May 21, 2013
According to George Smith, three members of the board of directors for the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (SAM) have resigned; two of them being long time members. As a matter of fact, Smith says Jim Gorman quit because, “Gorman cited SAM’s transition “in a new direction” for his resignation.” A new direction? One can only hope it’s the right direction.
I have heard from a very reliable source that at one time, say around the time that the Maine Moose Lottery was challenged by referendum around about 1982ish, SAM’s membership stood at around 18,000. Presently, I’ve heard the number 9,000 bantered around as being the current membership at SAM. I’ll spare readers the details as to how members are counted.
Evidently it was not until the recent emotional debates on anti rights and anti gun legislation proposals, membership at SAM was headed for the cellar or was already there. SAM’s new executive director, David Trahan, says that since he took over at the helm in early 2012, he’s jacked up membership by 1,700; guessing most of that due to anti gun hype.
It will be difficult to tell in the short term whether SAM’s claim “new direction” by former board member Jim Gorman, will generate new interest and bring back members. Maine, like many other states, are still dealing with the rhetoric and emotions of gun rights and in addition to that it appears that the Humane Society of the United States is prepared to spend $3-4 million on an anti hunting, anti bear hunting/trapping referendum again in 2014. This will, more than likely, spike SAM’s membership.
So, what is this “new direction” that former board member Jim Gorman doesn’t like? I can only guess.
I am not a member of SAM. I never have been and probably never will be. However, I spend a great deal of time following the actions of SAM and listening to those voicing opinions about the organization and how SAM relates to issues involving fisheries management, deer and moose management and game species management, along with gun rights and other outdoor interests.
It was no secret that at least during the latter stages of George Smith’s tenure as executive director for SAM, membership was declining and it appeared the level of discontent was on the rise. But why?
From my perspective it surely appeared that Smith and his board of directors were selling out to the environmentalist groups, I suppose somehow believing that even though historically these groups spend millions of dollars nationwide to put a stop to fishing, hunting, trapping and other “consumptive” outdoor sports, they would treat activities in Maine differently and be the sportsman’s friend.
The bottom line has always been the driving force behind many decisions and actions taken by human beings. Outdoor sportsmen have for several years seen their hunting, trapping and fishing opportunities seriously diminished. Most sportsmen blame poor management on the part of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), for the loss of those opportunities. If SAM appears to be in full support of the efforts of MDIFW and we continue to get the same results, members become disgruntled and want a different approach. Is this the change in direction being spoken of here? Perhaps, or at least a part of it.
Another example of what might be a direction change that Gorman and others aren’t liking, showed itself during the recent debate on guns, gun rights and anti rights legislation bombarding the Maine Legislature. For the most part, David Trahan, SAM ED, took a very staunch stand in protecting the Second Amendment rights of all Maine citizens. While this was happening, former executive director at SAM, George Smith, was, for the most part, being wishy-washy, suggesting compromise. For the record Smith spoke out and presented legislation to get rid of Maine’s requirement for a permit to carry concealed. I applaud that move. Overall, Smith’s attitude and approach isn’t what the majority of Maine’s sportsmen want. Is that the change of direction being talked about?
Recently the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) sponsored legislation to ban bear trapping, as well as hunting bears in the Spring and with hounds. HSUS threatened that if Maine rejected their bill proposal, they would come back with a referendum the following year asking that even bear baiting be banned. Smith intimated in his writings that Maine might want to consider giving up trapping and hunting bears with dogs in order to save baiting. SAM’s current leadership fought hard against the anti bear hunting bill and saw it defeated and vowed they would battle viciously against HSUS. Is this the change of direction being referred to here?
Yes, I know, George Smith is not SAM any longer, but much of what he was instrumental in creating over his near 20-year reign, doesn’t seem to be meshing well with the new leadership at SAM. Membership has gone to the dogs, predators are running uncontrolled, the deer herd has all but disappeared in many places and some are trying to further reduce fishing opportunities in many of Maine’s bodies of water.
It appears to me this isn’t working and if Maine sportsmen really want to see changes, perhaps the best tool would be to make SAM a powerful force, actually fighting for the interests of the sportsmen and not special interest groups. I don’t know if that is the direction David Trahan intends to take SAM and perhaps only time will tell.
Jim Gorman and others gave of their time at SAM and for that we should be appreciative of and respectful. Times they are a changing and it appears Mr. Gorman and others need to move on and let SAM take a new direction. Sportsmen should get involved and make this change go in the right direction and ensure it doesn’t end up as another pal of environmental groups and pays attention to the interests of the members.
May 21, 2013
May 19, 2013
George Smith, blogger, columnist, and activist, writes that the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (SAM) has seen three members of the Board of Directors resign – Jim Gorman, Jim Hilly, and Amos Eno. Reading more like an obituary, Smith says that Jim Gorman gave the reason for leaving SAM after 22 years of service as him not liking the direction SAM was headed. Perhaps after 22 years no direction is any longer likeable.
But never fear. It appears those 3 vacancies were quickly filled by Butch Moore, Steve Michaud, and Cathy DeMerchant. Good luck to the three who departed and congratulations to the three who replaced them.
May 2, 2013
I wonder if Maine, as with other states that are being like chameleons, will eventually morph its Warden Service name into something, oh let’s say environmentally catchy like Natural Resources Office – unoriginal but why force any issue and dare to be different. But even with a name change to natural resource officer, it wouldn’t do service to the fact that “game” wardens appear to be spending less and less time being wardens of game and more and more time being counselors, councilors, search and rescue personnel, auto accident investigators and television stars: and for good luck, let’s toss in people who investigate private lands for illegal dumping.
An article found today in the Kennebec Journal in Maine, the writer labels the Maine wardens as “unsung heroes” and believes they are now “finally getting their due.”
So, let me get this straight. To this writer, editor for the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel, she thinks that Maine wardens have never gotten “their due” until they finally got completely away from the jobs they were hired to do? Well, that’s not exactly true. What job was they hired to do?
In 1880 there seemed a need for a law enforcement agency to enforce the newly created hunting, trapping and fishing laws. Dang! So, some brilliant person devised the name game warden. Their job was to police the game and make sure outdoor sportsmen were following the laws. In case anyone was wondering, these laws became necessary to conserve our game animals to ensure their sustainability. Even this author makes note that once thousands of applicants wanted to be a Maine Warden……that’s when they were game wardens. Today, it seems that Maine Game Wardens are as I described above and few want that job.
Even though sportsmen, along with the anti hunting environmentalists and animal rights quacks, complain that game is being poached and needs to be reduced (wardens will say they are understaffed and underfunded), Maine is sending officers to Connecticut to “debrief” some involved in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Along with this account, we are always reading of accounts of wardens doing what was once considered jobs for local law enforcement and/or state police and trained social workers.
I could spend a great deal of time listing all the non game activities wardens do but please I don’t think the Maine Warden Service’s role being social workers and television stars warrants the claim of “unsung hero” and “getting their due.”
If there is such a need for these programs, why a game warden service. If the Warden Service has time to do all these other things, then they are either overstaffed or are not doing their game work. Maine sportsmen should not be paying for the wardens to be doing auto accident investigations and counseling people in other states for whatever the reasons. What’s any of this got to do with game animals and laws that protect them? And why should the sportsmen be paying for it?
May 1, 2013
It makes little sense, to me anyway. A friend of mine I have often heard state, that many people don’t understand that they are supporting people and agendas that oppose the things they think they are fighting for. I’m not sure that there is a technical term placed on this sort of behavior, but I might call it blind ignorance. It has been said many times over that you can’t do much about stupidity but ignorance can be cured. I believe you can do something about ignorance but you have to remove the blinders and find a willing participant.
An example of this sort of misunderstand reasoning I found today when I read an article in the Morning Sentinel, a small newspaper of central Maine. The article was written by George Smith, a writer and political activist. He was once the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine.
Smith has for a long time been an advocate for teaming up with environmentalists, yes, those groups that want to put an end to hunting, trapping and fishing, and finding ways of funding the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW). His belief is that it should come from general taxation and or other forms of taxation besides the tax revenue collected now from license fees, etc., along with excise tax reimbursements from Pittman-Robertson and Dingell Johnson monies reallocated back to the states from the Federal Government.
The MDIFW always pleads poverty and Smith has been a shill for the department’s pleas.
In his article, Smith states that:
In the December 1954 Sportsmen’s Guide, Commissioner Roland Cobb outlined the desperate financial situation of his Department of Fisheries and Game.
Whoa is me! Smith says for 59 years the MDIFW has been broke. One could reasonably ask if that were true, how did it manage to survive for 59 years? I have heard the argument that because there is “never enough money” it is the reason for everything bad, at least that which is perceived as bad by some, that is found associated with fish and wildlife in Maine. Smith goes to task to name some of those. You can follow the link and read about them.
But is lack of money really the problem, at least as it is described by Smith?
But what I really want to draw readers attention to is the statement the author makes about this funding issue which reveals the lack of understanding that exists in supporting agencies and agendas that are not your friend.
In 1992, Maine voters endorsed a constitutional amendment that placed this department in our Constitution and protected its revenue — essentially stopping the Legislature and governor from stealing its money. I managed that referendum campaign. Almost a half-million voters (74 percent) endorsed the amendment, a stunning statement of support for this agency. (emboldening added)
For some reason Smith believes this act, a good one that keeps the governor and legislature from stealing sportsman’s money, was a go ahead to have general taxation pay for fish and wildlife. If it is so important to keep these people’s hands out of fish and wildlife money, why then do we want to turn around and give back to them the power to take over how the department is run? For surely once general tax dollars are funneled into the fish and wildlife department coffers, so too will the environmentalists and animal rights groups be demanding seats at the table to dictate how things are run. Trust me when I say these groups and individuals have a history of destroying fishing, hunting and trapping opportunities and heritage.
The problem isn’t necessarily that MDIFW is underfunded. Smith pines for the good ole days when Maine, he says, made all the lists of favorite places to hunt and fish. So what’s changed? The biggest thing that has changed during that time is that the fish and game department became a fisheries and wildlife department spending more time and effort on non game programs, much due to the pressures from environmentalist and animal rights groups. When you take the funds away from game management, what do you think will happen to game management?
And so Smith’s suggestion is to throw more money, including money from other taxable programs, at MDIFW and hope it sticks and returns things to the days he perceived as being good. Isn’t taking money from the arm of government you worked hard at protecting yourself from kind of like defeating the purpose?
Instead of finding ways to fund all the non game programs and putting control of fish and game in the hands of those whose bent is to end consumptive game management, why not give the environmentalists the non game programs and tell them to go find their own funding?
April 24, 2013
It seems that little is or can be done about stopping the spread of feral swine throughout this country. I think part of the problem is that people don’t realize there exists a problem or that it will, more than likely, wind up in your back yard eventually if not all ready. I also think there’s a certain disconnect between the people and wild hogs mainly because too many people probably don’t understand where all the pork they eat comes from……other than the grocery store.
With an estimated population in the U.S. of anywhere between 4 and 8 million hogs, the question isn’t if but when will wild hogs come to my house and destroy my lawn and garden, tear down my fencing and kill my pets? Kill my pets? It would only be fitting for environmental groups to work to put a stop to the needless killing of wild pigs. No, I’m not kidding.
Frank Bruni of the New York Times, pens a lighthearted approach to the realities of the swine life. But he does ask where the environmentalists are on this topic due to the ecosystem destruction caused by these millions of wild hogs. Bruni does mention that these pigs are, “throwing the earth out of balance.” Being that he writes for the New York Times and is only repeating the garbage he was taught in school and from all his other environmentalists friends at the Times, is it really worth trying to educate him about the “balance of nature?”
Texas A&M University answers probably any question you might have about feral hogs.
One of the last places some might think of to find wild pigs is in a cold climate like Maine. Well, officially New York State has too many pigs already and according to Maine’s Downeast Magazine, there’s about a population of 500 wild piggies in New Hampshire. The magazine warns Maine residents that those pigs might cross the border. And then what?
But, isn’t it too late to worry about if, they come? Maine’s Kennebec Journal had a story four months ago about a “Eurasian wild boar” that was shot by a person trying to stop the wild pig from killing his domestic pig.
This article states that officials are “mystified by the presence of a wild boar.” Really? Maybe officials should visit the Texas A&M University web page that explains about where feral hogs came from.
The first pigs were brought into what is now the continental U.S. into Florida in 1539 by Hernando de Soto. Explorers used these pigs as a traveling food source. After wandering around the southeastern United States in search of gold, his exploration party brought 700 pigs into what would become Texas in 1542.
Oh, so that’s how it happened. I mean seriously. Mystified?
April 23, 2013
Turkey hunters should be aware of Lymphoproliferative Disease Virus (LPDV), which has been found in Maine turkeys. Read below to find out more about the virus and what to do if you shoot or see a turkey that has LPDV.
What is Lymphoproliferative Disease Virus (LPDV)?
This is a virus that causes minor to extreme lesions on a turkey’s head and legs. It is thought to spread between turkeys by direct skin contact or through mosquito bites. Some turkeys can fend off minor infections and survive while others can develop extreme lesions that inhibit their sight and ability to eat, which ultimately leads to death.
Are there health risks for humans?
The disease poses no risk to human health. However, like all infections, caution is advised while handling a bird with LPDV. There is a potential for secondary bacterial infections if birds are handled improperly. Thoroughly cooking the meat to an internal temperature of a minimum of 165°F is also advised.
What should I do if I shoot a bird that looks like this?
Although wild turkeys cannot pass this virus on to humans, if you shoot a bird that looks like the above pictures and you do not want to eat it, do NOT register it and please contact a Wildlife Biologist at one of the offices listed below or call the Department of Public Safety in Augusta at (800) 452-4664 to be connected with a Game Warden. After examining the bird, the Department staff member will determine your eligibility to harvest another turkey.
Where did it come from?
Little is known about the origin of LPDV in the United States. LPDV was first detected in domestic turkeys in Europe. The first confirmed case in the United Sates was in wild turkeys in Georgia in 2009. MDIFW confirmed Maine’s first case of LPDV in April 2012. Since that time, we have confirmed several cases throughout the state. Currently, known cases occur virtually wherever wild turkeys are present. We speculate that a combination of a very good turkey production year in 2011 and the mild winter of 2011-2012 may have contributed to the apparent increase in occurrence recently. It is likely to be encountered in 2013 as well.
If you shoot or see a wild turkey with these lesions, please contact the IFW office closest to you:
Ashland – (207) 435-3231
Bangor – (207) 941-4466
Enfield – (207) 732-4132
Gray – (207) 657-2345
Greenville – (207) 695-3756
Jonesboro – (207) 434-5927
Sidney – (207) 547-5318
Strong – (207) 778-3324
April 15, 2013
Last week a story broke out of Maine about a man, who at the age of 20, decided one day to just walk into the woods and disappear. 27 years later, he was arrested for stealing food and other supplies from a nearby camp for disabled people.
It’s a fascinating, bizarre and inexplicable story of a man who built himself a compound on the side of a hill in the dense forest and eluded law enforcement for 27 years. Everything he needed for survival he stole; mostly from camps nearby and surrounding North Pond. He averaged about 40 break-ins a year and a favorite target, Pine Tree Camp, was where he got caught.
There appears to have immediately developed the somewhat romantic sympathy among the people for a man “living the life” away from it all and of course being able to elude the strong arm of the law, never hurting another, other than taking what didn’t belong to him. Cheering for the underdog came to an end last week.
He didn’t know why he walked into the woods one day or much of everything else he did.
He talked one time briefly to another human during the 27 years.
There was quite a legend that had been amassed over the years as over 300 camps and seasonal residences within walking distance of his wilderness compound were at the North Pond Hermit’s disposal and regardless of the perpetuated myths of this man, hermit, thief, and hero, law enforcement couldn’t catch him…..or never really tried. It took 27 years before one Maine Warden thought up the idea of an alarm system that would notify him when someone had broken into the Pine Tree Camp.
BRILLIANT! And that’s where Christopher Knight, known as a nerd in high school, met his capture.
And it only took a few hours before Troy Bennett composed a song about the “North Pond Hermit” and it appears below on video.
April 3, 2013
This bill directs the Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, in consultation with the Maine Land Use Planning Commission and the Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, to adopt rules that establish standards for the construction of trails in deer wintering areas. This bill also directs the Maine Land Use Planning Commission to incorporate these standards for the construction of trails in deer wintering areas in the State’s land use standards.
An Act to Establish Trail Standards in Deer Wintering Areas
This bill is to establish Standards for the Construction of Trails within Deer Wintering Areas (Designated P-FW sub districts) on private and public lands within the State of Maine to enhance the survival rate of the state’s overall deer herd.
The regulation/restriction of human intrusion by the incorporation of these Standards within the deer wintering areas is to prevent additional yet avoidable stresses to the states depleted deer herds, which have been and remain an important value to the State of Maine, both economically and to the heritage of its citizens. The current declined condition of the deer herd is the result of several factors including damaged wintering areas due to timber harvesting, predation by large populations of predators, loss of mast crops due to market development of mast crop wood, and the loss of habitat by land development. All of these contribute to the current deer population problem.
Another major stress to wintering deer herds is that of human impact which is the result of the rapidly developing recreational trails within Maine. Specifically, trails can negatively impact deer wintering areas in several ways, first by the users traveling through the deer yard areas, which can spook the deer causing them to expend valuable energy during a critical period of reduced metabolic rate. Humans appear to deer as a predator; as such the deer will expend critically needed energy to escape them. Second, these trails compress the snow pack which promotes the passage of predators into the deer yard. The volume of and impacts from humans entering the deer wintering areas during these critical winter months should be stopped.
The Standards were originally drafted by staff members of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Game, The Maine Land Use Regulation Commission (now the Land Use Planning Commission) and myself to become a Draft Rule Amendment to Protect Deer in Deer Wintering Area (P-FW) sub districts from disturbance in Chapter 10 (Land Use Districts and Standards) of the then Maine Land Use Regulation Commission. As areas designated as Deer Wintering Areas are found both within and outside of LUPC’s jurisdiction these Standards should be enacted state wide to best protect the states deer herd.
As more people other than sportsmen within the state are becoming aware of the true economical value that a viable deer herd has state wide, more private land owners and community owned parcels are seeking the help of IF&W staff in designating and enhancing deer wintering areas on both private and public lands. Others, who are developing various types of trails for recreational/commercial use, see the deer wintering areas as a “tourist attraction”. The influxes of those individuals into the deer wintering areas are a detriment to the deer herd and in time may lead to actual extinction of those using the area.
It is my intent that the existing trails of all types’ currently penetrating deer wintering areas would be grandfathered by this act, but no additional ones would be allowed that do not conform to these standards.
David L. Miller
Standards for Trails within Deer Wintering Areas
Intended purpose of the Construction Standards are to:
*Increase protection of zoned deer wintering areas and Maine’s deer population by minimizing or otherwise eliminating new herd disturbances by recreational uses during winter months and minimizing transportation corridors for predators into those zoned deer wintering areas.
Deer go into a reduced metabolic rate (to slow down) so they don’t burn up calories during a critical 100 day period
*Increase opportunities for consultation with Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) and Maine Natural Areas Program (MNAP) to avoid and minimize impacts on wildlife and their habitats.
With permits required in a P-WF (fish & wildlife protection sub-district), it would cause the two parties to come together to eliminate or minimize any impact to the deer herd
*Increase protections within the P-FW subdistrict by restricting the types of trails that are allowed within a P-FW subdistrict
*Regulations are rare in regards to the protection of wildlife
*IF&W has never dealt with anything on this scale, standards would ensure consistency state wide
More Specific Info:
Trails constructed today include a much wider range of types and uses than those constructed in the past. The proposed designation and division of trails better aligns the Land Use Planning Commission definitions with current land uses and more appropriately match land use controls to the intensity of the specific use.
There currently are no specific designations of trail types in Maine, or the regulation or permitting of any that could impact protected sub-districts (sensitive areas of concern).
The need for Standards, for the Construction of Trails in areas of concern / critical habitat has been brought about by the fact that some organizations are currently targeting specific areas Zoned as Deer Wintering Areas (a subdistrict P-FW) to allow customers/users to see deer. A human (particularly on foot) is seen as a predator by the deer causing the animal(s) to flee resulting in excessive stress, thus affecting its ability to survive.
The purpose of establishing Standards for Trails is to regulate activities within an area of concern in a manner that produces no undue adverse impact upon the resources and users in that area.
This proposed change requires a permit for all trails within the P-FW subdistrict in order to provide LUPC & MDIFW oversight and opportunity to avoid or mitigate impacts upon these resources.
Prior to construction of a trail, MDIFW and the MNAP shall be consulted with if a Level B and/or Level C would be located within a Fish and Wildlife Protection (P-FW) Subdistrict
There are four categories of trails to be established.
Trail, Level A:
A route or a path, other than a Level B or C Trail, roadway, or water trail with a travel surface width of less than 4 feet. Level A trails are developed and maintained with hand tools, and designed to facilitate human foot, ski, snowshoe, or non-motorized bicycle traffic only.
(Examples include – hiking & nature trails, mountain biking trails, portage trails, residential paths to waterbodies, etc.)
Trail, Level B:
A route, other than a Level A or C Trail, roadway, or water trail with a travel surface width of less than 6 feet, used for travel on foot, ski, snowshoe, motorized and non-motorized bicycle, equestrian, musher, snowmobile or ATV.
(Examples include – hiking & nature trails, mountain biking trails, portage trails, residential paths to waterbodies, ATV trails, snowmobile trails, and any use other than 4×4 jeep trail that meets specified dimensional criteria)
Trail, Level C:
A route, other than a Level A or B Trail, roadway, or water trail with a travel surface width less than 10 feet designed for one or two lane passage, used for travel on foot, ski, snowshoe, motorized or non-motorized bicycle, equestrian, musher, snowmobile, ATV, 4×4 vehicles, or other mechanized equipment. Level C trails may include travel surfaces wider than 10 feet provided the travel surface is not compacted or otherwise hardened, such as snowmobile trails.
(Examples include – hiking & nature trails, mountain biking trails, portage trails, ATV trails, snowmobile trails, and jeep/4×4 trails, and any other trails that meet the specified dimensional criteria)
An aquatic route, such as streams, rivers, bogs, ponds, lakes and other bodies of water, by which various forms of watercraft may travel. Watercraft may include, but are not limited to rafts, canoes, kayaks, motorized or non-motorized boats, or barges. Water trail does not include any associated trails on land as defined herein as any other type of “Trail”.
(Examples include – the water potion of the Arnold Trail, The Northern Forest Canoe Trail, whitewater rafting routes, etc. Water trails do not include any associated trails on land, such as but not limited to portage trails.)
March 25, 2013
I received this photograph and email from a pretty reliable source (on the picture). The fact that people are dumping fish in ponds where they don’t belong is a fact and has been going on for some time. This report states that this great northern pike was caught while ice fishing in “North Pond”, a pond located near Norridgewock, Maine.
It is unfortunate that people, out of selfishness and pure ignorance, have no idea what introducing an invasive specie(s) of fish can do to a natural and/or existing fishery.