AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologists are preparing reports that may help hunters in the weeks ahead. Here’s the most recent report:
“Obviously, it’s still early, but the early returns show a surprisingly good opening day in terms of success,” said DIF&W wildlife biologist Tom Schaeffer.
While it was a little warmer than some hunters would have liked, it didn’t seem to impact many.
“Registrations are way up at tagging stations,” Schaeffer said. “They are showing some numbers that we haven’t seen in recent history.”
It’s still moose season in Wildlife Management District 19, and there are 50 cow permits for the November season. Schaeffer has seen a few registered moose that were tagged earlier in the week.
He noted that he got two unusual nuisance wildlife calls in the past two weeks that occurred on different coastal islands. The first was a moose that swam out to one of the islands, and a landowner was concerned about the moose browsing on his fruit trees.
On another island, a black bear was wreaking havoc on a landowner’s lawns and fields. The bear was turning over the sod in search of food, and Schaeffer said it looked “like someone took a bulldozer to a field.”
The Islands provide very poor habitat for both moose and bear. A hunter shot the bear, which was malnourished and extremely emaciated, and Schaeffer expects that the moose will swim back to the mainland, if it already hasn’t.
In the Moosehead Lake area, deer season has started, but for DIF&W wildlife biologist Scott McLellan, his focus is on moose season as the Greenville headquarters is a tagging station.
When a hunter brings in a moose to register, McLellan gathers a lot of biological data.
“We are collecting lungs, ovaries, checking lactation, taking a tooth, taking weights and taking blood samples,” said McLellan.
In some states, winter ticks on moose are a major concern. Maine wildlife biologists count the number of ticks in four different small areas of a moose to determine how prevalent winter ticks are in the area.
Biologists also will check to see if the moose is lactating, which tells if the moose had a calf this summer, and will preserve the ovaries to examine to help determine rates of calf production.
A tooth is also taken and later examined to determine the age of the moose, lungs are saved to see if there is lungworm and then finally a blood sample is drawn which will be examined to see if there is any signs of EEE (eastern equine encephalitis).
Opening day of deer season brought news of a piebald deer taken in the area. While not a true albino, these deer are mostly white, and their coloration is due to a recessive gene.
McLellan noted that there have been several deer over 200 pounds taken already, and one lucky hunter who came to the tagging station had both a deer and a moose.
The deer season has started strong in the Penobscot region
“In the southern part of the region, Corinth and Hudson, they are getting good numbers of deer,” said DIF&W wildlife biologist Allen Starr. “They are up to 40 in Corinth and 25 in Hudson.”
Starr has already seen some large deer, including several over 200 pounds.
“I’ve seen one that was 218 and another at 245,” Starr said, “there was another from the Katahdin Ironworks area that was 12 points and 232 pounds.”
“The deer are in really good condition and the necks on these bucks were swollen,” Starr said. “The season started a little later this year and the bucks are already moving.”
Starr is encouraged by what he has seen.
“Numbers are up at all of our tagging stations,” Starr said.
The numbers are coming in, and hunters of all ages are doing well in the County.
“Youth day went well. We had 12 deer registered in Ashland, 11 in Presque Isle and seven in Mapleton,” said DIF&W wildlife biologist Rich Hoppe. “On residents opening day, effort was up considerably.”
“People are seeing more deer. The weather is good as it has been fairly cool most mornings. The bare ground and the cool weather keeps the deer moving,” said Hoppe.
It is also the last week of moose season in the county, and the numbers keep coming in.
“The first day, Quigley’s in Fort Kent tagged 67 moose and we tagged 65 in Ashland. The next day, Quigley’s was in the 60s and Ashland was in the 40s. Overall, people are still seeing a lot of moose,” said Hoppe.
Hoppe also noted the condition of the moose taken is excellent.
“The percentage of body fat on the moose is a lot higher. The just have tons of fat, and that goes hand in hand with the quality of the bulls. Calves seem to be 20-25% percent heavier,” said Hoppe.
“We’ve got excellent habitat, had good winters and the moose that are coming in are high-quality animals,” Hoppe said.