For the first time in approximately 30 years, hunters in the Downeast coastal region of Maine will be able to shoot anterless deer this season.
At its August meeting, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW) advisory council approved the statewide permit allocations that included 50 any-deer permits for Wildlife Management District (WMD) 27. The district extends along the coast from Sullivan to Calais, as far inland as the Downeast Sunrise Trail, and includes any islands off that section of coast. During the regular firearms season permit holders will be able to take either a buck or doe, and junior hunters will be able to shoot a doe on Youth Deer Hunting Day, as will bow hunters during the archery season.
Regional IFW biologist Tom Schaeffer says that IFW had formerly not allowed does to be killed in the district because the department could not reach its deer population objectives in the Downeast area. Only hunting for bucks was allowed in order "to maximize herd growth." Now, some areas are experiencing herd growth to the point that people are being negatively affected in several communities, including Eastport, he says. Residents are not able to grow gardens, blueberry crops are being affected and car/deer accidents are increasing.
Schaeffer believes that hunters will go to areas in the 750-square-mile district where there are concentrations of deer, reducing the size of the herd in those locations.
Although he says there "has been some pushback" on the issuing of the any-deer permits, Schaeffer notes that according to statewide hunting averages 700 permits would need to be issued for 100 does to be harvested, and only 50 are being issued for WMD 27.
Hunting in Eastport
The wildlife biologist observes that the opening up of the district to any-deer permits could have some effect in Eastport, where there is a large concentration of deer, even though the discharge of firearms is not allowed on the island. Junior hunters using a bow and arrow will be allowed to take a doe on the island during Youth Deer Hunting Day, and bow hunters will be permitted to shoot a doe during the October archery season.
Eastport has only been in WMD 27 since 2005, with the hunting of does ending with the change in districts. After that, the deer population exploded on the island.
In addition to the any-deer permits, a second special archery deer hunt in the city is expected to be approved by the IFW advisory council at its September 21 meeting. This year, the city is proposing that the number of available deer tags be increased from 30 to 90, with the number of hunters remaining at 30. Those hunters who are successful in getting their first deer will be allowed to pick up additional tags. A refrigerated box truck will be kept at the deer tagging station so that any deer that hunters do not want to keep can be used by the Maine Department of Agriculture's Hunters for the Hungry program.