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.

The Worst Hunting Legislation Ever

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 It may have been the worst hunting bill ever, during my 18 years as executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine.

LD 1186, introduced in the Maine legislature in 1997, was titled “An Act to Ensure Hunting Safety.” When I reported on the bill in the SAM News, I left out the name of the sponsor to save her from embarrassment.

The bill would have required hunters to quit hunting at 2 pm on Halloween, ostensibly to protect trick-or-treaters.

The bill was sponsored at the request of a woman from southern Maine who apparently believed her kids were in danger of getting shot by a hunter on Halloween.  “Some of the kids actually wear animal costumes,” she exclaimed.

Taking an opportunity to have some fun with the bill at the public hearing, I thanked the sponsor for putting in the bill, “because I do like to get out of the woods by 2 pm to get my mask and costume on for trick or treating.”

Native Brook Trout Protection may be Extended by the Legislature

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 Representative Russell Black has sponsored two of my fisheries bills. One would extend protective regulations for native and wild brook trout from lakes and ponds to tributaries where they spawn. The second would assure that all waters that qualify for the state’s Heritage Fish list get put on that list.

I’ll have a lot more to say about these two important bills later, but wanted to give you this basic information now. Here are the summaries of the two bills.

An Act to Improve Maine’s Heritage Fish List and Program

Mainers are very happy with the management of fish and wildlife

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Responsive Management, a national firm that has worked on hunting and fishing research and initiatives in all 50 states, was retained a year ago by Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to research the attitudes of Mainers about the agency and its management of big game and freshwater fisheries.

DIF&W is using that information in a new communications initiative, and in the creation of new big game and fisheries management plans.

Mark Duda and his exceptional team at Responsive Management have presented some fascinating information to the agency. In a recent newsletter, they summarized their findings, which you will find interesting, I’m sure.

You can read that newsletter here.

 

 

This how-to-ice-fish book is both informative and entertaining

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 Frank Richards moved to Maine in the mid-1980s and quickly fell in love with ice fishing, something he’d never done before. Maybe that was because his first ice fishing experience was on Moosehead Lake, where his friends had rented an ice shack with a woodstove, at a local sporting camp.

Yes, that’s the best introduction to ice fishing I can imagine!

And Frank really understands why ice fishing is so much fun. “An uninitiated observer may not see the entertainment in running around in the middle of a frozen lake, heavily dressed. In reality, those who participate in this sport are usually feeling quite comfortable, having a good time, and catching fish.”

Save the planet and all its creatures – by gardening wisely

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                  The Life in your Garden by Reeser Manley and Marjorie Peronto is an important and interesting book for all who garden and all who value our environment and the critters that share it with us. I originally got the book for my wife Linda, a gardening fanatic who gardens all winter in her 14 foot by 28 foot hoop house, heated by the sun. 

                Yup, we had fresh veggies for Christmas dinner! Linda also has raised beds and two regular outdoor gardens. And that doesn’t count her amazing flower gardens that surround the house.

Do we want moose or deer in the north woods?

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 That’s one of the big questions being debated as Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife prepares new big game management plans with the assistance of a Big Game Steering Committee comprised of folks representing hunting, fishing, conservation, environmental, and landowner groups.

DIF&W recognizes the importance of moose to our state, both for viewing and hunting opportunities, and is struggling to measure and figure out what to do about the large number of moose that are dying of winter ticks. More than 60 percent of moose calves are being killed by ticks.

As you might expect from DIF&W’s very capable lead moose biologist, Lee Kantar, the draft moose management plan is very detailed with solid goals, objectives and strategies. But there is still a lot we don’t know. 

Sportsmen proposing three Constitutional amendments this legislative session

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 The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine will focus a lot of attention this legislative session on bills to protect hunting, keep wildlife issues off the ballot, and change the way signatures are gathered for ballot initiatives.

SAM’s Executive Director, David Trahan, told me he hopes to pull all sportsmen together in support of the three bills, something that didn’t happen when the same bills were debated at the last legislative session.

Representative Steve Wood is sponsoring two of the Constitutional amendments. One would prohibit citizen ballot initiatives on wildlife issues. The other would establish and protect the right to hunt.

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