KAGAWONG—A representative of the United Fish and Game Clubs of Manitoulin (UFGCM) says the use of automatic deer feeders needs to be banned, while members of the club agree it is not a very sporting way to hunt.
UFGCM Chair Jim Sloss had pointed out he had received reports and concerns from some of the members of the club at a meeting held last week.
“We have to get rid of automatic deer feeders,” John Seabrook spoke up during the meeting, when Mr. Sloss asked attendees about their concerns. “We are definitely not seeing the number of deer we have seen in the past and it seems the only ones that are seeing and shooting all the deer are the ones that use the automatic feeders. When guys have 100 acres of property and three feeders and other camps have 1,000 acres of property and no feeders, and (the feeder properties) are shooting all the deer there is something wrong.” He also said he suspects a lot of deer were shot during the bow hunting season, as compared to the gun hunt.
“For the eight guys in our camp we saw a total of 36 deer during the week, when we used to see about 200,” said Mr. Seabrook. “It’s sad. We probably had one of the highest populated pockets of deer at one time and the guys around us didn’t usually do as well as this year.”
Doug Hore also spoke up, noting the numbers of deer attracted by the feeders is on the rise.
Another member of the committee said that while his hunt camp doesn’t use feeders on the property they hunt, the deer tracks on his property lead to property adjacent to his where there are several feeders.
Mr. Seabrook said he understands the province, in the future, is looking at banning automatic deer feeders due to concerns with chronic wasting disease in deer and other animals. “I think we should get on the bandwagon and I will be bringing this forward to the Manitoulin Area Stewardship Council for their support (to ban the feeders) as well.”
The state of Michigan has banned the deer feeders due to the problem with CWD, said Ian Anderson.
“I know this ban is coming down the pipe,” said Mr. Seabrook. “As for the harvest, when there is a guy in a tree house, with an electric deer feeder basically right in front of them, and the spinner goes off when a deer arrives…this is not hunting to me.”
“It is certainly not a sporting way to hunt,” said Mr. Sloss.
A ban of the automatic deer feeders would be a tough thing to enforce, Mr. Seabrook noted.
There were concerns that banning the deer feeders could also lead to banning of food plots, but it was pointed out in some states in the United States have banned the feeders but made an allowance for the use of food plots.
Mr. Anderson said calling for a ban on deer feeders would receive a lot of opposition. However, he pointed out, “this and other things are impacting the deer. I expected to see an increase in the harvest rate on the island during the hunt, but it was the lowest rate in years, I talked to one camp in Mills that had about 13 hunters and they didn’t see a deer during the entire hunt. And there were other camps that saw the same thing. And we had camps in Maple Point and Kagawong where they had to hunt to the last day of the season to fill half of their tags. I am shocked by these statistics.”
Mr. Sloss said of the six camps he contacted on the west end of the island, the highest number of deer harvested in any area was three.
One member of the committee said he talked to a conservation officer who told him the harvest has been going down each year and this year, the number of hunters, deer seen and harvested, was the worst in the past three years.
Mr. Seabrook also suggested the bow season should be shorter on the island, which runs a week before Thanksgiving until the day before the gun hunt season.
Mr. Anderson said as well, “landowners need to take responsibility for the management of deer. Private landowners can take control of their own land, they can control the number of hunters and how many deer are killed,” and until they management the deer hunts on their property there will be a problem with the lack of deer.
It was also suggested at the meeting the number of antler less deer tags should probably be reduced further.
“The number of tags has to go down, the MNR should have done what we asked for at this year’s deer management meeting and reduce the tags,” said Mr. Seabrook.
With several issues raised at the meeting, it was agreed on by members of the club they will hold a meeting in the next few weeks to discuss priorities they would like to see in place, and recommendations that can be made to the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR). “Whether it be the UFGCM, Gore Bay or Little Current clubs, we need to spearhead changes being made, it is evident some changes need to be made.”