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.

Summer to Fall by Dana Wilde

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                 If you love summer and fall as much as I do – and what Mainers don’t? – then you will enjoy Dana Wilde’s new book, Summer to Fall: Notes and Numina from the Maine Woods, published by North Country Press.

                As Dana explains, “It's a book about the quirks, denizens and stars as seen from Troy, Maine, and collected from the Backyard Naturalist and Amateur Naturalist newspaper columns, plus other writings.”

Will Mainers have to shoot bears in their homes?

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                 Let’s hope every Maine bear hunter this fall gets his or her bear. We’ve got way too many bears. It’s a very good thing that Maine voters defeated proposals to prohibit the use of traps, bait, and dogs for bear hunting. If that had happened, we’d probably be shooting bears in our homes, as recently happened in California. I’ll tell you more about that story at the end of this column

Keep Maine Clean kicks off on Wildfire today

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The Maine Resource Recovery Association launches a new statewide program called Keep Maine Clean on the new edition of Wildlife, airing for the first time tonight. Shelby Wright, Director of Communications and Development for the MRRA, is our guest on this edition of the TV talk show that I host with James Cote.

Wildfire airs on Time Warner cable station 9 on Tuesdays at 7 pm, Thursdays at 6:30 pm, and Sundays at 9:30 am. You can also access the new show, and previous shows, online at www.vstv.me.

Maine needs stronger rules to control exotic animals and protect native wildlife

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 If you read the comments that followed my two outdoor news columns last week about exotic animals, you may have noticed that some of these people have a great disdain for those of us who champion Maine’s native wildlife.

Some wrote that I should not be against possession of python snakes, because they are friendly and can’t survive a Maine winter if they get loose. Really? That’s just what they said about Red-Eared Sliders, a species of turtles that is now established in Maine after being released by owners into the wild.

And even if their pythons can’t last through a winter, what are they doing out there for months on end until winter arrives?

Pythons in the shower, the river, and maybe your backyard

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 It was quite a surprise. A few weeks ago a couple in Veazie discovered a 3-foot-long ball python in their shower. Turns out it had escaped from a neighbor’s house a month earlier. Perhaps, like me, you are astonished that Mainers can possess all the pythons they want – without a permit. And they don’t have to tell their neighbors when their pythons get loose and roam the neighborhood.

The 10-foot python seen in the Presumpscot River in Westbrook in July got tons of publicity and even a name: Wessie. Some called it the Presumpscot Python. Two Westbrook police officers reported seeing the python eat a beaver in the river. Reporter Mark LaFlamme, in a Sun Journal story, quoted one man who said, “Oh, I wouldn’t doubt at all that it ate a beaver. I don’t think it would eat a kid or anything like that, though.”

What exotic animals should be banned? DIF&W wants to know!

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 The previous outdoor post told you about exotic animal issues and a new comprehensive law enacted this year by the legislature to strengthen the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s oversight of and responsibility for exotic animals in Maine. New rules were enacted to implement the changes in law a few weeks ago. Today, I’ll tell you about the new rules, which include an about-to-launch effort to create three lists: animals that can be possessed without permits, animals that require permits, and animals that are banned from our state.

If you read the previous column, you’ll know that I think pythons should be banned. But I didn’t share with you all of my horrible python stories. I didn’t, for example, tell you about the 3 ½ foot python that showed up in a Fairfield apartment, trying to eat the residents’ pet parakeets. Fairfield police arrived and confiscated the snake, which was given to the Maine Warden Service, which either took it to an animal rehab facility or killed it.

33 million fish stocked this year – in Michigan

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Michigan stocked 33,308,068 fish this year, while Maine stocked 1,211,141 fish. Interestingly, Maine’s fish weighed a total of 193 tons, while Michigan’s weighed 343 tons. Clearly, although Maine stocks a lot less fish, ours are a lot larger.

Over the years, we’ve debated more vs bigger fish. In 1935, under the leadership of Fish and Game Commissioner George Stobie, two new hatcheries were constructed. The hatchery in Gray produced 12 million legal-sized brook trout, while the world’s largest landlocked salmon hatchery at Moosehead Lake produced 2 million salmon.

Maine may produce even less fish next year, if the currently-closed Casco Hatchery is not reopened. That hatchery closed earlier this year when their water source vanished. They are still searching to find the problem and fix it. Fixing it will require a lot of money, and they’re probably searching for that too.

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