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.

It's Coyote Day at the Legislature!

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The howls from the Capitol this afternoon didn’t come from the steady stream of protesters upset about everything from the budget to the labor mural. It’s Coyote Day at the legislature!

 The Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee heard six coyote bills, LDs 292, 927, 372, 101, 640, and 1072. The topics ranged across all coyote issues from bounties to snaring. Here’s the lineup.

 LD 101 An Act to Institute Coyote Snaring, sponsored by Rep. Troy Jackson. A “concept draft” without any specific language.

Changes Coming for Maines Moose Hunt and Lottery

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The legislature's Fish and Wildlife Committee took decisive action today on a host of moose bills, determined to find a way to increase moose hunting opportunity this year. Commissioner Chandler Woodcock had asked the committee to put its ideas into the form of a resolve, directing him to consider those ideas and bring back to the 2012 legislation his proposed changes in the moose hunt and lottery. The committee decided not to wait. Committee members want to act in time to include their ideas in the 2011 lottery and hunt.

Nine moose bills were submitted this session. Eight have already received public hearing, and one remains (LD 682) to be scheduled for a public hearing.

Maine Land Access Law May Change

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An ambitious agenda of bills was scheduled for today’s 9 am work session and public hearings, in addition to the legislature’s Fish and Wildlife Committee’s work session on DIF&W’s proposed budget. The committee’s reaction to the budget is due to be presented on Thursday at the Appropriations Committee.

Contentious issues from hounds to moose were up for work session this morning but the committee began its day by killing LD 637 that would have increased the amount of money tagging agents receive from the existing tagging fee.

Weekin Preview April 4, 2011

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Today’s snowstorm changed my busiest day to a day of leisure, so you get your Week in Preview early. Postponed today were the public hearings on a slew of controversial bills impacting wildlife habitat including vernal pools. The annual Milfoil Summit was wiped out by snow for the second time, rescheduled now to April 15. The State of Maine Sportsman’s Show went on as scheduled, without me.

More than halfway through the legislative session, things are really piling up. The IFW Committee’s work session on Monday is, unfortunately, all too typical: work sessions on a dozen bills, public hearings of five bills, and a work session on the governor’s proposed budget for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

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