Ugly and personal bear debate at legislature today

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Two bills to ban bear hounding and trapping drew a small crowd to the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee hearing room today – and some of the testimony was terribly ugly.

Sally Smyth of Camden asked IFW Committee members to “think of the long male tradition of trying to keep women from voting, working, or obtaining an education – these ‘traditions’ are now outdated and those who profess them not just ‘politically incorrect” but simply deliberately ignorant. Think of slavery, that southern ‘tradition’… so fiercely defended.”

That offended many of the members of the IFW Committee, and they responded, politely, but strongly.

Smyth attacked the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine stating, “They expect their hunting camps to stay in business when their traditions are out of date. They want to represent ‘Mainers’ when their practices of snaring and hounding are simply ugly to their fellow citizens.”

Fight over Bears Moves to Legislature on Tuesday

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                 While a host of controversial issues, from mining to marijuana, may dominate the legislative debate this week, the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will host a hearing on two bear bills that are sure to draw a crowd. I expect the debate to be tiresomely identical to the one we had last fall when the Humane Society of the United States lost its bear initiative on the ballot.

Bill to lower hunting age stalls in the Maine Senate

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                 A bill that would eliminate the age limit for young Maine hunters whipped through the House last week without debate, but it has stalled in the Senate, threatening the possibility that Maine kids will finally get the same chances to hunt that kids do in most other states.

                “Thirty nine other states allow parents to decide at what age their child is ready to hunt – including our neighbors in New Hampshire and Vermont,” James Cote testified at the hearing on LD 156. Cote was retained by the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance to champion this bill, sponsored by Representative Gary Hilliard. All kids hunting under this provision would have to be accompanied and closely supervised by an adult hunter.

The Captain Lord Mansion, Kennebunkport

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 The Captain Lord Mansion offers historic elegance, comfort, and great service


                Kennebunkport’s Captain Lord Mansion combines history, elegance, and art with comfortable and intriguing features that bring guests back year after year. In fact, one couple has stayed here more than 100 times! And don’t we wish we could!

                On the front walkway and the memorial garden are stones with the names of guests who have stayed here more than 10 times, something we now aspire to, although they’ll have to start a new walkway soon because the existing one is filled with names. And for good reason.


Hatchery fish are expensive and invasive - and most are never caught

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                With hatchery brook trout costing about $5 each, the guy who chases after the hatchery truck and catches and keeps his daily limit of 5 fish, gets back the entire cost of his annual fishing license in one day of fishing. And when he comes back the next day and catches and keeps five more fish, other sportsmen are paying for those fish.

                If someone came into a restaurant, paid $25 for a meal, yet was also allowed to come back every day after that and get the same meal for free, that restaurant wouldn’t be in business very long. We need major changes in the way we grow, stock, and price hatchery fish.

Hatchery Commission

Are Koi a serious threat to Maine’s native fish?

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 Maine currently forbids the possession of Koi fish, and Koi lovers arrived at the legislature today to argue that Koi should be allowed here, without a permit.

Allowing anyone in Maine to own Koi would “create jobs and revenue for Maine,” Phil Roy of Waterville testified at the hearing on LD 833, which would repeal the law forbidding possession of Koi in Maine.

Roy said that Koi, “will not threaten our local fisheries,” but he didn’t help his case much by comparing them to Goldfish, which he said, “are also on the aquarium list and have been sold in Maine for 50 years with no measurable impact on our local fishery.” DIF&W has had lots of problems with Goldfish released illegally in local ponds. When they find them, they take action to kill them, usually by draining the pond.

Debating dangerous rats, snakes, and other exotic animals

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In Boston, a woman got a full face transplant in 2011 after a ferocious attack by her employer’s 200-pound rampaging chimpanzee. She lost her nose, lips, eyelids, and hands, and later, doctors had to remove her eyes because of a disease transmitted by the chimp.

In February of this year, Florida officials declared war on invasive snakes, recruiting people for python patrols. A University of Florida herpetologist called the move, “ridiculous,” claiming “You can’t have Joe Schmo grabbing these snakes.” Kenneth Krysko also told a Reuters reporter that Florida’s move is too little, too late after Burmese python numbers mushroomed during decades when sales weren’t outlaws and wildlife agencies had few programs to deal with unwanted pets or snakes released in the wild.

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