Helping Maine’s deer survive the winter is the focus of the Presque Isle reunion

National and local wildlife and conservation experts will host a meeting in Presque Isle next week for anyone interested in understanding a new law to help Maine’s deer population better survive extreme winters.

NEAR ISLE, Maine – National and local wildlife and conservation experts will host a meeting in Presque Isle next week for anyone interested in understanding a new law to help Maine’s deer population better survive extreme winters.

The meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. on Thursday, August 5, at the Northeastland Hotel, is sponsored by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, as well as the Presque Isle Fish and Game Club and County of Aroostook. Conservation association.

DIFW Commissioner Judy Camuso, along with David Trahan, Executive Director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine Institute for Legislative Action, will explain the law signed on July 8 by Governor Janet Mills that will allow the ministry to purchase land to become zones wintering for white-tailed deer.

Harsh winter conditions make it difficult for deer to survive in the north and other parts of the state, said Nick Archer, a member of the sports group’s board of directors and an advisor to the Presque Isle Fish and Game Club.

“It has been difficult to maintain deer wintering areas in the northern and lower eastern regions,” Archer said. “Dave Trahan has worked with Land for Maine’s Future and other conservation groups, and was successful in pushing through this historic bipartite legislation that will fund the ability for Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to purchase and manage deer wintering areas. where they are needed.

The legislation was sponsored by Representative Chris Johansen, R-Monticello, and developed with the DIFW, Sportsman’s Alliance and other groups. The state budget allocated $ 40 million from the Land for Maine’s Future program to support the work.

It’s a problem Maine has struggled with for several decades, because the wintering areas have decreased. The 1970s spruce budworm, industrial logging and a strong coyote population contributed to the problem.

“The state of Maine has faced the deer wintering problem for many years without a good solution,” said Archer. “With the harsh winters we have in northern Maine, deer wintering areas are necessary for the herd to survive particularly harsh winters. “

But what is a good wintering area? Simply put, this is habitat that contains vegetation that will provide deer with adequate cover and food during the coldest and darkest times of winter, Archer said.

In the 2010 DIFW report titled “Living on the Edge: How Deer Survive Winter,” wildlife biologists Joe Wiley and Chuck Hulsey stated that wintering areas, or “deer yards,” are shelters for deer. can avoid strong winds and thick snow.

“During an average harsh winter, a deer living in southern Maine will need this shelter for 20 to 60 days. In the far north of Maine, addiction is typically 90 to 125 days, ”the report says.

To conserve energy and warmth during the winter, deer gather in groups. Ideal forest stands are thick, with large spruce, firs, cedars or hemlocks that can protect deer from snow and wind, with food provided by mixed deciduous shoots, twigs and leaves, or grazing , according to the report.

But it is not the most nutritionally complete food. By consuming only twigs and shoots, which deer prefer only when more nutritious food is not available, deer will lose weight, according to the DIFW. The seasonal accumulation of fat helps them survive the scarcity of food in winter.

Taking care of the deer herd is obviously important for the survival of the animals, but also from an aesthetic and economic point of view.

“The whitetail deer is king when it comes to hunting in the state of Maine, whether you are from Maine or ‘elsewhere’,” Archer said. “It’s a big economic boost for rural Maine that will get people in rural Maine to stay in camps, shop, buy gasoline, etc., while they hunt.”

Providing secure winter habitat will allow Maine deer to continue to thrive.

“This will help stabilize the deer herd in Maine, for hunters and those who like to watch them too,” Archer said. “And it’s not just deer – birds and mammals of all types will benefit from these healthy habitats.”

Now that the legislation has been passed, word will go to landowners interested in selling some of their land for habitat, and a new position at Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will be created to help manage these efforts.

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