The law on the protection of deer bears fruit


By V. Paul Reynolds Reversing the precipitous decline of Maine’s traditional deer wintering grounds will help restore North Woods deer numbers.

By V. Paul Reynolds

Reversing the precipitous decline of Maine’s traditional deer wintering grounds will help restore North Woods deer numbers. Deer yards made up about 12 percent of our large antlers. Today, that figure is a dismal three percent.

For a number of reasons, state regulation and cooperative protection agreements with forest land owners over the years have proven marginal at best in protecting deer parks.

Fortunately, action at the legislative level has the potential to reverse this trend. A recently enacted law, LD 404, An Act to Preserve Deer Habitat, allocates a portion of $40 million for the outright purchase of critical deer wintering areas. In coordination with DIF&W and the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, Land for Maine’s Future will secure matching funds and negotiate deer habitat purchases from private landowners.

The new initiative has already started to bear fruit.

LMF recently announced the contractual agreement to purchase 930 acres of traditional deer wintering grounds, including 170 acres of wetlands, in the Caribou Stream area near Washburn in Aroostook County. According to LMF, the land is under contract with the seller for a purchase price of $347,000. Matching federal funds were obtained for the purchase. Although the property has many other ecological attributes, including a major trout stream, the property will become a new wildlife management area for the state. DIF&W will manage the property primarily to protect long-standing deer wintering areas.

This is a long-term project that cannot be achieved overnight. The acquisition of Washburn is a start in the annals of deer salvage.

The challenge for the various stakeholders is to correctly identify important deer wintering habitat, negotiate a fair purchase price with timberland owners, and ultimately manage these areas. which will include coyote control programs to reduce white-tailed deer predation on weakened white-tailed deer.

An LMF spokesperson said further deer purchase deals would be revealed in May.

This winter’s prolonged cold and deep snow in the northern woods reminds us that despite the hints of climate change, our wintering whitetail deer still need all the help they can get to get to the spring thaw.

The author is editor of the “Northwoods Sporting Journal”. He is also a Maine guide and host of a weekly radio show – “Maine Outdoors” – which airs Sundays at 7 p.m. on “The Voice of Maine News – Talk Network”. He is the author of three books; online purchase information is available at www.maineoutdoorpublications.com. or www.sportingjournal.com. Contact Email — [email protected]

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