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.

Lyme Disease Changes Maine’s Deer Discussion

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For more than a century, Maine deer have been managed for maximum populations that benefit deer hunters. But Lyme disease is changing the discussion, and is likely to force Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to reduce deer populations in coastal, southern, and central Maine – even while they struggle to rebuild deer populations in western and northern Maine.

As Mainers, concerned about Lyme disease, demand a reduction – or even the elimination of deer in their neighborhoods – DIF&W will be challenged, partly because hunting with guns is unwelcome in many of the places with the highest populations of deer. And of course, lots of land throughout the state is now posted and unavailable to hunters.

In 1997, a sharpshooter was paid to kill 52 of the estimated 70 deer on Monhegan Island, and two years later, Peaks Island voted to hire a sharpshooter. He killed 172 deer in February, 2000, in just five days.

Eliot Cutler’s Promises to Maine Sportsmen

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Today we take a look at Eliot Cutler’s promises to sportsmen, made in his 2014 candidate questionnaire of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine. Cutler added an extensive amount of comments for nearly every SAM question, and I will give you some of those comments in this report.

DIF&W Funding

Probably the most important question involves public funding for Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, so let’s start there. SAM provided a bit of background on the issue – focusing on the fact that sportsmen pay all the bills while the public receives millions of dollars of services from the agency. Game wardens, for example, spend about half their time on police – not wildlife – work. The survey asked candidates if they would support a Constitutional amendment that allocated General Fund tax dollars to DIF&W, a straight General Fund appropriation, or something else.

Mike Michaud's Promises to Maine Sportsmen

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It’s not all about bears. Yes, Maine voters will decide the fate of bear baiting, hounding, and trapping on November 4, and we all have a stake in that decision. But we’re also electing a new legislature, governor, two members of Congress and one U.S. Senator, and deciding a few important bond issues, including one that is critical to all of us who spend time outside. I will be writing about all of these campaigns and issues between now and November 4, focusing on what is at stake for those of us who hunt, fish, and care about conservation and the environment.

Gubernatorial candidates Mike Michaud and Eliot Cutler have given me their 2014 candidate questionnaires of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, the only major statewide organization of sportsmen that quizzes the candidates, gives them grades, and usually makes endorsements. So the SAM survey is very important, and the candidates put a lot of thought into their answers.

"A Life Lived Outdoors" is best read outdoors

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 My new book, A Life Lived Outdoors is best read outdoors: on your deer stand, enjoying a cold brew on the patio, sitting in that favorite wicker chair on the porch, waiting for the kids’ or grandkids’ soccer game to start, anywhere, anytime, as long as it is outdoors.

That's where many of us Mainers spend our lives, and that's what my book is all about.

You can purchase the book at my publisher’s website, islandportpress.com or most any bookstore. I've even found them in hardware stores!

In Part One you will read columns about home, camp, and Maine life. "Making Do in Maine" is one of my favorites - written initially for DownEast magazine. You might enjoy the column on yard sales - even if you have never had one (and you probably never will if you read about mine). Battling wildlife in the home has been a popular column at my book reads.

Maine Audubon Opposes Canadian Lynx Trapping Permit

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 Maine Audubon has taken an aggressive position against the federal Incidental Take Permit for lynx requested by Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. In an email alert on September 2, Audubon asked supporters to “Please help lynx from being trapped in Maine!”

Audubon encouraged its supporters to submit written comments to the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service in opposition to the permit request. Today is the last day those comments can be submitted. I believe USF&W has already received lots of comments on this issue, from both sides.

If you want to submit comments today, you can do so here.

I’ve also posted a question for you to answer in the Sportsmen’s Say Survey on my website. You can access that question here.

Road slobs drink Bud Light and smoke Marlboros

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I’d just put someone’s paper plate, tossed out of a vehicle onto my woodlot, into my trash bag, when I noticed an army of ants crawling out of the bag and up my arm. The ants had been finishing up the picnic lunch, I guess.

And that is the moment when I decided to post my woodlot. No trespassing for road slobs!

Yesterday was my second walk up the road to the woodlot to pick up trash. I own 150 acres with almost 2000 feet of road frontage. I’ve filled two big bags with trash so far and have several to go. And I can tell you this: road slobs drink Bud Light and smoke Marlboro cigarettes. They also eat a lot of fast food, which apparently runs out just when they get to my Mount Vernon woodlot.

But the variety of stuff I’ve collected is kind of amazing. Last year I found an empty package of condoms. The wording was in a foreign language but I knew right off what it was. The cover featured a photo of a couple, ahem, well you know.

HSUS blasts bear hunters with $1.2 million in TV ads

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 The Humane Society of the United States has reserved and paid for $1.2 million of TV ads for its referendum campaign to ban bear trapping and bear hunting with bait and hounds. This is nearly twice what HSUS spent on TV ads for its 2004 Maine campaign. And they did this in August!

It appears that HSUS intends to spend the $3 million on its campaign that the group announced earlier this year. There is no way the sportsmen’s campaign to defend bear hunting can match that level of spending. This may be a serious problem. In 2004 the sportsmen’s campaign outspent HSUS on TV and that was a critical factor in the defeat of the HSUS ballot measure.

But that doesn’t mean HSUS will win this campaign. I have been very impressed with the job that James Cote is doing for the sportsmen’s campaign. In 2004 I raised the money for the campaign that successfully defended bear hunting, and my sister Edie managed the campaign. This year James is doing both jobs, a very tough assignment.

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