The local expansion of archery deer hunting to Marsh Island has so far been successful, said a regional biologist for Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife last week.

Mark Caron provided an update last week on the hunt, which had its seeds back in the 1990s. At that time more than 250 people signed a people over concerns about the overpopulation of deer; nothing came of it at that time, however, except fencing being installed at the airport. No firearm hunting has been allowed on Marsh Island since the 1930s.

The deer population again arose in 2005, when a series of meetings were held to discuss the issue. Concerns arose about car-deer accidents, ruined vegetable gardens and more. The issue again arose at the local level, with officials at UMaine, which owns roughly 80 percent of Marsh Island opposed to any hunt whatsoever.

The IFW, however, decided that some type of action was needed, and in 2008, hunting via permit through the BLIP program, which is for highly experienced hunters only, was opened at the Old Town airport area and the Penny Road parcel. Just eight deer were harvested that first year, said Caron.

Hunting again was allowed via BLIP in 2009 and 2010, with an expanded season and more land open. Those two years, more than 80 deer in total were taken. Hunting then was opened up to all bowhunters, albeit in a still-small area of the island in 2011. In the four years after that – the latest for which the IFW has studied all the data – 290 deer were harvested, said Caron, who added that he expected similar numbers for 2016-19.

Caron said he had spoken to a local warden, and he felt he in general was dealing with fewer deer-related issues in recent years. Caron did acknowledge that the first couple years of the hunt were not without issues, with there being a learning curve for hunters asking permission to hunt and finding allowed parcels of land.

Caron added that there were high numbers of hunters and a lot of competition for deer the first two years of the hunt, but in recent times there has been more of a group of regulars.Caron did note that hunters he has spoken to believe there are fewer deer now, and that the hunting is now more difficult, as the deer also have figured out places to hide.

Car-deer accidents, interently, rose slightly in Old Town the first few years of the hunt. In Orono, however, they took a small dip.


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