Two years in the making, DIFW’s new big game management plan will be of interest to everyone, even if they don’t hunt. And for hunters, your future will be determined by these plans. There is a ton of information in the plan which focuses on deer, moose, bear, and turkeys.
For the next several weeks I’ll be posting columns about the plan. DIFW organized a group for each species, and a steering committee to assist with the overall plan which includes goals, objectives, and strategies. I went to a couple of those meetings and can tell you that some great people participated in these committees and had lots of influence over the final plan. For the first time, DIFW used scientific public surveys, contracting with Responsive Management. I reported on the survey results when they were made public.
The goals and objectives address the full range of management issues, including habitat conservation, research priorities, disease, and public education. The management strategies also identify specific tasks that DIFW and its partners should consider for each species. And for the first time, all four species are included in a single plan.
As the agency moves forward, new management systems will be created and updated as needed. This is a big improvement from the old system of 15 year-plans.
The Wildlife Division’s species specialists developed the assessments including the status of each species, historic and current management practices, current rules, and management issues and threats. Some of us have been advocating for species specialists in the Fisheries Division, because this works well for the Wildlife Division.
If you are wondering about the status of the new fisheries management plan, the working group and steering committees stopped meeting more than a year ago and, as far as we know, no work has been done on the new plans, which I was told recently would not be completed for at least two more years.
Some of the results of the public surveys were interesting. Most hunters (77% to 96% depending on species) were satisfied with their hunting experiences. But I’m hoping the agency takes note that 35% of hunters said the requirement to purchase separate permits for some species, in addition to the hunting license, prevent them from hunting those species. I tried twice to get rid of the turkey hunting permit, and DIFW opposed that. We did succeed in reducing that fee.
I was also intrigued that half the hunters supported antler-restrictions for deer, something DIFW opposes and contends would do no good in Maine.
Also interesting was this: 64% of hunters rated access to hunting lands in Maine as excellent or good. But 34% said a lack of access caused them to hunt less than they would like.
Next Up: Big Game Management Issues and Strategies