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.

Maine fees to hunt, fish, and trap may go up

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 Roles were reversed yesterday in Augusta, when sportsmen’s groups proposed a hike in their license fees and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife opposed the hikes. In the past, DIF&W proposed fee hikes, while sportsmen’s group usually opposed the hikes.

The bill under discussion yesterday at the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee was LD 913, sponsored by Rep. Mike Shaw at the request of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine. The bill would increase hunting license fees across the board by $1, including combination hunting/fishing licenses, junior licenses, and even nonresident 3-day small game licenses.

The money would go into a new “Species Management Education Fund” to be used “to educate the public on the management of game species.” That education “must include information about how hunting and fishing helps to manage specific species.”

Po' Boys & Pickles and Portland Stage - a great night out!

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South Portland
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                 It was a great night out in Portland. We were stunned by the presentation of Papermaker at Portland Stage, impressed with supper at Po’ Boys & Pickles, and very pleased with our room at the Best Western Merry Manor Inn.



                We don’t usually insist that you do something in this column, but please don’t miss Monica Wood’s extraordinary and powerful play, Papermaker, at the Portland Stage through May 14. Monica is a Mainer with four wonderful novels, and her autobiography, When We Were The Kennedys, about growing up in Rumford, is the best autobiography Linda and I ever read. And now, it turns out she is a great playwright too.

Amidst murder, mayhem, and tragedy, wildlife stories top the news state to state

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                 Whenever we travel, I like to pick up a copy of USA Today, principally for the State-By-State section that reports the top news story in every state. The April 22, 2015 edition was particularly interesting.

                In Alaska, I learned that the Division of Forestry was warning drivers to “limit their use of logging roads during the muddy breakup season.” Good advice for Mainers, too. In Arizona, the Four Forest Restoration Initiative has created a plan to “save swaths of forest from devastating wildfires” by removing small trees through logging and prescribed burning. Here in Maine, landowners are working on a similar plan to respond to an expected outbreak of spruce budworm.

Legislature hears twenty years of debate over St. Croix alewives – in one day!

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The 20-year fight over alewives in the St. Croix River returned to the State House today. Same issues. Same players. Very likely the same result. But there’s a hint of something more in the air – with an intriguing suggestion from Governor Paul LePage. More about that in a minute.

Like alewives returning to the St. Croix River, Washington County guides and sporting camp owners returned to the State House today to try to block sea-run alewives from getting into the lakes of the Grand Lake region. This issue has been kicked around at the State House since the mid-1990s and both sides remain passionate about their positions.

Currently the United States and Canada have acted together to open up the St. Croix River and Grand Lakes to alewives, causing the Down East guides to worry that the alewives will ruin their existing fishery, focused primarily on Smallmouth bass and Landlocked salmon, the principle fisheries in those lakes and the drivers of their regional economy.

Will the legislature kick landowner relations down the road?

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                We have spent 10 frustrating years trying to create an effective and comprehensive landowner relations program at a state agency. This is so important to our present and our future, for all of us who recreate on private land. And that is all of us, isn’t it?


The Bill


There's lots to do inside and outside the Bethel Inn

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                Western Maine is a particularly beautiful area and Bethel is one of our favorite towns to visit. There always seems to be something happening here. We've visited during peak fall foliage, and cross country skied here in the winter. We've come for their Harvest Fest celebration set up in the Town Common, and George loves to fish the river and ponds in this area. In fact, while I judged pies at Harvest Fest, he competed in a fishing contest. Bethel is a four season destination and the town capitalizes on this fact offering events throughout the year.

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