Keep Maine Clean kicks off on Wildfire today

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The Maine Resource Recovery Association launches a new statewide program called Keep Maine Clean on the new edition of Wildlife, airing for the first time tonight. Shelby Wright, Director of Communications and Development for the MRRA, is our guest on this edition of the TV talk show that I host with James Cote.

Wildfire airs on Time Warner cable station 9 on Tuesdays at 7 pm, Thursdays at 6:30 pm, and Sundays at 9:30 am. You can also access the new show, and previous shows, online at

Maine needs stronger rules to control exotic animals and protect native wildlife

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 If you read the comments that followed my two outdoor news columns last week about exotic animals, you may have noticed that some of these people have a great disdain for those of us who champion Maine’s native wildlife.

Some wrote that I should not be against possession of python snakes, because they are friendly and can’t survive a Maine winter if they get loose. Really? That’s just what they said about Red-Eared Sliders, a species of turtles that is now established in Maine after being released by owners into the wild.

And even if their pythons can’t last through a winter, what are they doing out there for months on end until winter arrives?

Maxi’s Secrets by Lynn Plourde

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 I’m at a loss for words, having just finished Lynn Plourde’s heart-warming and very thoughtful new novel, Maxi’s Secrets (subtitled: What You Can Learn From a Dog). Should I begin by telling you about the 51 “Secrets” that Lynn divulges, things that you can learn from a dog, each one listed at the end of a chapter? Perhaps I should start with Maxi, the deaf dog, or Timminy the very short 5th grader, or Abby, the blind sixth grader next door?

Lynn is a fabulous and imaginative writer of more than 30 children’s books, including my favorite, Merry Moosey Christmas, in which the reindeer take the night off and Santa’s sleigh is led by moose. That story and Russ Cox’s amazing illustrations are really wonderful.

The Rebel’s Wrath by Christopher W. Morin

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 I enjoy historical novels, so it was particularly pleasing to discover Maine resident Christopher Morin’s books. He’s written two novels and one short story, and I decided to begin with his new novel, The Rebel’s Wrath.

The Civil War has just ended, and Christopher neatly blends the history of that era with a compelling fictional story where tension builds throughout the book, culminating in an astonishing bunch of murder and mayhem in the small town of North Scarborough.

Having visited Gettysburg, I particularly enjoyed the fact that Christopher began his novel there, where his main character, Private Sherman Jackson, served in the famous 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment, led by General Joshua Chamberlain.

Pythons in the shower, the river, and maybe your backyard

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 It was quite a surprise. A few weeks ago a couple in Veazie discovered a 3-foot-long ball python in their shower. Turns out it had escaped from a neighbor’s house a month earlier. Perhaps, like me, you are astonished that Mainers can possess all the pythons they want – without a permit. And they don’t have to tell their neighbors when their pythons get loose and roam the neighborhood.

The 10-foot python seen in the Presumpscot River in Westbrook in July got tons of publicity and even a name: Wessie. Some called it the Presumpscot Python. Two Westbrook police officers reported seeing the python eat a beaver in the river. Reporter Mark LaFlamme, in a Sun Journal story, quoted one man who said, “Oh, I wouldn’t doubt at all that it ate a beaver. I don’t think it would eat a kid or anything like that, though.”

What exotic animals should be banned? DIF&W wants to know!

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 The previous outdoor post told you about exotic animal issues and a new comprehensive law enacted this year by the legislature to strengthen the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s oversight of and responsibility for exotic animals in Maine. New rules were enacted to implement the changes in law a few weeks ago. Today, I’ll tell you about the new rules, which include an about-to-launch effort to create three lists: animals that can be possessed without permits, animals that require permits, and animals that are banned from our state.

If you read the previous column, you’ll know that I think pythons should be banned. But I didn’t share with you all of my horrible python stories. I didn’t, for example, tell you about the 3 ½ foot python that showed up in a Fairfield apartment, trying to eat the residents’ pet parakeets. Fairfield police arrived and confiscated the snake, which was given to the Maine Warden Service, which either took it to an animal rehab facility or killed it.

Skowhegan’s Kel-Mat Café is a real gem

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                Skowhegan has a bustling cafe that is a real gem. Eleven years ago owner Kelly Rossignol opened The Kel-Mat Cafe in a smaller building on busy Madison Avenue, then moved to this charming historic house with lots of parking out back, where the entrance to the restaurant is located. I knew as soon as I entered that this was a unique sandwich shop, looking up to find a large board that covered the wall with a huge selection of menu choices. Items #1-23 were sandwiches with great variety, all priced at $6.95. Gluten free bread is available for all sandwiches. About half the items on the sandwich list are very unique wraps.

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