April 19, 2015

Rescued Deer Gets Put Down

ST. ALBANS — Hours after people saw firefighters rescue a small deer from thin ice on Weymouth Pond, the animal was killed by a game warden who saw it suffering and believed it was unlikely to survive.

The deer was rescued Wednesday night, but “when I checked on it this morning it was laying on the shore,” Maine Game Warden Josh Tibbetts said Thursday. “They had put some corn down to try and feed it, but it wasn’t eating it. It didn’t even raise its head.”<<<Read More>>>

RescuedDeer

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David Trahan Testimony on LD1228

Source:

Had a great public hearing on LD 1228. Here is my Testimony-had no one in opposition.

Testimony in Support of LD 1228 An Act To Amend the Ballot Initiative Process To Ensure Support in Maine’s Congressional Districts
Before the Joint Standing Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs
Presented by David Trahan, Executive Director, Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine
April 15, 2015

Senator Cyrway, Representative Luchini, and distinguished members of the Committee on Veterans and Legal
Affairs, I am David Trahan, Executive Director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine testifying in support of LD LD 1228 An Act To Amend the Ballot Initiative Process To Ensure Support in Maine’s Congressional Districts. Our organization would like to thank Representative Short for sponsoring this SAM Bill.

For decades, many Mainers have argued that there are two Maine’s, North and South. Many in the North feel as though they have no voice in Augusta politics. In March of 2012, State Representative, Henry Joy of Crystal even proposed Legislation that would have allowed Aroostook, Piscataquis, Somerset, Franklin, Penobscot and parts of Washington, Hancock and Oxford counties to become their own State called Maine. Southern and coastal Maine would be renamed the state of Northern Massachusetts.

I served in the legislature at the time many of us could not figure out whether it was a joke or whether he serious, I think he was dead serious. Never could the North v. South divide have been more defined than during the bear referendum signature gathering effort and in the final vote on Election Day.

We have submitted LD 1228 to restore some level of fairness to rural Maine and when I am finished with this testimony it should be crystal clear why this bill is necessary.

In early February, Katie Hansberry, HSUS Director announced that Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting had submitted 78,528 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office and that the signatures collected came from 417 cities and towns, in every County throughout Maine. This sounds like statewide support, except the devils in the details. First of all, of the 78,528 signatures turned in, only 63,626 were valid, just 5000 more than required.

Of the 63,626 certified signatures, three quarters, or 46,463 of those came from 115 First Congressional District towns. To pare it down further, 12 towns, mostly in Cumberland County, were responsible for 46 percent of the signatures. Twenty-two towns, again, mostly in Cumberland County, were responsible for 58 percent of the total valid signatures collected.

For those living in the other rural counties, what is extremely unfair about this lopsided collection effort is that if the referendum had passed, nearly no one in southern Maine would have been affected by the loss of rural Maine bear guiding jobs or from new bear nuisance problems.

There are 24 states that have a citizen initiated referendum system, of the 24, 12 have geographical requirement to qualify for the ballot. LD 1228 is identical to Nevada law that requires qualifying signatures come from each Congressional District. In order to qualify for the ballot in Maine, it takes at least 10 percent valid signatures of those that voted in the previous election for Governor. In Nevada, the Congressional geographical requirement in LD 1228 was tested in the United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Angle v. Miller, September 1, 2011. In upholding the law, the Federal Court said:
[2] All Districts Rule did not dilute political power in violation of the Equal Protection Clause;
[3] All Districts Rule did not discriminate against an identifiable class in violation of the Equal Protection Clause;
[4] All Districts Rule did not impose severe burden on communication between petition circulators and voters, as would trigger strict scrutiny under First Amendment;
[5] there was no evidence that All Districts Rule significantly inhibited ability of proponents to place initiatives on ballot, as would trigger strict scrutiny under First Amendment; and
[6] In a matter of first impression, Nevada had legitimate interest in making sure any initiative had grassroots support that was distributed throughout the state.

The First District is 20 percent the size of the Second District, yet it holds half the state’s population. Maine’s Second District is the largest East of the Mississippi, it is the second most rural in the country, with 72 percent of its population in rural areas; in contrast, 50 percent of the First District is considered urban and the rest rural. The Second District is like its own country and because of its size the politics and opinions of its inhabitants are diverse. When considering policies like wildlife management, it is easy to understand why the people of rural Maine feel disenfranchised, they are.

As our population migrates further south toward Massachusetts, the distance between urban and rural Maine is growing. According to MapQuest, it takes six hours to travel from Kittery Maine to Fort Kent Maine. It takes just 4 hours and a half to travel from Kittery Maine to New York City, NY. Rep. Joy was right to some degree, southern Maine is an extension of Massachusetts, but that doesn’t mean in order for the rest of Maine to have fair representation in the initiative process they need to secede. Instead, the legislature needs to find ways to bring fairness to processes like our referendum. I urge you pass LD 1228 it will finally bring geographical fairness to state ballot initiatives. This bill will not impede debate or suppress voters; on the contrary, it will insure that ballot initiative signatures represent a diverse and more accurate geographical sample of Maine voters.

Counting Deer: Count Bucks, It’s Kind of the Best Way…Sort of…Maybe

When NPR asked a New Hampshire deer biologist how they went about guessing how many deer the state had, the answer was…well, it was…actually, I don’t know what the hell it was. But the response went like this:

For deer, this is the two-year running average of the adult buck-kill. That’s kind of what we use as an index to the trend in the population. That’s kind of the best index we have.

And that’s it? Go figure. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong but I have a strong suspicion that deer hunting in New Hampshire, and probably Maine and Vermont, generate the most income in order to fund each state’s fish and (no game, just) wildlife departments. And, this is the best explanation a deer biologist from New Hampshire could come up with to explain how counting deer is done.

Is it important to know how many deer each state has? Geez! I would think so. If you don’t know, how do you know how many deer should be killed each year? Is this one of the reasons deer populations in Northern New England are struggling? Maybe. Ask any biologist though and they’ll probably say it’s being caused by global warming. But let’s not get into that.

One might conclude that New Hampshire’s “model” of guessing is pretty pathetic. What it sounds to me that they do, is count the number of adult bucks harvested during the hunting season for two consecutive years. They use that data to somehow wave a magic wand and then after repeating the “magic” incantations, guess how many deer there are. That’s sad…isn’t it?

If you think that’s sad, then how damned sad is it when a state can’t even count to know how many adult buck deer were taken during a deer hunting season? That’s beyond sad. It’s down right pathetic.

As of this morning, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), has not posted on their website the harvest numbers from last November’s deer hunting season. God, we’ve all been down this road so many times, but nothing ever changes.

Some have asked me what difference does it make? I think it makes a lot of difference. Seriously, do I need to explain why? But forget what I think or whether you care. If Maine uses anything like New Hampshire’s methods, and they count adult buck deer killed to guesstimate deer populations, how can they responsibly manage deer – like how many “Any-Deer Permits” to issue if they can’t count deer?

So, I can only guess what is going on. Either MDIFW is terrible at managing deer or they won’t release the deer harvest numbers because they are hiding something. What else could it be? And, as an aside, MDIFW hasn’t posted the bear harvest data either.

Thrice the brinded cat hath mew’d.
Thrice and once, the hedge-pig whin’d.
Harpier cries:—’tis time! ’tis time!
Round about the caldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.—
Toad, that under cold stone,
Days and nights has thirty-one;
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot!
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

ToilandTrouble

Radical Sour Grapes

A letter to the editor found in the Bangor Daily News is a brilliant representation of ignorance and sour grapes. Lamenting the issue that he and his ilk lost..again…in a referendum vote to ban bear hunting, trapping and fishing, he therefore declares that efforts to improve on the governing process is wrong because he doesn’t agree with the outcomes that have happened and fears his own radical ideas will get shoved down the incinerator where they belong.

Somehow the writer thinks it is only members of the Maine Legislature, who sit on fish and game committees, and sponsor legislation aimed at fish and game issues, are wrong for doing so. If this is wrong then to whom is anyone to go to in order to find a sponsor of a bill? Why do these law makers sit on the committees they work with? I hope any member of the law enforcement committee doesn’t sponsor any bills dealing with law enforcement. I guess that would be bad.

According to the author, we are supposed to believe his bile that hunters and fishermen control the Legislature, the fish and game department, the courts, along with Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks Coffee shops, and Aunt Mary who lives in a shoe.

The author says that a “small group of radical ‘sportsmen'” are taking over the world. The author thinks groups like the Humane Society of the United States are main-stream, “normal” and respectable organizations and that outdoor sportsmen are radical because they believe in the preservation of a cherished and historic way of life.

You decide who the radicals are. In the meantime, such nonsense is nothing more than radical sour grapes.

Removing Citizens’ Ballot Initiative For Wildlife Management is Not Wrong

The Bangor Daily News editorial staff made some good and sound points about alternatives to changing the process involved with gathering signatures and getting a proposal put onto the ballot for voters to decide. However, the staff made two statements that I think need clearing up and providing a better and more accurate explanation.

To be forthcoming, I have stated in the past that I hold some reluctance in a flat removal of the right of citizens to petition the state and the referendum process. In this article, it makes reference to a proposed bill, LD1228, that would amend the signature gathering process for ballot initiatives. I haven’t finished a thorough examination of this proposal, but on the surface it appears to be a sound proposal.

However, I do think there are instances in which an exemption from the ballot initiative process may be necessary. The Bangor Daily News states: “…taking away the citizen initiative when it comes to hunting and fishing laws, or any other area of law, is wrong.” I do not agree. “Any other area of law,” is not specific to hunting and fishing laws, which, in and of itself, is an inaccurate labeling of what bill proposals that exist are attempting to do.

Hunting and fishing laws, i.e. rules, are set by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW). The Legislature can amend those laws/rules and/or force the department to do things it might not think is in the best interest of wildlife management. In the existing format, there are many opportunities for Maine voters to participate in the rule-making process. This is the same throughout all law making proposals, with or without the referendum process.

In my mind, this really isn’t the issue. The issue is that wildlife management, including fish and game management, is a scientific process and should be a scientific process driven by goals set and established as a complimentary effort between the wildlife department and voters. Science should be the determining factor. It is my opinion that when MDIFW began putting too much emphasis on what social impacts their scientific decisions had, proper and responsible wildlife management took a back seat to social pressures, many coming from special interest groups. This result is far worse than any perceived fallout from eliminating a ballot initiative.

For this reason, we may be looking at a terrific example of why an exemption from the petitioning of the state government to change it’s wildlife management plans, should be seriously and honestly considered.

The second issue is directly connected to the first. The Bangor Daily News called a potential law to limit ballot initiatives on issues pertaining to fish and wildlife management as “draconian.” When this issue is viewed from a totalitarian perspective of forcing lifestyles onto others, I can understand why the newspaper, with their history, would consider this exemption as draconian. It appears the newspaper’s importance is weighted toward socialistic issues rather than science.

I hate laws in general because all laws limit and steal away my rights and my God-given right to self-determination. Playing within the rules, what is good for the goose is most often good for the gander.

And just one more thing. The editorial states that, “Twenty-four states allow citizen-generated initiatives on the ballot.” Why didn’t the report state that 26 do not? More than half do not provide for citizen-generated initiatives. Clearly there are other means of ensuring that all citizens can be heard, or made to think they are heard, other than the current and very expensive process Maine now has.

Changes in this process should be forthcoming.

Democracy in Action

TwoWolvesLambIt is commonly stated that democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding what’s for lunch. I suppose a democratic form of voting must be accomplished by having an exact representation of all registered voters. In fact, all registered, and legal, voters should participate in voting. So, should we then jump at the notion tossed out by President Obama a few days ago suggesting that all those eligible to vote should be forced to vote? I hope not. Maybe some of the processes leading up to a vote should be looked at.

Consider, if you will, the false paradigms that everyone engages in – Left vs. Right, Republic vs. Democrat, Liberal vs. Conservative, Blue vs. Red, Urban vs. Rural, North vs. South, East vs. West, etc. Convinced that there is a difference, we are continuously distracted from the realities around us.

Many years ago, when I began investing my time and money into Online projects, one of the first things I learned was that for every rule that was devised supposedly to make the Internet experience better and more fair for everyone, thousands of people went to work to beat the system. Is this not true for everything, everywhere? Where’s the honesty anymore?

I also remember many, many years ago when I coached in a town little league baseball program, each Spring all the coaches within the county league would meet to discuss the upcoming season. This was also a time to discuss any possible rule changes. I learned right away that the process was wrong. Each rule change proposal that was made was done so for the clear advantage to deal with one particular coach’s team circumstances and not for the betterment of the league. Eventually, I became commissioner of that league and one of the first changes I sought was that no rule changes would go into effect immediately. It would have to take at least two seasons. There was a process to deal with actual emergencies. Is this same process at play in many, if not all, of our everyday lives? Do we react in a knee-jerk way to find a cure for the short term with little thought for the future?

The state of Maine has in the past few decades been called “The Two Maines.” This title came as the result of the more densely populated, “liberal” coastal region of the state and the inland and northern rural portions of the state thought to be “conservative.” Maine is not unique in this geographic and social and economic dynamic.

Today, I was reading an article found on HotAir about this very topic. It wasn’t Maine specific, but it did deal with the distinct problems that exist between densely populated city regions and those people who live there, and their ideals, opposed to those living in rural areas. The article is an interesting read as well as the comments left after the article. Please visit the site.

If there exists a distinct and unfair advantage to this demographic, that makes it easier for one group to force their ideology onto others, then what if anything, can be done about it? Surely this is the way of our society today.

The Maine Legislature will be considering a bill proposal that might help with this problem if a problem does exist. I don’t have access to voting data and statistics to know the demographics of who votes in Maine and from what region, county or town of each ballot cast. Therefore, I can only present what is being said and the bill that is being proposed.

A bad democracy (there are no real good democracies) becomes two wolves and a sheep discussing what’s for lunch when only two wolves and one sheep show up to vote. What happened to all the wolves and all the sheep? The truth is not even a majority of registered and legal voters participate in most elections. Therefore the system is flawed, but that is the reality that must be dealt with.

What happens then when certain voters, often with similar interests, congregate in densely populated cities? Can those voters have a distinct and stronger influence in political, economic and social issues? Some think so.

In Maine, which is not unlike other states, an example of this appears when the legal process is undertaken to get a citizen’s referendum onto a ballot. One of the requirements for that would be for petitioners to gather legal signatures of at least 10% (a number not actual names) of the number of those who voted in the last election. There are no stipulations on where those signatures can be gathered across the state.

Maine has been inundated over the past decade with ballot initiatives from the Humane Society of the United States and other animal rights/environmental groups in attempts to change the way of life or many Maine people. They want to put an end to hunting, trapping and fishing, among other lifestyles. This is a classic example of two wolves and a sheep discussing lunch.

Because of the expenses, time, effort and energy that it takes to fight against such efforts, there are many bill proposals and a lot of discussion of what can be done to stop this attack. In 2004, the Humane Society of the United States lost a referendum vote to end trapping and hounding of bears. This past Fall, another referendum ended the same way. Many want this to be made more difficult or to stop altogether.

There are constitutional amendments being considered. Some are to exempt wildlife management from referendum votes. Others are to guarantee that Maine’s residents have a right to hunt, trap and fish.

LD1228 attempts to change the “fairness” of the signature gathering process.

Sec. 1. 21-A MRSA §902-B is enacted to read:
3 §902-B. Signatures on petitions for direct initiative of legislation from congressional
4 districts
5 The required number of signatures on petitions for the direct initiative of legislation
6 specified in the Constitution of Maine, Article IV, Part Third, Section 18 must include a
7 number of signatures of voters registered to vote in each congressional district that is
8 equal to 10% of the total vote for Governor cast in that congressional district in the last
9 gubernatorial election preceding the filing of the direct initiative.
10 SUMMARY
11 This bill provides that the required number of signatures on petitions for the direct
12 initiative of legislation must include a number of signatures of voters registered to vote in
13 each congressional district that is equal to 10% of the total vote for Governor cast in that
14 congressional district in the last gubernatorial election preceding the filing of the direct
15 initiative.

Maine has two Congressional Districts. Supposedly (I haven’t counted) each district comprises the same number of people. In the last bear referendum vote, according to the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, 73% of the signatures gathered to get the referendum on the ballot, came from the First District, which is mostly comprised of the southern coastal regions where it is more densely populated and with distinct socio-economic differences than the Second District.

LD1228 proposes to mandate that at least 5% of signatures come from each district that would make up the 10%.

Does this help to level the playing field? Is this a false cure for a false paradigm? Some argue that for government to be better and more in the hands of the people, a big government needs to be whittled down to small pieces, putting more of it in the hands of the people where they reside. If this is true, would this proposal do anything worthwhile in that regard?

Testimony Given in Constitutional Amendment to Prohibit Wildlife Management via Ballot Referendum

Testimony of James Cote on behalf of the Maine Trappers Association in Support of a Constitutional Amendment to Protect Scientific Wildlife Management in Maine

April 6, 2015

Senator Cyrway, Representative Luchini, members of the Committee, my name is James Cote and I reside in Farmington, Maine. I am here today on behalf of the Maine Trappers Association in strong (and qualified) support of an amendment to the Maine Constitution to protect scientific wildlife management. While the term “strong” is self-explanatory, I will describe my use of the term “qualified” later in this testimony.

Two things are certain to me on this subject. The first is that the process of amending any constitution is not one to be undertaken lightly. I am a strong supporter of the people’s right to petition their government. The second is that the framers of Maine’s Constitution had no way to anticipate how our ballot initiative process would be abused in the modern day in an effort to exploit and politicize our public wildlife resources. It is because of that exploitation and politicization, that we come to you today and ask for your support of a constitutional amendment to protect scientific wildlife management in Maine.

Combine tone-deaf advocacy organizations with hundreds of millions of dollars in resources and sparsely populated rural states (like Maine) with large populations of charismatic fauna and you’ve got a recipe for disaster when it comes to wildlife management. What do I mean when I use the term tone deaf?

After losing a campaign to ban Maine’s three most effective methods of managing our bear population in 2004, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) came back in 2014 to do the very same thing. In context, HSUS spent about a million dollars in 2004, and they contributed over 99% of the roughly $2.8 million dollars of the Yes on 1 campaign in 2014. When they realized that they couldn’t overcome the public’s trust of DIFW, they filed a lawsuit just a few short weeks ahead of the election in an effort to grab a headline and get our Department to back down. Days later, they filed a request for a temporary restraining order to get ads with the Department taken off the air. That request was denied by Justice Joyce Wheeler of the Maine Superior Court. Again, not liking that they didn’t get their way, the Humane Society of the United States filed an appeal that decision. And just a few short weeks ago, an HSUS attorney told Justice Wheeler during the court’s status conference, that HSUS would be seeking another ballot initiative in 2016, despite the fact that Maine voters said no just 4 months prior. If there is one thing we know about HSUS, it is that they don’t care about electoral or legal precedence, and they make good on their threats. That’s scary when you think about the fact that their organization is worth roughly $200 million.

We Mainers have experienced this phenomenon on more than one occasion. Perhaps most notable have been the 1983 campaign to end Maine’s moose hunt, and the 2004 and 2014 campaigns to effectively end Maine’s bear hunt. On all three occasions, our Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (DIFW)—the officials and scientists that we entrust to manage our wildlife– opposed these ballot initiatives.

The 2014 campaign siphoned a tremendous amount of money out of Maine’s economy, and from the bank accounts of thousands of Maine people who sought to protect DIFW’s ability to manage our bear population. It would have undermined 40 years of nationally recognized bear management and research.

Our public opinion surveys, time and time again, showed the public trusted the biologists and game wardens at the DIFW to manage our wildlife far more than any other entity- more than professional guides, more than sportsman organizations, and yes, far more than the Humane Society of the United States.

The enabling legislation of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife provides Maine people with a constant safeguard should a constitutional amendment pass. Their enabling legislation reads:

The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is established to preserve, protect and enhance the inland fisheries and wildlife resources of the State; to encourage the wise use of these resources; to ensure coordinated planning for the future use and preservation of these resources; and to provide for effective management of these resources.

To further subject Maine’s wildlife management to ballot initiative undermines the very purpose for that mission statement, and the existence of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. But that is exactly what the groups that put these initiatives on the ballot seek to achieve. They don’t want biologists to manage based on science, they want emotions to dictate how we manage. They will chip away, as they are doing in states all across the country, little by little until they get what they want, whether it’s good for the species or not. And all the while they will have drained otherwise productive resources from people who support our Department. In my opinion, that is an easy way to hold our wildlife hostage.

It is because of this statutory charge that we feel comfortable in asking you for this support of a constitutional amendment. An ideal amendment to our constitution would prohibit wildlife management at the ballot box, but would not prohibit public input or petition. You see, Mainers will still have many ways available to them to influence wildlife management:

1) Advocating at the Legislature.

2) Advocating at the Governor’s Office.

3) Working with DIFW officials in working groups.

4) Working with the DIFW Advisory Council on rulemaking changes.

5) Petitioning the DIFW to change a rule (in many cases a threshold of only 25 signatures of residents, sometimes more).

All of these options allow for public participation, but with the benefit of biological sideboards provided by the Department.

What prohibiting wildlife management by ballot initiative does is take the extreme amounts of money, distortion, and 30 second sound bites that we all know occur during campaigns and place the wildlife issue at hand in a more controlled policymaking environment. No less subject to public input and participation, but in a posture to consider more details from people on all sides of the issue. Our wildlife deserves that type of debate, not a war of television ads.

And now I’ll speak to the part about “qualified support”. I believe strongly, as do many others in this room, that this issue deserves lots of input. The two bills before you today are not perfect. Whether a constitutional amendment eventually gains your support or not, should be based on a thorough discussion with stakeholders and comprehensive legal analysis. As we enter the middle of April, I think it would be both reasonable and responsible, for all parties, to consider that the timeframe to consider such a significant policy is closing rapidly before the first session of the 127th Legislature adjourns sometime later this spring. Instead of rushing to a conclusion, we would request that this committee carry over either LD 754 or LD 1054 to the second session of the 127th Legislature. This process would allow more time for committee members and the Legislature to hear from constituents on the matter, to review policies and procedures at DIFW, to study the history of wildlife issues at the ballot box, to compare models from other states, and to have a more comprehensive discussion next year.

This decision is very important for the future of Maine’s wildlife. We can choose to subject Maine’s wildlife to be managed by whims at the ballot box, or we can safeguard our wildlife by making sure that the voice of the people and agency that we entrust with a statutory obligation to manage our wildlife for future generations are not buried under 30 second sound bites, laminated postcards, and special interest groups from away that have a determination to put more money in their political coffers and put an end to our storied outdoor heritage.

Testimony Given in Right to Hunt Constitutional Amendment

Senator Paul Davis, Representative Michael Shaw, distinguished members of the committee on Inland Fisheries and wildlife.

Good afternoon and thank you for the opportunity to speak here today. My name is Brett Patten and I am here to testify in support of LD753, a proposal that would amend Maine’s Constitution to protect an individual’s right to hunt, and fish. And, in concept, LD703 a proposal that would amend the constitution of Maine to protect the people’s right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife.

That being said, I feel here in Maine we pride ourselves on having strong beliefs as well as our own thoughts and ideas. That is why I’m asking you, when these bills go to work session that you make them our own. Make this “Maine’s Constitutional Amendment”, not Idaho’s, not Kentucky’s or any other state in the union, but Maine’s. There is a belief that similar Constitutional Amendments in other states, that are already in place, will work here in Maine, maybe they will, I don’t know. I do know this, in Maine we tend to do things our way, and not the way of others. This may be our best opportunity to do this so I would ask you to make this the best it can be.

Notwithstanding the fact that I am in favor of these bills, I am proposing the following changes in section 26 of the amendment and to the question that would appear on the ballot.
(Changes are in bold type)

Section 26. Right to hunt, fish, trap and harvest game and fish.
The right of the people of this state to hunt, fish, trap and harvest game and fish, including by the use of traditional methods, may not be infringed, subject to reasonable laws enacted by the legislature and reasonable rules adopted by the state agency designated for fish and wildlife management to promote wildlife conservation and management, to maintain natural resources in trust for public use and to preserve the future of hunting, fishing and trapping managing fish and game for surplus harvest. Public hunting, fishing and trapping are preferred means of managing, controlling and perpetuating fish and wildlife. This section may not be construed to modify any provision of law relating to eminent domain, trespass or property rights.

The question on the ballot would read like this:
“Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to provide that the right of the people of this state to hunt, fish, trap and harvest game and fish may not be infringed, subject to reasonable laws and rules, and to provide that public hunting, fishing and trapping are a preferred means of managing, controlling and perpetuating wildlife”?

I have hunted and fished in Maine most of my life and in recent years I’ve found a real love in trapping. I’m very proud to say I’m a registered Maine guide, a member of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, the Maine Professional Guide’s Association and the Maine Trapper’s Association. Last year’s fight against the bear referendum showed me a lot about who we are as Mainer’s. Although I was sickened at the amount of money and resources wasted in last years fight, I’m very grateful that I got to be a part of, and see firsthand, the solidarity and determination it took to defeat the Humane Society of the United States, for the second time in 10 years. For those of you that may not know, the Maine trapper’s Association donated over $117,000.00 towards last years cause along with soliciting thousands more from other fraternal organization’s. Trapping is a valuable part of Maine’s wildlife conservation and has been for hundreds of years. The word “trap” and the word “trapping” deserve to be in this amendment.

Opponents of bills like these say, “A State’s Constitution should guarantee fundamental democratic rights, not provide protection for recreational pastimes.” I say, “Hunting, fishing, and trapping are not recreational pastimes, but they are rights, rights of the people of this great state that should be protected forever!”

I would ask you to please vote “ought to pass” with the few changes I have presented.

I would be happy to answer any questions that the committee may have.

Thank you all for your time and God bless.

Respectfully submitted,
Brett Patten

Will Maine Face Another Baiting Ban?

Maine’s Warden Service is attempting to find out who is setting out bait sites – buckets filled with human waste – in locations around Farmington and Wilton.

A rumor has been circulating throughout Cyber Space that a group of staunch conservatives plan on launching a referendum vote to ban the practice of baiting for liberals. A spokesman for one group, who wished to remain anonymous, said the practice was inhumane and that, “It is a despicable practice that requires the liberals to remove the tightly sealed lids to get at the bait. Because liberals have no thumbs or seriously deformed thumbs, getting the lid off is next to impossible. We have discovered liberals are starving.”

Another spokeswoman, also wishing to remain clueless anonymous, said that, “…the use of bait to attract liberals eliminates all forms of fair chase and is inhumane. That makes some of us feel bad. If this practice is not stopped immediately the conservative affiliates will act unilaterally and commence stealth drone attacks against the democratic headquarters.”

When asked why they would attack the headquarters of the liberals they appear to be wanting to protect, the clearly irate spokeswoman declared, “We are trying to educate the liberals. They want to stop violence by banning guns, we think we can stop liberal baiting by getting rid of liberals.”

WasteBucket

Maine Supreme Court Arguments Over Windmills

Information provided by a member of the Partnership for the Preservation of the Downeast Lakes:

Dear PPDLW member,

Today the Maine Supreme Court heard oral arguments from Juliet Browne (for Champlain Wind) and Peggy Bensinger (Asst AG representing BEP/DEP). Neither PPDLW now Conservation Law Foundation were allowed to address the Court and neither of us were asked any questions.

Champlain Wind presented an argument that I thought was weaker than previous ones. Juliet was interrupted and was asked some difficult questions. At one point she seemed a bit flustered.
AAG Bensinger attacked firmly and quickly but when she was asked questions she faltered a bit. She did a fine job of explaining that this project is unique in the number of lakes affected, the fact that the lakes form a large system and that they are enjoyed as a system.

I won’t go into the details of exactly what was asked nor will I paraphrase the responses. You have to understand that the Justices have been studying this massive written record for nine months. They have most likely formed opinions already but wanted to hear each party expound on the key issues. They often ask questions to which they have the answers. They will play devil’s advocate to test the parties’ positions. We shouldn’t read much into the questions that are asked. They are not a good indication of the judge’s position.

The Court always give a huge benefit of the doubt to decisions made by a State agency. It take an enormous amount of compelling evidence to get the Court to overturn an agency decision. One of Judges asked Juliet if she realized that. I think for the Court to overturn the BEP’s affirmation of the DEP denial, Juliet would have had to hit the ball out of the park. I don’t think she did. If the Court is not willing to outright overturn the DEP/BEP denial, they have two options. One, they could say they don’t see enough convincing evidence of a legal error and therefore deny Champlain’s appeal and the Bowers project will remain dead. Two, the Court could remand the decision back to BEP so they can address the concerns raised by the Court and write a new decision document. In that case I’m fairly certain BEP can address those concerns and still affirm the DEP denial.

I’m not a lawyer so this is all speculation but I’m cautiously optimistic about the outcome. Obviously I’ll let you know the decision as soon as I hear.

The Board and Officers of PPDLW thank all of you who attended the Court today. As always, there were more of our supporters than Champlain’s.

Have a great mud season!