Hunting: Steps taken to help deer herd recover in northern Maine

Hunting: Steps taken to help deer herd recover in northern Maine

A brand new Maine legislation will present $40 million over the subsequent 4 years to the Land for Maine’s Future program to buy land that’s primarily deer wintering grounds. Michael Seamans/Morning Sentinel

There was a time not so way back when northern Maine had a well-deserved fame as one of many premier deer looking locations, not simply within the state however throughout the nation.

Twice within the Fifties, Maine’s annual deer harvest exceeded 40,000, with most of those deer coming from the northern two-thirds of the state. That is not the case. Many of the harvest now comes from the southern half. There are a lot of causes for this, however the largest is the dearth of enough winter habitat in northern Maine. Luckily, steps are being taken to reverse this pattern and treatment the scenario.

Final yr, the legislature handed, and Governor Janet Mills signed a invoice drafted by the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine that would offer $40 million over the subsequent 4 years to buy land for the Land for Maine’s Future program that’s primarily deer wintering grounds. . The new hornless permit program, first implemented for the 2022 fall hunt, will present roughly $1 million extra. All of those funds might be matched with federal funding at a 3:1 ratio, which means that there’s greater than $160 million accessible to buy deer wintering habitat in northern and jap Maine. In the meantime, the Sportsman’s Alliance and the Aroostook County Conservation Affiliation have fashioned the Aroostook County White-tailed Deer Collaborative, which has already raised an extra $25,000 – once more accessible for matching funds – and so they’re simply getting began.

These actions differ from previous efforts in a number of methods. Somewhat than a bond initiative, new authorities funds for deer wintering grounds are an appropriation, which means they’re already within the price range. As well as, the bought lands might be managed by the Maine Division of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife particularly for winter deer habitat. And all these lands might be open to public entry and recreation, together with looking.

Progress has already taken place. Final January, the IFW employed a biologist to supervise the deer’s wintering habitats program. The division has additionally recognized acquisition standards and high precedence deer wintering areas, and there are at the moment two tasks nearing completion and a number of other extra within the pipeline. Reed Deadwater project in South Aroostook County It covers over 6,000 acres and is IFW’s largest ever buy.

Surprisingly, maybe not, this initiative has obtained some criticism. One is the idea of the state taking land from personal landowners. Actually, the other is true. The record of landowners who’ve voluntarily approached the state and supplied to promote their land particularly for this program is rising. One other criticism is that these lands are faraway from tax plates after they’re bought, making a monetary affect for native communities. In accordance with Jeff Romano of the Maine Coast Heritage Belief, “The state’s land trusts have collectively retained 2.6 million acres, and 95% of them are nonetheless on the tax plate. They’re normally present in tree development or open area. accessible to landowners.” In the meantime, the state makes income-sharing funds to municipalities the place public lands are positioned, as a lot because the personal land proprietor can pay.

Adjustments will not occur in a single day. It’s going to take years and even a long time to understand an essential improvement, however it would. In the meantime, extra steps are being taken to enhance these efforts. State Senator Russell Black has handed a invoice to develop the Way forward for Land for Maine fund, which is essential as a result of the land buy course of can take a number of years to finish and this can add long-term stability to this system. There’s additionally pending laws to higher align the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands administration coverage with that of the IFW relating to winter deer habitat. This might have an effect on the long run administration of greater than 570,000 acres of public land at the moment unmanaged for deer wintering grounds.

Powered largely by southern and central Maine, hunters killed greater than 43,000 deer throughout their 2022 hunt. The scenario there doubtless will not change, but when the deer herd in northern and jap Maine had been ever restored, that whole could possibly be considerably greater, and the percentages are staggering.

Bob Humphrey is a contract author and Registered Maine Listing based mostly in Pownal. He might be reached at: [email protected]

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