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.

Fish stocking depends on public access to the water

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 Maine waters are stocked with fish only when the public is able to access the water. I’ve been concerned for years that the stocking policy of Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is vague, and not enforced uniformly throughout the state. So I’ve been asking some questions lately about this, and I’m hoping you can help me on this project.

My interest in this issue was raised again by a recent story in the Kennebec Journal by reporter Jessica Lowell. Here’s Jessica’s report about the town of Washington’s annual town meeting:

Town Residents took no action on expanding the boat launch just off Route 105 on the southern end of Washington Pond. “It was develop a hand-carry,” Wesley (Daniel, chair of the board of selectmen) said. The launch can accommodate boats that can be put in the water by hand – canoes and kayaks, for instance. Larger boats that require trailers aren’t allowed, he said, in part because parking is limited.

The new edition of Wildlife is all about Maine sporting camps.

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 Will we have any sporting camps in Maine in 25 years? Good question! We’ve gone from more than 300 to about 3 dozen of the traditional sporting camps, where there’s a lodge serving food and cabins for sleeping. Many sporting camps today offer only housekeeping cabins, and then there are new types of camps including Huts and Trails.

The new edition of Wildfire, airing tonight, explores this issue and many more, all focused on the challenges faced by camp owners today and the great experiences still available at our remaining sporting camps.

My co-host James Cote was retained this year to be the lobbyist at the legislature and Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife for the Maine Sporting Camp Association.

And Down East Books just published my book, Maine Sporting Camps. We tell you all about the book and what I learned while writing it.

Here are some important places to get info on Lyme disease

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 My wife Linda had two embedded ticks recently, both of which we removed almost immediately. One was a wood tick and one was a deer tick. But one of the spots, three days later, swelled up, so she visited the doctor yesterday and got a mild antibiotic. Lyme disease is a constant threat these days, and to put it mildly, every tick worries us.

The April edition of Maine Woodlands, a publication of the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine (SWOAM), contains a great article by Jeanne Siviski titled, “It’s Tick Season. Get to Know Your Adversary.” Jeanne reports that, “The 5- to 14-year old age group, and those over 65, have been most vulnerable” to Lyme disease. Yikes! I’m in one of those groups.

Jeanne notes that deer ticks has a dark brown scutum, or shield, on their back near the head, a telltale sign. “If the deer tick is infected with the Lyme bacteria,” she reports, “it takes 24 to 48 hours to contract Lyme disease. This is why doing daily tick checks is vital.” We do those at our house.

Lots of folks working to expand Maine woods economy

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 The 2016 “Maine Woods Destination Rally” was an interesting and informative event, featuring national speakers and lots of encouraging information about the rural/woods Maine economy. I took 9 pages of notes and could write a dozen columns about it, but here are some of the highlights.

Mike Wilson directs the Maine Woods Consortium, the sponsor of the event, and began by telling us about the Northern Forest Center, in which all of the Northeastern states work together to expand the rural economy. Mike noted that “infrastructure is important” as well as high quality experiences. This year they’ve launched the Maine Woods Discovery Tour, a collaborative media effort in four regions.

Did coyotes kill those hikers on the Appalachian Trail in Maine?

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                 Did coyotes kill those two hikers on the Appalachian Trail in Maine? Well maybe they did. And maybe they didn’t. But a lot of people think they did. And you’ll have to read Paul Doiron’s new novel, The Precipice, to find out if they are right.

                If you’ve never read one of Paul Doiron’s novels, you are in for a summer of fun, because he just added novel number six to his group of engagingly fast reads of stories featuring a Maine game warden. And while I enjoyed every one of Paul’s novels, I do think he is getting better and better.

Lower moose densities may reduce deaths by ticks

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 It’s not a certainty, but it seems like a steep decline in the population of moose will reduce the loss of moose from ticks. That’s not particularly good news, if you like to see or hunt moose, but that’s the way it will probably go.

The Associated Press recently reported that, in New Hampshire, nearly 75 percent of the moose calves they tagged this previous winter died from ticks. “In the battle between ticks and moose, the blood-sucking insects seem to have the upper hand,” noted the reporter. A New Hampshire wildlife biologist said, “It doesn’t bode well for moose in the long term if we continue to have these short winters.”

The AP report stated that, “ticks are dependent on a combination of short winters and moose density.” And the New Hampshire biologist stated that, “As our moose numbers decline, the ticks will decline, as well. What we don’t know is what point will things level off.”

Amazing stories from an exceptional Maine game warden

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                 Roger Guay was a great game warden, and his book, A Good Man with a Dog, contains thoughtful, insightful, frightening, and entertaining stories of his 25 year career. With the help of Kate Flora, one of my favorite authors, Roger has delivered a book that you will read and share with friends, and then put upta camp to read again.

                One of my favorite chapters involved wild animals, from blind owls to sick moose. The moose was actually leaning on a car when he arrived. The owl was attacking people. Wait until you read his story of the raccoon that attacked him! Roger had several impressive dogs in his career, and those stories are really good too.

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