June 24, 2018
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Legislature Gets Reports and Recommendations

By George Smith, Special to the BDN

The legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee received reports this session on subjects from rebuilding the deer herd to reversing the decline of nonresident hunters. But it remains to be seen if any of the dozens of recommendations submitted with these reports will be acted upon.

The Maine Game Plan for Deer has gotten the most attention, with several detailed reports to the committee by John Pratte, DIF&W’s wildlife planner, ranging from deer feeding to an update on the plan’s accomplishments.

The last report: Deer Population Goals and 5-Year Benchmark Report, is particularly interesting. It included a list of needs totaling $661,000. You can access that and other deer plan reports from a list on DIF&W’s website, www.maine.gov/ifw.

Here are a few interesting quotes from Pratte’s presentations. “Illegal hunting continues to be a problem in Maine. Wardens have improved their surveillance techniques.”

“Predation continues to be a factor — both coyotes and bears … the bear population has increased and we are working with guides to deal with that.”

“We began implementing predation controls as soon as the plan was adopted. We are trying to eliminate coyotes before deer yard up, and then remove coyotes if they are still present after deer have entered the yards. We’ve directed this activity to 10 priority deer yards in the state. We felt the funding on hand would allow us to protect deer in these 10 yards through the winter and spring. It will take 3 to 5 years to continue this project in those yards.”

“We have very few deer in many deer yards throughout the state.” Members of a legislatively-authorized Nonresident Hunter Task Force, whose report — including an extensive list of recommendations — was presented on January 23, deserve great credit. While the group decided against recommending Sunday hunting, believing it had no chance of being enacted, it did not shy away from other controversial proposals including giving nonresidents more moose and any-deer permits and allowing nonresidents to hunt on the first day of the firearms season on deer.

A lot of the Task Force’s time was spent discussing what and how to market to nonresident hunters. One high priority recommendation calls for a lot more research “so we know what hunters want and need and can work with the tourism industry to make it happen,” as one Task Force member explained it.

The entire report can be accessed on DIF&W’s website, from a list at the bottom of the home page.

For more outdoor news, go to www.georgesmithmaine.com.


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