United Fish and Game Clubs call for 30 percent reduction in deer tag hunting permits

KAGAWONG—With the severe winter Manitoulin Island endured this year, and the loss of deer because of the harsh weather, the United Fish and Game Clubs of Manitoulin (UFGCM) are calling for a 30 percent reduction in antlerless deer tag permits for this fall’s annual deer hunt on the Island.

Ian Anderson, secretary of the UFGCM and a member of the Manitoulin Deer Save committee, told a meeting last week that the group annually puts forward a recommendation to the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) on what the allocation of antlerless deer tags should be for the annual deer gun hunt.

“I’m still estimating there will be a loss of between 25 and 30 percent of deer, especially in terms of fawns for last year and this year,” said Mr. Anderson. Mr. Anderson explained that on average every doe has 1.2 fawns and that some will have twins and triplets.

“If you travel around Manitoulin and look in fields where deer are and see the ratio of fawns to adults, there are places where they are really scarce,” said Mr. Anderson. “Several times I’ve seen places where we’re seeing two fawns per 10 adult deer. The most fawns that anyone saw that had perished during this winter, during the bulldozing of trails (for the feed to access food sources), was six, which is a large number especially in a small geographical area.”

“I weighed a few of the deer that perished and one fawn, just 38 pounds. It had froze and died from starvation,” said Mr. Anderson. “So this year we are going to see two age classes having been impacted by the winter and there will be a scarcity of fawns.”

“What is unseen is the fawns that won’t be born,” continued Mr. Anderson. “We’ll see a shortage of two age classes, last year’s fawn crop and this spring’s. This is going to have an impact on Manitoulin Island for years to come.”

[pullquote]“There is no question we lost a lot of deer this year,” said Mr. Anderson. “We will lose more until the green up in the spring. I know I saw one deer today and I know it will likely be dead tomorrow.”[/pullquote]

“There is no question we lost a lot of deer this year,” said Mr. Anderson. “We will lose more until the green up in the spring. I know I saw one deer today and I know it will likely be dead tomorrow.”

“I’ve seen deer that are definitely not going to make it, they are just skin and bones,” added Ron Snell.

“When you can pick up an adult deer and throw it in the truck with the tailgate up you know there is a problem,” said Mr. Anderson.

“In my personal feeling, and to err on the case of caution, we won’t know exactly how many deer we have lost until the harvest this fall,” said Mr. Anderson. “I think it’s a no-brainer that we have to reduce the number of antlerless deer tags another 25 to 30 percent. I think this will be a minimum.”

“If we want make a decision based on the health of the Manitoulin we have to reduce the tags, it’s just a matter of how many,” stated Mr. Anderson. He also pointed out people may now be seeing a lot of deer coming out in the open, in fields and on the side of roads, but this, unfortunately, is probably all the deer there are in total remaining.

“We have to be hardnosed on this issue (to recommend a decrease in deer tags) or we will be shooting ourselves in the foot,” said Ches Witty.

“I definitely think it needs to be put in the paper, that all the deer we are seeing in the fields is  probably all the deer there is,” said Al Clark.

UFGCM chair Jim Sloss asked if the club members wanted to make a recommendation to the MNR and Manitoulin deer management committee that there should be a significant reduction in the number of antlerless deer tags for this year’s hunt.

“We have to have reductions, due to the anticipated loss in deer,” said Mr. Anderson. “I saw more dead deer this winter than I’ve seen in any of the past 20 winters.”

Jim Sloss, UFGCM chair, commended Mr. Anderson and other members of the Deer Save Committee and volunteers for their efforts this winter in saving deer on the Island. He said the club should be putting forward a recommendation to have the deer tag permit numbers decreased this year.

“My recommendation is a decrease of 25 to 30 percent,” said Mr. Anderson.

Mr. Snell put forward the motion that the UFGCM recommend that because of the harsh winter the Island has had this year and the number of deer that have perished that the permit tag numbers should be cut by 30 percent. Mr. Sloss seconded the motion.

“This recommendation (if approved) would be for one year,” noted Mr. Anderson. “My guess is the harvest may have gone up a little bit last fall. And I suspect hunter success went up as well, but now because of the winter we had we are now back in the hole.”

Last year’s antlerless deer tags were set at 3,900 (3,500 for Wildlife Management Unit 43B and 400 for WMU 43A) on Manitoulin for the annual Manitoulin deer gun hunt.