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.

Moose permits going down, down, down

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 Let’s straighten out one thing right off. Moose permits are not being decreased this year so there will be more moose for viewing. But they will go down for the third straight year. This year, we’ll get 2,140 permits, 675 (24%) fewer than last year’s 2,815. All of the reductions will come in five of the state’s 29 wildlife management districts – four of them in northernmost Maine and the other Down East.

Nonresident landowners may join residents on opening day of the deer hunt

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 Representative Bob Duchesne summed it up nicely, saying, “I feel if you have a property tax paying stake here, you should be able to hunt on opening day.” And all but one member (Rep. Peter Lyford) of the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee agreed with Bob, who is House Chair of that committee.

After several discussions, including consideration of allowing all nonresidents to hunt on the opening day of the deer season, the committee settled on a proposal to allow nonresidents who own 25 acres of more to hunt on the first day of the firearms season on deer, as long as their property is open to hunting by others. Up until now, only residents could hunt on the first day.

Should Second Congressional District residents have a say in what gets onto the ballot? 57 House members say No!

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 Groups representing sportsmen and women won legislative support last year for a Constitutional Amendment requiring that the number of signatures obtained by referendum campaigns equal at least 10 percent of the total votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election from each congressional district. Current law only includes a minimum number of signatures statewide.

This would force groups seeking to put something on the ballot to get out into all of Maine, rather than concentrate their signature gathering in Portland and southern Maine. Unfortunately, because the measure requires a 2/3 vote of support in both the House and Senate before going onto the ballot where the people will decide the issue, the measure fell short of the necessary votes in the House last year – but supporters were able to pull it back and get it set aside for reconsideration this year.

Montana's Smith River a powerful package of scenery and fish

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Time to speak up – if you care about big game animal management

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 If you care about the way big game animals are managed in Maine, please make a special effort to get to one of these public meetings to express your opinions. Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will host the meetings, an unprecedented effort to reach out to sportsmen, landowners, and the general public and give all of you a chance to be heard on these important issues and challenges.

This will only be valuable if you get to a meeting and share your opinions.

In two of my outdoor news column recently, I’ve reported on this process, including information about fascinating surveys conducted by Mark Duda of Resource Management, which you can now access on DIF&W’s website. If you haven’t read those two columns, please do so.

Sometime soon, I will report on presentations made to the Big Game Steering Committee by DIF&W’s wildlife biologists on current plans and issues with the four big game animals: deer, moose, bear, and turkeys.

Fascinating opinions about Maine’s big game animals

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 The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has posted a survey on its website that you will want to spend some time reading. I posted a column about the survey last Friday. It was done by Mark Duda and Responsive Management, and I attended a presentation of the results that Duda made last week to DIF&W’s big game management steering committee. The agency is preparing new game management plans this year, and Duda’s research is an important part of the process.

The process includes public meetings throughout the state and an online forum where you can express your opinions on bear, moose, deer, and turkeys. I will alert you the meeting dates and times, as well as the process for participating in the forum, as soon as DIF&W provides that information.

But let’s start where the Steering Committee started, with Duda’s survey. You can read the entire 500 page report on the agency’s website, here.

Big news and big changes for Maine’s big game animals

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 It’s the most comprehensive and engaging process ever used to create big game animal management plans in Maine. And you are going to have good opportunities to participate, including an online “Town Hall” forum and a series of public meetings in all parts of the state. I’ll let you know when and how to participate, as soon as I receive that information.

Yesterday I attended an all-afternoon presentation of fascinating information about recent surveys of Maine sportsmen, landowners, and the general public, plus current big game management plans and challenges. The survey results were presented by Mark Duda of Responsive Management, which has done surveys and plans in all 50 states. The big game plans and challenges were presented by wildlife biologists in Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Duda randomly sampled 933 residents, 956 hunters, and 304 landowners by telephone, mail, and email, and by region (north/east, central, south), in January and February.  

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