners and what they tell the commissioner they want they get. I wish no ill will on guides and camp owners but……….what’s up with that?

So, in short, Maine has thrown a whopping $100,000 at their Plan and they can’t seem to find a way to efficiently spending much of that money. What would Maine do with $2 million? Pay more and bigger retirement pensions I would guess.

Wisconsin’s governor has invested $2 million in a better management plan for deer. Here’s a look at their 3 elements to better manage deer.

1. Forming a Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) to improve the partnership among hunters, landowners and the DNR in managing deer on private land.

2. Updating technology to gather information on land cover to better inform decisions (satellite imagery for assessing habitat and a statewide trail camera monitoring program).

3. Adopting a more passive approach to chronic wasting disease management where the disease exists while providing the public improved access to deer testing.

Gosh, Maine can toss out step number 3; at least for now, as the state has no known cases of chronic wasting disease. Other than that, a certain amount of that $2 million is going to be spent on working with landowners (Maine’s plan calls for that.) and updating technology to help them in management decisions. (Maine is getting money from somewhere to rent helicopters and fly around counting moose. Haven’t heard much about counting deer.)

Which plan will work and which one will give the state a return on their investment? Oh wait! I think Maine has yet to make any real investment in their interest in deer. Perhaps if the state is fortunate enough to get, say, 10 straight years worth of global warming, the herd might come back enough to keep some interest among sportsmen.

And by the way. How’s that Incidental Take Permit for Canada lynx progressing?