By V. Paul Reynolds
August 23 at Jeff’s Catering in Brewer, David Trahan, the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (SAM), was the guest speaker at a Deer Yard Forum hosted by some Bangor area state Republican legislative candidates.
Gerry Lavigne, a retired state deer biologist and wildlife consultant for SAM, joined Trahan at the podium to talk about the history of Maine’s declining deer population in Maine’s North Woods and what can be done to turn things around.
Trahan said that “predation and habitat loss have led to the collapse of the deer population in northern, eastern and western Maine. At one time, 10 percent of the landscape was deer wintering habitat. Now it is is just 3 percent!”
In an effort to end this “death spiral of suitable deer habitat,” Trahan said, “SAM has spearheaded three initiatives to restore deer wintering habitat:”
1. A change in the law that requires the Land for Maine’s Future Program (LMF) prioritize its funding and land conservation purchases toward acquiring known deer yards.
2. Purchased deer wintering areas will be held in Trust for IF&W and managed by this agency.
3. SAM helped negotiate a $40 million state appropriation, which will be matched 3 to 1 by federal funding and used to purchase strategically important deer wintering areas in Maine.
New Doe Permit System
SAM also played a part in the new doe permit system. Hunters will pay $12.00 for their doe permits this season. This ‘new” money will be also earmarked solely for deer yard protection programs. This fall for the first time hunters will be able to harvest both a buck and a doe, with appropriate permits.
Trahan said that deer yard purchases had already begun. SAM will soon announce the acquisition by the state of a major deer wintering area in southern Aroostook County.
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