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.

Maine sportsmen and women are very poorly informed

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I spoke a couple of week ago at a southern Maine sportsmen’s club, giving them a rundown on my current activities, focused on my outdoor news blog and new Sportsmen Say Survey. I began by asking them these questions.

“How many of you hunt grouse in the unorganized territories?” Many hands were raised. “Then you know about the new law, enacted last year that requires us to label each grouse with our name and the date we shot the bird.”

Heads shook. Nope. Didn’t know about it. I was astonished. My next question was going to be, “Did you know the grouse labeling law was repealed this year?” Of course, they didn’t know that either!

“Did you know that 25 percent of the any-deer permits will go to young hunters this year, leaving only 1/3 of the permits for resident adult hunters?” No, they didn’t. They seemed ok with it.

Senator Angus King defends Maine's bear management

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Statement by U.S. Senator Angus King

Received March 31, 2014

Maine Bear Referendum

 

The general debate in Maine over bear hunting, as well as the finer points of baiting, dogs, and traps, is

a state issue which does not—and should not–involve the federal government. These decisions have

always and should continue to be made by the Maine Legislature or Maine voters, through a

referendum.

You can identify wild critters by their tracks and turds

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                “When in doubt, follow it out; don’t be a nerd, find the turd.”

                This is how Susan Morse describes her method of identifying wild critters. Her description has a certain clarity, don't you think? And she is absolutely right.

                Morse is the founder of the nonprofit Keeping Track in Huntington, Vermont. She’s nationally recognized for her work on wildlife habitat.

You won’t believe these tales of the Maine woods but they are all true!

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 The head waters of the Connecticut and Magalloway Rivers have been good hunting ground for moose and caribou, but like the region about Moosehead Lake, an indiscriminate slaughter of this noble game in season and out, has made them very scarce… Until the Game Law is enforced the hunter must penetrate the wilds of New Brunswick or Cape Breton if he would kill large game.

This is the first of many sections of More Old Tales of the Maine Woods that I highlighted. While I intended to dip into the tales, compiled by Steve Pinkham in a fascinating book, over a period of time, I couldn’t stop reading, the highlighter handy in my shirt pocket.

Pinkham is an historian, Maine native now living in Massachusetts, and collector of more than 25,000 articles and stories of the Maine woods. I enjoyed a very interesting conversation with Steve at the Orono Sportsman’s Show a few weeks ago.

Fish and Wildlife Department Loses Milfoil Money

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 A hike in the milfoil sticker fee has been rejected by the Maine legislature. But that’s not the end of this particularly interesting issue. I want to credit Representative Mike Shaw for quickly answering my call to fill me in on legislative action on this bill.

The legislature found another way to expand the invasive plant eradication program by taking money from the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and giving it to the Department of Environmental Protection.

LD 1626 sponsored by Rep. Mike McClellan of Raymond, would have raised the milfoil sticker fee by $7 for Mainers and by $15 for nonresidents. This fee is now incorporated into the boat registration fee and must be paid when boats are registered. The bill – opposed by the DEP and DIF&W Commissioners – got a favorable ought-to-pass endorsement from the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, but floundered once it emerged from the committee.

Public Lands Director speaks with candor and courage on Governor’s timber harvest expansion

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Will Harris, one of the very few hold-overs from the Baldacci to the LePage Administration, spoke with remarkable candor and courage yesterday when questioned by legislators about the governor’s plan to harvest more timber on public lands and use the money for public heating assistance programs.

Harris serves as the Director of Maine’s Parks and Public Lands, a gubernatorially appointed position. He could be fired without reason by the governor, making his remarks all the more astonishing. I haven’t checked this morning to see if Will is still on the job!

Survey finds sportsmen share the same concerns as landowners – and Maine desperately needs a strong landowner relations program

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 NOTE: I have posted questions on this issue in my Sportsmen Say Survey, located on this website. After you read this column, please let us know your opinions on these critical issues!

Posting is increasing. We’re losing lots of land that was traditionally open to public recreation. This is what sportsmen told Jessica Leahy in her most recent survey.

Jessica is a University of Maine Forestry School professor and member of the Board of the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine. “After seven years and three landowner-focused surveys,” Jessica told me, “we felt it was time to do a land user survey and compare them to the past landowner results.”

It did not surprise me when she found that “most of the land users in our sample shared the same exact concerns and issues as landowners.” That’s really good news, I think. At least we all recognize the problems and concerns and issues.

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