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Maine, landowners endorse new deer wintering area guidelines

From the Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

-- A set of Deer Wintering Area Management Guidelines aimed at assisting forest landowners enhance the quality of deer wintering areas on their properties has been endorsed by  Maine’s two leading associations representing forest landowners and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
 
To survive winter, deer seek habitats with a combination of cover and food that minimizes net energy loss.  As snow accumulates and temperature drops, deer spend more time in older conifer-dominated forest stands associated with watercourses and valleys, often returning to winter in the same locations year after year. These traditionally used areas are called deer wintering areas. Deer management in Maine involves a complex interaction of factors in addition to DWA management, such as winter severity, predation, and hunting regulations.

The guidelines were developed as a priority recommendation of the Northern and Eastern Maine Deer Task Force, which was convened in 2007 by Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Roland “Danny” Martin in response to the public’s concerns about declining deer populations.  

Having guidelines as common ground will facilitate the exchange of information between landowners and the Department, according to John Pratte, MDIFW Wildlife Management Section Supervisor.

The Maine Forest Products Council (MFPC), which represents a majority of the large commercial timberland owners in Maine, and the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine (SWOAM), which represents a significant number of smaller woodlot owners, worked with the MDIFW to develop the guidelines through a series of field trips and meetings.

The guidelines represent biological practices which are aimed to enhance the quality of deer wintering habitat in Maine.  Although the guidelines are not intended to be mandatory for any landowner, MDIFW, MFPC and SWOAM are all encouraging the adoption of these guidelines into landowner management plans wherever possible.

The guidelines focus on numerous considerations regarding the management of deer wintering areas such as winter shelter, travel corridors, winter browse, spring and autumn food and harvest timing.

“Forest landowners in Maine have a strong record of wildlife stewardship. We believe these guidelines appropriately balance the objectives of private landowners as well as MDIFW,” said James Cote, Maine Forest Products Council director of communications.
 
The Maine Sustainable Forestry Initiative Implementation Committee, of which the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is a member, also has taken a lead role in the process and will be working with the department to disseminate information to forest practitioners such as loggers and landowners, and develop collaborative training opportunities in the months to come.

The guidelines can be found on all three of the organizations websites.

Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife: www.mefishwildlife.com
Maine Forest Products Council: www.maineforest.org
Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine:  www.swoam.org
Sustainable Forestry Initiative:  www.sfimaine.org

For more information, contact John Pratte, MDIFW, e-mail John.Pratte@maine.gov, phone (207)287-5253; James Cote, MFPC, e-mail: jcote@maineforest.org, phone (207)860-6600; Tom Doak, SWOAM, e-mail: tom@swoam.org, phone (207)626-0005; Pat Sirois, SFI, e-mail psirois@maineforest.org, phone (207)622-9288.

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