Northern Maine's Deer Herd

Junebugg2.0

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That funding is already in place. The Land For Maine's Future program can be used to purchase and/or protect DWAs.
Are the funds ever allocated for this? What stops the land owner from getting the funds and still cutting the DWA? Just curious about this.
 

KM1968

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I would think it would be similar to some NRCS programs I have done on my land. NRCS project leaders physically inspect the agreed upon management plan before checks are issued. Also once you meet the criteria for a program they do an onsite visit to discuss exactly what you need to do.
 

JDK

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LMF either purchases the land or develops conservation easements. Their goal is to keep the land privately owned. Funded through bonds approved by Maine voters. 1:1 match requirement and the programs is administered by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry.
 

Huntermc6

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There has always been predation and there has always been weather. The common denominator is loss of wintering yards/habitat. Makes a species very vulnerable to predation, starvation, disease etc. Look at those harvest report #s. Numbers dont lie. What has changed in all of these locations - Cutting = habitat loss.
I get what you all are saying about the wintering habitat, or the lack of it and how badly it affects the ability of deer to survive the harsh winters and heavy predation. That said, the effects of little to no timber harvesting can have just as much impact on regional deer herds. I live pretty much smack dab in the middle of about 12 thousand acres of state wildlife management area land here in northern VT. Same as northern Maine, there once was a heyday of deer hunting in this area where it was THE place to hunt. Big bucks and higher deer numbers were the norm back in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Back then the land was primarily owned by private individuals. As the state started buying it up or getting it handed to them things changed. Logging gradually slowed down. Environmentalists and politicians who listened to them and agreed with them eventually made it so complicated to do any harvesting on these state lands that it virtually ended in the early 2000’s. Several years ago I asked a state biologist in a face to face conversation why there had been no logging activity in almost 15 years and when we might see any. He said the previous management plan for this area was outdated and that it could be 5-10 years before another plan could be written that would include any authorization to harvest timber and that the push for the delay came from way higher up the chain than him. Meanwhile, mature hardwood stands block any light getting to the forest floor so there’s no browse and softwood rots on the stump. These things combined have left a forest with not a lot to offer to deer. Sure, we have a few, especially on the edges of the state land where there is logging or agriculture on private property. If there was more logging going on in the interior sections we’d certainly see more deer on the landscape. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that it’s a double edged sword in some ways. Too much logging and the deer suffer like in northern Maine, too little and the same happens like here in northern Vermont.
Both of these replies are good points. I’ve had this discussion with a few people and of course the Big Woods Podcast has touched on this from time to time as well. With the logging equipment that is used today they cut faster, they also cut smaller trees so regrowth is cut faster wintering areas never get to grow back. This is a huge problem up in the NMW since winters are so harsh and food sources are not as abundant as they are in ag land and where large oak groves can grow. The other issues have been pointed out here already, road access is vastly improved year after year, vehicles are more reliable allowing further access to areas once inaccessible without walking miles and miles into the back woods, better technology giving even terrible hunters like myself more confidence to strike off into the unknown woods. I see evidence of all of this when I go on bird hunting trips or brook fishing in the NMW, the traffic has been increasing every year.



I have always wondered what the deer herd was like before humans invented logging? I’m sure forest fires account for some habitat destruction and then regrowth similar to logging but it’s obviously not as predictable. Wintering areas obviously remained for decades untouched and undisturbed.
 

longbow

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I think it comes down to habitat management through responsible timber harvest. The issue in Maine stems from the fact that it is all privately owned land. As many have said its their land they should be able to do what they want with it! .... But should they? Just playing devils advocate here... but the landowners own the land, but they do not own the deer. So the question I ask is should the landowners bare any responsibility for managing wildlife populations? Should government agencies require landowners to conduct more wildlife friendly timber harvest?

I don't know the answers. But I suspect the deer herd in Northern Maine will not improve without better habitat management
Apparently they are able to prevent logging on private property within a certain distance of waterways to protect the public's water. Perhaps, they can restrict cutting deer yards to protect the public's deer?
 

JDK

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As someone who has worked in land use planning for over 26 years, I can tell you that zoning someone’s property as Resource Protection ( not associated with Shoreland Zoning) is problematic. Even suggesting it can get your head handed to you.

LUPC can, and does, zone DWAs in the unorganized townships
 

Huntermc6

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As someone who has worked in land use planning for over 26 years, I can tell you that zoning someone’s property as Resource Protection ( not associated with Shoreland Zoning) is problematic. Even suggesting it can get your head handed to you.

LUPC can, and does, zone DWAs in the unorganized townships
Land surveyor myself so I would say I have an above average understanding of residential and business type zonings but not as familiar with resource protection zonings since it just doesn't come up as often when doing land development for housing or businesses. Do you know what the process is for declaring an area a DWA? I heard through the rumor mill that it takes at least a 3 year study of that particular area for it to be officially declared and even at that it doesn't stop the land owner from cutting it. This makes sense since they own the land and deer are not a protected species under the Endangered Species Act.
 

JDK

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Deer Wintering Areas (DWAs) are forested areas used by deer when (a) snow gets more than 12 inches deep in the open and in hardwood stands, (b) the depth that deer sink into the snow exceeds 8 inches in the open and in hardwood stands, and (c) when mean daily temperature is below 32 degrees Farenheit. This data set includes DWAs in organized townships that qualify as Significant Wildlife Habitat under Maine's Natural Resources Protection Act as mapped by MDIFW Regional Biologists.
 

longbow

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As someone who has worked in land use planning for over 26 years, I can tell you that zoning someone’s property as Resource Protection ( not associated with Shoreland Zoning) is problematic. Even suggesting it can get your head handed to you.

LUPC can, and does, zone DWAs in the unorganized townships
What is the difference in the unorganized townships? It's still privately owned property?
 

JDK

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What is the difference in the unorganized townships? It's still privately owned property?

Municipalities have Home Rule authority.

Land Use Regulation is under the State in UTs.
 

JDK

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LUPC, under Chapter 10, has Fish and Wildlife Protection Subdistrict. In order for that to be zoned, the following need to be met (it is long and will make your head spin)

Documentation of use as a deer wintering area during a minimum of two years over the most recent 10 year period at the time of designation; for at least one of such years, such documentations shall be based upon ground observation by a wildlife biologist of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife during or following a period of winter conditions, but no later than May 1 in any year, showing extent of deer use for winter shelter as evidenced by deer tracks, current and past deer browsing, deer pellet depositions, and/or bedding sites, such that a population of at least 20 deer per square mile in the shelter area may be estimated. A P-FW subdistrict may be established for an area with an estimated population of fewer than 20 deer per square mile if, in the Commission's judgment, it is necessary to meet the purpose of the P-FW subdistrict. In this regard, the Commission may be guided by “Planning for Maine's Inland Fish and Wildlife Resources, 1986-1991”, of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and associated documents, including the white-tailed deer assessment and strategic plan; and

(b) Occurrence of forest stands that are composed of over 50 percent conifer stems and contain a conifer crown closure of over 50 percent with predominant tree heights of over 35 feet; and

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) has submitted to the Commission a status report containing the following information:

(a) Deer population and deer habitat goals for the state and the applicable Wildlife Management District (WMD) – see Map 10.23,D-1;

(b) Estimated current population of deer in the state and the applicable WMD;

(c) Amount of land designated as P-FW subdistricts in the applicable WMD; (d) Existing information on the amount of deer wintering habitat in organized towns within the applicable WMD;

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) has submitted to the Commission a status report containing the following information:

(a) Deer population and deer habitat goals for the state and the applicable Wildlife Management District (WMD) – see Map 10.23,D-1;

(b) Estimated current population of deer in the state and the applicable WMD;

(c) Amount of land designated as P-FW subdistricts in the applicable WMD;

(d) Existing information on the amount of deer wintering habitat in organized towns within the applicable WMD;

(e) Amount and location of land designated as P-FW subdistricts in the subject township and all townships abutting the subject township;
(f) A qualitative and, if available, quantitative assessment, based on existing information, of the importance of the area proposed as a P-FW subdistrict to other wildlife species of particular significance, including those identified by state or federal agencies as Endangered, Threatened, Special Concern, Indeterminate Status, or Watch List;
 

JDK

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Sorry for the bad cut and paste job. This is correct


Documentation of use as a deer wintering area during a minimum of two years over the most recent 10 year period at the time of designation; for at least one of such years, such documentations shall be based upon ground observation by a wildlife biologist of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife during or following a period of winter conditions, but no later than May 1 in any year, showing extent of deer use for winter shelter as evidenced by deer tracks, current and past deer browsing, deer pellet depositions, and/or bedding sites, such that a population of at least 20 deer per square mile in the shelter area may be estimated. A P-FW subdistrict may be established for an area with an estimated population of fewer than 20 deer per square mile if, in the Commission's judgment, it is necessary to meet the purpose of the P-FW subdistrict. In this regard, the Commission may be guided by “Planning for Maine's Inland Fish and Wildlife Resources, 1986-1991”, of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and associated documents, including the white-tailed deer assessment and strategic plan; and

(b) Occurrence of forest stands that are composed of over 50 percent conifer stems and contain a conifer crown closure of over 50 percent with predominant tree heights of over 35 feet; and


The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) has submitted to the Commission a status report containing the following information:

(a) Deer population and deer habitat goals for the state and the applicable Wildlife Management District (WMD) – see Map 10.23,D-1;

(b) Estimated current population of deer in the state and the applicable WMD;

(c) Amount of land designated as P-FW subdistricts in the applicable WMD;

(d) Existing information on the amount of deer wintering habitat in organized towns within the applicable WMD;

(e) Amount and location of land designated as P-FW subdistricts in the subject township and all townships abutting the subject township;

(f) A qualitative and, if available, quantitative assessment, based on existing information, of the importance of the area proposed as a P-FW subdistrict to other wildlife species of particular significance, including those identified by state or federal agencies as Endangered, Threatened, Special Concern, Indeterminate Status, or Watch List;
 

NoDeerHere

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Sorry for the bad cut and paste job. This is correct


Documentation of use as a deer wintering area during a minimum of two years over the most recent 10 year period at the time of designation; for at least one of such years, such documentations shall be based upon ground observation by a wildlife biologist of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife during or following a period of winter conditions, but no later than May 1 in any year, showing extent of deer use for winter shelter as evidenced by deer tracks, current and past deer browsing, deer pellet depositions, and/or bedding sites, such that a population of at least 20 deer per square mile in the shelter area may be estimated. A P-FW subdistrict may be established for an area with an estimated population of fewer than 20 deer per square mile if, in the Commission's judgment, it is necessary to meet the purpose of the P-FW subdistrict. In this regard, the Commission may be guided by “Planning for Maine's Inland Fish and Wildlife Resources, 1986-1991”, of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and associated documents, including the white-tailed deer assessment and strategic plan; and

(b) Occurrence of forest stands that are composed of over 50 percent conifer stems and contain a conifer crown closure of over 50 percent with predominant tree heights of over 35 feet; and


The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) has submitted to the Commission a status report containing the following information:

(a) Deer population and deer habitat goals for the state and the applicable Wildlife Management District (WMD) – see Map 10.23,D-1;

(b) Estimated current population of deer in the state and the applicable WMD;

(c) Amount of land designated as P-FW subdistricts in the applicable WMD;

(d) Existing information on the amount of deer wintering habitat in organized towns within the applicable WMD;

(e) Amount and location of land designated as P-FW subdistricts in the subject township and all townships abutting the subject township;

(f) A qualitative and, if available, quantitative assessment, based on existing information, of the importance of the area proposed as a P-FW subdistrict to other wildlife species of particular significance, including those identified by state or federal agencies as Endangered, Threatened, Special Concern, Indeterminate Status, or Watch List;
Looks good on paper but by looking at the numbers........it ain't working?
 

JDK

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Please remember that the connotation of "Resource Protection" is one of a taking on the part of private landowners, both in the UTs and in organized. When it comes to the guidelines of designating these districts, there are some very specific guidelines. When it comes to DWAs, which may or may not change over time, those guidelines become difficult and more convoluted.
 

JDK

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I also seem to recall a UMO study that said zoning DWAs was not effective. It is effective at protecting the yard for the short term but not in the overall scheme of winter deer habitat in northern Maine. DWAs change over time and if other suitable habitat isn't available, all is for naught.
 

Meatseeker

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Sorry for the bad cut and paste job. This is correct


Documentation of use as a deer wintering area during a minimum of two years over the most recent 10 year period at the time of designation; for at least one of such years, such documentations shall be based upon ground observation by a wildlife biologist of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife during or following a period of winter conditions, but no later than May 1 in any year, showing extent of deer use for winter shelter as evidenced by deer tracks, current and past deer browsing, deer pellet depositions, and/or bedding sites, such that a population of at least 20 deer per square mile in the shelter area may be estimated. A P-FW subdistrict may be established for an area with an estimated population of fewer than 20 deer per square mile if, in the Commission's judgment, it is necessary to meet the purpose of the P-FW subdistrict. In this regard, the Commission may be guided by “Planning for Maine's Inland Fish and Wildlife Resources, 1986-1991”, of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and associated documents, including the white-tailed deer assessment and strategic plan; and

(b) Occurrence of forest stands that are composed of over 50 percent conifer stems and contain a conifer crown closure of over 50 percent with predominant tree heights of over 35 feet; and


The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) has submitted to the Commission a status report containing the following information:

(a) Deer population and deer habitat goals for the state and the applicable Wildlife Management District (WMD) – see Map 10.23,D-1;

(b) Estimated current population of deer in the state and the applicable WMD;

(c) Amount of land designated as P-FW subdistricts in the applicable WMD;

(d) Existing information on the amount of deer wintering habitat in organized towns within the applicable WMD;

(e) Amount and location of land designated as P-FW subdistricts in the subject township and all townships abutting the subject township;

(f) A qualitative and, if available, quantitative assessment, based on existing information, of the importance of the area proposed as a P-FW subdistrict to other wildlife species of particular significance, including those identified by state or federal agencies as Endangered, Threatened, Special Concern, Indeterminate Status, or Watch List;
So a landowner could cut a piece before a 2 year study is completed and circumvent? Am I interpreting it correctly?

The burden to establish likely greater than what the state natural resource agencies can reasonably invest... no?
 

Huntermc6

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I wonder if it would be more beneficial to set up areas like the protection zone that exist in Rangeley and supplemental feeding areas such as Brownville. This probably creates other issues such as too many deer near roads and staying too close to towns and residential areas therefore not spreading out in their more natural habitat among plenty of other issues. As much as I would like forestry companies to be more cognizant of the wintering areas and not cut them, it's foolish to think they won't. It is their land and that is leaving money on the table.

I'm also curious about the answer to what Meatseek is asking, I have always been told that is what happens once the land manager finds out an area is being studied they work hard to get in there and cut it off.
 




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