June 16, 2019

The Legend Will Live On

What will prove to be major disappointment to thousands of Mainers, preliminary DNA testing result show that the “Mystery Beast” is nothing more than a dog.

For those of you who have missed the evolution and the hubbub of this major event in rural Maine, you can begin your quest of reading all the stories by scrolling to the bottom of the page and finding links to the titles of each post.

To many the death of a strange looking canine type animal on Route 4 near Turner, Maine about 2 weeks ago, will end in defeat as they hoped it would prove to be a creature of unexplained origin. Preliminary testing done at the University of Maine shows the creature is some kind of canine mix – a feral dog of an odd breed.

But the good news is the legend of the real Mystery Beast will live on. Residents in the sleepy little central Maine town have already begun to turn their attention back to the woods, in the direction from whence cometh the eerie sounds at night, the glowing eyes some have claimed to see. They will be waiting for the first report that the Beast lives on.

More test will be forthcoming but scientists are not hopeful that anything definitive will be revealed, only to further declare the animal found beside the road is in fact a feral dog. The Lewiston Sun-Journal covered this story as they have other reports of strange Maine creatures over the years. The newspaper collected a foot from what was left of the remains of the dog and now a lab in Toronto, Canada is running further DNA tests.

Over the years, the Lewiston Sun-Journal has been in touch with its readers understanding their desires to talk about legends like this, strange creatures like the Chupacabra, the loup-garou, a Wendigo, something extra-terrestrial or a product of the devil himself.

Whether residents want to embellish such stories or put an end to them, as was the case for some in Turner, the Lewiston-based newspaper understood what the residents wanted and needed. They followed this story and many others.

Unlike the Maine Warden Service, who refused to dispatch a warden to investigate, they turned a deaf ear to the people of Maine, projecting their department as an uncaring, non-compassionate organization that looked at Maine residents as a bother, an expense and a bunch of emotionally charged, inexperienced observers who were bothering them. The public relations became a nightmare as Mainers complained. The head of the Warden Service, Col. Thomas Santaquida, still sticks to his “we followed the book” mantra. I guess they just don’t get it.

Yes, the Maine Warden Service followed the book but this was one time, only one, where they should have set the book aside for a couple of hours and appeased the masses by showing they really do care. They need to take a lesson from the Lewiston Sun-Journal.

But not to fear! Maine still has a legend to embellish, a Stephen King kind of story that they can cling to – at least those who find pleasure in that. Perhaps Mr. King will take this opportunity to begin another of his works by creating a thriller starring central Maine’s Mystery Beast.

One world renowned expert in the field of crptozoology knows how to play this legend game. Loren Coleman, who did go to the scene to lend expertise, had this to say:

“Sometimes people are so emotionally involved in trying to ‘solve’ the mystery, there’s a rush to explain the bigger picture with what I call random coincidental events,” Coleman said. “I think there still is a mystery beast out there in the woods around Turner.”

What more can be said than that?

*Previous Posts*

Let’s Not Forget Maine’s Mystery Beast

Maine’s Mystery Beast Popular Worldwide- Gets No Respect Locally

Maine’s Warden Service Guilty of PR Nightmare – Mystery Beast’s Death Making Quite a Stir

Continuing Coverage of the Mystery Beast

Killed in Maine But What Is It?

Tom Remington

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Let's Not Forget Maine's Mystery Beast

It was only two weeks ago and we can’t forget the Mystery Beast. You can find my previous stories here, here, here and here.

In the meantime, remember the Lewiston Sun-Journal that jumped all over this story? They confiscated one of the beast’s feet. They have sent it on to a lab in Toronto, Canada – HealthGene Corp.

They say DNA test results should be completed sometime next week. One can only hope that to keep the mystery alive, no real determination will be made. (Insert evil hissing here).

Tom Remington

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Maine's Mystery Beast Popular Worldwide – Gets No Respect Locally

*Update 1:15 pm* It was brought to my attention from a reader that I miscued in calling Mr. Loren Coleman a she. I have corrected that error and apologize for any confusion or embarassment I may have caused. Thanks, Moose.

The world has watched and read as answers are far and few between as to what exactly was this “Mystery Beast” neighbors in Turner, Maine found beside the road. We broke the story for you back on Wednesday and followed that up the next day with another story. Many major media outlets including Fox, United Press International and locally by the Lewiston Sun-Journal and Bangor Daily News, have been following this story but the Maine Warden Service chose not to get involved. I have a seperate story this morning that follows this one all about that debacle.

The residents of this sleepy little central Maine town want some answers and aren’t getting much help. Loren Coleman, world respected cryptozoologist may be their only ally. He appeared on the scene and removed some specimens of an already decomposed carcass and what remained after vultures and the like had their way, in hopes of gathering enough for DNA testing to determine what this animal is.

Several blogs across the blogosphere have picked up the story as well. A popular blog, Boing Boing, has followed the story. Virtually the entire Internet is full of stories. Americans are looking for a good mystery to solve and they have one here.

Tom Remington

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Maine Warden Service Guilty of PR Nightmare – Mystery Beast's Death Making Quite a Stir

It’s not my job! That simple four word sentence has probably done more in negative public relations than one could imagine. The Maine Warden Service took a stand on an event that is going to cost them dearly in the campaign for better community relations.

Many of you have been following the highly visible story of the “Mystery Beast” or not, that was struck and killed by an automobile on Route 4 near Turner, Maine – stories here and here. The mistake the Maine Warden Service has made is costing them dearly.

When neighbors decided to call the Warden Service they reached Rick Stone of Poland. According to an earlier story in the Bangor Daily News, Stone told the caller(s):

The neighbors who found the animal called a Maine game warden who told them he could not drive from Poland to Turner to inspect the remains. The warden told them it was probably a coyote and told them to research it online. They were advised to call Central Maine Power Co. to haul the carcass away, since it was found near the power lines.

According to his supervisor Warden Service Deputy Chief Gregg Sanborn, Stone was following the book.

“He did what is expected of him by prioritizing what he goes to,” Sanborn said. He said Stone was also correct in talking with the caller to get the animal’s description to ensure it wasn’t something other than a possible coyote.

In a story written by Lewiston Sun-Journal writer Terry Karkos that was published in the Sun-Journal and the Bangor Daily News, Deputy Chief Sanborn tried to explain why the Warden Service decided not to respond to this particular call.

“Back 20 to 30 years ago, game wardens would remove a dead deer from the road so the public wouldn’t get upset. But the fact is, we don’t have the money anymore. Every time we roll a mile, it costs us 50 cents. Gas is at $3 a gallon, and we’ve been cutting back on warden costs,” he added.

Additionally, wardens routinely field complaints about dead wildlife and domestic animals but don’t respond. They don’t, Sanborn said, because the Maine Warden Service is a law enforcement agency.

“Our main mission is to enforce laws. So, when we receive a complaint like that, we can’t afford to drive around to look at dead things. Removing a dead animal is not a warden’s responsibility,” he added.

There are two things that are making this a publicity nightmare for the Maine Warden Service. The first is Sanborn’s efforts to explain why they chose not to respond. I understand his position as it is probably pounded into the heads of all wardens not to go chasing every “I’ve seen a mystery beast” story they get from residents. Had Sanborn decided simply to explain the position of the Warden Service in handling these calls, perhaps the damage would have been somewhat minimized. But he chose to lament about these issues leading a reader to believe that citizens are an inconvenience to them.

“When people have an issue, they expect the government to solve it for them. We’ve gotten a lot of calls referencing this. We’ve gotten a lot of flak about us removing the koi carp and not responding to this,” he said of the Turner “beast.”

Sanborn went on to make statements that people didn’t want to hear which brings me to the second part of this public relations debacle. I can understand initially that the Warden Service would opt not to respond to a story that they understood as one not involving any violation of the law. But as the story unfolded, it should have become clear to the Service that this story was being picked up globally and within Maine it was a story containing a lot of passion. In retrospect this could have been an opportunity for the Maine Warden Service to have made significant inroads into the public relations market.

Instead Sanborn continues by making assumptions about the animal and what happened.

He surmised that the Turner animal was probably a feral dog.

Contacted Thursday afternoon in Gray, Scott Lindsay, a Maine wildlife biologist, agreed.

Without knowing the stage of decomposition the canine was in when photographed, Lindsay said that from viewing photographs published in Wednesday’s Sun Journal it looked like the animal’s abnormal facial features were caused by cerebral edema, or brain swelling.

“It can make the ears look proportionally small, and all around the muzzle and head, it’s swollen up. So, it was probably a dog,” Lindsay said.

Sanborn said decomposition can also curl an animal’s lip as the skin dries, revealing the teeth.

This isn’t what residents from the Turner area want to hear. They have been dealing in some form or other for years about some mystery animal that has killed pets and scared the daylights out of people. They are looking for some support, some answers. I don’t think Maine people are the kind to go looking for goverment to solve their problems. They are too independent for that sort of socialistic behaviour. What they are looking for is for the Warden Service to show some interest and compassion.

Still, Sanborn continued to justify the actions of his department.

Still, Sanborn added, there is a certain situation where a warden would respond to a dead animal complaint.

“People have said for eons that there are cougars in the state of Maine, but there’s never been any proof. If this lady had called up and said a cougar got hit, and described a cougar, we probably would have gone,” he said.

Two wrongs do not make a right. The first wrong was not that the Warden Service opted to not respond. The first wrong came in publicizing through the press an attitude that made the neighbors in the Turner area look to be whining demanding socialists looking for the government to come and solve the problem of cleaning up a dead dog carcass. The comment, if true, that Warden Stone told the people to call Central Maine Power to clean up the carcass was callous and uncalled for.

The story, for whatever the reasons, caught on worldwide. Even strangers became involved in what was going on, yet the Maine Warden Service stuck to its policies and became hardened to the situation.

The second wrong happened when the Warden Service refused to make amends. They refused to see the problems this story was causing them. They refused to say to each other, “You know what? This is a story that falls outside the ‘do not call’ guidelines. People are angry at us. People want our help. We need to overlook what is our normal policy and send someone out to take a look.”

Even now after the world’s leading authority in cryptozoology, Loren Coleman, visited the scene trying to help the residents of the central Maine area figure out what kind of animal this was, the Warden Service is sticking to its policies.

This is bad news for Maine residents and for the Warden Service. It is always an ongoing battle with any kind of law enforcement agency to keep on the good side of its citizens. For whatever the reasons, seldom are law enforcement looked on in a favorable light. Stories, true and false, about bad law enforcement spread like wildfire. This is one reason most agencies like warden services carry a public relations department.

In my work, I am in contact with and I follow stories all across the U.S. Many of these stories involve bad relations between hunters and wardens, between fishermen and wardens, between recreational enthusiasts and wardens and also these same users with wildlife departments. There is presently a heated battle going on in Pennsylvania between their wildlife science personnel and game wardens, with hunters. Without getting into all the details, I will tell you the biggest problem that I think exists in the war is plain bad public relations and poor attitudes – on both sides.

Maine doesn’t need this. This is a simple story gone bad. I don’t blame the Maine Warden Service for not running to the call. They were doing their jobs. I do blame them for how they handled it from that point forward. The information given to the media by Deputy Chief Sanborn was degrading and full of a poor attitude toward the citizens of Turner. This was followed by not taking the initiate to right a wrong.

Tom Remington

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Continuing Coverage of the Mystery Beast

*Scroll for Updates*
*Update 1:30 pm*
The Bangor Daily News has more on the mystery beast found near Turner, Maine over the weekend. I particulary enjoyed the statement made by an observer.

One person who posted comments about the mystery animal in a blog had her own theory: perhaps the animal that was killed in Turner over the weekend died as a result of a run-in with the real mystery creature, which still remains a phantom.

Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is how to keep a good story thriving.

Tom Remington

*Update 1:30 pm*

I have been reading different accounts of this story. There are two stories in the Bangor Daily news here and here. I can’t believe there are people out there who want to kill such an entertaining story (for those of you who might not suspect anything here, I’m kidding. Go with me on this.).

I have received comments here and at the Maine Hunting Forums where I also posted the picture. Some just want to pass it off as a dog and another mourns the loss of life.

Come on people. We live in the same state as Stephen King. What better place than to find a creature of unknown origin that’s black to boot. I still have yet to find a better comment than the one saying that maybe the real mystery beast chased this thing, whatever it is, into the road and the Mystery Beast lives on. Now that makes a much more interesting story. Don’t you think?

Just think. It appears that no real definative answers will be learned therefore the stories can continue. The howls at night will still be heard. The strange looking creature spotted only in glimpses here and there will live on, yes, yes, YES!

Okay, I’m a little over the top on this one but there are a lot of people out they starving for closure on this mystery beast thing. Even the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife wouldn’t play along. According to one article in the Bangor Daily News, a game warden in Poland was a real party pooper.

The neighbors who found the animal called a Maine game warden who told them he could not drive from Poland to Turner to inspect the remains. The warden told them it was probably a coyote and told them to research it online. They were advised to call Central Maine Power Co. to haul the carcass away, since it was found near the power lines.

What a downer. Call CMP and haul the carcass away? No fun at all. I think someone should take the photos available and enter into a few quiet hours of Photoshop time and really spice this story up. Let’s put Maine on the map and get all sorts of stories and rumors flying about.

I’ll get you started. One night when I was visiting my son in Bangor, we went for a walk by Stephen King’s house and I know I saw something that could very well have been a mystery beast……….to be continued.

Tom Remington

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Killed In Maine But What Is It?

Fox News carries the story of the mystery beast, the one of legend in central Maine that sends shivers up your spine like Stephen King novels. Here’s a picture but the story and discriptions given by eyewitnesses sure does the story more justice.

The Scary Beast of Maine

Tom Remington

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Big Buck Tracking School With the Benoits

Most of you probably know this past spring I traveled to Allagash, Maine for a weekend of fun and adventure with the Benoit brothers of Vermont. I’m sure most of you at least have heard of the Benoits, if not, you can visit their website and find out for yourselves.

I am working on a story about the school and hope this will be ready soon. Good things take time right? In explanation, Lanny Benoit asked that I submit a draft of what I would right to make sure it was accurate. This of course takes time.

There were many things that went on over the weekend from learning about the operation of GPS, to target shooting, learning about the actions and reactions of deer and hunters, eating good food and sharing a lot of tales – all of which I’m sure are the truth.

One afternoon we all piled into vehicles and headed for the top of a nearby mountain. Our search was to find a big buck’s track. Tracks were far and few between but not for the reasons you might think. The ground had dried hard and in most places is was almost like concrete.

What I did discover right from the onset is the boys like to talk about deer hunting. I’ve provided a video I put together while we were on top of the mountain. I got a small clip of Lanny and Lane talking about their hunting experiences. I have other videos I will share later as well. (If you would like to download a better quality video, click here and view it with you own media player.)

Tom Remington

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Wrapping Up The Candidate Analysis

Over the past few days I have undertaken the task of analyzing each of the candidates for Maine’s Governor in the upcoming November election. Three of the four that I asked to participate did. The exception was green party candidate Patricia LaMarche. Incumbent democrat Governor John Baldacci, republican Chandler Woodcock and independent Barbara Merrill all joined in and answered the six questions I posed to them.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank each of them for taking the time out of busy schedules to be a part of this event.

The six questions analyzed by me can be found at these six links – question one, question two, question three, question four, question five and question six.

Each hopeful was provided an opportunity to make a general statement about their campaign. Two of the three chose to do that. Below are their comments followed by an overview by me of the interview.

Chandler Woodcock’s general statement:

I tru()ly 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 govern(m)ent for its important role and significant heritage.

Barbara Merrill’s statement:

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.

I appreciate their statements and wish them the best in their upcoming elections.

I would first like to share with readers the difficulties in undertaking an online interview. Conducting an online interview first runs into difficulties because neither the participants nor I can be witness to voice influction and body language. We are all subject to only text.

Another difficult aspect is in not being able to clarify or ask immediate follow-up questions. With this, I was left at times to make assumptions, draw conclusions and ask more questions.

I’ve not conducted many online inteviews and therefore the three candidates were asked to respond to the questions as I worded them. I would have imagined that had we been face to face, they too would have wanted some clarification on some of the information asked. With that said, I can say that perhaps the questions I chose to ask were not the most pressing issues in your perspective of things. I made an attempt to put together six that I thought covered issues important to most readers.

I hope from this that I learned how better to ask questions in this format and what I would do next time to improve.

It is a daunting task to take responses in text only from the candidates and attempt to analyze where each candidate is coming from without them being here to defend themselves. I may at times have come across as being hard on the candidates. My attempt was to incite participation from readers, ask questions, clarify some facts and state my own position on the issues.

I did invite the candidates to participate in a dialogue through this blog but none chose to nor did too many of my readers. Those who did, I thank you.

I need to clarify that the positions I took on issues within the six questions were strictly my own and not necessarily those of Maine Hunting Today or U.S. Hunting Today.

As the election draws closer in the coming months, I will refresh these articles for readers to review and for newcomers to see for the first time. For those interested, links have been placed on the home page of the Black Bear Blog and under the news headlines at Maine Hunting Today.

Thank you to all again.

Tom Remington

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Analyzing the Candidates for Maine Governor – Question Six

Analyzing the Candidates for Maine Governor – Question Six

This is our final question in our online interview with the candidates for Maine’s Governor. You will find the analysis of the other previous five questions here – one, two, three, four, five.

Briefly, I asked four perspective hopefuls to participate – the incumbent democrat John Baldacci, independent hopeful Barbara Merrill, republican Chandler Woodcock and green party member Patricia LaMarche. To this date, I have not received answers from only LaMarche. If I do receive them I will publish them for you.

Once again I will give you the question exactly as it was asked of the participants. That will be followed by the responses of each candidate and finally my analysis and commentary to follow.

Question Six:

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

Governor Baldacci’s response:Maine Governor John Baldacci

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.

Chandler Woodcock’s response:Woodcock.jpg

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.

Barbara Merrill’s response:Merrill.jpg

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.

My Analysis:

I guess I should have expected the answers I received on this question. Perhaps I am once again a victim of bad question writing. Although the information contained in all three responses is somewhat accurate, none of the candidates showed me that they are knowledgeable about hunting, hunters and hunter safety.

Before I get deeper into this discussion, I will tell you right up front that I personally am opposed to Sunday hunting in Maine right now. I will expound on that later.

Let’s begin by looking first at the Governor’s response. Note right off that he fails to tell us how he feels about Sunday hunting. He does tell us the results of polls and his perception of what he thinks landowners might do if Sunday hunting was allowed. He is correct in his conclusion that without sufficient support in the Legislature and the public, such a hunting proposal is dead in the water.

Mr. Woodcock states directly that he opposes Sunday hunting and then gives his reason: “I believe that nonconsumptive users need the perception of “safe woods” and are important to future use by those of us who hunt.”

I really dislike this approach to the issue of Sunday hunting. Non-consumptive users don’t NEED the perception of safe woods. There are safe woods. Maine is one of the safest places anywhere in the world to go and hunt. Hunting overall is one of the safest activities going. I am sick and tired of listening to the anti-hunting and animal rights groups who use the biased media in promoting their lies and scare tactics convincing the uneducated about the dangers of hunting.

People take their children to school in automobiles. The chances of them dying in a car accident far exceed being shot by an “errant” bullet. By the way, what is an “errant” bullet? Is that anything like a road-raged idiot on the highway or how about the “soccer mom” engrossed in a cell phone conversation while transporting six neighborhood kids to practice?

No, Maine’s woods are safe. We don’t need to try to achieve a perception of it. It exists. We need to stop listening to the lies. We need people like our elected officials, if they cared enough to get the facts, to step up to the mike and tell people the truth about the safe sport of hunting.

Merrill opposes Sunday hunting. She claims to have contacted hunters in her district and had overwhelming results. I am not questioning her survey results. Although I enjoyed her “unspoken truce” approach, I can’t say that I completely agree with it. I think she is right. Maine has always had a good neighbor approach to many things. Opening up their lands is just one of them.

I have complete respect for any landowner who would choose to close their land because they need the time to do their work, etc. Ms. Merrill’s unspoken truce once again leads us to believe that hunting is a dangerous thing. It makes us believe in her statement that the landowner and I think even her, thinks that during hunting season it is not safe to even be outdoors.

The Governor makes note of the so-called anger that might be displayed by landowners should Sunday hunting be allowed. There have actually been landowners that threatened to do such a thing. It is understandable but I do not for a minute believe it is the majority or close to it.

The Governor is correct when he states that losing large amounts of open private land to hunting would be detrimental to the hunters. Does this now mean that he understands why we need to be purchasing public lands? Does this mean that the Governor now sees that the state needs to be implementing programs that will work as incentives to landowners to keep their lands open? I don’t think so. As a matter of fact, I don’t think any of the candidates has a firm understanding of what is in store, what the hunting heritage of Maine means to its citizens and economy or in what direction we need to go to deal with it.

If Sunday hunting were permitted, there would be a few landowners that would immediately close down their land. My guess is many of these would be by people from away that don’t hunt nor have any idea what it’s like to live in Maine. Land is being locked out in unprecedented amounts now. I believe that a big percentage of landowners would take a wait and see attitude. They would soon find out that Sunday hunting would go pretty much unnoticed.

Back a few years ago when Maine was considering starting up a moose hunt again after several years without it, petitioners landed on my doorstep asking me to sign a petition to stop the moose hunt. At the time I was managing a motel in a ski resort town in Maine. The petitioners thought that I would be quick to sign it because the argument they were using to stop the hunt was because hunters would be scaring everyone out of the woods during the fall foliage season. I laughed out loud and refused to sign the petition. I knew then that should the bill pass, moose hunting season would pretty much go unnoticed except for the few who would participate whether by permit or selling goods and services associated with it. I was right and a Sunday hunt would be the same.

Let’s remember that the proposed Sunday hunting initiative did not include deer hunting season, only small game.

Let’s dispense with more lies about hunting and Sunday hunting. I have had my fill of the anti-hunting crowd that laments that they lose their right to go into the woods during the month of November. I challenge everyone who throws this crock of bull in my face in his or her arguments against hunting. I ask them point blank how many times they would go in the woods if there weren’t hunting. And on how many Sundays do they use the woods at that time now. If the truth were known it is almost non-existent.

I have said many times that hunters don’t want exclusive run of the woods during hunting season. They just want their chance. A mere 4 weeks of deer season. That leaves 48 other weeks in the year for people to do whatever they want.

Do accidents happen? They absolutely do and there’s a chance someone might get shot accidentally. Your chances of being killed in a car wreck are much greater than being shot accidentally and many are willing to take the risk in a car without a thought. To reduce your risks of injury or death in a car, you have to prove you know how to drive, wear seat belts and drive defensively. Hunters take a safety course, wear highly visible clothing and learn to recognize their targets. Hunting is safe.

Now on to why I am opposed to Sunday hunting. In my opening statement I said I was against it – right now. I’ll explain. Maine is not overrun with deer. Our deer herd is tightly managed. Biologists gather all the data that is available to them each year and decide how many deer need to be harvested to keep the herd within management goals. With this data, they set dates, length of season and number of antlerless deer permits to award.

Should Maine’s deer population rise to levels that it cannot maintain with this and other methods, a Sunday hunting season just might be warranted.

Do we want Sunday hunting for bear? I don’t think it is necessary for similar reasons as that of the deer – numbers management. The biggest economic factors in Maine concerning bear come from guides and associated businesses. Most guided bear hunters are going to take vacations and time off work to bear hunt anyway. I really don’t feel that hunting bear on Sundays can generate any significant revenue.

Small game hunting is minimal and very few people want to hunt small game on Sundays, including out-of-state hunters.

I have heard the argument that Maine is losing revenue from the sale of out-of-state big game licenses because we don’t have Sunday hunting and New Hampshire does. I personally believe that a Sunday hunt open to out-of-state hunters would force game officials to reduce the length of the season. This could actually work against those believing they would get more hunting time.

The bottom line is the NEED for a Sunday hunt. Until Maine’s game populations rise to levels that would actually warrant a longer season, it should remain the way it is. Our wildlife should be managed by science and not by economic demands alone.

I am sure there are tons of reasons for and against Sunday hunting. I have touched on only a few.

I said in part of my opening analysis that I didn’t think any of the candidates were knowledgeable about hunting, hunters and hunter safety. Information they spewed comes from the common rhetoric that surrounds those with whom they associate. I think they need to get out a bit more – into the real Maine, the part of Maine that relies on hunting season as part of their annual sustenance.

I don’t think you’ll get the truth about Maine while hanging out at L.L. Beans or the Kittery Trading Post. Hunting is a lifelong tradition in Maine. It’s a part of our heritage that dates back long before these candidates were even thought of.

Each one needs to get out from behind their desks and check out the other half of Maine – the one that is north of U.S. Route 2. They need to stop believing the garbage that is spewed forth everyday from people who don’t like hunting. They lie and instill fear and it is working. Perhaps they each need to take a hunter’s safety class. I would like to see them stand up for Maine and tell the rest of the world how safe hunting is and that there is nothing to fear.

All three candidates struck out on this question in my book. Perhaps I assumed too much. Perhaps I thought that given the opportunity, a politician would jump right into these issues and win some big points with the outdoors crowd. They had an opportunity to show us they have knowledge about hunting in Maine, the people who do it and have for generations and that they truly understand that hunting is safe, is regarded highly and they will do whatever it takes to protect this heritage. I haven’t really seen that here.

Two candidates took the opportunity to make brief general comments. In my last article I will post those comments and offer a few closing remarks of my own.

Comments are open.

Tom Remington

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Analyzing the Candidates for Maine Governor – Question Five

Analyzing the Candidates for Maine Governor – Question Five

We are now on to question five. I have analyzed the previous four questions and you can find them here, one, two, three and four.

As a reminder, I asked four candidates for Maine’s Governor to participate in an online interview. They were the incumbent democrat John Baldacci, republican Chandler Woodcock, independent Barbara Merrill and green party Patricia LaMarche. All but LaMarche have returned answers. If I receive hers at a later date I will publish them.

Question Five:

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?

Governor Baldacci’s response:Maine Governor John Baldacci

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.

Chandler Woodcock’s response:Woodcock.jpg

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

Barbara Merrill’s response:Merrill.jpg

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.

My analysis:

Public land ownership and access are necessary for the future of Maine. Living in Maine, as I did for about 47 years, it is easy to become a bit isolated, almost provincial in how we live. With this we shut ourselves out of what goes on in the rest of the country.

Maine is unique. It is one of those rare states that looks upon private land as open to the public unless the landowner chooses to close it by means of legal posting.

Twenty years ago if I had had more insight into what the future of Maine might look like I would have started up a small business making signs, specializing in “No Trespassing”.

Nobody can predict the future but it is certainly easier to speculate when other states have followed down a certain path. Many of our fellow states have locked out land. It is extremely difficult in some areas to find any land where you can take a kid fishing or teach him or her how to shoot and hunt.

Some states have been trying to play catch-up, buying up lands for public recreation having missed out on golden opportunities because they never thought all the unpopulated lands would one day be closed.

Maine is staring down a double-barrel shotgun on this issue and still residents and politicians refuse to look into the future and see what is ahead. We can’t continue to sit back and say, “We have millions of wooded acres of land to recreate on. Why would we need to buy public lands?”

It appears that all three candidates are in favor of purchasing lands for public use. It also appears that they are for the most part for complete use of the lands and not limiting access to specific groups or interests (excluding the Katahdin deal). How they would purchase those lands or manage them afterward is where we may have some differences.

For those of you who followed my ranting over the Baxtergate land swap, you know that I was opposed to the deal for two major reasons. The first and foremost that it was a very poor business deal. Maine taxpayers will lose if this deal is ultimately brought to fruition. The second is that 4,000 acres of land was closed to many traditional forms of recreation.

There is not enough space in this article to rehash. I am troubled by Governor Baldacci’s math in how he calculates that Maine people will net gain 10,000 acres from the Katahdin deal. “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.”

I think it was the late President Ronald Reagan who coined the phrase “voodoo economics”. I think the Governor may be playing a bit of voodoo mathematics in coming up with the net result of land acquired by the citizens of Maine. It has yet to be seen but Maine residents may end up with a net loss.

Baldacci speaks in support of a policy of a “no net loss” in dealing with public lands. This should become more than a policy. It needs to become law.

He is correct when he says that during his tenure as Governor 205,000 acres of land were given in easement to Maine through deals worked out by the Nature Conservancy. What he failed to tell us was that it was because of a Great Northern Paper’s dire need of capital to remain in business, the Nature Conservancy in an unprecedented move, loaned them the money in exchange for the. These two deals totaled around 241,000 acres. One parcel of 195,000 acres is adjacent to Baxter State Park. Another 46,000 acres is south of the Park. They are lifetime easements and open to public recreation including hunting.

What I take real issue with Governor Baldacci on is the Baxter land deal. I think it was a terrible deal for the taxpayers of Maine. The price paid for Katahdin land compared to price received in the sale of public lands was completely out of scale.

There were no safeguards put into the dealings to ensure that Maine residents would regain all of the land they had to give up, including all the money that was made from the sale of 7,400 acres of public land.

I should also point out that as near as I can tell in sifting through piles of papers, Maine will receive $5.5 million for the 7,400 acres of public lands included in the deal. Of that $5.5 million only $3 million is being put into the coffers of the Department of Conservation for replacement land purchases. Where is the remaining $2.5 million?

But the biggest mistake that he made was allowing this entire deal to take place in secret. This has left a bad taste in the mouths of many people and a certain level of mistrust has developed where there may not have been at one time. It is insane reasoning to think that there was anything in negotiating this deal that should have been kept from the public, unless of course there was something to hide. If given a chance maybe Maine taxpayers would have opted to buy the parcel outright. We’ll never know.

Mr. Woodcock continues his style of very few words. He supports the purchase of public lands providing they are left open to everyone. You know, maybe that does say it all but I’d like to hear more.

Ms. Merrill has a great idea in developing a commission that would have seats for hunters and snowmobilers. I can see why she would run up against opposition. We all know that the good-ole-boy politicians don’t take kindly to citizens interfering with THEIR work.

I think I would have to agree with her on this idea. What it would actually accomplish remains to be seen but she feels so strongly about it that she says she would create the commission by executive order on her first day at work.

She is right in stating that the one item that needs settling is access issues to public lands. Public lands are not the answer to everything nor is it a perfect solution but it beats the alternative. Public lands have to remain open to all users.

I am a hunter, a fisherman and a general outdoors enthusiast. I use lands for what I enjoy from one end of Maine to the other. I am not alone when I say that hunters want to share the land. We don’t want exclusive rights to those lands just so we can hunt and we expect the same treatment in return.

Hunting in Maine seriously comprises less than one-sixth of a year. Contrary to what some would like us to believe, hunting is an extremely safe activity. If someone chooses to not go into the woods during deer hunting season that is their choice. They have 10 months of the year where they can. Please don’t ask me to give up my time in the woods because you don’t like what I do. This entire concept is called sharing. It is not unique. It has been around for a long time but is becoming more and more of a rare occurrence.

Maine does lag most other states in the ownership and purchase of lands for public recreation. The percentage of landmass to the amount of public land that we own is edging toward 6%. That pales in comparison to other states. We need to do a better job of that and to go along with it we need better management. We can’t cave in to the land grabbers who want to swallow up lands like that around Katahdin Lake and then shut out much of the public. If these groups want their fantasy islands, they can raise their own money and buy the land to do with it as they see fit.

I hope that the next Governor of Maine would have the foresight to see what does await its citizens. A proactive approach is the best way because a wait and see attitude will be much too late.

I think it should be clear to this point who will get my nod on this question. Because of the Baxter debacle that I have come to call Baxtergate, Baldacci comes in dead last.

Because Merrill is so certain in her feelings about forming a commission comprised of hunters and snowmobilers to resolve access issues and set state policy in regards to public land purchases and uses, she gets my approval.

Comments are open.

Tom Remington

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