IFW Committee Acts on Deer, Bear, and Crossbow bills.

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A work session this afternoon by the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee disposed of a bunch of bills, all of which had public hearings last week. Four of the five bills on today’s work session agenda involved giving deer hunting. But the most interesting exchange came on a bear bill. Here’s what happened.

LD 63, sponsored by Rep. Larry Dunphy, would allow “veterans with lower limb loss to obtain any-deer permits.” DIF&W’s Director of Licensing, Bill Swan, answered questions and expressed his support for the bill, with a suggested amendment. The committee unanimously voted the bill “ought-to-pass” with the amendment that would require these veterans to possess a disabled veteran hunting license.

Four of My Bills Up for Thursday Hearings

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When I developed six proposals for the legislature to consider this session, I never dreamed that four would be up for a public hearing on the same day. But that’s the case on Thursday, February 28, when the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee hosts public hearings on five bills. Four are mine.

Well, not exactly mine, because I was blessed to win the enthusiastic support of a group of legislators who sponsored my proposals. These are very much their bills now, and it’s been a real pleasure to work with them as the bills were drafted and cast upon the legislative water.

Here’s the line-up for Thursday’s public hearings that begin at 1 pm in Room 206 of the Cross Office Building in Augusta. If you can’t attend, but have an interest in following the action, you can listen to the hearings online at the legislature’s website.

Bet You Don't Know This About Maine!

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There’s a lot you don’t know about Maine. But you are lucky, because Bill Barry’s new tell-all book about the history of our state will fill your knowledge gap while entertaining and enlightening you. Honestly, I could not put it down.

Maine: the Wilder Half of New England was published in 2012 by Tilbury House in Gardiner, and will be supplying me with background information and topics for my newspaper columns for many years to come.

Maine’s State Historian Earle Shettleworth, Jr., said it better than I can, calling the book, “an accurate, articulate, informative, insightful, and visually attractive account of Maine for the twenty-first century.” Well said Earle!

La Bella Vita and Pies on Parade. Buon Appetitto!

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Rockport
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It was tough – enjoying a spectacular dinner at the Samoset’s La Bella Vita on Saturday night, and finding room to eat our way around Rockland the next afternoon at Pies on Parade.

But we did it!

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Police Collect and Sell Guns to Benefit Special Olympics

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While some police agencies collect guns and destroy them, a coalition of Maine police chiefs and the State Police have a better approach. On Saturday, in a new initiative called “Safe Communities Maine,” police departments in Yarmouth, Cumberland, and Falmouth, along with State Police officers at the Troop B Barracks in Gray, will accept guns from private citizens to sell them to Howell’s gun shop in Gray with the money going to the Maine Special Olympics.

Brilliant! Wonderful!

Think about it. Folks who have guns in their homes but feel uncomfortable about it, can give the guns to law enforcement officers, confident that they will be handled properly. Those guns will be sold to a gun shop, where those who buy them will have to pass the federal background check.

Rubber Worms, Senior Anglers, and Coyotes. A typical day for the IFW Committee!

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The room was packed, and I noticed a lot of professional lobbyists, unusual for the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee. The ban on rubber worms has pumped some money into our political system!

The afternoon’s committee meeting began 2 hours late, due to the long debates in the House and Senate about the Governor’s proposal to temporarily keep the names and addresses of concealed weapons permit holders secret. That bill passed both bodies, but it took a while.

Rep. Robert Saucier of Presque Isle started the afternoon session by presenting his bill to direct DIF&W money to local conservation groups to support the work of those groups in rebuilding the state’s deer herd.

Lee Kantar on Moose and Deer

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Lee Kantar presented his annual reports on moose and deer to the legislature’s IFW Committee yesterday. Kantar is always on top of his subject matter, articulate, well informed, and passionate about his work. Here is some of what he had to say.

Kantar on Moose

“Northern Maine is a Mecca for moose.”

“Do we have more moose than in the 90s or before? I can’t tell you that. The important point is that today we have (science-based) data.”

He is focusing his work on 12 WMDs and feels moose have many problems in the southern and central districts. He has conducted his helicopter surveys in 9 out of the 12 WMDs so far to create his estimate of 75,000 moose statewide.

“The big unknown is mortality, and the causes of mortality. So we have to be cautious in the number of permits we issue.”

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