December 3, 2023

Maine’s Deer Get No Help But How About Turtles and Butterflies?

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We are being told by the new deer biologist at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) that what we, and I guess that must include me, must STOP doing is, “talking about how there are no deer here.” I would be glad to as soon as there are.

It is easy to brag that, “Zones 3 and 6 had their highest buck harvest since 1963.”, but is it my position to remind Mr. Ravana that there are 29 Wildlife Management Districts? Ok, ok! I’ll stop beating up on the new deer biologist……right after I critique an interview he had with the Bangor Daily News.

I think we are off to a rocky start, at least from my perspective. When asked what his goals were for the first year on the job, he says he wants to get familiar with the job, the materials(?) and the deer data. Dare I ask if he has even begun this process? Let’s see. Coffee break is at 10……er, never mind.

However, he appears to be reaching out to other states and Canadian provinces about……climate change?

Places like New York and Vermont as well as Canadian providence’ like New Brunswick all face the same climate challenges that we face here in Maine.

Oh, boy! I guess that helps explain why later on in the interview he said he would rather have a warm winter than a cold one. I suppose that’s job security because as long as the deer don’t all die off due to severe winters and predation. Uh, oh! I added the predation. Not sure if that’s in Mr. Ravana’s vocabulary yet or not or maybe he hasn’t gotten familiar with that yet.

Which brings me to the catastrophic explanation as to why…..oh, do I dare say it? If Mr. Ravana is reading this, he can skip this part. It’s the explanation as to why THERE ARE NO DEER! Please see yesterday’s article for more information.

Anyway, back to the catastrophic explanation.

I want to get a deer study going (like IFW currently has for the bear population in Maine) and look at the survival percentages for does and fawns, as well as get some regional specific information on our deer. It would be the first time in 30 years that this has been done, but it could really help us to see if there some issues that we might not be aware of right now.


I could rest my case now! How many millions of dollars have we sportsmen paid MDIFW over the past 30 years, and no studies? This isn’t catastrophic! I’m inclined to think criminal here. In 30 years and the new head biologist wants to know, “if there are some issues that we might not be aware of right now?” Or is that what he/MDIFW are willing to talk about and address scientifically rather than praying for another decade of global warming?

I guess congratulations should go out to Mr. Ravana for even bringing the subject up and wanting a study. If he gets one, I hope it isn’t outcome based and funded by the antis.

30 years without a study! 30 years! And yet Maine is spending money on turtle and monarch butterfly studies. I sound like Red Button! “I never got a dinner!”

Yeah, I know. Who will be the first to send me an email explaining that the money from those studies came from grants? Does anybody have a clue that there are grants available for deer studies. Has anyone at MDIFW ever applied for one in the past 30 years? And while grant monies might pay for some of the work in turtle, butterfly and piping plover studies, none of that grant money pays retirement pensions. Sorry!

Is it wrong to conclude that with all the studies done in Maine on black bears and the state has a bear population about growing out of control, that spending a little time and money on deer might produce similar results? Is it? It’s not like sportsmen are asking for an out of control deer herd. Just enough of a herd so the next time the snow gets deep and the wind blows, the coyotes and other predators won’t kill off all the deer in the deer yards and we’ll have to start all over again.

But never fear. Be at ease. We are assured that work will begin soon in the crafting of a new deer management plan for Maine that will begin in 2015. Ravana says:

Now, it is time to look at where we are and where we want to be in another 15 years. The public is a critical part of the plan and I want to learn about the goals and issues that people have when it comes to hunting, viewing and the overall total of deer in their area. When the plan is done, it will lay out how we want to shape the deer herd in terms of health, harvest numbers, and goals for each wildlife management district. I want to make sure that I have as much knowledge and partnerships in place as possible so that we can design a successful new system to meet the needs of the herd over the next 15 years.

I realize that Mr. Ravana is and will take a bunch of crap, perhaps the bulk of it he has little or no say over. He does not set policy, etc. I’ve voiced my opinions often and I will continue to do so. So long as MDIFW and all other fish and game departments nationwide insist of attempting to “manage” fish and game and wildlife as to what will be tolerated by the public, there is little hope that any game species will be managed scientifically and in accordance with what is most healthy for the animals.

I realize as well that exact conclusions cannot be drawn from one online interview but wouldn’t it have been a bit more effective to have stated that at the end of the current 15-year deer management plan and before the beginning of a new one, it is determined if the current plan is worth anything? Did the goals in that plan ever get accomplished? Or are we just going to copy and paste the next plan together, fudge a few numbers here and there, submit the plan for approval and then head out to do some more turtle and butterfly gawking?

In all seriousness, the failures, and they are huge, of deer management in Maine comes from the fact that no studies have been done on Maine deer in 30 years…..among other things of course. Is it any wonder that in the past 30 years the deer harvests and opportunities to hunt deer have spiraled downward?

You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to understand that MDIFW makes its decisions based on who has the most financial and political clout. That’s why they cave to the environmentalists and have decided to run their department in a manner that is socially tolerable, i.e. to keep the big money and big power off their backs.

I hope I live long enough for perhaps that one day when the sportsmen finally realize they hold the most clout and power. For without their support and dollars, MDIFW would be nothing more than another branch of the Department of Environmental Protection. Oh, wait! It already is.