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.

Twenty percent cut in Maine’s any-deer permits will give resident adult hunters only 12,395 permits

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 Maine’s any-deer permits will be slashed 20 percent this fall. The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife reports “the winter of 2013-14 was of above average severity, which may have resulted in increased winter mortality rates for over-wintering deer.”

Focus on the word “may.” The sad fact is that the agency doesn’t know how many deer died this past winter, or how many deer we have in the state. Maine’s #1 game animal isn’t getting the attention and research needed to assure good decisions on harvest, habitat, and other critical issues. The Maine Game Plan for Deer has fallen far short of its goals. This year 17 of the 29 Wildlife Management Districts will get no any-deer permits, 4 more than last year.

Maine’s moose in trouble, hunting permits cut, guides cut out

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Maine’s moose permits will be reduced by 25 percent this year. The decision comes just 3 months after Lee Kantar, DIF&W’s moose biologist, reported that “Maine has a healthy and strong moose population and has the highest density of moose in the lower 48 states.”

That rosy statement was included in a January 22, 2014 press release from the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. I’ll bet Lee would like to take that one back!

Last year DIF&W awarded 4, 110 moose permits. This year hunters will get only 3,095. A “healthy and strong moose population?” I don’t think so!

Commissioner Chandler Woodcock called the drastic reduction in permits “prudent,” and “based upon the research of our biologists.” The reduction “will help lessen the impact of winter ticks on the state’s moose population.”

Spruce Budworm threatens Maine deer yards and more

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While Maine has not achieved its goals for protecting deer yards, that might not matter if and when the spruce budworm gets here. The budworm could destroy the state’s deer yards on both private and public lands.

Doug Denico, Director of the Maine Forest Service, told a gathering of forest industry people recently, “If you look at the map that was put up there about Maine, you’ll see that we’ve got budworm all over Maine – moths I mean – and it’s coming back in the same places it came back in the 1950s.”

The good news is that private landowners and state agencies are working together to address this approaching problem. The latest newsletter of the Maine Forest Products Council provides an update and interesting information on this critical issue, including a bunch of reports and research. You can read it here.

Experts report on Lyme disease and deer ticks

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Since posting two columns about Lyme disease and deer ticks recently, I have appreciated all the information that readers have shared with me.

These two places give you a ton of historical and current information. Check them out now and keep them handy.


A dangerous life-changing voyage through the Northwest Passage

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            It seemed like a foolhardy, dangerous, ill-considered journey. Sprague Theobald risked it all, including the lives of his children, attempting to boat through the Northwest Passage.

            Lots of things went wrong on his 57-foot yacht, but the most annoying was the conflicts between Theobald, his children, and the rest of his crew. A lot of this story recounts these conflicts, sometimes in more detail than I cared to know. But in the end, the personal conflicts and crises were the story.

What I didn’t know about ticks and Lyme disease might kill you

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My attempt to alert you to the dangers of ticks and Lyme disease apparently fell far short of the mark. I am thankful to all who added information, in posts and emails. The earlier column, titled “Your best defense against Lyme disease is a plastic spoon,” certainly drew a lot of interest, with more than 31,000 readers putting me at the top of the Bangor Daily News bloggers list that week.

A couple of things happened to me personally after that column was published. First, my daughter Rebekah called to say one of our grandsons had been bitten by a tick. She contacted her pediatrician, who told her not to worry, that they don’t test ticks or treat kids until symptoms of Lyme or other diseases appear. That advice was soooo wrong!

I put Rebekah in touch with Representative Jim Dill, a University professor, legislator, and one of the state’s top experts on insects, and he arranged to have the tick shipped to a Boston lab for testing. No results yet.

Reality show looking for perfect Maine woman

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 A video company was at the State of Maine Sportsman’s Show in March, in a back room in the north wing of the Augusta Civic Center, conducting a casting call for a female host for a reality TV show about the outdoors. Here’s what we learned from the advertisement.

She must be “physically attractive,” be a “rugged-type woman,” and have a “big personality and a witty charm.”

She can’t be more than 40, must be “outdoorsy,” be “well spoken” and, oh yea, “sophisticated.”

But she also can’t “mind getting dirt under her fingernails.”

I especially loved this requirement: “She enjoys learning new things from her fellow outdoorsmen and exploring new places.”

One of those new places ought to be with her female outdoorswomen friends, don’t you think? Or perhaps the female reality show host needs to be a fellow and an outdoorsman, too.

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