George Smith's blog

Coyote Bills Killed by Legislative Committee

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There will be no bounties on coyotes, no snaring of coyotes, and no extension of the night hunting season on coyotes. The Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee nixed these ideas today, and a lot of other bills too.

I’ve been writing about coyotes a lot lately. My editorial page column in today’s central Maine newspapers was about coyotes. I posted a report in this blog last week about the lengthy public hearing on these coyote bills.

For the record the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee worked on six coyote bills today: LDs 292, 927, 372, 101, 640, and 1072. The topics ranged across all coyote issues from bounties to snaring.

Any-Deer Permits Slashed for 2011

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The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, in reaction to a devastating decrease in deer numbers across the state, will slash the number of any-deer permits this fall.

After handing out 48,825 any-deer permits in 2010, the department’s wildlife staff has recommended only 26,390 permits for 2011, a 46 percent decrease. That number could change before the Fish and Wildlife Advisory Council acts on the recommendation, but don’t count on it.

Despite two devastating winters that clobbered our deer herd, DIF&W actually increased any-deer permits last year by 3,440, 7.5 percent.

First Settlers Lodge in Weston Worth the Drive

City or Town: 
Danforth
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The stunning view from First Settlers Lodge in Weston unites the old and the new Maine. From the huge windows that run all across the front of the lodge, you look left and see, across a wide forested valley, First Wind’s towers across the tops of two distant hills. To the right you see the magnificent mastiff of Mount Katahdin.

 The lodge is on a section of Route 1 designated as a scenic highway and there’s actually a turnout right across the road so travelers can enjoy the spectacular view.

 This has been our favorite northern Maine lodge for many years. We returned in March to make sure the new owners, Susan and Steve Mine, who purchased the lodge last December, are maintaining the high level of hospitality, comfort, and food provided by our friends Elbridge and Judy Cleaves, the former owners. The good news is simply this. Yes they are!

 Linda

It's Unlikely Maine Hunters Will Ever Hunt on Sundays

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Sunday came on Monday today. I could script the annual legislative consideration of Sunday hunting bills: same bills, same participants, same result.

Today (April 11) the IFW Committee hosted public hearings on four Sunday hunting bills (LDs 749, 810, 906, and 910). Two would authorize Sunday hunting in northern Maine. The other two would authorize Sunday hunting statewide, one for small game and wild birds only, the other for landowners hunting on their own land.

Testimony consumed two hours and was followed by quick committee action killing LDs 749, 810, and 906, leaving LD 910 for an April 25 ,9 am work session.

Weeks in Preview April 11 and 18

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There is a burst of activity at the legislature this week as committees attempt to push out a lot of bills before their vacation break. No legislative sessions or committee meetings are scheduled for the school vacation week of April 25.

Several controversial issues will be up for votes at the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee this week, including warden-stops of ATV riders and coyote bounties, snaring, and night hunting. The committee will also take a final look at an amended version of Rep. Andy O’Brien’s bill concerning hound hunting, bait, and night hunting. And it’ll be Gun Day on Monday, with the Criminal Justice Committee hearing nine gun bills.

New Maine Fish and Wildlife Advisory Councilors Coming Soon

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Governor Paul LePage will soon announce four nominees to the Advisory Council of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. One is a current member, two are former members, and one – a retired Maine game warden – will be new to the task.

The Advisory Council consists of 10 members representing Maine’s 16 counties and is heavily weighted to the rural counties. For example, one member represents Washington County while another represents Androscoggin, Kennebec, and Sagadahoc Counties.

Renominated for another 3-year term will be Cathy DeMerchant of Vassalboro, representing Androscoggin, Kennebec, and Sagadahoc Counties. Cathy owns a temp agency in Augusta and is a serious outdoorswoman. She’s been fairly quiet in her first term but is poised to play a much bigger role in her next term, especially given the personal interest of Deputy Commissioner Andrea Erskine in promoting the outdoor sports to women.

ATV Maine Joins Landowners In Opposing ATV Bill

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ATV Maine continues to distinguish itself at the State Capitol with reasoned and effective leadership on ATV issues. ATV Maine President Dan Mitchell, along with the organization’s experienced lobbyists Ed and Cate Pineau, were on hand for public hearings on two ATV bills on April 4.

 ATV Maine joined a collection of groups representing landowners and sportsmen in speaking in opposition to LD 1209 sponsored by Representative Dale Crafts, a member of the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee that is considering the bill.

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