Interesting report on Maine deer

Wildlife biologist Nathan Bieber presented interesting info about DIFW’s deer research in The Maine Bowhunter’s Winter 2019 newsletter.

Bieber reported that DIFW has been capturing deer since 2015 and putting GPS collars on them. Since then they have handled 266 deer and placed GPS collars on 149 of them.

They track the deers’ movements and their mortality rates. Bieber says that mortality rates have generally been higher in the northern study areas (WMDs 1 and 6) than in their central Maine site (WMD 17).

“Leading causes of death thus far by study site,” said Bieber, “have included coyote predation and malnutrition in WMD 1, roadkill and hunter harvest in WMD 6, and roadkill, coyote predation, and hunter harvest in WMD 17.”

He also reported that many of the deer exhibited significant seasonal movements between summer and winter, with their movements sometimes exceeding 30 miles (although more common are movements of 5 to 15 miles). Deer in the northern half of the state move to recently logged or thinned areas where they can eat young browse, then they move south to denser soft-wood dominated areas in the winter.

Bieber told an interesting story about one collared deer that was shot in the hindquarters by a hunter and fled .6 miles where it bedded down for two days. Something caused the deer to get up and flee, but it got its leg stuck under a tree root and broke the leg. Not long after, a bobcat or lynx discovered the buck and finished it off with a bite to the back of the head. “A fascinating end to a deer that lived a fascinating and travel-filled life,” concluded Bieber.

I’m not sure that deer would agree!

Good Work

The Aroostook County Conservation Association, with 300 members, has stepped up to help their deer herd. For example, they have planted 6000 trees (cedar, oak, maple, and hemlock) harvested 145 coyotes, and planted 100 acres of food plots.

I thank Jerry McLaughlin for letting me know this. And I also thank the Association for their work.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.