Old News Archive

November 1, 2006 - Outdoor Report

November 01, 2006 - TRC

Region A- Southwestern Maine

Cool, wet and windy weather prevailed in southern Maine during opening day for the firearm season for deer. As expected with these conditions, the success rate was very low. This year, regional staff statewide will be collecting more detailed information on weather and hunting conditions in an effort to make a better assessment of hunter effort and success as it pertains to hunting conditions. When making management prescriptions based upon harvest data, hunter effort in response to hunting conditions, is an important consideration. Given the recent mild winters, the deer population within the region is expected to be in a favorable condition.

There has been considerable progress in reducing the deer population in WMD 24 over the last 6 years, though some areas most notably in the developed coastal zone, have local deer populations that are above our management goals of 15-20 deer/sq.mile. We are continuing our efforts to address this issue on a local scale with the cooperation of hunters from the Maine Bowhunters Association, BLIP (Bowhunters Landowners Information Program). A limited hunt, using specially certified bowhunters, will work to reduce the deer population in the vicinity of the Wells Reserve and Drakes Island. This area, not open to public hunting, has a deer population that may exceed 70 deer/sq.mile. A deer population at this level does not yet lead to density dependent limiting factors, so if left unmanaged, would continue to increase and have significant impact on the local ecology and community. Overbrowsing by a very high deer population will have negative impact on the growth and succession of native plants and allow for the proliferation of invasive plant species, which have not coeveolved with the native wildlife.

On Thursday night we held the second informational meeting regarding the proposed expansion of the moose hunt to include WMD's 15, 16, 23 and 26 in 2008. This meeting was fairly well attended and provided opportunity for public input on this proposed hunt. The current proposal for WMD 15 is for 25 any-moose permits during the November deer season. For further information contact the regional office in Gray at 657-2345 or inquire through our website www.mefishwildlife.com.

A reminder that a new law does prohibit bringing deer into Maine from other states unless the meat has been deboned. This is a precaution that has been adopted to reduce the potential introduction of Chronic Wasting Disease to the Maine deer population. CWD has not been documented in Maine, though staff is continuing in cooperative efforts with other agencies to monitor for any occurrences.

-Scott Lindsay, Regional Wildlife Biologist

Region B - Central Maine

This past weekend marked the fifteenth anniversary of the Perfect Storm. Mariners and those who earn their living at sea, no doubt remember.

Although I doubt that this past Saturday, the opening day of the regular firearms season for deer, will warrant the making of a Hollywood blockbuster, I do think it will be remembered for many years to come. Only the most dedicated hunters endured the weather event that lived every bit up to its billing. Even Ole Daniel Boone would have sat this one out. By all accounts, it was a bad day for the hunters and a good day for the hunted.

As the wildlife biologist responsible for day to day management activities on the Steve Powell Wildlife Management Area (Swan Island), it is a refreshing time when November arrives signaling the end of island life for another season and the beginning of my mainland responsibilities as one of three wildlife biologists in Region B. Leaving Swan Island on the last boat back to the mainland is always a bittersweet experience; one I have tasted annually for the past twenty three years. This year is no exception.

November not only marks the end of the Swan Island season, but also the beginning of the regular firearms season on deer. With the daunting task of collecting biological data from deer harvested during the season, as well as, collecting samples for testing for chronic wasting disease (cwd), my annual trek around the southern portions of Region B begins. Specifically, my 220+ mile route takes me through most of the southern and mid-coast portions of our rather large region and focuses on Wildlife Management District (WMD) 22.

WMD 22, which is situated in the lower Androscoggin and Kennebec River valleys, is 576 square miles and includes 24 townships. These townships cover Androscoggin, Kennebec, Lincoln and Sagadahoc Counties. WMD 22 has approximately 176 residents per square mile who are widely distributed among small towns, farmland and cities. As is common throughout the region, major land uses in WMD 22 vary from private forest and agriculture to small town and urban development. Wintering deer population’s range from 15-25 deer/sq. mi. This fact, coupled with relatively high hunting pressure, resulted in WMD 22 being in the top 5 among all WMD’s for buck and doe harvests in 2005. In total, 1,689 deer were taken…98% by residents.

The prospects for the 2006 season are similar so long as we do not have to endure another wild weather Saturday.

With the close of the 2006 season I will have traveled nearly 2,700 miles and checked just about 1,000 deer, submitting many of them for cwd testing. As my travels take me along Route One and the Atlantic Ocean I can not help but think of the Andrea Gail. God rest her soul and those who served her.

- Charles D. Dyke, Wildlife Biologist

Region C - Downeast

The tamaracks have turned, most of the intolerant hardwoods have shed their foliage, and I have seen the first budding grouse of the season. I haven't seen the first flock of buffleheads yet but they are due. All indicators are that the Indian Summer days of fall are behind us, and skim ice and frost are the early morning standard. In my opinion, this is the best couple of weeks for grouse hunting. Visibility is improved and there are cooler temps for the working dog and hunter. It is also time for a change in tactics and equipment. You can see better, but the bird can also see you and the dog better and avoid you. I have found that it is time to retire the open bored 20 gauge and dig out the old full choke 12 duck gun with heavy loads. Many times you only get one shot when the bird breaks above the tree tops or swings out and goes down the road from you. Either way, you have a 35 yard shot at a going away bird. Usually number 6 shot or larger with a tight pattern is what works best .

Supposedly due to new markets for raw furs, the pelt prices will increase or at least hold steady. Trapping has evolved into more of a hobby than a full time profession. This is readily apparent when at the end of the season and add up the ledger, many times it comes out to, are you willing to spend $40 dollars to catch a $20 coyote? Which isn't bad when you calculate what a pound of woodcock meat ends up costing. One quip that I have heard over the years, "There is a lot of money in trapping ... you just don't get much out."

Americans are criticized as being excessive and wasteful. There may be some truth to that when it comes to firearms. How many old timers can you remember that had one shotgun, one rifle , and maybe a .22 rifle and/or pistol. They claimed they could hunt any game in the state with those two guns. Now it seems that many have fine tuned their arsenal for just about every hunting scenario. Guns if taken care of, won't wear out and outlive their owners. Our fixation over guns is about the same as our wives' love of diamonds; we all have more than what we need but not as many as we want.

-James Hall, Assistant Regional Wildlife Biologist

Region D - Western Mountains

I spent this opening Saturday of Deer season sitting in the rain at the game registration station in West Forks Township. It was a raw and rainy day like most other places throughout the state. On any other Saturday during deer season I would be joining you in the woods, but we have a difficult time collecting the necessary samples from towns in that part of our Region. Mostly, this is because there are relatively few deer killed and the deer that are harvested in those towns don’t make it to a meat cutter, which is where we collect most of our samples. Despite the weather I was able to collect a few samples from cooperative hunters that weren’t discouraged by rain and wind.

Fall is also a time when biologists receive a lot of calls from residents who are having problems with a number of wildlife species. Most often the culprit is just preparing for winter. Like many of us scrambling to get our firewood in, the beaver dams as much water as possible in order to store a food cache for winter, or a skunk becomes very active in your backyard digging for a few more grubs before the ground freezes. Many times these activities are short lived and many people choose to ride it out for a few more weeks. Sometimes the problem is more serious and require efforts to help alleviate the problem.

-Bob Cordes, Assistant Regional Wildlife Biologist

Region E - Moosehead Region

Biologist’s do all kinds of unusual jobs; I remember when Dave Knupp walked the Realty Road (a major haul road for loggers up north) with a bamboo and a mirror attached to the end. When asked by a trucker, just what he was doing, he had a ready explanation, “Looking in robin’s nests.” He, or whoever he worked for, was trying to determine whether the gunk being sprayed to control spruce budworm had a detrimental effect on other life forms.

This year I find myself once again asking hunters whether they’d like to part with their deer head. We find mostly just the locals are willing. This creates a problem, because it makes it difficult for us to get enough from the area north of Greenville.

We will extract parts from the heads for testing for CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease); specifically the opex & retropharygeal lymph nodes. These will eventually be examined in a commercial lab. Results will be available next spring.

If CWD can be detected early in ME, it might be possible to prevent its spread.
None has been found yet in several years of looking. If you hunt in the area around Moosehead, and would like to contribute, you can call 695-3756 ext 32 for pick up arrangements.

-Bill Noble, Assistant Regional Wildlife Biologist

Region F, Penobscot Region

Recent heavy rains throughout the state have caused water levels in streams and rivers to be close to or at flood stage. These high water levels alone can cause temporary flooding of property and roads, but add an industrious beaver that’s trying to prepare a secure home and an adequate food source for the winter and these water levels can be far from temporary.

Fall is an important time of the year for a beaver if it wants to survive the winter. It must prepare a house for shelter, a dam which floods the surrounding forest, and a food source that will last until open water returns. The flowage provides protection from predators, an easy way to collect and transport food, and a place to store food (saplings, tree limbs etc.) that will be used throughout the period of ice cover.

During the spring, summer, and early fall the Department has a variety of options for dealing with flooding caused by beaver activity. Fencing coupled with PVC drainage pipes can help to keep the water at a tolerable level. Beaver can be live-trapped and moved to a suitable location or lethal removal can be used as a last resort. Dealing with nuisance beaver in late fall provides a new set of challenges.

Options for dealing with nuisance beaver in late fall are greatly reduced. Cold water and high flows make it difficult and impractical to install water level control devices. Live trapping is not an option because the beaver would not have enough time to prepare sufficient food stocks to get it through the winter at a new location, which would probably result in a death sentence by starvation.

For this reason, the Department has made a policy that no live trapping and relocation of beaver can be done within 30 days of the opening of the legal trapping season. Lethal removal is an option at this time of year, but considered a waste of a valuable fur resource that would be available to trappers during the legal trapping season. Therefore, during late fall, our recommendation for dealing with individual beaver problems and high beaver populations overall is to wait for the opening of the legal trapping season and direct trappers to the location. The regional offices maintain a list of nuisance beaver locations that is available to trappers by request.

The beaver season for 2006–2007 will run from November 1 through April 30 in WMDs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6; from November 1 through April 15 in WMDs 9, 10, 11, 18, 19, and 28; from December 1 through March 31 for WMDs 7, 8, 13, 14, and 17; December 1 through February 28 for WMDs 12, 15, 16, 23, 25, 26, 27, and 29; December 15 through February 28 for WMDs 20, 21, 22, and 24.

The Enfield Regional Office has had a flurry of nuisance beaver calls from private landowners over the past few weeks. We are maintaining a list of these locations that will be available to trappers that request it. We currently have several flowages, located on the Bud Leavitt WMA, where we would like to direct some trapping pressure. Any landowners that would be interested in having some trapping pressure or trappers interested in obtaining nuisance beaver locations in the Penobscot Region should contact Mark Caron or Allen Starr at 732-4132.

-Allen Starr, Assistant Regional Wildlife Biologist

Region G - Aroostook County

Generally most nuisance beaver complaints are resolved by mid-Fall; however, with the recent late fall rain, we are still getting complaints from landowners. Since beaver trapping season in this Region opens November 1, we are only responding to emergency complaints, usually when public safety is a concern due to washed out roads or major road damage. We hope to defer most nuisance complaints to trappers for beaver removal during the regular open trapping season. Because of all these late beaver complaints some of the major landowners are looking for help from trappers to remove nuisance beaver. We suggest if trappers are interested in trapping beaver on any of the large undeveloped forestlands in Region G they contact these forest landowners. They all have regional or district foresters that can direct trappers to nuisance beaver complaint sites. The North Maine Woods office in Ashland is also a good contact if trappers need landowner information.

Last Tuesday we started the process of visiting dairy, beef cattle, and vegetable farms in southern Aroostook County in preparation for wild turkey releases this winter. We have tremendous interest from both landowners and sportsmen in bringing additional wild turkeys into northern Maine. We already have a small population of wild turkeys in the southern Aroostook area. Hopefully by adding captured wild turkeys from southern Maine, we can bolster or increase turkey numbers in Aroostook County. Turkeys are slowly increasing in the County but we still have concern for how well these birds will fare once we get hit with an old fashioned Aroostook County winter.

As with most projects we’re hearing both pros and cons from the different landowners. Some have a great interest in having turkeys on their property, while others, particularly dairy farmers, have some legitimate concerns with turkeys possibly feeding on and spoiling grass and corn silage. We’ll use this feedback from the various landowners to determine turkey release sites and how to address a variety of landowner issues.

The one issue that was a big concern for all agricultural landowners is the unauthorized access and damage to their property by sportsmen. Everyone using these private parcels needs to start asking landowners for permission. We’ve been very fortunate here in the County to have access to large tracts of agricultural lands for hunting, trapping, etc. However, landowners are becoming increasingly fed-up with sportsmen driving on fields particularly when they’re wet, as tire ruts can cause field damage. Landowners and farmers are telling us most sportsmen or hunters are welcome but first ask permission and consider walking to hunting sites.

The regular firearm season for deer opened Saturday with a real mix of weather. The weather in the early morning was fine but what a change by late afternoon, with very strong gusty winds and rain. We will get deer hunting reports from various sources over the next few days but indications are that despite the weather deer hunters fared pretty well on Saturday. Deer registration stations are reporting average to slightly better deer harvest numbers for Saturday.

-Arlen Lovewll, Assistant Regional Wildlife Biologist

Submitted by Marl Latti, DIFW

284 State Street, State House Station #41, Augusta, ME 04333

For More Outdoor Information, and Sporting Licenses 24 Hours A Day, 7 Days A Week, please visit: www.mefishwildlife.com
or contact: ifw.webmaster@maine.gov

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