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.

Legislature kills deer bills

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 Last Thursday was deer day at the legislature, where the IFW Committee hosted five hours of hearings on a whole herd of deer bills from any-deer permits to baiting to antler restrictions. The committee stayed on the trail, catching back up with all those bills yesterday, and killing them all. They didn’t need an any-bill permit to do that.

Technically, the bills are still alive. They’ll go to the House and Senate for action next, but almost always, negative votes on bills are the end of the trail. Here are some highlights of the hunt.

Antler Restrictions

Mike Look of Washington County has been advocating for antler restrictions for a long time, and his testimony on LD 341 was very good. That bill would limit deer hunters to harvesting deer with 3 or more tines of one inch or longer along the main beam of either or both antlers. Mike handed out detailed information about antler restrictions, and answered lots of questions from committee members.

Fish hatchery study wins support at legislature

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 Fish hatchery study wins support at legislature

“We could help DIF&W reduce their hatchery costs. I believe their technology is outdated.”

Those were the words of Sebastian Belle, testifying in favor of LD 471, my bill that would create a Hatchery Commission to study DIF&W’s fish production facilities and issue recommendations next year. Representative Jared Golden sponsored my bill and delivered excellent testimony for it.

Don Kleiner of the Maine Professional Guides Association liked the idea of a Hatchery Commission but opposed the bill, asking that the Commission be delayed until the department completes its new fishery management plans. It seems to me that a careful examination of our hatcheries would be beneficial before those new plans are completed.

Legislature debates if you need to notify neighbors when your python gets loose

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 “Cats are destructive little bastards.” That was a comment from Jason Perillo who was testifying against my proposal to require permits for all exotic animals and require the Warden Service and neighbors to be notified if that exotic animal gets loose.

Perillo has a business in Winthrop that includes 1400 exotic animals, none of which require a permit. He acknowledged that the Warden Service confiscated his boa constrictors, and that he has applied for permits to acquire other exotics, but had no luck in getting those permits.

Senator Scott Cyrway, Senate chair of the IFW Committee, sponsored my proposal and worked closely with me on it. IFW Committee member Catherine Nadeau cosponsored the bill.

The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife opposed the bill, explaining the current situation with exotics in Maine, and updating the committee on their work to establish three lists: exotics that require permits, exotics that don’t require permits, and exotics that you cannot possess.

Ten Maine moose permits sell for stunning $150,000!

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In 2017, ten nonresidents will hunt moose in Maine, paying between $14,444 and $16,510 for their permits. Most will also hire guides, some priced at $6500 or more. Yes, Maine’s moose hunt is valuable!

 

Maine can learn something from Pennsylvania's deer mistakes

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 Here’s a fascinating article about deer problems and issues in Pennsylvania. On Thursday, our legislature’s IFW Committee hosted “deer day” hearing a bunch of bills focused on deer permits and other issues, including a bill to limit hunters to shooting bucks with tines of three inches or more on each side.

I’ll have a report on those bills, and the interesting testimony at the hearing, soon. Right now, I recommend you read this article, and think about whether any of these issues are pertinent to Maine. Can we learn something from Pennsylvania’s deer problems?

http://www.iwla.org/publications/outdoor-america/article/outdoor-america-2016-issue-1/the-dangers-of-too-many-deer

 

Legislature lets fall fishing get away

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 Fall fishing opportunities, available throughout southern Maine, will continue to be unavailable in the northern half of the state. My bill to extend fall fishing opportunities by one month was hooked and released yesterday by the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee.

This bill would have expanded the opportunities to fish in the fall by authorizing October fishing in areas where that is now prohibited, with strict catch-and-release rules that match the rules for September fishing in these areas.

 

$5 million will fix problems at two state fish hatcheries

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 The legislature’s supplemental budget, approved by the Appropriations Committee last week, includes $4.8 million to fix problems in two state fish hatcheries. Given all the needs in this state, the Fish and Wildlife Department has to be congratulated for getting this money. For example, while there’s been a lot of discussion about what we need to do for those addicted to opiates, DIF&W got $2 million more than was appropriated for opiate addiction treatment programs.

This money will be spent to construct water supply lines and update water treatment equipment at the Casco and Grand Lake Stream fish hatcheries.

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