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.

Playing God by Kate Flora

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Kate Flora is one of my favorite writers, and not just because she helped retired game warden Roger Guay with his wonderful new book, A Good Man with a Dog. While her novels are at the top of my favorites list, Kate’s 2015 true crime book, Death Dealer, is also remarkable. It’s about the search, by Maine game wardens with their dogs, for a killer in New Brunswick. You’ll be very proud of the Maine Warden Service when you read Death Dealer.

33 million fish stocked this year – in Michigan

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Michigan stocked 33,308,068 fish this year, while Maine stocked 1,211,141 fish. Interestingly, Maine’s fish weighed a total of 193 tons, while Michigan’s weighed 343 tons. Clearly, although Maine stocks a lot less fish, ours are a lot larger.

Over the years, we’ve debated more vs bigger fish. In 1935, under the leadership of Fish and Game Commissioner George Stobie, two new hatcheries were constructed. The hatchery in Gray produced 12 million legal-sized brook trout, while the world’s largest landlocked salmon hatchery at Moosehead Lake produced 2 million salmon.

Maine may produce even less fish next year, if the currently-closed Casco Hatchery is not reopened. That hatchery closed earlier this year when their water source vanished. They are still searching to find the problem and fix it. Fixing it will require a lot of money, and they’re probably searching for that too.

Suddenly Spying is an imaginative and entertaining novel

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Gin Mackey  has a tremendous imagination and she puts it all to work in her novel, Suddenly Spying. The subtitle, A Mapcap Caper, doesn’t begin to describe it.

The plot is imaginative, that’s for sure, with Nora Gallagher joining her sister as a secret agent and spy, sent to Barlanadana Island to stop a coup by a dangerous drug dealer called Tommy the Twitch. There are lots of amusing twists (ok twitches) and turns in the story, and you won’t want to stop reading.

Big challenges ahead as new big game management plans are created

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                New management plans for all of Maine’s big game animals should be ready for review and comment by sportsmen and the general public sometime in December. Draft plans prepared by wildlife biologists and representatives of various groups are nearing completion.

                Those plans will go to a larger Big Game Steering Committee, which will work with the department to complete the plans. A statewide poll, online comments, and public meetings have all been part of the process, and once the plans are completed, you will get one more chance to comment before they are officially adopted.

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