George Smith's blog

DIF&W Revenue Short $900,000

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Seven months into this fiscal year, Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s revenue is $900,000 less than expected, and $825,000 less than the agency raised in the same period last year. The state’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30.

The department also spent $850,000 more in January of 2012 than it did in January of 2011, although you can’t draw any conclusions from that, because the agency’s monthly spending pattern is erratic from year to year.

We do know for certain that the department has $1.2 million of surplus funds in its carrying account, mostly because dozens of staff positions remain vacant. Some have been vacant for years and will never be filled. They’re maintained on the books to help the agency meet state requirements for savings through attrition.

New Landowner Relations Program On Its Way

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Special thanks today to Chilton Paint Company (and Furniture), a new sponsor of this outdoor news blog.

An exciting new landowner relations program is well on its way, with the endorsement today by the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee of an amended version of LD 1613 submitted by the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and SWOAM’s Tom Doak and DIF&W’s Mark Latti were here to support their amendment.

This bill was originally proposed by SWOAM and represents a significant achievement for that organization in this legislative session.

SWOAM launched a project in 2010 create a strong partnership between Maine’s private landowners and those who use their land for recreation.

Everything's Big at Winslow's Big G's Deli

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At Winslow restaurant Big G’s, the G stands for great food. The Big stands for, well BIG!

It’s always fun to find a unique restaurant that marches to a different food drummer. Gerry Michaud has created a deliciously fun place.

Founded by Gerry and his business partner Jerry Gerard in 1986, Big G’s has grown from a small shop serving 16 sandwiches to a 200 seat restaurant  with 30 employees and an astonishing menu including tacos, pasta dishes, soups, and their signature sandwiches, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week, 6 am to 7 pm.

Ice Shacks May Be Freed from Fees

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The legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife worked on several bills this morning. Discussion covered a wide range of issues, from shooting shacks in the north woods to a requirement that Canadian hunters hire guides to fees for ice fishing shacks.

First up for the work session was LD 1327, a resolve calling for a study of DIF&W’s fisheries management activities.

It was reported that Dennis Smith of Otter Creek, who asked his Representative to submit the bill, was happy with the progress the department is making on fisheries, and was satisfied not to pursue the bill now. It was killed. Rep. Jane Eberle praised Smith for his longstanding effort to improve fisheries in Maine.

Ice Shack Fees

Feds Get 6500 Comments on Trapping Permit

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Yesterday I talked with Mark McCollough, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, about Maine’s application for an incidental take permit (ITP) for trappers who accidentally capture a Canadian lynx, an animal on the federal Endangered Species List. McCollough’s office is in Orono and he is the federal point man for Maine’s application.

Although the feds have never issued an ITP for trapping, McCollough is optimistic that Maine will get its permit. He cannot predict, however, what restrictions will be attached to that permit. I talked with Mark for about 30 minutes and learned a lot.

Of course, we began the conversation talking about our experiences in or near northern Quebec’s Leaf River. Mark successfully hunted Caribou in that area last year. And the Leaf is my favorite fishing spot in the world. Alas, we had to quickly get to the topic at hand.

Ice Shack Fees and Alien Hunters

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It was all about the economy this afternoon as the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife hosted public hearings on two important issues: proposed new fees for ice shacks, and a requirement that Canadian deer and turkey hunters hire a guide.

Up first was LD 1747, An Act to Prohibit Municipalities from Imposing Fees on Ice Fishing Shacks, sponsored by Representative Mike Shaw. This bill resulted from an attempt by the town of Randolph to assess a fee for each ice shack placed on the Kennebec River, a popular place for commercial smelt shacks.

More Moose, Fewer Lottery Applicants

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His moose population estimate stunned even me and caused me to pull out stories I’ve written over the years about moose hunting and the moose lottery. Today I’ll give you a history of this controversial issue, along with the interesting – and sometimes surprising – information provided to the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee last week by Lee Kantar, DIF&W’s deer and moose biologist.

Based on his new sampling techniques, using Maine Forest Service helicopters and pilots and a “double counting” system, Kantar estimated the state’s moose population to be an astonishing 75,000. That’s 45,000 higher than the estimates Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife reported up until 2007, when the department’s longtime moose biologist, Karen Morris, suddenly upped her estimate to 60,000 as she approached retirement.

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