IFW and Irving Woodlands Sign Deer Wintering Agreement

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The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and Irving Woodlands have entered into an agreement that directly benefits the state's deer population, and other wildlife species.

IFW Commissioner Roland D. Martin and representatives from Irving today signed a deer wintering agreement that ensures long-term management of wintering habitat for deer, as well as opportunities for wood harvesting for Irving. The agreement triples the portion of Irving's land that is managed for continuous long-term deer winter shelter. The total area of the Co-Operative agreement is 152,383 acres or 9.8% of Irving's properties in Maine. Irving owns approximately 1.5 million acres primarily in northern Aroostook County.

Irving Woodlands staff in consultation with Regional Wildlife Biologist Rich Hoppe and other department staff, selected cooperative areas based on historical deer wintering records. Irving voluntarily supported the Department personnel's identification of the most important deer wintering areas on Irving's lands, without any restrictions or limitations.

These long-term deer wintering area agreements benefit both parties; the landowner receives long-term guidelines for timber harvesting, and the state benefits because they offer long-term protection and management for fish and wildlife habitat.

Healthy deer populations in Maine depend on wintering areas that provide quality shelter and open space at the same time. Evergreen canopies keep snow depth underneath to a minimum and allow deer easy mobility while they conserve energy. Open areas within the shelter portions provide winter forage on which deer depend to survive. Biologists believe that maintaining a strong deer population over time depends on protecting large stands of mature hemlocks, spruce and fir to shelter deer from cold, wind, and deep snow. The area deer occupy during winter generally represents only 10 to 20 percent of their summer range. Deer often return to winter in the same locations from year to year. These traditionally used areas are called deer wintering areas and are the focus of forest management activities to provide winter habitat.

Wildlife biologists consider quality deer winter shelter the major limiting factor in sustaining deer populations in Maine. In addition, properly managed softwood stands provide habitat for a variety of upland wildlife species.

"Support of local landowners is critical to ensuring quality habitat to sustain Maine's native wildlife," said Gene Dumont of Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. "We salute their efforts to ensure healthy deer populations for generations to come."

"IFW has been a long-standing partner in the work we do in the north Maine woods. We appreciate their science-based approach to ensuring healthy forest habitat populations, and are pleased to work with them on this important deer wintering project," said Chuck Gadzik, Operations Manager for Irving Woodlands in Maine.