Old News Archive

October 11, 2006 - Outdoor Report

October 11, 2006 - TRC


Region A- Southwestern Maine

Wildlife habitat management work is an on-going effort in Region A. Towards the end of summer our timber harvest program was able to start up again at the Brownfield Bog Wildlife Management Area. During periods of wet weather, nearly all logging activity ceases so that heavy equipment does not create erosion or create large ruts in the forest floor that alter the natural drainage of water. Responsible forest stewards realize that erosion caused by improper operating procedures and poor planning not only spoils brooks, streams, and small rivers, but the loss of nutrients and soil that has taken hundreds and thousands of years to form is a loss that will not be replaced.

In Maine, there are several programs that work together to promote what are called Best Management Practices, or BMP's. Training sessions are available to loggers, foresters, contractors, landowners, and wildlife management personnel that identify potential problems or difficult situations and give solutions or methods of reducing or avoiding all together a problem situation. As managers of several thousand acres of state-owned lands, wildlife division personnel recognize the need to not only to do things right, but to provide examples of BMP's. that can be applied to small and large forest ownerships, both publicly and privately owned.

-Norman Forbes, Wildlife Biologist Specialist


Region B - Central Maine

The Steve Powell Wildlife Management Area, owned and managed by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, is comprised of two islands and several hundred acres of adjoining freshwater tidal flats.

It lies within Sagadahoc County, in the Kennebec River at the head of Merrymeeting Bay and totals about 1,755 acres. Swan Island is approximately 4 miles long and varies between ½ and ¾ of a mile in width.

Swan Island is the only state-owned wildlife management area that is also a game preserve. It is also the only management area where camping is allowed and educational programs are offered to visitors.

With each passing year, Swan Island is quietly becoming a featured outdoor recreation destination. The combination of breathtaking landscapes, history and observable wildlife has made Swan Island a favorite for school groups, families and tourists alike.

2006 was a busy year for Swan Island, both in terms of public use and work projects. Day use and camping both saw increases over last year; due in part to numerous feature news articles and media exposure. Swan Island was featured in Down East Magazine, US Air Magazine and several Maine newspapers. This positive exposure coupled with increased exposure efforts by IF&W have dramatically increased public awareness of all that Swan Island has to offer.

The two non-profit organizations partnered with Swan Island were both active and productive in their work and fund raising efforts. Friends of Swan Island, Inc. (FOSI), (www.fosigroup.com) and the Swan Island Project continued their efforts to preserve Swan Island’s historic homes.

IF&W concluded work on a new campground bathroom facility and began construction of a new post and beam storage and maintenance facility. Swan Island’s season is a short one. Public access, work projects and other activities are all condensed in to a few short months. Conducting business on an island presents many operational and logistical challenges. All that is accomplished on Swan Island, both by private partners and IF&W staff, continue to enhance Swan Island’s conservation and education mission.

Currently, most all activities occurring on Swan Island are associated with preparing Swan Island for winter hibernation……knowing full well that when Spring comes, Swan Island will present herself yet again to any and all who wish to explore her.


-Charles D. Dyke, Wildlife Biologist/Swan Island Manager


Region C - Downeast

A major change this year in Region C and for the Downeast area are new Wildlife Management District (WMD) boundaries that went into effect this past spring. Substantive changes were made to the boundaries of WMDs 26, 27, and 28 which have influenced some of our management strategies as well as affected hunting regulations.

WMDs are delineated, geographical sections of the State that have similarities in biological and geo-physical characteristics. Factors such as geographical location, soils, predominant forest types, seasonal temperature variations, precipitation including annual snowfall, land use, human population and development, etc. are variables which ultimately influence habitat and the abundance and diversity of wildlife. Identifying these “zones” helps us in evaluating the many factors that influence wildlife populations and in fine-tuning management recommendations.

The fact that the second week of moose season, which is currently underway, includes WMD 27 for the first time is due to changes in this district’s boundary. WMD 27 extends from Egypt Stream on the Franklin-Hancock Town line all the way to Calais, and includes all the land area south of the Maine Central Railroad (MCRR) tracks to the coast as well as all of the area’s offshore islands. For deer hunters with firearms and muzzleloaders in this district, this means that bucks-only regulations prescribed for the mainland will also apply to the offshore islands; a significant change from previous years. Additionally, the last session of the Maine Legislature passed a law that provides for severe penalties for the taking of a doe without a legal permit in Washington County, so it is important that deer hunters familiarize themselves with the new regulations.

The boundaries of WMDs 26 and 28 have been expanded which will bring regulatory changes to new sections of those districts. WMD 26 now includes much of the western half of Hancock County, much of which can expect to see a significant increase in the number of any-deer permits. WMD 28 is that land area in central Washington and eastern Hancock County that lies south of Route 9 and north of the MCRR tracks. This district was expanded to the east and west with the new western boundary being formed by Route 180 that runs through the Towns of Clifton, Otis, and Ellsworth. During the firearms and muzzleloader seasons on deer, this district will be limited to bucks only.

I believe these changes to WMDs will yield significant benefits to our management efforts. Not only is there better conformity of biological factors within the districts, the modifications will pave a path for consistency in our regulatory recommendations. As an example, the new boundaries for WMDs 27 and 28 better define where deer populations remain significantly below target levels, and where conservative regulations to maximize doe survival are in effect.

I’ve included a notice about these WMD changes that we are posting as a public courtesy in registration stations and other public locations downeast. Maps and description of WMDs can be found on the Department’s website: http://www.state.me.us/ifw/wmd/index.htm

-Tom Schaeffer, Regional Wildlife Biologist


Region D - Western Mountains

Owens Corning pink fiberglass insulation, a goose down comforter, a mummy sleeping bag, and a commercial pizza oven.

Add to the above the hair and hide of a moose. All of these are highly efficient heat retainers. Erroneously, some hunters believe that if they are cold then the game they harvest will cool off and not spoil. If a 900-pound moose’s live core body temperature is 98 degrees and they are engineered to conserve core body temperature at minus 40 degrees, that same hair and coat will also retain heat when the outside temperature is 20 degrees, not to mention 60 degrees. Heat spoils meat.

Over the years I’ve collected biological data from meat lockers, roadside check stations, hunting camps, motels, and registration stations. Unfortunately I’ve encountered too many big game animals that spoiled on the game pole. This usually occurred when a hunter bagged a deer or moose early in a week’s planned hunt and did not immediately have the animal processed.

This can be avoided for just a few dollars. When you bring your deer or moose to the game registration station to be tagged, buy several blocks of ice, enough to fill the body cavity. This will dissipate the heat from the inside. The hide and hair will serve to retain the cold. Replace the ice if you are days away from returning home or getting your prize to the meat cutter. Use plenty, this isn’t the time to be cheap. Further, ridding the body of heat as quickly as possible will make your meat taste better.

- Chuck Hulsey, Regional Wildlife Biologist


Region E - Moosehead Region

Last spring I was out harvesting moose lungs again, this time on Toe-of-the -Boot. Say what? In recent years quite a few young moose have died of heavy tick infestations and/or lung worms, which is a rather new and very important development for moose “managers.” Those moose are generally approaching age 1. Bigger moose are much better able to handle tick loads. The speculation is that the tick populations grew following the build up of the moose population. If recruitment into the population of older animals is down, “allowable harvest,” as a percentage of the population at large, may be changing downward.

We need to investigate, but how? It is nigh impossible to get good information on the magnitude of this loss. And we aren’t sure whether the loss is constant or periodic. These moose tend to die in late winter when not many people are in the woods to notice and when getting around is difficult due to rutted and/or soft roads, high water, and patchy snow cover. Aerial composition counts which could be compared to herd composition counts done in the 80s are out because yearlings aren’t too readily distinguished from older animals. What to do?

NH has taken the approach of radio-equipping calf moose & monitoring their survival. Preliminary results don’t look good for the moose. We could follow suit except for the expense. And even then, it is doubtful sample size would be sufficiently large to be sure the rates obtained are representative. The only practical answer appears to be to follow trend information such as hunter success rates, reported sighting rates, incidence of road kill, and possibly age structure of the harvest.

We are roughly quantifying the degree of hair loss (Moose try to scrape off the ticks), and examining lungs to check for necrosis, i.e. lung capacity lost due to lung worms. It isn’t bad once you get past the flies & ticks. You lift the front leg, skin out the front of the thorax, snip a few ribs, and the lungs are right there. I think I’ll put in for a Tyvex suit. Fortunately, I remembered to bring along a bar of soap & a towel. Before I arrived the warden had passed a metal detector over the moose. I think the most plausible cause is that maybe that moose was trying to live in habitat which had gone by, which could mean this isn’t happening everywhere.

- Bill Noble, Assistant Regional Wildlife Biologist


Region F, Penobscot Region

Once again this year, youth deer hunters will get their own day on Saturday, October 21.

Hunters who are 10 and older and younger than 16 and possess a junior hunting license (either resident or non-resident) can hunt deer on this day if they are under the direct supervision of a parent, guardian or a qualified adult. Any person who accompanies a junior hunter other than that parent or guardian must either possess a valid hunting license or have successfully completed a hunter safety course. A qualified adult is a person at least 18 years of age approved by that youth hunter’s parent or guardian, and this person must hold a valid Maine hunting license or have successfully completed a hunter safety course. The accompanying adult cannot possess a firearm.

The junior hunter on this day can take one deer of either sex, by firearm or by bow and arrow, anywhere in the state that is open to hunting. An any-deer permit is not needed to take a female deer on this day. If the youth hunter tags a deer, they still may hunt other deer seasons only if they possess a bonus deer permit or hunt with a bow and arrow in an expanded archery zone. All laws pertaining to hunting during the open firearms season on deer apply on the youth deer day.

Hunters can also transfer their any deer permits or Bonus Deer Permit to a junior hunter, a person 65 years of age or older, or to a person with ambulatory disabilities. A resident permit may only be transferred to another resident, and a nonresident permit may only be transferred to another nonresident. The transfer can be done online until 11:59 p.m. October 27, 2006.. Permits can also be transferred by completing the 2006 Any-Deer/Bonus Deer Permit Transfer Request Form that is mailed along with your permit.

-Mark Latti, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife


Region G - Aroostook County

Grouse hunters are reporting birds showing up better then expected. In speaking with a guide this week that owns camps around Big Machias Lake, he indicated all his camps were filled with bird hunters last week and everyone was pleased with the number of birds they harvested. As leaves fall and cooler temperatures arrive, birds will be more visible and offer a cleaner shot. For those wing-shooters out there who like a challenge, the woodcock seem to be abundant with warm temperatures, keeping local birds in the North. Normally by mid October, our best woodcock hunting is gone, but it seems we are going to have an extended season this year.

Waterfowlers are indicating better then normal success this year due to the past two years offering better then normal production due to the spring rains. Canada geese have started the annual migration and hunters should have excellent gunning by all accounts. With considerably more fields placed in grain rather then potatoes this food source is valued highly during the long migrations south. In speaking with a waterfowl hunter this past Monday, he told me about the abundant number of mallards up North and indicated opening day he and his buddies harvested over 37 ducks and geese in one field. This harvest included 3 pintail, which is a real treat up in these parts. What a day to remember!

The second week of moose season starts with 636 permits issued in Wildlife Management Districts 1-6. There will be 379 antlerless permits issued this second week, with 364 issued in WMD’s 3 & 6 alone in order to reduce moose populations along heavily populated areas. Wardens indicated that moose are still responding to calls, so if you don’t observe any moose while traveling, try calling around wet swales where sign is prevalent.

The Wildlife Division will be collecting deer heads this hunting season, and would like to ask for assistance from the deer hunters out there. I have enclosed a web site of those towns where heads are needed.

http://www.maine.gov/ifw/wildlife/cwdtest_towns.htm

The reason deer heads are being collected is to determine presents of Chronic Wasting Disease. Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a fatal disease of the nervous system of mule deer, moose, white-tailed deer, and elk. There is currently no scientific evidence that Chronic Wasting Disease can be naturally transmitted to people.

Currently, CWD is known to infect free-ranging deer and elk in portions of Colorado, Illinois, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah, New York, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Saskatchewan, Canada. In addition, CWD has been found in captive/farmed elk or white-tailed deer herds in Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada. There is currently no evidence that CWD is present in wild deer and moose, or in other members of the deer family (cervids) raised on licensed farms in Maine (elk, red deer, sika deer, fallow deer). Preventing the arrival of CWD in Maine is an urgent state priority. Efforts to monitor wild and captive/farmed deer in Maine for the presence of CWD (as in most other states) are increasing. Plans include testing a representative, statewide sample of the deer harvest for CWD each year for the foreseeable future. Captive/farmed deer will be monitored for the presence of CWD (using on-farm health monitoring practices), and by testing certain farmed deer for CWD at slaughter.

The main points on CWD that all people should understand;

1) The serious nature of CWD and the risk it poses to Maine's deer herd. Please refer to the Departments fact sheet on CWD.

http://www.maine.gov/ifw/wildlife/cwdfactsheet.htm

2) It is impossible to predict precisely where CWD occurs and where it does not occur; it has been found in NY and WV here in the east; given this, MDIFW thought it was in the best interest of Maine and our deer herd to restrict all cervid carcasses coming into Maine, as we do not know where CWD may show up next.

3) The Maine Agriculture Dept. made it illegal to import any LIVE cervids [deer, elk, moose, etc.] into Maine, and this rule has been in effect for several years. This was done to protect the domestic deer farms from CWD.

4) There is a state working group that deals with CWD issues in Maine; it consist of MDIFW, Agriculture, SAM, Maine Bowhunters, and deer/elk farmers. As a result of input from this group, MDIFW developed and adopted the cervid carcass rule. This rule was adopted to attempt to keep CWD out of Maine and to protect our deer herd, our deer hunting tradition, and our deer hunting economy.

5) The cervid carcass rule was adopted according to the State's Administrative Procedures Act, which outlines the public input and public comment provisions that a state agency must adhere to in developing rules. MDIFW did seek public input in the development of this rule as required by the APA.

-Rich Hoppe, Regional Wildlife Biologist


Submitted by : Mark Latti


NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.