George Smith's blog

First of our two columns on Arizona

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 George

            Three things drew us back to Tucson, Arizona this year: an amazing birding guide, Melody Kehl, awesome Mexican restaurants, and easy access to southeast Arizona.

            After our first-ever trip here last year, we couldn’t wait to return. Our travel plans these days always include an overnight stay in a room with a beautiful view of the harbor at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland, where they keep our car while we’re away and shuttle us to and from the airport. Trust me – this is the way to start your vacation.

Fish and Wildlife Department getting authority over turkey bag limits and seasons

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 If you are out there hunting turkeys, or you are suffering turkey problems, this will interest you.

Turkey bag limits and seasons are set in law, but that is changing. My turkey bill, LD 98, was amended by the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to give the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife full authority to set bag limits and seasons, including the opportunity to schedule special hunts where turkeys are causing problems.

Currently bag limits and seasons are set in law, giving the agency no opportunity to make any changes.

The three sections of my turkey bill were removed. One called for elimination of the turkey hunting permit and fee, to encourage more hunters to try turkey hunting. The department and several IFW Committee members were skeptical that this would actually attract a lot more turkey hunters, and the committee felt that DIF&W needed the money for turkey research and other purposes.

DIFW Promises More Protection for Native Brook Trout

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 In response to two bills that I proposed to expand protection of our native brook trout, Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has responded with a pledge to do just that.

One of my bills would extend protection of brook trout in our Heritage Waters to the tributaries of those waters, and the other would speed up and improve the process of adding waters to that protected list. Both bills were opposed by DIF&W, but the members of the legislature’s IFW Committee were very supportive and the bills got lots of support at the public hearings. I have reported on all of that in previous outdoor news columns.

In response to that high level of interest and support, DIF&W met with some of the bills’ supporters and pledged to step up their processes and protection of our native brook trout. The agency submitted that pledge in writing to the IFW Committee, and the Committee accepted that pledge. But they also held over one of the bills to give them an opportunity to act if the department fails to achieve their promises.

Portland's Mekong Asian Bistro

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 George

            After a long trip through the amazing and lengthy menu at Portland’s Mekong Asian Bistro, I looked up at Linda and said, “I’m lost honey. You’ll need to order for us.”

            After looking through all the choices of Thai, Chinese, and Vietnamese appetizers and entrees, the only thing I was sure of was the Mai Tai ($6.95). That did turn out to be a very good choice.

Dangerous hedgehogs may be in your neighborhood

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 You will soon be able to fill your home with hedgehogs without a permit. Legislation to achieve this was sponsored by Senator Eric Brakey, and drew a full house of opponents and supporters at its public hearing. Currently you may possess hedgehogs in Maine with a permit from DIF&W.

Brakey testified that he submitted the bill for a Mechanic Falls sixth-grader. “Hedgehogs are an increasingly popular pet, both here in Maine and across the country,” said Brakey. “One zoologist I spoke with on this issue estimated there are 10,000 hedgehogs owned by Mainers here in our state. And it makes sense why hedgehogs are popular. Beyond being undeniably adorable, they are hypoallergenic, low maintenance and emit little odor compared to some other common pets.”

We need to kill more wild turkeys.

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 We may have made a mistake in reintroducing wild turkeys to Maine. For sure, we need to kill more of them.

My editorial page column today was about this issue.

You can read it here

 

 

 

Penalties increased for bad exotic animal owners

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 Exotic animal owners will pay much stiffer penalties in the future, if they fail to obey Maine’s exotic animal laws and rules, thanks to the Maine legislature and Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Senator Scott Cyrway did a superb of job of advocating for this bill that I proposed. He really should get a lot of the credit for the positive result, including bringing DIF&W on board after they initially opposed the bill, LD 91.

Exotic animal owners who have a permit, but fail to notify DIF&W if their animal gets lost, will now be cited for a Class E crime which increases the fines and includes jail time. Those who own exotic animals without the required permit, and/or fail to notify DIF&W when their animals get loose will be cited for a Class D crime, also with increased fines and jail time.

Cyrway also emphasized the need to require chips to be placed in the most dangerous animals, to identify their owners, and DIF&W, which has the authority now to do that, indicated that they would do this.

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