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Maine’s Marsh Island deer reduction effort successful

From the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

-- The second Marsh Island deer depredation hunt, an effort to assist the City of Old Town and the Town of Orono with nuisance deer problems and public safety concerns, took place over a three-week period in October and resulted in the harvest of 46 deer.

The depredation hunt occurred between Oct. 5 and 24, and utilized the Maine Bowhunters Association (MBA) and the Bowhunters Landowners Information Program (BLIP). This year, 22 BLIP archers harvested 46 deer; 35 were in Old Town and 11 in Orono.

Of the 46 harvested, 39 were antlerless, including 28 adult does and 11 fawns, and seven were adult males.  An additional four deer were not recovered.  Extensive searches were made and included the use of tracking dogs in an attempt to recover these four deer.  At least 31 of the 46 deer were donated by BLIP archers to various families and individuals.  

As was the case last year, BLIP archers were not reimbursed for their expenses, which in some cases was considerable.  Data was collected on all 46 deer using IF&W’s data form and a tooth taken for aging purposes.  A review of the BLIP Reporting Card kept by archers indicated that as many as 334 deer were observed by the archers during the three-week hunt.  Some of the sightings were certainly the same deer observed on more than one occasion.

This is the second year of this controlled hunt. Last year’s effort occurred during the first two weeks of December and took place on two city-owned parcels – the Airport and Penny roads. A total of 17 BLIP archers took part and harvested eight deer. After reviewing last year’s hunt results, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and MBA agreed to three major changes: moving the effort to October (pre-rut), adding a third week to the hunt, and include private lands with landowners’ permission.

With approval from the Orono Town Council and the Old Town City Council, IF&W proceeded with its rule-making process and the IF&W Advisory Council approved the hunt for 2009 and beyond.

To determine the private lands for this year’s harvest, IF&W and MBA met to review land ownership maps for Marsh Island and identified several parcels of land in hopes of obtaining landowner permission to allow BLIP archers to hunt.  Letters were sent to these landowners seeking permission and several responded in support of our request.  A total of 1,136 acres from 17 parcels were made available for the deer reduction effort.  Of this, BLIP archers utilized nine parcels totaling 1,042 acres.  

Some of the parcels hunted also were areas frequented by the general public for walking, jogging, and biking.  BLIP archers were asked to keep track of the number of pedestrians observed while hunting.  A total of 134 people were observed by the archers while hunting.  Most people observed weren’t aware of the archer’s presence and passed by.  There were some encounters on the ground but all were friendly and no issues arose.

 There were two instances where members of the public were (in the opinion of the archer) clearly looking for tree stands and included shining lights in the trees.  There also was a situation where two individuals were apprehended by Game Wardens, Old Town Police, and University of Maine Campus Security while trying to steal a tree stand.  

Additionally, during the pre-hunt scouting, an MBA BLIP archer, Game Warden, and Maine State Police K-9 Unit apprehended a poacher on an Orono parcel.

BLIP archers clearly showed that archers and the public at large can share the woods without incident or concern for safety.  IF&W and MBA greatly appreciate the public support and positive feedback they received during the course of the three-week hunt.  IF&W and MBA plan a BLIP hunt on Marsh Island in 2010.

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