George's Outdoor News

George’s new outdoor issues blog. He goes all over the state. He listens. And he reports on issues of concern to sportsmen, conservationists, and environmentalists.

Warden and other positions restored to DIF&W Budget

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             The legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee, which has been sharply critical of cuts in the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s new budget, voted to restore some of those cuts earlier this week.

            I joined others in testifying against the cuts in DIF&W’s Budget at an Appropriations Committee hearing a few weeks ago. Now, the IFW Committee’s recommendations will go back to Appropriations for final action before the entire House and Senate vote on the state’s new budget.

Strong opposition to mining in Maine – but it still might be allowed

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                 “God does not come back and rebuild these mountains.” That was the testimony of a Maine tribal leader, in a 6-hour public hearing by the legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee on mining bills. Many strong statements were delivered yesterday afternoon at the hearing.

                One of the strongest was this, delivered in a strong voice by a 14th generation Aroostook County lady farmer: “It’s like rape. No means no!”

                Mining issues have been debated – and left unresolved - for the last two legislative sessions, and a lot of that history was revisited yesterday. But a strong move by environmental groups, along with the possibility of simply enacting a law banning mining in our state, left the impression that we might finally resolve this very contentious issue.

Kids are all bumps, bruises, and smiles

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 On a recent weekend my nearly 3-year-old granddaughter Ada was visiting us, and enthusiastically sliding down a small hill behind our Mount Vernon home, when she fell off the sled and slid along the ground, scratching her face and wrist.

But she bounced right up and ran back up the hill, smiling and eager to slide again. That reminded me of how resilient kids are, and brought back a lot of memories of bumps and bruises during my childhood.

I was quite young when I jumped off the shed roof and drove a spike right through my foot. The spike was attached to a small board and I couldn’t get it out of my foot, so I stomped into the house, spike and board still attached. I’m sure my Mom could hear me coming: clomp, clomp, clomp. She rushed me to the local doctor’s office where he removed the spike, board and all, and treated my foot.

One time I fell out of the apple tree in our front yard, and followed my parents around for about an hour until they decided I had broken my wrist.

Sunday hunting bill shot down

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                 Another Sunday hunting bill was shot down yesterday at a public hearing by the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee. LD 424, sponsored by Representative Jeff Pierce of Dresden, would have allowed hunting on five Sundays for bear, moose, deer and wild turkey in coastal wildlife management areas on public land and private land of 5 acres of more with the landowner’s permission.

                I was surprised when Deputy Commissioner Tim Peabody of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife testified “neither-for-nor-against” the bill. He noted that “Sunday hunting could provide potential economic growth and additional opportunity for hunters,” but warned that the agency would have to reduce the season length and worried that this “would cause a significantly higher amount of hunting pressure.”

Mainers – and our birds - are lucky to have Avian Haven

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 Avian Haven in Freedom is a wonderful place, especially for birds. This nonprofit wild bird rehabilitation center works hard to help injured an orphaned birds and return to the wild. Co-directors Diane Winn and Marc Payne, with some dedicated employees and volunteers, can be considered a bird’s best friends.

Their latest newsletter is a treasure of information, both entertaining and inspiring. You can read it here.

I first became acquainted with Avian Haven when a loon, dying from lead poisoning, was discovered in the cove behind our Mount Vernon home years ago. I helped rescue the loon and deliver it to Avian Haven, but sadly, they were unable to save the loon’s life. That inspired me to help ban lead sinkers at the legislature the following year.

I was particularly disappointed to learn that another Mount Vernon loon died of lead poisoning in 2016. Here is that story from the newsletter.

Great reads about hunting, fishing, and more

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 I probably overwhelmed Kristina Wheelock when she asked for book recommendations. I’ve got bookshelves full of books about hunting, fishing, birding, wildlife, and the great outdoors. Some are very old, some just published, and lots in between.

Kirstina is assistant librarian at Gardiner High School, and emailed me, “I am always on the lookout for hunting/outdoor books about Maine and beyond. Our students love this hunting/outdoor genre.

Lots of opinions shared in Sportsmen Say Surveys

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 The opinions expressed in my Sportsmen Say Surveys are always interesting. I dedicated the survey to Gene Letourneau, whose Sportsmen Say columns appeared every day for 50 years in the newspapers of central and southern Maine. Sadly, we don’t get coverage and reporting like that anymore.

Gene was an inspiration to many of us. He often featured comments from his readers in his column. Whenever my Dad was quoted in one of Gene’s columns, it was a big day at our house! After Dad died, I found a box of letters he’d received from Gene, in response to Dad’s letters to Gene. Apparently Gene responded to every single person who wrote to him.

I can remember sitting up back in the audience at work sessions of the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee, when they would call on Gene for his opinion. They sure don’t do that anymore!

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