June 19, 2018

Analyzing The Candidates for Maine Governor – Question One

Analyzing the Candidate’s Responses
Question One

I am going to take a look at the six questions that were posed to each of the candidates for Maine’s Governor. I have received three responses from the four candidates who were asked to participate. Those asked was Governor John Baldacci incumbent democrat, republican candidate Chandler Woodcock, independent candidate Barbara Merrill and green party hopeful Patricia LaMarche. The only one not to have responded to date is LaMarche. I have decided to proceed without her answers. If I get them later, I will post them and make separate commentary.

I will do this in six parts breaking down answers from the candidates that apply to each question separately. I will post the original question as it was posed to the candidates followed by each one’s response. I will then make comments on their answers and offer opinions of my own.

Question number oneIn an effort to protect hunting and fishing heritage, some states have enacted a Constitutional Amendment protecting that heritage. Proponents of an amendment say it will reduce the millions of dollars spent on fighting groups opposed to hunting and that guaranteeing a protected industry will strengthen the Maine economy, to name some reasons. Those opposed to an amendment mostly say it is unnecessary, that existing laws protect hunting and fishing now. Would you support a Constitutional amendment that would guarantee the protection of Maine’s hunting and fishing heritage?

Here is Governor Baldacci’s response to question one.
I am a strong supporter of Maine’s hunting and fishing heritage, and played a key role in defeating the referendum to ban bear hunting, baiting and trapping. I understand the desire of some sportsmen not to have to engage in public referendums to protect hunting and fishing, but fear of debate about public issues runs counter to our American values. When sportsmen fear debate on issues of importance to them, they have already lost. There have been only two voter-initiated referendums in Maine history on hunting or fishing issues, the Moose referendum in the mid-1980’s and the 2004 Bear referendum.
Sportsmen prevailed in both. A better use of the time and resources of sportsmen would be to support the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine’s “Hunter Heritage” program to educate Maine people – particularly in Southern Maine – about why they need hunting and hunters.

Barbara Merrill’s response:
I do not believe we need a Constitutional Amendment and fear that if we tried to enact one and failed that it would lead some to conclude our Maine heritage isn’t already protected. What we need is to elect leaders who understand the importance of hunting and fishing to Maine people and who have the ability to convey this to new comers to our state. I try to do this in my book Setting the Maine Course – We Can Get There From Here. It’s available on line at BarbaraMerrill.Com and at most Maine bookstores. I would be interested in feedback from the readers of this blog.

Chandler Woodcock’s response:
I would support the constitutional amendment after it was approved by the people of Maine. I would not initiate the process or side with those who initiate the process. That said, there are two issues being addressed: The first is the preservation of the heritage and the second is the rights of the citizens to petition the government. I do not yet believe that the first has created a need to eliminate the second.

My analysis:

First of all, I would like to say that it became obviously apparent to me who the incumbent was by the political answers given by Governor Baldacci. The Governor took the opportunity to be evasive, diplomatic and inclusive of hunting groups such as the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine – perhaps making an assumption that many of our readers are members of or support efforts by the Maine Sportsman’s Alliance. He also jumped on the chance to toot his own horn of the accomplishments he wants readers to hear, as would any incumbent.

Both Baldacci and Woodcock state that having a Constitutional Amendment to the Maine Constitution to protect the heritage of hunting and fishing would diminish the freedom of the people to petition the government to enact change. To me this response is one born out of fear of losing a few votes and is a contradiction unto itself. First of all, a citizen’s initiated referendum to amend our Constitution is what our state and country is founded on. If an amendment were completed, it would in no way take away the rights of citizens to petition a change, again.

What a Constitutional Amendment would do is protect a heritage that is engrained into Maine society and is a very big part of the Maine economy. It would discourage groups like the Humane Society of the United States from accomplishing their ultimate goals by bombarding us with further referendums in order to deplete our financial resources. Once that is accomplished, they can proceed with their agenda of banning hunting and fishing. If an overwhelming majority of Maine citizens believe in protecting that heritage by referendum, then that in itself is the right of the people to petition the government.

Baldacci laments about sportsmen fearing public debate. I don’t know of one single sportsman who fears a debate about what they love to do. What they don’t have is bottomless pockets full of money that it takes to fight groups bent on destroying American heritage. He states that “When sportsmen fear debate on issues of importance to them, they have already lost.” As I have already stated, Maine sportsmen do not fear debate. Baldacci’s answer comes from his fear of losing the votes.

Woodcock is very non-committal in where he stands. He says he would support a Constitutional amendment after it was approved by the people although he would not side with whoever initiated the petition. I guess he is saying that he wouldn’t get in the way of what the citizens of Maine wanted.

He also speaks of my question as having two parts – one of protecting our heritage and one of preserving the rights of the people to petition their government. I will ask a question of Woodcock and Baldacci. Why is petitioning the government for a Constitutional amendment to protect hunting and fishing heritage not good American values? Yet according to both Baldacci and Woodcock, leaving the door open for animal rights groups to come in at anytime and try to strip our heritage from us, now is the right of the people to petition? Their reasoning is illogical.

I believe that Merrill at least makes an attempt at addressing the truth about what is happening in Maine. As more and more people cross the border into Maine, buy up the land and post it, these are the same people who often will either side with the animal rights groups or take on a “I don’t care” position. These people haven’t a clue about Maine’s heritage and could really could care less.

I have to ask if either Baldacci or Woodcock have left the state of Maine in recent times? The Governor is recalling the two referendums that occurred in Maine in the last twenty or so years that concern hunting – the Moose Referendum and the Bear Referendum. Woodcock says he doesn’t think there’s a need to protect hunting and fishing heritage. He believes by doing so we would be taking away the rights of citizens.

Both men need to get out a bit more and see what is happening all across America. Land use is shrinking at an alarming rate. Big money is being funneled into the hands of extreme animal rights groups who are bent on destroying our heritage. Land grabbers, as they are called, are making every attempt at closing down lands and making them wilderness, excluding many.

The HSUS has left Maine for now after losing the bid to stop bear hunting but you can bet they will be back. Once they spot a weakness, they exploit it. They are watching closely as the landscape of Maine changes. With that change is coming more and more residents who could care less about what’s important to the natives. They will return but not nearly as quickly if Maine voters were to say they believe in protecting our heritage. Maine needs to step up and speak out now about how really important hunting, fishing, trapping and all outdoor recreation is to the economy of this state. A bold statement in support of an amendment would be a first step.

Overall, I am very disappointed with the responses given by all the candidates to this question. Somehow I thought that someone would actually be brave enough to state how he or she felt.

Merrill is correct when she says we need to elect representatives who truly understand this heritage and will work to protect it. The right of the people to petition the government will stand no matter whether this amendment or any other amendment is initiated. Maine and the United States have several amendments to its Constitutions and none of those has taken away the rights of the people. It wouldn’t in this case either.

Baldacci wouldn’t tell us what he would do. He bragged about how much he supports hunting and fishing and tells us to spend our time doing something more productive – like joining up with the Sportsman’s Alliance. He doesn’t think Maine is being threatened by outsiders and says sportsmen fear debate.

Merrill clearly stated that she doesn’t think we need an amendment. But, she went on to say that she feared a failed attempt would make people think that the heritage wasn’t protected.

Woodcock seemed a bit too wishy-washy. He would support an amendment but don’t ask him to take a side. That’s non-committal. He too stated that there really was no need to protect our heritage.

I am tempted to keep score by giving one candidate the nod over the others per each question. I may regret doing this but here goes.

I would give an ever so slight edge to Barbara Merrill with the emphasis on “ever so”. The reason being that she at least stated right up front that she didn’t think we needed a Constitutional amendment. The other issue was in her attempt at making me think that she just might have a clue as to what is happening to the character and personality of Maine.

Comments are now open.

Tom Remington

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"Maine Cowboy"

This was sent to me by my good friend and photographer Milt Inman. You got to love photo software!

Maine Cowboy

Tom Remington

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Maine Chosen As Site For New Cabela's

To me this comes as a huge surprise that Cabela’s has settled on Scarborough, Maine as a site for a new store. Earlier the city manager was quoted as saying he wasn’t interested in making any concessions that would help the outfitter open a store in their town.

The development, being done by New England Expedition, will house office space, a 200-room hotel, a bank, restaurants and the anchor will be a 130,000 square foot retail space for Cabela’s.

Congratulations to the town of Scarborough.

Tom Remington

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Maine Governor Baldacci Responds To Questions By Maine Hunting Today Magazine

Incumbant candidate for Maine governor, democrat John Baldacci, has returned his answers to the six questions posed to four of the candidates for governor. The election will be held this coming November. Questions were posed by the editors of Maine Hunting Today, an online magazine, to Republican candidate Chandler Woodcock, Independent Barbara Merrill, Green Party Patricia LaMarche and Governor Baldacci.

Below are the six questions exactly as they were posed to each of the candidates. Following each question, I have inserted the Governor’s response. Please remember readers that comments are open and welcome. Click on comments at the bottom of the page.

Maine Governor John Baldacci

Questions For Candidates For Maine Governor

1. In an effort to protect hunting and fishing heritage, some states have enacted a Constitutional Amendment protecting that heritage. Proponents of an amendment say it will reduce the millions of dollars spent on fighting groups opposed to hunting and that guaranteeing a protected industry will strengthen the Maine economy, to name some reasons. Those opposed to an amendment mostly say it is unnecessary, that existing laws protect hunting and fishing now. Would you support a Constitutional amendment that would guarantee the protection of Maine’s hunting and fishing heritage?

Answer 1. I am a strong supporter of Maine’s hunting and fishing heritage, and played a key role in defeating the referendum to ban bear hunting, baiting and trapping. I understand the desire of some sportsmen not to have to engage in public referendums to protect hunting and fishing, but fear of debate about public issues runs counter to our American values. When sportsmen fear debate on issues of importance to them, they have already lost. There have been only two voter-initiated referendums in Maine history on hunting or fishing issues, the Moose referendum in the mid-1980’s and the 2004 Bear referendum.
Sportsmen prevailed in both. A better use of the time and resources of sportsmen would be to support the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine’s “Hunter Heritage” program to educate Maine people – particularly in southern Maine – about why they need hunting and hunters.

2. Maine, not unlike many other states, struggles to fund the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The bulk of funding comes from license fees from hunters, fishermen and trappers, etc. What are your plans to provide a budget to the MDIFW that meets the demands of sportsmen and the general public? Hunters, fishermen and trappers are interested in creative ways to enhance the budget and cut out nonsense programs (as they see them). Can you share with us any creative ideas you might have?

Answer 2. I am the first Governor to provide DIF&W with a significant general fund appropriation ($3.5 million) as called for in Maine statutes, and I provided it in the face of many competing demands for funding. By doing so, I disproved the assumption that the needs of the Department can’t compete for funding in the state budget. Nevertheless, I understand the concern of some sportsmen that future Governors may not have as strong a commitment to funding IF&W as I have shown. I will work with the sporting community to identify and put in place a reliable source of public funding for IF&W. In fact, my staff and the leadership at the Department have already begun a review of options that could provide a reliable and permanent funding source for the Department. Because funding options may be controversial, it
may take some time to build support in the Legislature for such a funding source.
I am committed to continuing to provide public dollars to supplement the Department’s revenues from licenses, permits and registrations until the new, reliable and permanent funding source is in place.
Dedicating a small percentage of sales tax revenues is one of the options my administration is reviewing. Until that review is complete, I am not prepared to say that this option is the best one for supplementing the Department’s current revenue base. If the review suggests this is the preferred option, I am prepared to support it.

3. As governor, would you move toward changing any current laws regarding the right to keep and bear arms? Please be specific.

Answer 3. I will propose no change to current firearms laws, and will oppose any additional restrictions on ownership, possession, sale, or use of firearms.

4. Maine spends millions of dollars each year stocking many of our waters around the state. Do you believe this is a worthwhile expense? Would you reduce, increase or leave the same, the amount of stocking that is done?

Answer 4. I believe the cost of stocking of fish in those of our waters where fish stocks are not naturally sustainable is a worthwhile expenditure. I felt so strongly that we need to do more that I proposed and passed a $10 million bond issue for fish hatcheries. Those funds enabled us to build a state-of-the-art fish hatchery at Emden that is now producing bigger, healthier, and more fish that will be stocked in Maine waters. The greater availability of more and bigger fish will assist us in efforts to attract new fishermen and women to Maine in order to share in the expanded fishing opportunities.
This is part of my effort to revitalize our natural resource-based economy and restore its importance in the total state economy. I feel it will allow more people who love Maine, and want to live close to the sporting activities they enjoy, to have good jobs where they want to live.

5. Maine lags far behind other states in percentage of land owned by the public trust. Those opposed to spending public dollars for the purchase of lands in Maine argue that there is ample private property available for hunting, fishing, trapping, and all forms of outdoor recreation. Do you see Maine’s private available lands shrinking and do you support the further investment of purchasing public lands?

Answer 5. I strongly support adding additional land to the public trust, and favor a policy that there be “no net loss” of public lands open to traditional uses like hunting, fishing and trapping. In fact, as part of the Katahdin Lake legislation earlier this year, nearly 10,000 acres of land will be acquired that will be open to traditional uses, far exceeding the 4000 acres that went into Baxter State Park as part of the deal.
During my time as Governor we have added a little less than one million acres of land to the public trust through purchases “in fee” or through easements, including the addition of 205,000 acres in two deals announced during the week of July 10-14, 2006.
I have also been pressing the Legislature to approve state bonding to acquire more public land open to traditional uses, but opposition from most Republican legislators has denied us the 2/3 vote needed to send the issue to voters for their approval. I will continue to make acquiring more land for the public trust a top priority in my second term.

6. Are you in support of or opposed to Sunday hunting in Maine? Could you please give specific reasons for your stance.

Answer 6. In 2005 I became the first Governor to ever propose and advocate for Sunday hunting. Despite the efforts of many in the sporting community, the idea was rejected by the Legislature amidst strong opposition from many people and groups, including a surprising number of hunters themselves. I have since learned that repeated surveys of voters over the past few years have showed that sportsmen have been almost evenly divided on whether to allow Sunday hunting.
Unless new polling shows a dramatic change in sportsmen’s, and the public’s, attitude towards Sunday hunting, there is little chance such a change will be approved by the Maine Legislature. Until attitudes change, it would be fruitless to seek legislative action, and it might even be counter-productive of other initiatives sportsmen and women may propose to the Legislature.

I note that the anger expressed about Sunday hunting by many landowners who traditionally have allowed hunting on their lands, and their threat to close off their lands to all access by hunters should Sunday hunting be authorized, should give pause to supporters of Sunday hunting. Widespread implementation of this threat would do very serious harm to those who hunt because much of the lands open to hunters in Maine are owned by these landowners.

Tom Remington

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International Beagle Hare Futurity Trials

Hunting rabbits with a hound is loads of fun. Watching a flock of hounds trying to scare up a rabbit during trials has to be enjoyable to say the least. Dave Sherwood, outdoor writer for the Morning Sentinel, tells tales of the recent hound hunting trials.

Tom Remington

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Wildlife Abounds In Bethel, Maine

At our camp in Bethel, Maine we have been fortunate enough to get to see a few wild animals that inhabit our woods.

Young Moose

While my wife was excavating an old dump site on our land, she heard what she thought was me coming to check up on her. When she looked up, she saw this young bull staring at her as if to say, “What are you doing here?”

He really had no interest in leaving the area and hung around for awhile. My wife came and got me and I was able to get him to pose for this shot (picture). Since this picture was taken, I’ve seen this guy a few more times hanging around. He has since grown some small antlers.

Baby Chick Partridge

This was the coolest. I was in the process of running my chain saw and cutting up some dead trees and blow-downs. I looked up and saw a female partridge standing on a stump about 20 feet away. She was obviously excited but unlike other times when I’ve encountered a grouse with chicks, she wasn’t that agressive. She more or less remained on the stump with ruffled feathers.

I turned off the saw because I thought the chicks would be nearby. When me ears began to get accustomed to natural noises, I could hear the chicks peeping. Before I could get my saw and get out of there, the chicks (I counted about eight of them) spotted me and began following me wherever I went. These guys were so tiny they had real difficulty negotiating the terrain but they were determined to catch up with me.

I estimated the chicks might have been only days old as you can see from the photo. I got my wife and we headed back to camp in hopes that the chicks would become reunited with their mother.

After about an hour we quietly ventured back to the area where the chicks were. Mom had successfully gathered up her young but they were still hanging around. Before the chicks spotted us again, we gathered up our gear and left them alone.

Tom Remington

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Barbara Merrill, Independent Candidate For Maine's Governor Answers Questions

Barbara Merrill, Independent Candidate for Maine Governor, has sent me her answers to the six questions posed to four of the candidates about hunting, fishing and the outdoors in Maine. The original questions, exactly as they were presented to the candidates are posted followed immediately by her responses.

In her answers, she expresses willingness to participate in further discussions with readers of this blog and enlists some of your input as well. Comments are open and readers are encouraged to leave comments and/or ask further questions. I will forward any questions on to her but I have no guarantees that they will be answered.
Babara Merrill - Independent candidate for Maine Governor

Questions For Candidates For Maine Governor

1. In an effort to protect hunting and fishing heritage, some states have enacted a Constitutional Amendment protecting that heritage. Proponents of an amendment say it will reduce the millions of dollars spent on fighting groups opposed to hunting and that guaranteeing a protected industry will strengthen the Maine economy, to name some reasons. Those opposed to an amendment mostly say it is unnecessary, that existing laws protect hunting and fishing now. Would you support a Constitutional amendment that would guarantee the protection of Maine’s hunting and fishing heritage?

1. I do not believe we need a Constitutional Amendment and fear that if we tried to enact one and failed that it would lead some to conclude our Maine heritage isn’t already protected. What we need is to elect leaders who understand the importance of hunting and fishing to Maine people and who have the ability to convey this to new comers to our state. I try to do this in my book Setting the Maine Course – We Can Get There From Here. It’s available on line at BarbaraMerrill.Com and at most Maine bookstores. I would be interested in feedback from the readers of this blog.

2. Maine, not unlike many other states, struggles to fund the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The bulk of funding comes from license fees from hunters, fishermen and trappers, etc. What are your plans to provide a budget to the MDIFW that meets the demands of sportsmen and the general public? Hunters, fishermen and trappers are interested in creative ways to enhance the budget and cut out nonsense programs (as they see them). Can you share with us any creative ideas you might have?

2. I am committed to making certain that the nonconsumptive users pay their fair share of the costs of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Honestly, I’m not sure I have yet seen the right solution and I don’t want to be one of these candidates who pretend they’ve got the perfect solution for every problem. I do believe if we listen to the Mainers who care most about any subject we can come up with a lot better way to do things. In that spirit, I would like to encourage bloggers to send their ideas to Barbara@BarbaraMerrill.com and promise that after hearing all your ideas, I will share what I think will work with readers of this blog.

3. As governor, would you move toward changing any current laws regarding the right to keep and bear arms? Please be specific.

3. I would not.

4. Maine spends millions of dollars each year stocking many of our waters around the state. Do you believe this is a worthwhile expense? Would you reduce, increase or leave the same, the amount of stocking that is done?

4. I do think it is worthwhile and overtime we need to find ways to do much more. Our current investment pays us back many times and if we increase it we can bring many more people to all parts of our state. These fishing men and women will contribute to our economy with the supplies they buy and the money they spend on lodging and guides. But that is just a part of our return on investment. I have met people who moved to Maine, bringing jobs with them, people who moved here to enjoy our fishing. Our environment is a magnet that can draw thousands of jobs to Maine if we understand what we’ve got and exploit it wisely.

5. Maine lags far behind other states in percentage of land owned by the public trust. Those opposed to spending public dollars for the purchase of lands in Maine argue that there is ample private property available for hunting, fishing, trapping, and all forms of outdoor recreation. Do you see Maine’s private available lands shrinking and do you support the further investment of purchasing public lands?

5. I am a supporter of public land purchases and have advocated that we do more, not just in northern Maine, but that we preserve open spaces in southern Maine as well. I regret that the current spirit of partisanship in Augusta has retarded these efforts. However, there is one issue we need to get settled: we need to make certain that these land deals take account of traditional uses such as hunting. Last session I tried to convince the party leaders to allow me to introduce a bill which would have created a commission whose membership included hunters and snowmobilers. This commission would set state policy, in an open process that would protect hunting and fishing rights in all future land purchases. Neither political party seemed to think this was a priority, but I will do it by executive order on my first day as Governor.

6. Are you in support of or opposed to Sunday hunting in Maine? Could you please give specific reasons for your stance.

6. I am opposed to Sunday hunting. When the item came up in the recent legislative session, I contacted every hunter in my district with a survey asking their opinion. Over 90% of them opposed Sunday hunting. I think that this is because of the unspoken truce between landowners and hunters which goes like this: I’ll let you hunt on my land because it is the Maine neighbor thing to do even though it is sometimes an inconvenience, but give me one day a week to mend my fences when I can be sure no one else is sharing my land.

General Comments:

In some ways I think hunting and fishing are the canary in the cage for traditional Maine values. When large groups of our citizens and the people they elect to state office don’t appreciate the importance of these traditional outdoor activities, then all aspects of traditional Maine are at risk. So I look forward to working with you on an ongoing basis to improve the general level of support all across Maine.

Tom Remington

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Republican Candidate for Governor of Maine Responds to Questions in Online Interview

The first to respond with answers to six questions posed by the Black Bear Blog and Maine Hunting Today in an online interview, is the Republican candidate for Governor Chandler Woodcock. I will post the questions exactly as they were sent to him and insert his answers at the end of each question. Comments are open and readers are encouraged to comment and leave additional questions. I will forward the questions to each of the candidates but I have no guarantee they will respond.

Chandler Woodcock Candidate for Maine Governor

Questions For Candidates For Maine Governor

1. In an effort to protect hunting and fishing heritage, some states have enacted a Constitutional Amendment protecting that heritage. Proponents of an amendment say it will reduce the millions of dollars spent on fighting groups opposed to hunting and that guaranteeing a protected industry will strengthen the Maine economy, to name some reasons. Those opposed to an amendment mostly say it is unnecessary, that existing laws protect hunting and fishing now. Would you support a Constitutional amendment that would guarantee the protection of Maine’s hunting and fishing heritage?

1. I would support the constitutional amendment after it was approved by the people of Maine.I would not initiate the process or side with those who initiate the process.That said, there are two issues being addressed: The first is the preservation of the heritage and the second is the rights of the citizens to petition the government. I do not yet believe that the first has created a need to eliminate the second.

2. Maine, not unlike many other states, struggles to fund the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The bulk of funding comes from license fees from hunters, fishermen and trappers, etc. What are your plans to provide a budget to the MDIFW that meets the demands of sportsmen and the general public? Hunters, fishermen and trappers are interested in creative ways to enhance the budget and cut out nonsense programs (as they see them). Can you share with us any creative ideas you might have?

2. I helped negotiate the 18% funding level which was stripped by the current administration and would seek to reinstate that level of funding. The department, along with others, needs to move away from gimmicks and toward the budgetary process.

3. As governor, would you move toward changing any current laws regarding the right to keep and bear arms? Please be specific.

3.I am a supporter of 2nd Amendment rights and therefore see no need for restrictive bills.

4. Maine spends millions of dollars each year stocking many of our waters around the state. Do you believe this is a worthwhile expense? Would you reduce, increase or leave the same, the amount of stocking that is done?

4.I served on the Hatchery Committee of the legislature and we increased the stocking of Brook trout in particular for those bodies of water which are not sustainable. I want to have fewer Splake and more Landlocked Salmon and have stated such many times.

5. Maine lags far behind other states in percentage of land owned by the public trust. Those opposed to spending public dollars for the purchase of lands in Maine argue that there is ample private property available for hunting, fishing, trapping, and all forms of outdoor recreation. Do you see Maine’s private available lands shrinking and do you support the further investment of purchasing public lands?

5.I have been a supporter of public land purchases if access and traditional use are maintained for all.

6. Are you in support of or opposed to Sunday hunting in Maine? Could you please give specific reasons for your stance.

6. I am opposed to Sunday hunting. I believe that nonconsumptive users need the perception of “safe woods” and are important to future use by those of us who hunt.

General Comments:

I trutly appreciate the opportunity to answer the questions and wish to again thank you. I have been hunting and fishing in this state for nearly 50 years and love the outdoors. It generates $1 billion/year for us and needs to be better appreciated by governent for its important role and significant heritage.

Tom Remington

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Big Buck Tracking School

We did attend the Benoit Brothers Big Buck Tracking School in Allagash last weekend. I am working on a story that is going to take some time to complete and get approved for accuracy.

Below are two pictures Milt Inman took of Lanny Benoit and Lane Benoit sharing some of their secrets with those in attendance. They had a lot to say and you had to pay attention. Sometimes they even said things that pissed a few people off. All in all, I think everyone had a good time.

Lanny Benoit at Big Buck Tracking School in Allagash, Maine

In the above picture, Lanny Benoit explains to a young hunter some of his past experiences as a tracker of big bucks.

Lane Benoit Offers Some Advice

In this photo, Lane Benoit offers some advice about how to recognize a big buck track and decisions he uses to decide whether to follow them or not.

I will bring you small excerpts from the trip and events that took place that will not appear in the feature story at Maine Hunting Today.

Tom Remington

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To Err Is Human. To Forget About 60 Moose Hunting Permits Is Tragic!

Maybe this is the ammunition Rep. Moody of Manchester, Maine needs to move the moose hunting permit selection process from the hands of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and into those of the Maine State Lottery. During the winter, Moody sent a bill to the Maine Legislature that would do that. The bill was referred to committee where it was filed as a “dead” bill. In what appears to be a errant mistake of forgetting to enter certain criteria into the computer that makes the selections for moose permits, 60 did not get drawn.

A member of the general public who can count (they must not be from Florida), began reviewing the list of winners in the recent moose lottery done last Wednesday in a drawing held at the clubhouse of Scarborough Downs. When this person began adding up the total number of permits issued, they came up with 2,765, 60 permits shy of the promised 2,825.

That’s when the MDIFW officials went to the sidelines and stuck their heads under the tarp to review the instant replay. Sure enough, they were 60 permits short.

It was then discovered that no antlered moose permits for the September hunt in WMD 19 (much of northern Washington County) had been selected. Evidently the data to make those selections was never entered into the computer that does the random drawings. (It is not believed at this time that President Bush had anything to do with this – and yes, this is a joke).

Normal procedure calls for the naming of 60 alternates using the same criteria in the selection of those who receive moose permits. These 60 alternates, listed in the order in which they would be eligible, are selected if someone who is chosen as a permittee refuses their license. Officials claim that on average anywhere from 40-60 applicants turn down their permits. Those permits are then given to the alternates.

Officials met at mid-field to determine what the proper ruling for the foul would be and decided that they would name the 60 alternates as the recipients of the 60 antlered moose permits for WMD 19 (perhaps not the zone they applied for but a permit nonetheless). 60 new alternates have already been named to replace those.

I seldom am critical of the Maine DIFW or any other state wildlife department because I believe that for the most part, all these agencies do a fine job and often work under extreme pressure from many souces. This seemingly innocent mistake is bigger than what appears on the surface.

First off, it seems to me that the very first step in a checks and balance agenda would be to have anyone at the department, perhaps even the janitor, add up the total number of permits selected just to make sure the numbers match. I learned this mind boggling technique in my freshman year of high school in business math.

This was not done and a member of the general public had to notify the officials at MDIFW that they had made a mistake. This is bad – bad because the MDIFW just reduced the confidence level that many of us have in them, myself included. I have to be honest in saying that after reading about this incident, I did ask myself about what other mistakes like this have been made in the past.

I have no information that would suggest that any mistakes have been made in the past but each year there is a certain amount of complaining that occurs from those who did not draw a moose permit and especially from those who have applied for several years in a row.

There has never been any politics or favoritism played that anyone has ever been able to find out with the moose permit selection process, but this booboo sure will give the complainers more fodder to chew on.

Mistakes happen and as I said in my title, to err is human. What’s wrong with this picture is the Department had no checks and balances in place, even something as simple as to count how many permits got selected. This should have been going on during the selection show. It could have been programmed into the selection process for that matter. An announcement could have been made -“and the final permit…. number 2,765, goes to…….no, wait. That’s not right”.

The damage has been done. Those who didn’t draw a permit will have more ammunition to argue about the faults of the system. Those who don’t like how the department is run can point another finger and officials will be scrambling around hoping to mend a badly broken fence.

A complete list of those selected for moose permits, including the 60 afterthoughts, can be viewed here.

Tom Remington

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