October 17, 2018

Turkeys On The Menu For Aroostook County

Don’t look for a Hannaford’s truck delivering turkeys but soon Inland Fisheries and Wildlife personnel will be scouting out suitable areas in southern Aroostook County in northern Maine looking for wild turkey habitat.

A coalition comprised of several representatives of different groups ranging from farmers to scientists, have been meeting regularly in order to figure out a way to continue bringing more wild turkeys into this region. After several meetings, consensus was reached and a plan developed that all parties feel is workable and realistic.

The plan still follows the same guidelines and goals as established in 1999 when a 15-year turkey reintroduction plan was devised.

The plan calls for ways to deal with potential nuisance turkeys. This has been a concern with farmers having turkeys around eating their grain and destroying crops. The plan puts into play a system of dealing with these issues. It involves education, help lines, quick response and damage control teams.

Built into the plan are means by which issues can be revisited and the plan amended to address changing or unforeseen problems.

Tom Remington

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No Evidence of CWD in Maine Deer

Once again, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife experts have found no evidence of the fatal chronic wasting disease in any of the deer tested. Brain tissues were sent to a federal lab in Connecticut for testing and all results came back negative.

Maine wildlife biologists spend many hours in the field observing deer and they also report they have seen no visible indications either. All licensed deer and elk farms in Maine are tested all the time and there remains no cases.

This is good news for Maine, its wildlife, and economy, as sometimes reports of the disease can have a very negative affect on hunting related businesses.

You can read the whole report release from MDIF&W in the Maine Hunting Today news section.

Tom Remington

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What's Love Got to Do, Got to Do, Got to Do With It?

I don’t think Tina Turner was singing about wild turkeys when she sang that song a few years ago but love is in the air in Maine and the tom turkeys are doing dumb things – like the males of every species seem to do when they get a bit twitterpated.

Maine’s wild turkey population is estimated at around 20,000 birds. That’s double the population from just 6 years ago and to go along with it, turkey permits issued to hunters last year jumped up to 23,951 compared to 4,000 issued five years prior.

With the growing population of the wild turkeys and the fact that now we are headed into the mating season, watch out for them gobblers on the highways and byways of Maine and other states. In Maine there has already been 3 turkey-vehicle collisions this week and I don’t mean the turkeys from Massachussets either.

It’s not always easy to get a turkey to fly but they will and when they have hens on the brain, no telling when, where, and how they’ll fly. One report on the Maine Turnpike said that a driver ran into an in-flight turkey that went through his windshield, landed on the front seat and got up and waddled out the back door of the car – no doubt still looking for that hen.

There’s always good in everything and this is a sign that when the turkey season opens in May, them tomfoolery masters will being trying to convince one big tom it’s time to tango – if the mating season doesn’t come and go by then.

So keep your eyes out for turkeys in love and get practiced up on those turkey calls. You may need them in a few weeks.

Tom Remington

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Maine Warden Promoted

Eleven-year veteran of the Maine Warden Service was promoted to Captain recently. Joel Wilkinson of Greenville had just recently been promoted to Sergeant. Congratulations to Mr. Wilkinson.

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Benoit Brothers Trophy Deer School

Here’s an opportunity that doesn’t come along very often in any hunter’s lifetime. The Benoit brothers, in conjunction with the Allagash Sporting Camps, in Allagash, Maine, will be holding a trophy deer school.

This event will be held at the camps over a three day weekend commencing on June 16, 2006 and running through the 18th. You need to call Mike Paquette in New Hampshire at 1-603-335-1320 or in Maine call 1-207-398-3555.

Tom Remington

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Understanding "Traditional Use"

All through the debate that is continuing still about Baxtergate and the controversial land swap, the term traditional use has come up many times. Traditional use has been used to describe the many aspects of recreational access to lands.

Dave Sherwood, writer for the Morning Sentinel, on Saturday had an article about traditional use and what it really means. It comes as no suprise to those in the know that traditional use is all in the eyes of the beholder. It is terminology that is used to defend what is under attack at the moment.

Some people take great offense to other’s free-wheeling use of the term traditional use. On the one extreme you might have the traditional use purist and on the other end, the employer of the latest in high tech gadgets to enjoy their “traditional use”.

“Hunting, fishing, trapping, guiding, canoeing, hiking and wildlife viewing. Those have been traditions in this state forever,” said Skip Trask, a lobbyist for the Maine Trappers Association.

“Let’s face it, trappers explored the state of Maine. They were the first to come here. Hunting and fishing went along with that,” Trask said. He said colonial laws which allowed access to so-called “great ponds” for fish and foul long ago established the rights of hunters, fishermen and trappers to do “their thing” in Maine.

Chris Potholm, a Bowdoin College professor, who has been studying Maine outdoor politics for 40 years had this to say.

“Back in the day, there were operating railroads in the north woods, there were steamers going up and down Moosehead Lake. It’s only in the last 30 years that the idea that ‘nature exists for the use of people’ has changed. It’s all in the eye and mind of the beholder. Some would say in a working forest, you have to use an axe, but then came the chainsaw, and skidder. Is it still tradition? Tradition is what we project onto an ever-changing reality,”

George Smith, executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine summed it up this way.

“Hunters and fishermen have always used the latest technology. Everybody has the best of equipment, everybody wants the new stuff. It’s very much a personal decision as to where you draw the line,”

Although Smith defended traditional use as pertaining to hunting, trapping and fishing, with what I think might have been a tongue in cheek comment, said this.

“It only takes 24 hours to create a tradition,”

Perhaps we are all guilty of using the term traditional use to defend something that we have done our entire life – however long that has been. What I define as traditional is quite different from what you deem it. What it really boils down to is that it’s a personal thing of which no one can put a definition on.

Tom Remington

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Maine Looking at Deer Hunting Changes

Below are two issues that are being considered at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries. Both issues deal with deer hunting and archery. There is contact information to make comment on these issues if you wish. No public hearings have been scheduled at this time.

AGENCY: Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife

RULE TITLE OR SUBJECT: Deer Hunting – Open and Closed Season

PROPOSED RULE NUMBER:

CONCISE SUMMARY : The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is proposing to establish the framework for the hunting season for antlerless deer (with hand-held bow and arrow only) within the Drakes Island and Wells Sanctuaries, in the town of Wells. This is a permit-only hunt with permits being issued to licensed archery hunters authorized by a landowner. This special permit hunt will be open for a specified period between November 1 and December 31.

THIS RULE WILL__ WILL NOT_ X HAVE A FISCAL IMPACT ON MUNICIPALITIES.

STATUTORY AUTHORITY: 12 MRSA Section 11402

PUBLIC HEARING ) : None scheduled – one may be requested.

DEADLINE FOR COMMENTS: April 14, 2006

AGENCY CONTACT PERSON: Andrea L. Erskine

AGENCY NAME: Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife

ADDRESS: #41 SHS, Augusta, ME 04333-0041

e-mail: andrea.erskine@maine.gov

TELEPHONE: 287-5201

AGENCY:  Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

RULE TITLE OR SUBJECT: Deer Hunting – Expanded Archery Season

PROPOSED RULE NUMBER:

CONCISE SUMMARY: The Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife proposes to make changes to the existing expanded archery deer hunting areas; specifically, re-designating the portions of Wildlife Management District 24 by designating areas that will be open during the expanded archery season. A detailed copy of the rule may be obtained from the Agency Contact Person below.

STATUTORY AUTHORITY: 12 M.R.S.A Section 11402

PUBLIC HEARING: None scheduled – one may be requested.

DEADLINE FOR COMMENTS: April 14, 2006

AGENCY CONTACT PERSON: Andrea Erskine, Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, 41 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0041; telephone: 287-5201; e-mail: andrea.erskine@state.me.us.

Tom Remington

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Baxtergate Committee Decides on Compromise

At the end of the final day of discussions pertaining to the complicated and highlly controversial Baxter land swap debacle, lawmakers voted 8-4 to support a compromise – although somewhat tentatively. The compromise will split the 6,015 acres into two parcels – a northern and southern piece. The northern spread, which is half the size of the southern parcel, will be left open to hunting, trapping and all other general recreational activities. The southern “no fly zone” will be closed to pretty much everything except foot traffic.

Although the compromise was reached, there are still many unanswered or rather unresolved problems. One major issue is who will manage the northern zone. It has become very clear to me that the Baxter Park Authority has zero interest in doing anything to support any efforts when it comes to hunting and other recreational activities they don’t like. This is unfortunate for everyone and readers need to understand that although Baxter land swap proponents want to pin the blame for any failure of this proposal on hunters and snowmobilers, they are just as responsible for derailing any plans for Baxter expansion.

Another issue involves the grooming of snowmobile trails around the perimeter of the park and the northern zone. The Park Authority, who say they have no intention of managing that parcel, say that if the Legislature tries to force them to manage it, they will not allow any grooming of trails.

Next week the debate will move to the full House and it is doubtful that a 2/3 majority can be achieved to approve this deal.

I agree with Rep. Roger Sherman (R) Hodgdon, when he said that it’s a “skirmish in the greater war over who controls the 8 million or 9 million acres across northern Maine.” I think he is right on the money, that those pushing this purchase of the Katahdin Lake parcel to preserve it as a sanctuary, is only one small step in controlling all the forest lands in northern Maine. Residents need to pay attention. It appears their agenda is to control it and close it off to the rest of us.

The only person who seemed to remain optimistic that the deal would survive was Department of Conservation director Patrick McGowan.

88 x 31 Hunting Clothing

*Previous Posts on Baxtergate*

Baxtergate Ovens Get Cranking

The Shortsightedness of Maine’s Leaders

Two Opposing Sides Speak Out on Baxtergate

Clearing Up Two Misconceptions About Baxtergate

Putting Maine’s Wilderness In Perspective or Fighting Fire With Fire

Baxtergate Debate Continues

Millinocket Continues Its Battle

Adding a Personal Touch to Baxtergate

Many Small Percentages = One Big Percentage

More on Baxtergate

Katahdin Lake to be Added to Baxter State Park

Land Swap Proposal to Increase Baxter State Park

Not Everyone Happy About Baxter Land Swap

Millinocket Wants To Be Heard In Regards To Baxter Land Swap

Monday Morning Podcast (audio podcast about the Baxter Land Swap)

Why The Baxter Land Swap Shouldn’t Happen

Maine’s Governmental Leaders Have Messed Up – The Saga of Baxtergate

More Information on Baxtergate

Baxter and the Anti-Hunting Crowd

Tom Remington

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Baxtergate Ovens Get Cranking

Yesterday’s committee meeting of the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to work out some kind of a compromise to the Baxter land swap (scroll for previous stories), became more of a he said, she said spit spat.

George Smith, Executive Director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, had a few choice words to say to the committee in that meeting, including some accusations that would be interesting if he could prove them.

The Bangor Daily News is carrying the complete story but essentially Smith said that the Department of Conservation was “scheming” with groups that are notoriously anti-hunting. He went further to say that the DOC had at first tried to convince Roxanne Quimby, the wealthy land barron who has bought up huge amounts of lands and abruptly closed them off to hunting, to purchase the Katahdin Lake parcel. Smith added that when that didn’t happen, the proposed deal now being discussed was formulated. He also accused DOC of trying to work with Quimby to buy up more of Maine’s land to close off to recreation.

Pat McGowan, head of the DOC, called those accusations “hogwash” and made an attempt to defend himself and the actions of his department.

Smith further accused DOC staff of conducting secret meetings in which they divided up lands into categories of which ones should be held as preserves and which ones would be left open. Again, McGowan denied any such thing.

*Previous Posts on Baxtergate*

The Shortsightedness of Maine’s Leaders

Two Opposing Sides Speak Out on Baxtergate

Clearing Up Two Misconceptions About Baxtergate

Putting Maine’s Wilderness In Perspective or Fighting Fire With Fire

Baxtergate Debate Continues

Millinocket Continues Its Battle

Adding a Personal Touch to Baxtergate

Many Small Percentages = One Big Percentage

More on Baxtergate

Katahdin Lake to be Added to Baxter State Park

Land Swap Proposal to Increase Baxter State Park

Not Everyone Happy About Baxter Land Swap

Millinocket Wants To Be Heard In Regards To Baxter Land Swap

Monday Morning Podcast (audio podcast about the Baxter Land Swap)

Why The Baxter Land Swap Shouldn’t Happen

Maine’s Governmental Leaders Have Messed Up – The Saga of Baxtergate

More Information on Baxtergate

Baxter and the Anti-Hunting Crowd

Tom Remington

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The Shortsightedness of Maine's Leaders

What is it the proponents of the Baxter land deal refuse to see and understand about Baxtergate, the controversial, complicated and secretive land swap that would add 6,015 acres of land to Baxter State Park? As is the case all too often, hunters are being blamed for the deal being stalled.

Aside from the fact that the deal is simply poor business, which for some reason seems to be of little interest to anyone, it epitomizes the greediness of the land grabbers running rampant throughout this country. Too many Mainers or actually too many transplants who are determined to create their own exclusive mountain retreat, continue to use lame reasoning for pushing for the deal.

I am tired out from listening to the bashing of hunters and in particular the age old story of how hunters have millions of acres to hunt on and why is it we can’t give up 6,000 acres for wildlife sanctuary. Well, if it was that simple that would be one thing but it is not, yet those proposing this swap will only see what they want to see no matter at what expense.

Story after story in the news relates the same line – “Baxter land deal held up because of hunting access”, “Hunters refuse to compromise on Baxter land swap”, “Gov. Baxter wouldn’t have wanted hunting on this piece of land” – and on and on it goes. Why won’t anyone address the bigger picture? Simple answer: selfishness and shortsightedness.

Linda Rogers McKee, former chair of the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee and serves on the Board of Directors of Friends of Baxter State Park, has an article in the Kennebec Journal this morning. She exemplifies selfishness and shortsightedness along with hypocricy.

First of all she pens a lie that is used by anti-hunters everywhere. This lie always begins with, “I am not against hunting but………” then it is followed by a statement that says the following.

Plain and simple, hunting and hiking just don’t mix. Just ask any parent who has to wait until Sunday to take the kids out for recreation in the woods during hunting season in our area. The safety issue should convince anyone that hunting should not be allowed.

What a crock! This kind of lie doesn’t even deserve a response but the lack of seeing anything beyond her perception that hunters are dangerous, free-wheeling, hip-shooting, idiots, angers me to no end. And she obviously doesn’t have the ability to see beyond the end of her nose. Here’s how she begins.

Let’s be clear. Most Mainers do accept hunting. What we don’t accept is the notion that every parcel of open land should be open to hunters, especially one of paramount importance like Katahdin Lake.

With more than 15 million acres of both public and private land available to hunters in our state, there are plenty of places to hunt — and better ones than the lake lands.

Oh, isn’t that nice. This statement certainly shows her ignorance of the facts and to think she chaired the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee. Maine only has 480,000 acres of public lands and this deal will rob Maine residents of 7,400 of that. And what about ALL that private land hunters can hunt on?

McKee actually answers that question and she doesn’t even know it because of blinded hypocrisy. Read what she herself uses as a big reason why we need to approve this land swap.

There is a lot at stake here. Wild places are diminishing at an astonishing rate as development creeps northward. Unless we want this parcel dotted with McMansions and development, we must act quickly.

This statement is a rare truth in her entire article. This is one of the biggest reasons Maine hunters are opposed to excluding use of this land to other forms of recreation.

Biased news articles and statements made by some are attempting to relay to the general public and to influence other members of the Legislature that hunters are in favor of the original deal that would exclude them. I strongly disagree. I can make the same statement in the reverse that hunters are opposed to the deal. Rep. Donald Marean (R) from Hollis and a member of the committee said he has talked to about a dozen hunters in his district who all support the original plan. Birds of a feather flock together I guess.

But I really want to get back to the argument that Linda Rogers McKee has made along with countless others that Maine hunters have millions of acres available to them to hunt on. 10.4 million acres in Maine are in unorganized territory and the majority of that land is owned by timber and pulp and paper companies. We are fortunate that these companies have left their lands open to recreation. But is this going to last forever? In all honesty, it probably won’t last another 10 years at best.

The Washington Post had an article a while back that dealt with big timber company lands across America and what is happening with them. One area in California called the Big River tract and nearby Salmon Creek are huge expanses of forested timberland owned by timber companies. People in those areas knew that the companies would never sell these lands because they needed them for the lumber. How wrong they were. These parcels and other larger tracts of timberlands across much of America, totaling millions and millions of acres have either sold or are up for sale.

Big River, neighboring Salmon Creek and dozens of other forests across the nation have come on the market in recent years as timber companies shed holdings that are worth more as real estate than as a source of lumber. The trend has spurred a land rush that has conservation groups scrambling to raise money to buy environmentally sensitive tracts in competition with private investors seeking to snap up the land for development.

The U.S. Forest Service conducted a recent study in an attempt to figure out what was going on and how this massive land sell off was going to affect wildlife resources, etc.

A recent U.S. Forest Service study predicted that more than 44 million acres of private forest land, an area twice the size of Maine, will be sold over the next 25 years. The consulting firm U.S. Forest Capital estimates that half of all U.S. timberland has changed hands in the past decade.

Here’s a reaction from a conservation group president about what is going on.

“The nation has never seen anything like this,” said Conservation Fund President Lawrence A. Selzer, whose 20-year-old group is hoping to raise $48 million in the coming months to buy the 16,000 acres that make up Big River and Salmon Creek. “It has the potential to permanently and profoundly change the landscape of America.”

And if that isn’t enough, does this shock anyone? If it doesn’t it should. This is a wake-up call folks.

International Paper Co. spokeswoman Amy J. Sawyer said her company is “contemplating selling some or all” of its 6.8 million acres of forest land scattered across the country and focusing on producing more profitable products such as uncoated papers and packages.

“We’re exploring whether there’s more value in holding and operating the land or in selling it,” Sawyer said. “That’s what we’re weighing.”

And what is happening to some of this land that is being bought up by conservation groups?

….the Conservation Fund bought nearly 7,700 acres of the most sensitive lands along the headwaters of Maine’s Machias River. A month later, it bought 1,600 acres of land in Georgia, just a fraction of the roughly 300,000 acres timber giant Weyerhaeuser recently sold in the state. Fund officials resold the tract to state officials, who plan to turn the area into a nature preserve…..

If any of this is not helping to convince you that Maine’s private, unorganized territories aren’t in jeopardy, perhaps this last part from the article will do it.

Like Georgia, Maine reveals both the promise and the pitfalls of the forest land rush. Maine has the largest contiguous block of undeveloped forest east of the Mississippi — at least 10 million acres, or more than half of the state’s entire land mass. Most of it was once owned by paper companies, but this is shifting quickly. According to the Massachusetts-based Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, 20 million acres changed hands in Maine’s North Woods, north of Bangor, between 1980 and 2000.

To those who continue to insist that Maine hunters have enough land to hunt on, please open your eyes and look into the near future. The same arguments you are using to try to convince others that Baxter land needs to be preserved as a wildlife sanctuary are the same reasons why it shouldn’t be exclusionary.

The Katahdin Lake parcel is only a tiny part of Maine’s land and what appears on the surface as a small concession hunters might need to make, will become a huge loss in a few years. Maine residents need to be prepared to spend huge sums of money to buy up the large tracts of land when they become available on the market and we can’t watch the real estate ads. Smart people need to watch the same things the land grabbers are watching – Security and Exchange Commission filings for debt problems with land holding companies, stock market and buying and selling trends nation wide.

While Maine residents are arguing the complicated land deal, more of our forested properties are being sold off to private enterprise and developers.

Are we asking all the right questions about this deal? Are the questions being asked tough enough or are we just smug in our own little world that we think Maine is not being looked at by greedy, land hungry barrons looking for a quick buck? Has anyone asked about what Gardner Land Co. is going to do with the 12,000 plus acres of forestland once it has clear-cut it?

Shortsightedness is a disease that is going to destroy Maine and it’s hunting, fishing and outdoor heritage. It’s time to put the Baxter land swap deal in the history books and focus in on the much larger picture with all who love “Maine, The Way Life Should Be”, working together. Together, we can protect Maine’s resources from the land grabbers for all Maine residents, not just a select few.

*Previous Posts on Baxtergate*

Two Opposing Sides Speak Out on Baxtergate

Clearing Up Two Misconceptions About Baxtergate

Putting Maine’s Wilderness In Perspective or Fighting Fire With Fire

Baxtergate Debate Continues

Millinocket Continues Its Battle

Adding a Personal Touch to Baxtergate

Many Small Percentages = One Big Percentage

More on Baxtergate

Katahdin Lake to be Added to Baxter State Park

Land Swap Proposal to Increase Baxter State Park

Not Everyone Happy About Baxter Land Swap

Millinocket Wants To Be Heard In Regards To Baxter Land Swap

Monday Morning Podcast (audio podcast about the Baxter Land Swap)

Why The Baxter Land Swap Shouldn’t Happen

Maine’s Governmental Leaders Have Messed Up – The Saga of Baxtergate

More Information on Baxtergate

Baxter and the Anti-Hunting Crowd

Tom Remington

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