SAM’s Deer Action Plan
SAM has 1,000 copies of its coyote hunting video and it’s great! Contact the SAM office or go online to the SAM store to order your copy today.
The video is one of many steps SAM is taking as part of its Deer Action Plan. At its February meeting, SAM’s Board of Directors prioritized the plan and debated the creation of a coyote hunting network.
Here’s a brief summary of the plan, with the projects listed in priority order.
Fact Finding and Truth Telling
Job one is to fully understand the facts of this situation. SAM is working to collect the following information
- An evaluation of the system of voluntary deer wintering area management agreements between DIF&W and large landowners, and LURC zoned deer yards;
- A report on the amount and quality of deer wintering habitat now available in the unorganized territories on private and public land;
- An evaluation and explanation of the 2009 deer season including harvest and license sales;
- An accurate estimate of the current deer population by WMD;
- An explanation of the major challenges in restoring deer numbers to DIF&W’s population goals for each WMD.
Coyote Hunting Network
Every Maine hunter should make a commitment to try coyote hunting in 2010. SAM has made a commitment to aggressively promote coyote hunting. We have already posted several articles on our website including a how-to-hunt-coyotes guide and a review of applicable laws and rules. We’ve also
produced our coyote hunting video with lots of how-to information featuring Gerry Lavigne and Harry Vanderweide. We have also begun a partnership with DIF&W to promote and facilitate coyote hunting. There are other ways DIF&W can help, including gathering bait (from road-kills and other sources) for recreational hunters to use to hunt coyotes. We have also promised to build a database of coyote hunters who are willing to respond quickly to DIF&W requests for hunters in areas where deer are threatened by coyotes during the winter.We are working with the outdoor industry, specifically with guides and sporting camp owners, to promote coyote hunting as an add-on to all other hunts in Maine. Get a bear on your first day? Get back in that stand and shoot coyotes. Done your turkey hunt at noon? Stick around and call in a coyote.Deer Wintering AreasFingers are pointing at landowners for cutting deer yards, but there are many deer yards with few or any deer in them. Clearly the problem is more complicated that this. Many elements are at play. Deer wintering areas are one of them.The Maine Forest Products Council, Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine, and DIF&W have created new guidelines for managing deer wintering habitat, and both MFPC and SWOAM have promised to encourage their members to utilize the guidelines. SAM is working to make sure these guidelines are part of any forest certification process.SAM is also insisting that this new voluntary management system include real accountability. We appreciate the commitment of MFPC and SWOAM to encourage landowners to participate. And we’re especially grateful to those landowners who have already stepped up. We will tell you who those landowners are in the near future.DIF&W must measure that level of participation and report to all of us on an annual basis. We want to know how much land is being managed for deer wintering area, where that land is, which landowners are participating in the voluntary program, and most importantly, which landowners are not. SAM will praise the participants and get after those who refuse to help.We are also working to make sure the public’s investments in public lands through easements and fee purchases – includes, as a priority, the purchase of prime deer wintering area. We may have a chance to do this through the Keeping Maine’s Forests Initiative, recently endorsed by SAM’s Board of Directors.
Best ManagementSAM is advocating for the state to create a policy that makes deer wintering area management and predation control the top priorities for all public lands, state parks, and easement lands. We are also working with nonprofit landowners including land trusts to encourage them to do the same. SAM will ask the legislature to establish this priority in law.We have asked DIF&W to work with the Small Woodlot Owners Association to publish and provide information on roadside plantings, food plots, and other ways landowners can help sustain deer. Food plots could be a terrific project for fish and game clubs and private landowners who want to help.Deer HarvestsWe expect DIF&W to re-examine all aspects of the deer harvest and will participate in that process.Some initial discussions have already occurred at the legislature. This would include the locations of expanded archery hunts and the bag limits for those hunts, and the number of any deer permits issued in each district. SAM does not believe deer hunting seasons should be curtailed or closed. There is no need to do this and it would be harmful to the sport, to the economy, and to the department.Multi-species ManagementThe Maine Forest Products Council and SAM have asked DIF&W to convene a new multi-species working group to sort through the facts and issues and prepare a plan that resolves the conflicts among game species and specifies our preferences and expectations including favored species and habitats.Landowner Relations
SAM intends to sponsor and organize a conference for sportsmen and landowners in the spring, to explore deer management issues and other similar topics. We also devoted a significant portion of our
15th Annual Sportsman’s Congress to deer issues and have decided to make Saturday, April 3, “Save OurDeer Day” at our State of Maine Sportsman’s Show. In seminars, stage shows, and throughout the auditorium we’ll be talking about deer all day. Don’t miss it!
the Outdoor IndustrySAM has suggested that DIF&W convene a meeting of the key players in the outdoor industry, including the Maine Professional Guides Association, Sporting Camp Owners Association, and Maine TourismAssociation, to create a list of actions that can be taken to help those who have been hurt by 2009’s
disastrous deer season and by diminished prospects for deer hunting in the north woods for the foreseeable future. SAM will help. If DIF&W is unwilling to do this, SAM may do it in partnership with the outdoor industry.SAM already took one action to help the industry, asking DIF&W Commissioner Dan Martin and hisAdvisory Council to reconsider its recent decision to hold a third week of moose hunting in northernMaine in October, and to schedule it in November to help make up for lost deer hunters. CommissionerMartin agreed to do that and the Council agreed in a vote on December 22, 2009.DIF&W StaffSAM believes the department must reallocate staff time and resources to the management of deer and deer wintering habitat, and the other programs specified in this plan. No other hunting constituency comes close to the numbers of deer hunters, and the challenge of rebuilding the deer herd must not fall short of receiving the resources necessary to get the job done.