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.

You need to get-a-way to this wonderful place!

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            Reading through the guest book in our suite at Wolf Cove Inn, a wonderful Maine Bed & Breakfast, I find visitors from Texas to Tennessee, California to Colorado to Connecticut, Nevada to North Carolina, and even England, plus folks from our state. Yes, lots of people are finding their way to this very special place in Poland.

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!

Legislature fails to take the bait.

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                 A lively hearing on LD 62, An Act to Remove the Prohibition on Baiting Deer, drew lots of testimony on both sides of the issue. Senator Peter Lyford, a member of the legislature’s IFW Committee, sponsored the bill, and another committee member, Steve Wood, cosponsored it along with five other legislators.

                Among several opponents of the bill were Dave Trahan of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and Don Kleiner of the Maine Professional Guides Association, along with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

                Speaking for DIF&W, Jim Connolly, Resource Management Director, listed several reasons for the agency’s opposition.

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.

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