You can shoot 25 snow geese a day!

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 You can shoot 25 snow geese a day! That’s one of the most surprising things about the proposed new rules governing hunting of migratory birds in Maine in 2017, just issued by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

A public hearing on all of these rules is scheduled for Monday, March 13, at 6 pm in Room 209B at the Augusta Armory, 179 Western Avenue, Augusta. Written comments may be submitted until March 23.

These rules govern everything from duck to woodcock to crows and include youth day rules and special falconry hunting rules. Yes, there’s something for everyone here!

Here they are, just as they were emailed to me by the agency.

Maine’s hunting and other laws are complex, often amusing, and sometimes confusing

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It takes 462 pages to give us all of Maine’s laws governing hunting, fishing, trapping, and other outdoor fun. I just finished reading through the law book and found some very interesting things that I will share with you.

But first, it’s what I didn’t find that puzzled me. Last year I wrote a series called, “What Can I Shoot and When Can I Shoot It?” Warden Corporal John MacDonald helped me answer that question, explaining that you can shoot red squirrels, woodchucks, and porcupines, anytime, anyplace, except on Sunday, without having to report that to the Maine Warden Service, as long as you have a hunting license.

That was really fortunate, because while talking to Corporal MacDonald, I confessed to shooting all three of those critters. If you don’t have a hunting license you cannot shoot those animals, or any others, unless they are damaging your crops or attacking your animals.

Spearfishing for Northern Pike Debated at Legislature

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 “I want to get the pike out of Sebago Lake. They are reproducing like you wouldn’t believe,” testified Representative Lester Ordway of Standish, who lives on the lake and said he has had to guard his little dog against Eagles, and is now worried about pike whenever the dog jumps into the lake.

“The salmon fishing is coming back big time,” reported Ordway, “but pike are going to be disastrous.”

Representative Jessica Fay of Raymond joined Ordway in testifying for the bill, noting that a pike “is a really scary looking fish.” She has a camp on the lake and saw a huge pike reeled in by an angler in a boat. She noted that landlocked salmon is the economic driver in that area. Pike were illegally introduced into Sebago in 2003.

Ordway’s bill, LD 190, would allow spearfishing for pike in Sebago Lake. It got a spirited debate during the IFW Committee’s work session.

Reduction in warden positions alarms legislators

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 “We need to reduce the department’s size.” That was DIF&W Commissioner Chandler Woodcock’s response to a question asking why he was proposing cuts to the Maine Warden Service’s budget, including a decrease in positions and mileage.

Chandler presented his proposed budget recently to members of the legislature’s IFW Committee, and the Warden Service cuts were of most concern to committee members.  Representative Steve Wood said flat out that he could not support those cuts, and others seemed to feel the same way.

While Chandler danced around the questions, it was obvious to most of us that these cuts were demanded by Governor Paul LePage, who made similar demands to other state agencies. Given that the agency has a healthy surplus, it’s difficult to understand why they need to reduce the department’s size.

February 28 legislative hearings feature exotic animals, fish hatcheries, and more

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 The legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee will host public hearings on three of my bills on Tuesday, February 28, along with three other bills.

LD 305, my exotic animals bill, is sponsored by IFW Committee chair, Senator Scott Cyrway of Kennebec Country, and promises to draw a substantial crowd in opposition. This bill has definitely riled up the folks who like exotic animals. The bill would require permits to possess all exotic animals in Maine, and require the owners of exotics to notify their neighbors and the Maine Warden Service if their exotic animal gets loose. It seems incredible to me that you can be fined if your dog runs loose, but not your python.

We've put out the Wildfire

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 Our TV show Wildfire has been dashed. Simply put, it was fun but too much work for my cohost James Cote and me. Our last show aired in mid-December and featured Tom Brennan of Poland Spring Bottling Company.

For 13 years I cohosted Wildfire with my friend Harry Vanderweide, and it was a great experience, with a large audience. The show gave us an opportunity to explore key outdoor issues and present lots of people doing great things for our state.

But when Harry came down with Lyme disease, Wildfire left the air. Three years later, with Harry’s blessing, I invited James Cote to join me as cohost and bring Wildlife back to the air.

The show aired on Time Warner channel 9 and was also available online at We had some great guests, including Kate Krukowski Gooding who cooked up a special Black Fly Stew featuring bear, moose, and beaver meat during the show. Delicious!

They’ll be hunting deer on March 2 at the legislature

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 Let’s call this Deer Day. The legislature’s IFW Committee has scheduled hearings on 8 deer bills for 1 pm, March 2, in Room 206 in the Cross Building next to the Capitol.

The Committee has already killed one deer bill which would have allowed senior hunters to shoot does anytime during the hunting season without an any-deer permit. Judy Camuso, IFW’s Wildlife Division Director, told the committee that the bill “will significantly reduce opportunity for others.”

That was an understatement. In 2016 there were 36,000 senior hunters. Only 8,059 applied for an any-deer permit and 3,927 got one. 67.5 percent of the any-deer permits already go to specific groups including landowners and youths, leaving less than 1/3 for all other deer hunters.

March 2 Lineup

Here are the bills scheduled for hearings on March 2.

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