George's Outdoor News

George’s new outdoor issues blog. He goes all over the state. He listens. And he reports on issues of concern to sportsmen, conservationists, and environmentalists.

Your best defense against Lyme disease is a plastic spoon

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 My daughter Rebekah posted a warning on Facebook last week that she’d detected the first of the season ticks on my grandsons. I happened to be writing a piece on ticks that morning when I noticed her post.

You need to take ticks seriously. There are 14 different ticks in Maine. Dog and moose ticks are large. The other 12 are tiny and very similar. The deer tick that carries Lyme disease is now distributed statewide. Seventy percent of the deer ticks in southern Maine have Lyme, while that percentage diminishes as you go north. 

I have a lot of personal experience with ticks embedded in my skin and several friends suffering with Lyme disease. If you need to be scared into action, read my review of the book A Twist of Lyme at www.georgesmithmaine.com. Better yet, read the book.

Sportsmen Leading in Bear Referendum Poll

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 Patrick Murphy will deliver some great news tomorrow to the sportsmen of Maine. A survey of Maine voters conducted by Murphy’s company, Pan Atlantic SMS Group of Portland, found that 46.7 percent support a ban on hunting bears with bait and dogs and trapping bears, 48.1 percent oppose the ban, and 5.3 are undecided.

The yes vote was stronger in Maine’s First Congressional District, where 50.3 percent support the ban. In the Second Congressional District, only 43.1 percent support the ban.

This puts sportsmen far ahead of where they were in the 2004 bear referendum at this point in time.

Maine is not a target of the nation’s turkey hunters

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Bitten by the turkey bug? Here’s a cross-country tour of five favorite escapes ideal for adventurous longbeard fanatics.

That was the lead on a “Favorite Turkey Hunts” in the April edition of Bowhunting World magazine.

Despite the fact that Maine probably offers the best turkey hunt in the country, we’re on nobody’s radar, a stunning example of how much our lack of marketing and promotion is costing the state’s outdoor industry.

In January of 2012, a Task Force directed by the legislature to study the decline in the number of nonresident hunters coming to Maine, issued its report and recommendations. Among the Task Force’s findings were these:

Numbers of Maine nonresident hunters have dropped from a high in 2002 of 41,538 to 37,925 in 2005 to an all-time low of 27,898 in 2010.

Numbers of alien hunters have dropped from a high in 1995 of 1885 to 232 in 2010.

Battle over bears focused on money – and sportsmen are holding their own

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In the end, the battle over bears will be decided by money. That’s just my opinion, but I believe it’s correct.

 

A total of $1,727,751.25 was raised in 2004 to successfully defend Maine’s bear hunt against a ballot measure initiated by the Humane Society of the United States. As the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, with a ton of help and generosity of many supporters inside and outside of our state, I raised the money. The campaign’s steering committee, comprised of leaders from SAM, the Maine Professional Guides Association, and the Maine Trappers Association, hired my sister, Edie Smith, to manage the campaign.

Governor can’t stop gold dredging/brook trout protection bill

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The emailed message from Maine Audubon’s lobbyist, Jennifer Burns Gray, was very good news.

“LD 1671, the bill that protects certain waters (that are special for brook trout) from motorized gold prospecting, has been enacted by both the House and Senate.  The Governor vetoed the bill and the veto was overriden by an impressive vote.  Kudos to our friend Jeff Reardon at Trout Unlimited and to his legislative allies, Sen. Tom Saviello, Sen. Jim Boyle, and Rep. Russell Black, for their outstanding work,” wrote Jenn, who has lobbied for Maine Audubon for 17 years.

The Senate over-rode the Governor’s veto unanimously, while the House did so by an outstanding vote of 119 to 23.

As I reported earlier, a battle between brook trout advocates, led by Trout Unlimited and Maine Audubon, and gold diggers, led by the Maine Gold Prospectors, ended in a great collaborative compromise amended version of the LD 1671.

Maine’s recreational fishing rules are too darned complicated

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We studied the 300-page summary provided by Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and were still confused. We think we could keep up to five brookies over six inches, from brooks and streams, except those which are part of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, in which case the trout had to be over twelve inches and we could keep only two fish, of which one could be over fourteen inches, and each must have a notch in the dorsal fin, unless there were at least thirty-five orange sports on each side of the fish, except for fish in streams crossing the American Realty Road, which must have no more than twenty-five orange spots on each side.

We think we obeyed the laws. My friend Barney has hired a lawyer to review the regulations and get back to us prior to next year’s trip.

We had a great time, and I’m hopeful we didn’t inadvertently poach any brookies with too few orange sports. To be safe, we ate them before they could become evidence.

Maine sportsmen and women are very poorly informed

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I spoke a couple of week ago at a southern Maine sportsmen’s club, giving them a rundown on my current activities, focused on my outdoor news blog and new Sportsmen Say Survey. I began by asking them these questions.

“How many of you hunt grouse in the unorganized territories?” Many hands were raised. “Then you know about the new law, enacted last year that requires us to label each grouse with our name and the date we shot the bird.”

Heads shook. Nope. Didn’t know about it. I was astonished. My next question was going to be, “Did you know the grouse labeling law was repealed this year?” Of course, they didn’t know that either!

“Did you know that 25 percent of the any-deer permits will go to young hunters this year, leaving only 1/3 of the permits for resident adult hunters?” No, they didn’t. They seemed ok with it.

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