Ho Hum Hearing shows little interest in Fish and Wildlife Budget

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Even I was surprised to find myself the only one testifying in support of the new biennial budget for Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. After Commissioner Chandler Woodcock spent about 40 minutes presenting the highlights of his budget to the Appropriations Committee and Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee, Appropriations Chair Senator James Hamper made a joke that the sign-up sheet indicated a lot of folks were eager testify on the budget.

And then he called on me – telling committee members that I was the only one who was there to testify. I told the committees that the lack of visible support and testimony for the budget probably was all they needed to know about how discouraged agency advocates are in trying to advance the important work of this department.

Here’s what I had to say.

Governor breaks promise, withholds funds, and threatens conservation projects

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Governor Paul LePage is withholding more than $11 million that would allow 41 outstanding conservation projects to be completed – even though he promised to fund these projects as part of a deal to pay off state debts to Maine hospitals in 2013, and despite the fact that 60 percent of Maine voters approved the bonds in 2010 and 2012 that authorized this money.

While members of the Land for Maine’s Future Board – all of whom were appointed by Governor LePage – are in the dark on this, many legislators and lobbyists have heard the news and have been talking about it for the past couple of weeks. Last week a key legislator in the know confirmed for me that the Governor is indeed doing this. The Governor has not issued an announcement or even an acknowledgement of this, so I am hopeful that he will change his mind and allow these terrific projects to be completed.

Dangerous and delightful invasive animals, fish, plants and people

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A conversation with my friend Harry Vanderweide.

Harry: I don’t even like the term invasives. They don’t invade.

George: They do. They’re here. To stay.

Harry: They don’t invade. Particularly fish. How do they invade any place? Someone has to put them into the water, particularly fresh water fish.

George: You’re not saying that’s a good thing.

Harry: Sometimes it’s a good thing, sometimes it a bad thing. Depends on the species.

George: When is it a good thing?

The Glory that is Alaska

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 At the Flagstaff Lodge of Maine Huts and Trails this weekend, Linda and I met a young lady who was leaving soon for Alaska. I was envious. And I returned home to dig out a file of Alaska stories that I wrote after three amazing trips there. Here is one of them.


                “The character of place defines us,” wrote John Haines, poet laureate of Alaska. “Place makes people.”

                Maine is my place. But after a recent trip to Alaska, I think this could have been my place, in different circumstances. 

Mysterious Powerful Pathogens in Wild Turkeys Worry Hunters

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Turkey hunters are worried – and some are giving up the sport – because of pathogens and bacteria that have been found in Maine turkeys. One reader of this column emailed me a report on a recent study that I will share with you today.

That reader told me, “I am concerned that wild turkeys have pathogens that can affect human health (low pathology cancer causing retro-virus and (MRSA).  Hunters should know about this.  I am not sure that I want to hunt turkeys this spring until more research is completed.  IF&W is not saying anything about it. Could you make people aware of this through your blog.” Consider it done!

Before we get to that study, let’s hear from DIF&W’s wildlife staff. Here’s what Brad Allen, our top bird biologist, had to say in response to my questions about this concern.

Taco 2’sDay Spells Fun at 3 Crow

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                Given that Linda and I think dining out should be fun, we eagerly anticipated Taco 2’sDay at Rockland’s 3 Crow restaurant. And fun it was!

                Part of the fun was that our daughter Rebekah and son-in-law Patrick joined us. But the friendly staff, beautiful interior, and tasty food, made this a particularly memorable evening.

                The owners, Chef Josh Hixson and his wife Tara Barker, are front and center here. Josh cooks New Orleans-inspired food, another thing that drew our attention to this relatively new restaurant on Rockland’s Main Street. New Orleans food draws us often to our favorite Portland restaurant, Hot Suppah.

Bears and bows prowling the legislative halls today

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While animal rights groups were down the hall supporting a bill to ban “puppy mills,” the audience at the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee was dominated by bear and bow hunters. But before I get to that, let me tell you this.

If you want some insight into the legislative process, tune in to Representative Bob Duchesne’s radio show, Wild Maine, that airs on 92.9 FM on Saturday at 9 am and Sunday at 8 am. The show can also be accessed online at 929theticket.com. Bob taped a public hearing hosted by the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee on issues including moose ticks, hunting with slingshots, and wearing hunter pink. The show includes testimony I gave on the tick issue.


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