Abundant moisture and favourable weather promoted very good forage crops and oak acorns were plentiful.
This all ended in mid-November with the onslaught of an early winter dominated by extreme and unrelenting cold temperatures and almost daily snowfall. The possibility of extremely high mortality appears to be virtually inevitable.
Over the years, local fish and game clubs and municipal councils have developed a process of partnering with the local MNR in an attempt to manage the deer herd in a humane and sustainable way.
Each year, local citizens on the Deer Management Committee share snow condition information from across Manitoulin in an attempt to crystal ball what winter conditions will be and what response is needed, if any.
If conditions necessitate action — trail breaking, cutting browse or feeding with hay, oats and corn are options.
It was obvious as January reached its end this year that something would be required. The problem is the MNR does not consider the implementation of a plan necessary and further that no funding is available. What we thought was an agreed upon course of action was not to be.
In 2008, the Manitoulin Stewardship Council conducted a socioeconomic study of the value of the deer hunt.
It was determined that the hunt provides some $16 million annually in direct benefits to the island community. The spinoff of indirect provincial benefits would be another $48 million annually.
If proper action is not forthcoming within the very near future, we will likely lose between 20 to 30 per cent of our herd. It has happened before and is likely to happen this winter.
There is a price attached to a “let nature take its course” lack of action. It often takes eight to 10 years for a population to recover if conditions are favourable.
The MNR has a duty to manage our resources in an equitable and sustainable way.
chairperson, United Fish & Game Clubs of Manitoulin