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.

There will be no bear referendum or Constitutional amendments to protect hunting in 2016

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Sportsmen dodged a bullet but may be disappointed that their Constitutional amendments are about to be killed by the Maine legislature. The best news is that the Humane Society of the United States has decided not to pursue another bear referendum in 2016.

Here’s the inside story of what has happened. A bill that made significant changes in the law to assure that Maine citizens circulate petitions and witness signatures for ballot measures is on its way to enactment. That fixes one problem, removing out-of-staters from the process of gathering signatures.

This fall, Maine citizens are likely to vote on a Constitutional amendment to require that half of the signatures for a citizen ballot initiative come from the First Congressional District and half from the Second Congressional District. The Humane Society of the United States gathered 58 percent of their signatures for the 2014 bear referendum in just 22 towns, mostly in Cumberland County. 46,463 of their 63,626 signatures came from the First Congressional District.

Tick talking is a daily conversation today

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Yesterday Linda came in from gardening with three deer ticks attached. I easily extracted all three using our Tick Off plastic spoon. I had picked four deer ticks off of my body that day, all as they moved up my arms and legs. Yes, tick checks are now done routinely every day at our house. These days, when the tick is a wood tick, I am almost relieved. No danger there. But deer ticks are frightening, particularly because I have friends with Lyme disease and it is an almost daily threat to me now.

Last week, coming home from the legislature, I pulled into Fielder’s Choice ice cream in Manchester, using the drive-up window to order a cone. As the young lady handed me the cone, I reached for it with my left hand and noticed a tick. I quickly yanked the hand back, but as I tried to grab the cone with the right hand, I discovered another tick on that hand!

The Outhouse Gotta Gogo

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It’s gonna be out with the outhouse and in with the new – well – the new outhouse. But the new outhouse is going to be elegant as well as comfortable, much better for the environment, and a whole lot easier to get to and to use. When you gotta go, you gotta go.

For 127 years, patrons of the Vienna Union Hall have had to trudge all the way around and out back of the building to do their business. The outhouse, built on top of ledge and listing to the side, now offers a pungent aroma, and when the wind blows, the toilet paper does too. There’s no electricity or heat, so it’s not all that much fun in the winter. They do give you a flashlight during night performances so you can find your way out there.

I did a book talk at the Hall last year, but I went easy on the food and drink afterward, not at all eager to check out the outhouse.

Landowner Relations Program may expand, thanks to legislature

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 With a couple of significant changes, legislation to expand the landowner relations program at Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife won a nearly unanimous vote of support from the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee on May 14.

Rep. Ellie Espling sponsored the bill at my request and worked closely with me throughout the process. Many major organizations testified in support of the bill including the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, Maine Snowmobile Association, Small Woodland Owners of Maine, Maine Forest Products Council, Maine Conservation Voters, and Sarah Medina, Chair of DIF&W’s Landowner Sportsman Relations Advisory Board.

Geese are pooping machines - but we still can't shoot them

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 An adult goose poops 8 times a day, depositing ½ to 1 pound of droppings, leaving a disgusting unhealthy mess. If you are plagued by a group of geese, you know what I’m saying. In a week, they can leave an astonishing amount of poop on your lawn.

As I read in a recent flyer titled Don’t Feed the Geese, “Goose droppings are slippery, unsanitary and unsightly. They harbor parasites that may cause human health problems, and they increase algae growth that, in turn, causes fish kills.” Yikes! Fish kills!

Geese may be Maine’s secret weapon to get homeowners to rip out their shoreside lawns to protect the quality of our lakes. Because ripping up your lawn is pretty much the first thing you will be required to do, if you want to get rid of the geese.

This is what bear hunting is all about

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 My name is Alyssa Sansoucy. I am 12 years old and I got my first bear last year. I also got a huge in 2012. My dad wanted to make sure we got the opportunity to hunt bear before bear hunting gets restricted. So, my dad called Shepard Hunting Co. and he said a hound hunt would probably be best for us.

All summer I was excited for fall to come and the hunt to begin. We started preparing a week or two prior and the night before we left I could hardly sleep, I was so excited. The next day we left around 11:00-11:30 am and we got there at about 3:30 pm. When we walked inside the lodge we were greeted by two very nice people. They showed us our room and made us feel at home. After that I went to see all of the dogs - they were very friendly.

Governor LePage needs your fisheries wish list

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It’s time to let Governor Paul LePage know what’s on your fisheries wish list. He’s well into his second and final term, and if he’s going to do anything remarkable for our state’s fisheries, it’ll need to be done soon. Change never comes quickly and many of the good suggestions I’ve heard would take years to achieve.

One wish list came to me recently from Dennis Smith of Otter Creek. I’ve known Dennis for a long time. He’s a member of the outstanding Fishing Initiative Committee at the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, a life-long avid angler, and a longtime fisheries activist. Here’s his wish list (with my explanations in parentheses):

Reorganize fishery division (to match the way the wildlife division is organized)

Eliminate fishery regions (partly to bring consistency to stocking and other policies)

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