March 30, 2023

Report to the Joint Standing Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

*Editor’s Note* – This report really sounds terrific…well, with the exception of the continued focus on giving social demands toward wildlife management too much credence. What readers may not understand in this report and the changing of management plans, strategies and techniques, is we may not actually know what is truly taking place within each of our Wildlife Management Districts (WMD). I highlighted below a small example that readers should be aware of.
While it is important and worthy to implement deer management plans, utilizing the best available science, etc., when we read that MDIFW intends to issue their Any-Deer Permits (ADP) according to new-found data, i.e. a newly contrived Winter Severity Index (WSI), among other things, will we be told how this new WSI relates to and has been reconfigured as it compared to the old one? Or will implementing “new strategies” simply become a convenient excuse as to why certain WMDs are far below management goals? If you don’t understand that, it simply means loss of deer hunting opportunities.
I guess we can hope for the best and biologists will gain enough data to honestly understand the dynamics of deer management, to include, health and all associated influences, habitat, changes in the use of habitat, adjustments by deer to compensate for supposed loss of wintering habitat, disease, predators, and overall mortality, etc. If, however, like most modern wildlife management approaches, the focus remains on the unproven “science” of climate change, all of this time and energy will have been wasted…well, except for those garnering money for their studies to perpetuate their employment.
And maybe this new-science approach is but another way to justify poor deer management, and replace it with “best available science.” We have often seen that tactic before. When you compare the previous deer management plans, with all the talk going around about the new deer management plans, including what’s in this report, is MDFIW simply “dumbing-down” the entire deer population and strategies to fit reality on the ground, the result of their own efforts? There was a time, not that long ago, when MDFIW wanted at least 300,000 deer and annual deer harvest was in excess of 30,000 deer. In addition, goals called for deer populations to more closely approach carrying capacity, not 50% – 60% of biological carrying capacity called for today. Evidently, around 200,000 deer and harvests of 18,000 – 20,000 is easier to plan and manage for than the other. Oh, that’s right it’s about social tolerance and climate change. What was I thinking. Isn’t this a bit like making school work easier so more students get higher grades? Or maybe not.
What value then, are these deer studies, if social demands are going to make our deer managers’ decisions for them? Oh, well.
In response to the requirements set forth in Title 12 Section 10107-A the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife submits the following report on the actions taken and proposals for the management of Maine’s white-tailed deer.
Despite the long-term success of the index, biologists previously found that WSI may have underestimated WMR during the mid-to-late-1980s. The Department attributed the discrepancy to altered population dynamics as a result of loss of habitats following the spruce budworm outbreak. With the goal of rectifying the accuracy of the predictive equation, MDIF&W conducted dead-deer surveys between 1993 and 2000 to assess winter mortality rates associated with different WSI values of the time. The implication is that as ecological relationships continue to evolve on Maine’s landscape we should likewise continue to monitor the efficacy of our metrics to maintain our high standards of wildlife management.<<<Read Entire Report>>>