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.

Fishing Memories - Inside and Outside of Church

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My church pastor, Desi Larson, is embarking on a series of sermons with a fishing theme, and asked members of the congregation to send her fishing stories Here are the two stories I just sent to here.

Fishing with Vishal          

My grandson Vishal spent his first three years in an orphanage in India. He joined our family six years ago and has been a real treasure. Vishal is an exceptional artist and athlete, and he’s also a fishing machine. Fishing is where we connect most closely, and every day on the water with V is a very special day for us both. It amazes me that this young boy could start his life so far away in India, and end up here in Maine as my fishing buddy.

The irreplaceable Andrea Erskine retires from Fish and Wildlife Department

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“She’s irreplaceable.” That was the comment of one of my friends after he heard that Andrea Erskine, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, is retiring. And I agree with my friend. We will never have a Deputy Commissioner with the depth of knowledge and experience that Andrea brought to her job.

In her message to DIF&W staff, announcing her retirement, Andrea wrote, “It is with a heavy heart, nervous belly, and worried mind (mixed in with a little excitement) that I announce my upcoming retirement from the best agency in State government. Easily, the most difficult decision I have ever had to make. The heavy heart results from having such a fulfilling career, working with some of the most talented, caring and dedicated people, and having to walk away from all that. I have loved every (well, almost) minute of my time here. The nervous belly and worried mind are merely a result of not knowing what the next chapter will bring for me, as all I have known and lived is ‘fish and wildlife.’ We shall see!”

Pingree picks ticks and deer get sprayed with chemicals to kill them

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“As the deer snack, their ears, heads, necks and shoulders rub against vertical rollers that are treated with acaricide. Through grooming, the deer also transfer the acaricide to other parts of their bodies.”

Yes, some places, worried about Lyme disease, are spraying deer with chemicals to kill the ticks that carry the Lyme virus. I learned this, and other fascinating information, from health news reporter Jackie Farwell in a Bangor Daily News story published on August 11, 2015. You can read the entire story here.

Farwell reports that the Maine Medical Center Research Institute’s tick lab has created a new website, “This new website is specific to Maine and Mainers and focuses on prevention of tick-borne disease,” Dr. Peter Rand, the lab’s senior investigator, said in a news release.

What weaknesses do you see in Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife?

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 This is the second in a series of columns about the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s very-much-needed and very-exciting project to improve its communications with the public and, eventually, grow its market. Two outstanding and experienced national consultants, Mark Duda of Responsive Management and Jodi Valenta of Mill Creek Communications, have been retained to assist the agency with this project. I plan to follow this process very closely, attend as many of the meetings and events as I can, and tell you all about it, for two reasons. First, I’ve been making recommendations to improve communications at DIF&W for many years, and this year submitted legislation to re-establish the marketing position at the agency. Sponsored by Representative Bob Duchesne, the bill garnered a lot of support at its public hearing, including from sportsmen’s groups and tourism officials, and was held over to next year by the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee, to see how it might be used to advance this new DIF&W project. Second, this project is all about you. And I want to give you a chance to participate.

Dave O’Connor’s book will stimulate your own great hunting and fishing memories

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Checking out the newly published books recently at Islandport Press in Yarmouth, I was excited to see a book by Dave O’Connor. I’ve been enjoying Dave’s columns in the Northwoods Sporting Journal for more than 20 years. He’s an entertaining writer, for sure.

Islandport published my book, A Life Lived Outdoors, last year and I’ve been encouraging them to consider more hunting/fishing/outdoor adventure books, so it was great to see Dave’s new book on their shelves. Huntin’ and Fishin’ with the Ole Man is full of stories about Dave’s many adventures with his father, Edward “Steamer” O’Connor, and trust me, they had some funny, amazing, exciting hunting and fishing experiences.

Goodbye Salmon Hello Rainbow Trout

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“Once noted as one of the top salmon waters in Maine, it’s now rare for a salmon to survive for more than one year in Long Pond,” wrote Jason Seiders, DIF&W Regional Fisheries Biologist. I can only add, boy, did I enjoy catching big salmon at this beautiful pond, part of the Belgrade Lakes and just ten minutes from my house.

Then illegal and/or inadvertent stocking of other nonnative and invasive species, from pike to landlocked alewives, ruined the salmon fishery and crowded out other cold water species like brook trout. Today, smallmouth bass is the most popular fishery in Long Pond.

National Expert chosen to improve communications and marketing of fish and wildlife

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Mark Duda has worked on more than 1000 marketing, communications, and public relations research, plans, and projects involving fisheries and wildlife, for state agencies, universities, businesses, and all the major hunting and fishing national organizations. And now he’s coming to Maine.

Our Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has launched a very-much-needed and very-exciting project to improve its communications with the public and, eventually, grow its market. In the Request for Proposals that the agency advertised, they noted, “In order to maintain and enhance current programs, mandates, and projects, MDIFW must continue to maintain support for its programs amongst its current constituents while generating new support from the general public who value wildlife and its associated recreational opportunities.”

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