Wildlife mismanagement

To the Editor:

The Deer Herd Task Force in Bar Harbor has created a management plan that will go to a public vote in November. It is crucial that the voting residents carefully read the proposed plan with its cherry-picked studies from Connecticut that support their agenda.

Mount Desert Island could not be any more different from a suburban town in Connecticut. Read between the lines and you will start to see that the task force has spent countless hours trying to trick the public into thinking that there is some sort of a problem with our deer.

There has been a great deal of misinformation circulating around about deer, in particular their role in the spread of Lyme disease. The task force has repeatedly used worries about Lyme disease to scare the residents of Bar Harbor, hoping that informed individuals would be easily manipulated to believe that a reduction in deer would mean fewer incidences of the disease. Unfortunately, there is no simple way to eradicate Lyme disease.

Recent studies have shown that a reduction of deer has very little impact on the spread of the disease. This is because the tick life cycle involves many different players and is greatly influenced by environmental factors, such as a cold winter, or a highly productive acorn season.

Studies done by Dr. Levi from the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in New York have found that a decline in red-fox populations correlates with an increase in cases of Lyme disease. This is due to the fact that red-foxes primarily feed on small mammals such as the white-footed mouse. When the rodent population is down, there are fewer ticks carrying Lyme.

Representatives from Acadia National Park have stated that MDI does not have an ecological carrying capacity issue. All signs point to a healthy deer population.

At an open forum on the proposed management plan that was held at the town office in early August, nineteen individuals spoke out against the plan. Only nine supported it. The anti-hunt group included people voicing a variety of concerns. Mothers expressed fear for the safety of their children and a few biologists spoke about the recent studies of Lyme disease and how a hunt will not stop the spread of it.

A couple of weeks later at another meeting, I discovered that Tom Schaeffer from Maine IF&W would be supervising the hunt. He proudly announced to I and a group of anti-hunt individuals that he “supervised” the hunt on Great Cranberry Island fifteen years ago and that it was highly successful. I guess one has to ask what his definition of successful is when they know the story of the Great Cranberry massacre. I have been told by several individuals that it was a full-on slaughter. People were shooting from vehicles and also near homes. The carcasses of deer and fawns were left to rot all over the island

The proposed management plan is not safe for the residents of Bar Harbor. The town is made up of small lots and there is a proliferation of subdivisions in the outskirts of the downtown area.

Finally, how could we even consider allowing the state to “manage” our deer? The state promotes the baiting of bear, an inhumane practice that has been outlawed elsewhere. It’s not just a few rogue individuals who are allowing the maltreatment of wildlife. The abuse of our state’s precious wildlife is coming from the very top.

Katherine Whitney

Bar Harbor