November 28, 2014

Deer Swims 12 Miles in Gulf of Maine to Tiny Island?

“Diamond said he has no idea how a deer would swim that far and make it on the island.

“It is either an extremely Olympic-class swimming deer or somebody’s idea of a practical joke,” he said.

“It is just surprising to me that it didn’t stay on the island longer, just to take a rest and get some food,” he said.”<<<Read More>>>

Maine IFW, Partners Crafting Wildlife Action Plan

Press Release from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife:

AUGUSTA, Maine — Did you know that Maine has a plan for conserving its most rare and vulnerable fish and wildlife species? Maine’s Wildlife Action Plan, created in 2005, focuses on voluntary measures that can assist many of Maine’s most vulnerable species, it highlights natural area conservation efforts, and sets the course for the future of wildlife conservation in Maine.

Since 2005, Maine has received close to $8 million in federal funding and accomplished over 50 research, management, and conservation projects, benefitting brook trout, rare freshwater mussels and dragonflies, migrant birds such as Bicknell’s Thrush and Black-throated blue Warbler, and globally rare species, such as the Tomah mayfly. Puffins, wood turtles, Atlantic sturgeon, little brown bats and bumble bees are also recognizable species that have benefitted from the Wildlife Action Plan.

Maine is home to 292 species of birds, 61 species of non-marine mammals, 20 species of reptiles, 18 species of amphibians, 56 species of inland fish and 313 species of marine fish and mammals. The state is a geographic transition area, and its abundant wildlife resources represent a blending of species that are at or approaching the northern or southern limit of their ranges. Maine’s diverse physical settings support a wide diversity of wildlife that few other states can equal.

Wildlife Action Plans are created collaboratively among state, federal, tribal, and local agencies, non-profit organizations, private landowners, and the general public to identify opportunities to conserve vulnerable species and habitats before they become more difficult to address. (http://www.maine.gov/ifw/wildlife/reports/wap.html). In 2005, Maine’s plan identified 213 of our species in greatest need of conservation, the key issues surrounding these fish, wildlife, and their habitats; and showcased conservation opportunities necessary to prevent a species from becoming endangered, or to implement recovery programs.

Wildlife Action Plans must be updated every ten years; Maine’s next revised plan is due October 1, 2015. Over the coming year, MDIFW and its partners will work together to identify Maine’s fish and wildlife needs and conservation opportunities for the next decade.

Over 70 public, private, and non-profit entities are helping revise Maine’s Action Plan. Close to 50 of these organizations have attended workshop meetings in July, September and November, ensuring that Maine’s 2015 Wildlife Action Plan will reflect the values and priorities of Maine’s people. Landowner participation is also an essential part of the process, in order to identify practical, voluntary conservation opportunities that are amenable to landowner objectives and land use practices. Considering that wildlife-related recreation contributes over $1.4 billion annually to Maine’s economy, crafting an effective Wildlife Action Plan benefits not only our resident fish and wildlife species, but also supports a thriving sector of our state’s economy.

For more information, to make comments, or to become involved in Maine’s 2015 Wildlife Action Plan revision, please visit http://www.maine.gov/ifw/wildlife/reports/MWAP2015.html or contact us at mainewildlifeactionplan@gmail.com.

Maine Judge Says HSUS Can’t Restrict Free Speech

““Restricting speech on contested public issues is directly contrary to the public interest, which favors a robust and dynamic public discourse,” Wheeler said in her 15-page decision. “It is [for] the voters, not the plaintiffs or the courts, to assess the relative merits of conflicting speech.

“The public interest would be adversely affected if plaintiffs’ request for a temporary restraining order were granted when DIF&W’s speech is on topics squarely within ‘its competence as governor’” of statutory directives from the Legislature.”<<<Read More>>>

HSUSliars

Televised Maine Bear Debate: Camuso and Cote vs. Pacelle and Gray

Washington County Board Of Commissioners Officially Opposes Question 1

Source: Save Maine’s Bear Hunt

Posted on October 13, 2014

Proclamation

Opposition to Maine Referendum Question #1

“Do you want to ban the use of bait, dogs or traps in bear hunting except to protect property, public safety, or for research?

WHEREAS, Maine has one of the highest black bear populations at over 30,000, without effective hunting methods, the population will continue to dramatically increase; and,

WHEREAS, hunters spend an average of 15 days harvesting their quarry, and only one in four hunters are successful in their endeavors; and,

WHEREAS, monies spend during the hunting season directly and indirectly impact both the local and statewide economies, providing jobs and business opportunities for many rural residents; and,

WHEREAS, the Washington County Board of Commissioners agree that Referendum Question #1 would cripple Maine’s ability to manage its bear population as evidenced by statistical data showing that the use of bait, hounds, and traps are the most effective hunting methods that best control the population. The Board of Commissioners believes that the passage of Referendum Question #1 would compromise the safety of citizens with a potential increase of human-bear interactions; and,

WHEREAS, the Board of Commissioners strongly support the Maine Wildlife Conservation Council, Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologists, and Maine Game Wardens IN THEIR EFFORTS TO DEFEAT QUESTION #1; and,

WHEREAS, the Board of Commissioners views Referendum Question #1 as just the beginning of a more expansive effort to erode Maine’s rich hunting traditions;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Washington County Board of Commissioners, at its October 8, 2014 Regular Meeting, officially opposes Maine Referendum Question #1 that will ban the use of bait, dogs, or traps in bear hunting.

Christopher Gardner, Chairman
John Crowley, Sr. Commissioner
Vinton Cassidy, Commissioner

Don’t let personal choices about bear hunting get in the way of sound judgment

“Here in Maine, wildlife management through science and broad-based public participation is not just a goal; it’s part of the social contract. However, approval of Ballot Question 1 — which would outlaw traditional methods of bear hunting and take away the best tools we have for bear management — would be a wholesale breach of our social contract.”<<<Read More>>>

Missed Bear Debate? Available Now Online

If you were unable to catch the live stream of the bear referendum debate hosted by WGME-TV and Bangor Daily News, all six parts are available for viewing on the WGME website.

Maine’s George Smith Under Scrutiny Over His Rant About Gov. LePage and Claims Made About Political Intentions

For me, it began sort of innocently enough when George Smith, writer, blogger, activist, and former executive director for the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (SAM), published a not very nice blog in his Bangor Daily News safe haven. Smith stated that sportsmen in Maine should not support or vote for incumbent Governor Paul LePage mostly because he says LePage failed in his promises to sportsmen in the last election.

Nothing that Smith wrote took me by surprise. Smith typically writes about himself, reliving his days at SAM and wishing to perpetuate the thoughts that these were his glory days. Many have not been able to understand why, after having been absent from his job at SAM for several years, he continues to present himself as a mouth piece for the organization. However, Smith has made no bones about the fact that he dislikes LePage and perhaps it is only coincidental that it appears his dislike for the Governor grew when his sister was fired from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW). Smith has in subsequent writings denied that any love lost with the governor has anything to do with that incident.

Therefore, Smith’s rant in the Bangor Daily News really should not have come as any big surprise. Personally, I thought the article was a lot of whining and what credibility Smith might have had with Maine sportsmen in his perspectives and positions on Gov. Paul LePage, were caught up in the swirl as the toilet bowl emptied into the septic tank.

But one thing that caught my eye appeared in the comments section when a reader wrote:

George, You should probably disclose that you and your sister are advising LePage’s opponents in this race. This is pretty dishonest.

I have not been able to confirm whether this statement was true and have decided up to this point to remain quiet on this issue because, one, I don’t really care what George Smith thinks about Paul LePage, and two, until I can find confirmation that Smith is working, for pay, for Eliot Cutler and/or Mike Michaud, then I would continue to remain silent. If this is true, not only is Smith wrong to not reveal this but the Bangor Daily News is culpable as well.

To the criticisms Smith received from his first rant, he rebuts many of the claims on his own website and does very little to smooth the water or add back any sort of credibility. I wonder if anyone has ever told Smith that readers, generally, don’t find much interest in reading a person so full of himself?

Today, the Maine Wire provides evidence, from emails, that Smith is working as an adviser to Mike Michaud and Eliot Cutler.

In the July email exchange provided by SAM, Smith attempted to procure LePage’s SAM survey for use in a blog post. The survey would have provided Smith with LePage’s positions on various sportsman’s issues.

Cherly[SIC] C. Timberlake, the chair of SAM’s board of directors, declined to provide Smith with the information and raised questions about his work on behalf of candidates for statewide offices.

“I am helping both Michaud and Cutler and have made no secret of it,” Smith wrote in response.

In Smith’s I-am-the-greatest-of-all-time rebuttal, he states that he is not getting paid to advise either Michaud or Cutler:

I have given free advice (not paid as some charged) to Mike Michaud and Eliot Cutler and any other politician who asked…

If Smith is “advising” without pay, it lessens the degree of dishonesty in not disclosing his agenda, but it still appears dishonest and heaps troubles on a man who may be suffering from the lack of credibility, at least credibility when it comes to Paul LePage issues.

Some have asked why SAM allows, if that would be the correct terminology, Smith to continue falling back on and presenting himself as a representative of SAM. To that question I have no idea the answer. There is no need to make enemies between Smith and SAM but when certain claims by Smith go unanswered by SAM, people begin to assume that SAM must agree. It would best handled, in my opinion, if Smith would move beyond his SAM “glory days” and let the present personality of SAM do its thing.

I’m not sure that we have heard the end of this issue. However, now that a few Maine sportsmen have woken up, Gov. LePage would benefit by stepping up to the batters box and taking a swing. He’s gotten a sign, now he should swing away and see if he can drive in some runs for the Maine sportsmen. If not, perhaps Michaud and Cutler will do his pinch hitting.

Newry Maine’s Pie Stealing Bear

NEWRY — The Puzzle Mountain pie stand, which sells homemade pies on the honor system, has attracted the appetites of Route 26 tourists and hikers.

They honor the honor system, leaving money in a box.

But lately the pie stand has attracted a pie-hungry bear, which has crossed the highway — looking out for traffic — and taken pies. It appears to be smarter than the average bear.<<<Read More and Video>>>

Maine/USFWS Plan for Canada Lynx Incidental Take Permit

Press Release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

Agencies release revised plan, assessment for protecting Canada lynx affected by Maine trapping programs Maine to manage at least 4,785 acres for Canada lynx
August 5, 2014
Contacts:

USFWS, Meagan Racey, 413-253-8558
MDIFW, Mark Latti, 207-287-5216

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is one step closer to making a decision on permitting Maine’s state-regulated trapping programs for effects to the federally protected Canada lynx. The Service and Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife reviewed public comments on the necessary documents for the permit and have released revised versions for public review and comment through September 5, 2014.

The agencies previously released draft versions of MDIFW’s incidental take plan and the Service’s environmental assessment for public comment in November 2011, followed by three highly attended public information sessions. The Service received about 285 unique letters, 129 comment cards from public information sessions and 6,100 form letters commenting on issues from outreach and monitoring measures to lynx handling procedures and enforcement.

The revised plan describes measures proposed by MDIFW to minimize the effects of incidental trapping on lynx, such as increased trapper outreach, compliance monitoring by wardens and veterinary oversight, and it incorporates several new methods of trapping and new trapping regulations. MDIFW proposes to offset, or mitigate, for the effects on lynx by maintaining at least 4,785 acres of lynx habitat in the state’s Bureau of Parks and Lands Seboomook Unit in northern Maine. The agency has added the predator management and animal damage control programs as activities to be covered under the plan, but the addition has not changed the expected effect on lynx.

The Endangered Species Act makes it illegal to “take”—meaning trap, capture, collect, harass, harm, wound or kill—federally threatened or endangered wildlife, such as the threatened Canada lynx. Some activities, such as trapping for common species like bobcat or fisher, have the risk of incidentally taking protected species. An incidental take permit would allow trapping through the recreational, predator management and animal damage control programs to continue as MDIFW undertakes practical measures to avoid, minimize, and mitigate take of lynx.

Incidental take plans, known also as habitat conservation plans, identify the impacts to wildlife from a project or program; the steps the applicant will take to reduce or compensate for such impacts; what alternative actions were considered; and how conservation efforts will be funded.

To learn more and comment on the documents:

Visit the Maine Field Office website, http://www.fws.gov/mainefieldoffice/, for questions and answers about the revised documents, species information and an archive of the draft documents.
Visit www.regulations.gov and enter docket FWS-R5-ES-2014-0020 to review comments submitted during the 2011-2012 comment period, the Service’s response to comments, and the revised plan and assessment.
Submit comments at www.regulations.gov or by hard copy to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R5-ES-2014-0020; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters, MS: BPHC; 5275 Leesburg Pike; Falls Church, VA 22041–3803. Please reference the docket number for this notice.

After the comment period ends, the Service will determine whether the application meets the permit issuance requirements.

Copy of an email sent to various recipients from Mark McCollough of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has updated its draft Environmental Assessment (DEA) for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s (MDIFW) revised incidental take plan (ITP) for incidental trapping threatened Canada lynx. The agencies will make both available for a 30-day supplemental public comment period. They will be published in the Federal Register on Wednesday, August 6. There will be a 30-day comment period ending September 5, 2014. No public meetings are planned.

In summary, from 1999 to 2013, 84 lynx have been reported incidentally trapped in Maine (seven were caught in killer-type traps and 77 in foothold traps). Under the revised plan, the MDIFW anticipates that up to 13 lynx per year, or 195 total, might be incidentally trapped in restraining traps (e.g., foothold, cage traps and cable restraints) following issuance of the 15-year permit. The MDIFW expects that the majority of lynx caught in these traps will be released with little to no injury. They are requesting the permit to allow for up to three lynx fatalities as the result of incidental trapping. The MDIFW does not anticipate take in killer-type traps and take of orphaned kittens. The MDIFW seeks incidental take coverage for lynx that might be trapped in fur trapping, predator management (coyote control), and animal damage control programs. The agency proposes to phase in cable restraints, a new form of trapping for Maine, rescind regulations governing the size of foothold traps, and resume use of cage traps in northern Maine. The MDIFW will conduct a number of minimization measures that include increasing trapper education; a trapper hotline; biologists responding to lynx trapping incidents; assessing, classifying, and treating injures; rehabilitating injured lynx; and a protocol to care for kittens in situations where a female is trapped and injured and must be removed from the wild for rehabilitation. To mitigate for potential lynx mortalities, the MDIFW will maintain and enhance at least 4,785 acres of lynx habitat on a 10,411-acre area in the Maine Department of Agriculture Conservation and Forestry, Bureau of Parks and Lands Seboomook Unit in northern Maine.

The documents are available for review today at the Federal Register Reading Room at https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/08/06/2014-18548/incidental-take-plan-maine-department-of-inland-fisheries-and-wildlifes-trapping-program. The Service is releasing the revised versions of the plan and the Environmental Assessment for a 30-day supplemental public comment period. We encourage you to submit comments. Written comments may be submitted electronically by September 5, 2014, via the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov, or in hard copy, via U.S. mail, to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R5–ES–2014–0020; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters, MS: BPHC; 5275 Leesburg Pike; Falls Church, VA 22041-3803. The docket number for this notice is FWS–R5–ES–2014–0020.

Following this comment period, the Service will evaluate the revised plan and comments we receive to determine whether the permit application meets the requirements of section 10(a) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA)(16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). We will also evaluate whether issuance of a section 10(a)(1)(B) permit complies with ESA section 7 by conducting an intra-Service consultation and biological opinion.

All documents associated with MDIFW’s 2008 and 2014 incidental take permit applications (including the Service’s draft Environmental Assessments) will also be posted at the Service’s Maine Field Office website Canada lynx page: http://www.fws.gov/mainefieldoffice/Canada_lynx.html. We are also posting public comments that we received during our 2011-2012 90-day public comment period. Responses to these public comments are appended to our 2014 draft Environmental Assessment.

The Service issued the attached press release and question-and-answer documents this afternoon.

Please contact Laury Zicari, field office supervisor (207 866-3344 x111, Laury_Zicari@fws.gov), or myself (contact information below) if you have any questions. We encourage you to comment through www.regulations.gov.

Please distribute to others who may be interested in this issue.

Sincerely, Mark McCollough

Mark McCollough, Ph.D.
Endangered Species Specialist
Maine Field Office
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Canada Lynx Incidental Take Plan and Permit Application for Maine Trapping Program
Questions and Answers