Northern Maine's Deer Herd

JDK

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So, why the decline of deer in northern ME: 1) hard winters, 2) historic overabundant deer, 3) new winter predator, 4) forest practice changes, 5) budworm salvage logging/loss of DWAs, 6) moose competition, 7) more forest practice changes, like very few hand crews, etc.. Winters 2008 and 2009 was the last big killer of deer in our western woods and towns. Based on our recent radio-collar study, the few deer that try to make it through winter in the big woods don’t do well due to predation and then starvation. Hope that helps. Shawn



Shawn P. Haskell

Regional Wildlife Biologist

Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

Ashland Regional Headquarters

P.O. Box 447

Ashland, Maine 04732-0447

207-435-3231 ext. 86872
What does he mean with #2? I'll assume a typo and means moose.
 

Meatseeker

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Okay, I sent an email to the biologist in Ashland, Me and this is his response.


Hi Kip, the decline of white-tailed deer in northern Maine has been noticed by many people for many years now. There were no deer in northern Maine when we had wolves, not even in central Maine really. Most people have forgotten this. We killed all the wolves by early 1900s, and for the next half century or more the deer spread throughout Maine, and caribou disappeared. Winters in northern Maine would always put deer at the edge of survival, and beyond in some years. By the mid-1950s, the deer biologist found overbrowsing of deer wintering areas (DWAs) in northern Maine, which did not bode well for the future, for we could not manage the deer herd at that time. When we got a winter predator back in the mid-1970s that is mostly coyote, but part wolf, it was too much for them. At the same time, river driving logging ended, the budworm hit, the road system was built, and clearcuts were massive, taking out much of the historic deer DWAs. The moose population exploded. If we had over 100,000 moose in the 1990s, that’s over 400,000 deer-units. The moose eat the deer food too. Now we harvest more moose than deer in northern Maine. These are largely insurmountable changes. We live, learn, and adapt.



So, why the decline of deer in northern ME: 1) hard winters, 2) historic overabundant deer, 3) new winter predator, 4) forest practice changes, 5) budworm salvage logging/loss of DWAs, 6) moose competition, 7) more forest practice changes, like very few hand crews, etc.. Winters 2008 and 2009 was the last big killer of deer in our western woods and towns. Based on our recent radio-collar study, the few deer that try to make it through winter in the big woods don’t do well due to predation and then starvation. Hope that helps. Shawn



Shawn P. Haskell

Regional Wildlife Biologist

Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

Ashland Regional Headquarters

P.O. Box 447

Ashland, Maine 04732-0447

207-435-3231 ext. 86872
Yet there are no published studies that support that predators have a substantial impact on population growth when the habitat is good... If they had decent wintering habitat they would be less likely to succumb to predation. I feel like this is a pass the buck kind of answer. Coyotes will kill vulnerable deer.... deer are vulnerable when the habitat doesn't provide appropriate food and shelter. In fact predator presence often prevents over-grazing/over/browsing in areas of higher deer density thus keeping the deer population healthy. Most reports of mortalities I have heard about are of deer freezing to death in poor wintering areas.
 

NH Mountains

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I seem to remember, years ago, there was a push to snare coyotes in the winter deer yards but, that got blocked because of the possibility of lynx getting snared instead. At the time, winter abating was a successful way of killing coyotes.
 

NH Mountains

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What does he mean with #2? I'll assume a typo and means moose.
I don’t think so. He started by saying historically there were very few deer in northern Maine so anything above that could be considered over abundant. It’s a way of them saying northern Maine doesn’t need more deer.
 

groundtender

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Okay, I sent an email to the biologist in Ashland, Me and this is his response.


Hi Kip, the decline of white-tailed deer in northern Maine has been noticed by many people for many years now. There were no deer in northern Maine when we had wolves, not even in central Maine really. Most people have forgotten this. We killed all the wolves by early 1900s, and for the next half century or more the deer spread throughout Maine, and caribou disappeared. Winters in northern Maine would always put deer at the edge of survival, and beyond in some years. By the mid-1950s, the deer biologist found overbrowsing of deer wintering areas (DWAs) in northern Maine, which did not bode well for the future, for we could not manage the deer herd at that time. When we got a winter predator back in the mid-1970s that is mostly coyote, but part wolf, it was too much for them. At the same time, river driving logging ended, the budworm hit, the road system was built, and clearcuts were massive, taking out much of the historic deer DWAs. The moose population exploded. If we had over 100,000 moose in the 1990s, that’s over 400,000 deer-units. The moose eat the deer food too. Now we harvest more moose than deer in northern Maine. These are largely insurmountable changes. We live, learn, and adapt.



So, why the decline of deer in northern ME: 1) hard winters, 2) historic overabundant deer, 3) new winter predator, 4) forest practice changes, 5) budworm salvage logging/loss of DWAs, 6) moose competition, 7) more forest practice changes, like very few hand crews, etc.. Winters 2008 and 2009 was the last big killer of deer in our western woods and towns. Based on our recent radio-collar study, the few deer that try to make it through winter in the big woods don’t do well due to predation and then starvation. Hope that helps. Shawn



Shawn P. Haskell

Regional Wildlife Biologist

Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

Ashland Regional Headquarters

P.O. Box 447

Ashland, Maine 04732-0447

207-435-3231 ext. 86872
I am not an advocate of the following, but have always wondered why the lottery isn’t for deer (in the northern zones and the western mountains) and the open hunting isn’t for moose?!?!?
 

longbow

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Okay, I sent an email to the biologist in Ashland, Me and this is his response.


Hi Kip, the decline of white-tailed deer in northern Maine has been noticed by many people for many years now. There were no deer in northern Maine when we had wolves, not even in central Maine really. Most people have forgotten this. We killed all the wolves by early 1900s, and for the next half century or more the deer spread throughout Maine, and caribou disappeared. Winters in northern Maine would always put deer at the edge of survival, and beyond in some years. By the mid-1950s, the deer biologist found overbrowsing of deer wintering areas (DWAs) in northern Maine, which did not bode well for the future, for we could not manage the deer herd at that time. When we got a winter predator back in the mid-1970s that is mostly coyote, but part wolf, it was too much for them. At the same time, river driving logging ended, the budworm hit, the road system was built, and clearcuts were massive, taking out much of the historic deer DWAs. The moose population exploded. If we had over 100,000 moose in the 1990s, that’s over 400,000 deer-units. The moose eat the deer food too. Now we harvest more moose than deer in northern Maine. These are largely insurmountable changes. We live, learn, and adapt.



So, why the decline of deer in northern ME: 1) hard winters, 2) historic overabundant deer, 3) new winter predator, 4) forest practice changes, 5) budworm salvage logging/loss of DWAs, 6) moose competition, 7) more forest practice changes, like very few hand crews, etc.. Winters 2008 and 2009 was the last big killer of deer in our western woods and towns. Based on our recent radio-collar study, the few deer that try to make it through winter in the big woods don’t do well due to predation and then starvation. Hope that helps. Shawn



Shawn P. Haskell

Regional Wildlife Biologist

Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

Ashland Regional Headquarters

P.O. Box 447

Ashland, Maine 04732-0447

207-435-3231 ext. 86872
Logging is the reason why there are deer in northern Maine, not because they shot all the wolves off. There are many wolves in Canada and plenty of deer. There were no deer in northern Maine because there was no browse for them until they started logging. That has always been my understanding.
 

JDK

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I am not an advocate of the following, but have always wondered why the lottery isn’t for deer (in the northern zones and the western mountains) and the open hunting isn’t for moose?!?!?
Take a look at the moose harvest data by town and NE Aroostook isn’t doing that well with those either
 

Junebugg2.0

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I seem to remember, years ago, there was a push to snare coyotes in the winter deer yards but, that got blocked because of the possibility of lynx getting snared instead. At the time, winter abating was a successful way of killing coyotes.
There was a good snaring program that was making a big difference around here...then they shut it down. Originally; it was shut down because some of the poor coyotes had jellyhead; meaning they were not being choked out by the snare quick and humane enough for some of the bunny hugging biologists. Then lynx started showing up and getting snared as incidental catches; and that became a real good excuse to shut down the snaring program for Good!
Snaring is the most efficient tool to control the coyotes throughout the winter months when the deer are most vuneralable ; and should still be used as an option.
 

NH Mountains

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There was a good snaring program that was making a big difference around here...then they shut it down. Originally; it was shut down because some of the poor coyotes had jellyhead; meaning they were not being choked out by the snare quick and humane enough for some of the bunny hugging biologists. Then lynx started showing up and getting snared as incidental catches; and that became a real good excuse to shut down the snaring program for Good!
Snaring is the most efficient tool to control the coyotes throughout the winter months when the deer are most vuneralable ; and should still be used as an option.
That’s what I thought. I’ve seen Canadian coyote trappers on YouTube and that’s what they use.
 

JDK

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What strikes me are the coffe table books about Maine’s sporting camps. Pages and pages of pictures from the late 1800s and early 1900s with game poles full of deer. Rangeley, Moosehead, Grand Lake Stream and the north woods. The B&A Raulroad used to put out promotional magazine with pictures of game poles full of dead deer. Portage, Ahshland, Howe Brook and others

so apparently there were deer from the late 1800s to the mid-1970s.
 

NoDeerHere

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I know this won't go over big but all the causes have been mentioned and maybe the solution is close the season for several years to rebuild the population up north? Will the deer still die if none are shot? Will that put more pressure on the southern parts of the state?
 

groundtender

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I know this won't go over big but all the causes have been mentioned and maybe the solution is close the season for several years to rebuild the population up north? Will the deer still die if none are shot? Will that put more pressure on the southern parts of the state?
I get what you say, but I really don’t think hunting is a big cause of the decline. But who knows, your idea might work if there are mild winters with it. Low chance of that. Predators wouldn’t complain, that’s for sure.
 

longbow

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I know this won't go over big but all the causes have been mentioned and maybe the solution is close the season for several years to rebuild the population up north? Will the deer still die if none are shot? Will that put more pressure on the southern parts of the state?
Yes, I think you should take a few years off and give the rest of us a chance and time for the herd to rebuild. 😃
 
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NH Mountains

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What strikes me are the coffe table books about Maine’s sporting camps. Pages and pages of pictures from the late 1800s and early 1900s with game poles full of deer. Rangeley, Moosehead, Grand Lake Stream and the north woods. The B&A Raulroad used to put out promotional magazine with pictures of game poles full of dead deer. Portage, Ahshland, Howe Brook and others

so apparently there were deer from the late 1800s to the mid-1970s.
There’s a really good book called Chasing Danforth that’s about the Umbag
What strikes me are the coffe table books about Maine’s sporting camps. Pages and pages of pictures from the late 1800s and early 1900s with game poles full of deer. Rangeley, Moosehead, Grand Lake Stream and the north woods. The B&A Raulroad used to put out promotional magazine with pictures of game poles full of dead deer. Portage, Ahshland, Howe Brook and others

so apparently there were deer from the late 1800s to the mid-1970s.
There’s a nice book called Chasing Danforth that covers a guide/hunter in the Umbagog area during that time frame. He mentions hunting deer, bear, moose, and caribou. Perhaps the biologist guy should read some of those old books.
 

Junebugg2.0

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They just like to use the phrase " The whitetail deer in Northern/ Western Maine are at the Northern limit of their range." This is because they can't get a handle on how to help the herd and be more proactive about it.
I believe that there was a fairly healthy herd at one point in time in the North and West of the state.
 

JDK

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You are correct Junebugg. My great uncles bought land in Kossuth in the 1940s. There were a lot of deer back then and they killed a lot of deer up until I was young.

I know that there are a ton of deer in parts of Washington County. Other parts no so much

a buddy has a camp in northern Hancock Cointy and it is barren. In my very humble opinion, the phrase northern portion of the range is an easy out fir the timber companies
 

SportsmanNH

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Here are 3 articles on deer hunting in northern Maine that cover from the 1800's to present . Why do we keep hearing that northern Maine is the top of the Whitetail deer range when there is a lot of deer in Canada . That game biologist that sent that email claiming there were no deer in northern Maine in the late 1800's and early 1900's is just plain false.



 
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Even these places that feed the deer in small towns you can see a considerable decline year to year. 8-15 years ago there were so many deer. Now its sad to see the lack of #s at these spots. I go every year all through the winter.
 




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