Blogs

Lobsters and loons top moose and brook trout on Maine license plates.

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                 There are nine Maine license plates for which car owners pay extra in order to fund particular programs. Of those, 43,337 have the conservation “loon” plate, 27,348 have the lobster plate, 24,717 have the sportsman plate, and 23,232 have the breast cancer plate. The rest, in order, are agriculture (15,682), animal welfare (15,190), black bear (10,006), support troops (5,850), and University of Maine (4,507).

                Maine also offers many special designations for license plates. 33,877 car owners have chosen the veterans plate. That dwarfs all other plates in their category that ranges from fire fighters (4,090 plates) to handicapped (12,078). There is just one Medal of Honor plate, and good for that plate owner.

Legislature putting Mainers back into the citizen initiative process

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Following the second bear referendum in 10 years, both initiated by a wealthy national organization, the Humane Society of the United States, sportsmen’s groups arrived at this year’s legislative session determined to bring more integrity to the citizen initiative process and to make sure ballot initiatives were really coming from Maine citizens. And so far, so good.

I joined the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine’s Dave Trahan and others in testifying in favor of LD 176, An Act to Amend the Law Governing the Gathering of Signatures for Direct Initiatives and People’s Veto Referenda. The bill was drafted by SAM and sponsored by Representative Stan Short.

While the Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs didn’t embrace all the new requirements proposed in SAM’s bill, both Short and Trahan told me they are very pleased with the amended version of the bill that won the support of the committee.

Amended Bill

Good news from the Maine legislature. Yes, believe it!

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NOTE TO READERS: Thank you for putting this column in the number one blogging spot with the most readers last week. Last year the topics that attracted the most readers to this blog were Lyme disease, rat snakes, and Paul LePage, so I guess I should not be surprised that last week’s topics, Lyme disease and Governor LePage’s refusal to allow the Land for Maine’s Future bonds to be sold so current conservation projects could be completed, put George’s Outdoor News in first place. And don’t worry. Rat snakes are coming soon! The legislature will tackle two bills governing exotic animals, and I’ll give you a preview of the issues sometime soon. But today, sister Edie Smith has asked for something positive, so here’s some good news from the Maine legislature, along with a beautiful photo by Pam Wells of a Bohemian Waxwing, to brightern your day.

Simpler laws and rules

Governor Paul LePage’s quote of the day. Read it and weep.

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 “He has no communication whatsoever with (the commission) in terms of decision-making. He puts people in place who are qualified for the task at hand and he has the utmost confidence in those commissioners.”

That’s what Adrienne Bennett, Governor Paul LePage’s spokeswoman, said yesterday when asked if the Governor has any role in the recent vote of the Public Utilities Commission that sharply cut funding for Efficiency Maine. According to a news report today by Steve Mistler and Kevin Miller of the Portland Press Herald, last year the Efficiency Maine Trust helped homeowners buy 2.5 million discounted low-energy light bulbs and 3,000 businesses reduce their costs for electricity with rebates or subsidies for a wide range of energy-saving improvements.

Governor puts the brakes on two dozen conservation projects.

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The room was packed, most unusual for a meeting of the Land for Maine’s Future Board. Extra chairs were squeezed into the small room, bit some folks still had to stand. The news that Governor Paul LePage was refusing to permit the LMF Board to use bond money to complete its projects drew attention from the media, environmental and sportsmen’s groups, landowners, and legislators. Today, unfortunately, we learned that the news was true.

Fascinating stories from the other end of Dana Wilde’s driveway.

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Dana Wilde’s stories are cerebral, serene, and oftentimes fascinating. Most fascinating for me, in his book The Other End of the Driveway, are stories about wild creatures including Blue jays, Hummingbirds, Horseshoe crabs, and spiders. Yes, spiders can be fascinating!

Consider this from the spider story. This is not paranoia. I’m being watched… involuntarily I glance back… and for no reason my eyes fix on the eave above the door. Upside down there in her web is a huge garden spider… She’s not after me. But still. She looks huge and witchlike, with her eight eyes seeming to scope my every move and thought.

Eight eyes? Yikes!

We know when and where they die - Collared moose tracked on Google

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“If we just took the (dead moose) results of last year, we would have concerns. And we do have concerns, but it’s going to take some time” to figure this out.

Those were the words of Lee Kantar, moose biologist for Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, who briefed the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee on March 3, 2015. Lee was talking about his “Moose Survival Project.” This year he is tracking about 70 collared moose using helicopters.

Last year the department collared 30 adult cows and 30 calves. Nine of the cows (30 percent) and 21 of the calves (70 percent) died by the end of last winter from tick infestations. That shocking result caused the agency to sharply reduce moose permits in 2014 from 4,100 to 3,095, an unprecedented reduction in a single year. Permits have been reduced by another 270 this year.

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