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.

Landowner Relations Getting More Attention

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 The relationship between landowners and land users – what we call landowner relations - has received a lot of attention over the last 20 years, with little to show for it. By my estimate, more than one million acres has been posted “No Trespassing” in the last two decades. Bitter fights have broken out at the legislature over contentious issues like Sunday hunting and ATV riding.

So I traveled today to Bangor to find out what the state’s Landowners and Sportsmen Relations Advisory Board is up to. Before we get to that, a bit of history.

Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife established a Governor’s Council on Landowner/Sportsmen Relations in 1992 “to foster public use of private land for recreational activities.” The council had twelve members, six representing landowners and six representing land users. For a period of time I served on the council representing sportsmen.

Ritchie Retirement A Serious Setback for Maine's DIF&W

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Changes to the retirement system for state employees are emptying Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife of key leaders and some of the most experienced and capable people in the agency. None will be missed as much as Sandy Ritchie.

Sandy announced her retirement in an emailed message to friends and colleagues this afternoon. Here’s what she said.

“After much thought and personal reflection I have decided to retire from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife after 31 years of service; my last day of work will be September 16, 2011.

“This is a bittersweet decision for me as I have wanted to be a wildlife biologist since I was 10 years old, and working for MDIFW has been a dream come true for me. Still, I am looking forward to new challenges and opportunities that await me.

New Maine Hunting Law Book Coming Soon

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A new book of Maine hunting laws and rules should be available before most of the fall hunting seasons kick off on October 1. That will be particularly timely because the new laws enacted in this year’s legislative session take effect on September 28.

Andrea Erskine, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, has completed her work in pulling the book together. This is one of her former duties that followed her into her new position at the department.

DIF&W’s Director of Information and Education Edie Smith is now proof reading the entire book. You should look for it sometime in September at town offices and anywhere hunting licenses are sold

Deer Plan and Other Reports Now Available

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Sandy Ritchie's latest informative progress report on DIF&W's Maine Game Plan for Deer is available now.

The department will also email to you an excellent weekly news report.

My column on wind in the wilderness - and the impact of wind towers on visiting anglers - was printed in the Kennebec Journal and Waterrville Morning Sentinel last week.

This week's KJ and Sentinel column is about Senator Dave Trahan's amazing legislative session and new job at the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine.

And you can see a clip from an amazing new video showing a NextEra staffer banding a Maine Bald Eagle.

Dave Trahan a Great Choice for the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine

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Senator David Trahan (R-Waldoboro) has agreed to take the job of executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine.

Interim SAM director Matt Dunlap will continue in the job until September, when Trahan is anticipating he’ll take over. Dave had what he described as an excellent meeting with the SAM Board yesterday.

“Dave is a very capable, very experienced individual,” SAM President Jim Gorman told me, “and he comes very highly recommended. I’m anticipating that he’ll be able to get lots more sportsmen involved in SAM.”

I can only hope that Jim is correct. Since I left the position last fall, SAM has offered the job to four people and hired three of them. No need to review the matter, but we were all fortunate that Matt Dunlap was available to step in, fix some problems, and get SAM to a position where they could attract an outstanding leader like Dave Trahan.

A Morning on the Kennebec River

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In this photo, I am demonstrating my special catch-photo-and-release technique on a nice landlocked salmon. Notice the deep level of concentration as I coax the fish back into the river.

Linda and I enjoyed the last couple of days at Northern Outdoors in the Forks, highlighted by a rafting trip one day and a half-day of fishing with guide Chris Russell on the Kennebec River.

We fished downriver from the Forks, a gorgeous stretch thick with scenery but thin in fish. We had a great time with Chris, caught three species of fish, and introduced Linda to drift boat fishing. She loved it.

She also loved Chris’s 3 wt. Sage Flight rod and Ross Evolution Reel with sharkskin line. That may cost me a lot of money.

Hunters Losing Interest in Maine Moose

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Hunters are losing interest in Maine’s moose hunt. Since lottery applications peaked in 1984 at 94,532, applications from residents have declined 50 percent and from nonresidents 33 percent.

The number of applications in the last two years was the lowest in the 29 years of the state’s modern moose hunt. A total of 49,887 people entered the 2011 lottery, an increase of just 158 over last year. 36,527 of the 2011 applicants were residents and 13,360 were nonresidents.

The only good news in the 2011 lottery was a slight up tick in nonresident applications from 12,717 in 2010 to 13,360 this year.

This is important because DIF&W gets about half of it’s moose revenue from nonresidents even though they get only 10 percent of the permits.

Resident applications continued their long and steady decline this year, going from 37,012 in 2010 to 36,527 this year.

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