October 19, 2019

Gov. LePage’s Attempt to Block Quimby “Monument” Ends in Fluff With No Puff

Some used to think we lived in a democracy, of which they also considered a good thing. No longer and it was never good and only slightly better than an oligarchy, dictatorship, etc. It is quite clear from events in Maine that the people aren’t interested in another useless national park, one that, if established, would not be taken care of, because the U.S. Government can’t take care of what they have now. But, I guess that’s neither here nor there in this day and age of uncontrolled totalitarianism, and the forcing of the wills of those in power onto those that should be called subjects.

Due to the opposition of many Maine residents to a national park near Baxter State Park, by the wishes of the land owner, Roxanne Quimby, efforts for a park, which requires a vote in Congress, have become efforts to convince the current oligarchical president, Obama, to use his executive “privilege” and, while closing his eyes, to the unappealing-in-any-way land, grant it as a National Monument. It matters not whether the proposed monument land has all the qualifications for a monument designation. It’s about politics. Well, isn’t it?

Maine’s governor Paul LePage is opposed to Federal intrusion, which is what a park or monument would do, and has sought some kind of legislation that might prohibit either action. His latest attempt was to craft some sort of law that would force ownership of the land back to the original owner if that land was purchased or given to the U.S. Government and designated as a park or monument. Those of us with curious minds would have loved to see how that would have worked out.

The Maine Governor’s huffing and puffing, ended benignly, when his proposed bill, LD 1600, was amended to read that the State of Maine doesn’t wish to have another national park or a national monument. Here’s how the summary read: “This amendment is the minority report of the committee. It removes the requirement for a reverter clause in a deed and conveyance or title papers in the event that land is given by the State to the Federal Government and the Federal Government attempts to designate such land a national monument. It adds language specifying that, in the case of designation of property as a national monument, the consent of the Legislature is not given to the Federal Government for the acquisition of land.”

In an article in the Portland Press Herald, it states: “Bill opponents questioned whether the measure would violate private property rights or violate the U.S. Constitution.” What property rights? The only property rights that exist individually are those we are allowed to have, i.e. the right to pay the king his tribute for using the land. Once the king decides there are other uses, those granted privileges are taken away.

We know that whatever the president does or whatever the Congress does, nothing is unconstitutional. We must learn to get over this myth. Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution says, in part: “To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”

For those unaware of Section 8, it is a long laundry list of the Powers granted unto Congress with the establishment of the U.S. Constitution. The above clause becomes the “general article,” similar to the Uniform Code of Military Justice’s Article 134. For less studious minds, it’s similar to the “Coaches Rule” which reads: Rule one, the coach is always right. Rule two, refer to rule one.

The short of it is, Congress can do anything it damn well pleases because when they signed the Constitution (the people had nothing to say about it) they granted themselves a general article in which they can “make all Laws which are necessary and proper.” And don’t think for one minute that you or I have any say in what is “necessary and proper.” We all laughed when a reporter asked Nancy Pelosi, then Speaker of the House, if Obamacare was “constitutional” and her response was, “You gotta be kidding me.” She knew, we didn’t and can’t figure it out…yet.

Here’s the reality. If Roxanne Quimby is well-connected enough with Barack Obama, at the least she will get her national monument. Forget whether or not the president has certain powers. Those who can see should know by now the president is allowed, by Congress, to do just as he damn well pleases. And, we should know now that Congress has the power to do what it wishes. Maine, not a “sovereign” state as most falsely are led to believe, cannot stop any action the president or Congress decides to do. We gave up that sovereignty when we signed onto the United States Corporation contract.

What will happen with Ms. Quimby’s land actually depends upon how beholding Obama is to Quimby – how much money and support she has given Obama and whether or not her actions deserve his actions. That’s how the corrupt government works – always has and always will. But in our programmed insanity, we keep convincing ourselves the next election will change things. Uh, huh!

While the Maine governor, residents and legislators get their undies in a bunch over trying to stop Roxanne Quimby, the best that they can do is waste taxpayer’s money by drafting, amending, discussing and passing a bill that is nothing more than a resolution stating that a weak majority of House members don’t want Quimby’s park or monument.

It’s much akin to the large pit bull ordered to sic a man who was being a bully. The pit bull ran after the man, cornered him and began barking (in a soft feminine voice) bowsy-wowsy, bowsy-wowsy.

Fluff with no Puff!

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Lawmakers Override Gov’s Veto of Moose Permit Bill

AUGUSTA – The Maine House and Senate have voted to override Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of a bill that would allow the commissioner of Inland Fisheries and…
Source: Lawmakers Override Gov’s Veto of Moose Permit Bill | Maine Public Broadcasting

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Protecting the Fish and Game Biologist Brotherhood

Once again, Outcome Based Education, political bias and perpetuated myths are on display in Maine. A retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist and a Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologist, says that politicians are the cause of Maine’s depleted(ing) deer herd, not coyotes.

Politicians are to blame for many things and readers know I would be the last in line to stand up for one unless I knew them personally and could trust them. As far as whether politicians are the sole blame for Maine’s vanishing deer herd, I don’t think, as much as I would like to, I could put all the blame on them.

The author was a wildlife biologist and worked for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), so I doubt he would dare place any of the blame for a terrible deer management execution on his “brotherhood” at MDIFW.

Getting beyond the political bias and nonsense, let’s examine a few things that the retired biologist had to say.

Since the early 1900s, expensive and barbaric coyote bounties have failed miserably in western states, but that knowledge carries no weight in Augusta.

History is full of accounts of how “barbaric bounties” very effectively controlled predator populations. Maybe the author needed to rewind his history clock a few more years to discover that….or maybe the seeming failure was intentional.

One has to simply reread many of the journals and accounts from years ago in the West to learn what actually happened. A favorite account of mine is that of C. Gordon Hewitt.

It always amazes me how that the evils of hunting swing in both directions, when convenient. While wolves and coyotes were virtually wiped out in the West as the settlers moved in, hunters were blamed. When there is talk of killing predators, such as coyotes and wolves, those same people who blamed the destruction of coyotes and wolves on hunters, swing the door in the other direction and tell us as did the opinion piece in question:

It seems counterintuitive, but the war on coyotes has actually increased their numbers and breeding range. The Colorado Division of Wildlife reports that coyotes are more numerous today than when the state was first settled by trappers. Colorado and other western states no longer waste taxpayer money on futile coyote control programs.

There exists no scientific evidence that killing coyotes causes them to automatically breed more of themselves. There are just too many factors that come into play when examining reproductive habits of any wild animal. And is the author of this opinion piece actually suggesting here that all those coyotes now in Colorado are solely to blame on hunters and trappers? Once again, a reading and studying of the history of settling the West shows that aside from certain pockets, this nirvana of the West was not so Disneyesque as many would like to believe. Man’s expansion created a vast habitat to support coyotes and all other wildlife. In time, the implementation of the North American Model for Wildlife Conservation allowed for the growth and health of our wildlife systems.

The retired biologist intimates that Maine plans to implement a one year program to kill coyotes, saying it wouldn’t be effective. Agreed, and I know of no honest person who has indicated that it would. I happen to know explicitly that both MDIFW Commissioner Woodcock and Governor LePage have been told and I believe understand that predator control is an ongoing part of wildlife management and this should have been taking place years ago. The MDIFW fell flat on their faces in this regard.

The article shows us the author’s real colors when he begins his rant about how the Maine politicians failed because they did not steal land rights away from American taxpayers. The crying and gnashing of teeth is about the State Legislature failing to tell landowners they can’t use the resources on their own land; an unconstitutional land grab straight from the pages of the United Nations Agenda 21 program, whose goal it is to take all land and resources worldwide and forbid you and I from owning or having access to any of it, saving it instead for them. I’m all for protecting our wildlife, but never at the expense of man’s life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. There are better ways than forceful takeovers.

We are then treated to what appears to be an expert on the deer management in Minnesota and Michigan stating:

If you remain unconvinced that lack of winter shelter is the primary reason northern Maine supports few deer, please consider this: Minnesota and Michigan deer herds are much healthier than Maine’s. Minnesota and Michigan winters are as difficult as Maine’s. Deer in both of those states must also avoid being eaten by coyotes and wolves.

So the logical question LePage, Woodcock, Martin and deer hunters should ask is this: What are Minnesota and Michigan doing differently to maintain healthy deer populations? The answer: Both states prioritize protecting deer wintering areas through land purchases, conservation easements and regulating excessive timber harvests.

The proof is in the pudding they say, and with the help of a reader, we have been able to provide a couple of graphs that show that since the late 1990s and early 2000s, both Minnesota and Michigan have seriously reduced deer harvest numbers, dropping over 30% and more.

You don’t suppose that one of the reasons that Minnesota and Michigan have a declining harvest of deer, an indication of a declining deer population, has anything at all to do with the years of over protecting predators and now the results of that over protection are showing up? In addition, I have yet to get anyone that pretends to have all the answers explain to me why, if there are no more deer wintering areas left in Maine to support more deer, the ones we have are not being used?

It appears that the basis for the author’s opinion piece in the paper is mostly wrapped around his dislike of Gov. LePage and his republican administration, while at the same time blaming politicians in general for a deer demise, the fate of which was left in the hands of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife; a department that the biologist was an employee of. Surely we couldn’t expect someone to point a finger at their brotherhood of hoodwinked biologists….or even perhaps at themselves.

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Maine Not “All In” In Commitment To Restore Deer Herd But We Should be Encouraged

According to George Smith, blogger and former executive director for the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, the Maine Legislative Appropriations Committee, approved a supplemental spending budget for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) for $350,000, of which $100,000 is supposed to be used for “LD 372, An Act to Reduce Deer Predation”.

On January 24, 2012, in an article comparing efforts by outdoor sportsmen groups from Maine and Utah, I seriously questioned whether or not promises made by Maine’s Governor Paul LePage, during his gubernatorial campaign, was all talk and no action.

If Maine and the governor honestly are committed to the rebuilding of the deer herd to keep a vibrant industry providing jobs and upholding traditions and heritage, the value of investment would be realized and the Governor and Legislature would find the money to kill a lot of coyotes, reduce bear populations, protect wintering habitat, etc.

To continue my expounding on the doubts of Maine’s total commitment to deer hunting as a necessary part of that state’s economy, along with the long and storied heritage that has been a part of what makes Maine great, on March 15, 2012, I exposed MDIFW’s sparce commitment due to it’s lack of a publicly written and easily accessed “mission statement.

In all honesty, how can the people of Maine feel any kind of certainty that MDIFW is committed to managing it’s game population for surplus harvest, if they cannot publicly state that? Not doing so only leads us to believe that is NOT their goal and as such, why throw away tax dollars for MDIFW’s wildlife hobbies?

On March 28, 2012, I wrote an article in which I questioned whether Maine was “all in” when it comes to this commitment to rebuild a deer herd. I asked many questions.

So, where is Maine’s commitment? What has IFW done? Are there studies that could be done with a commitment of money? Who is finding that money? What has the governor done? When was the last time that senators Snowe and Collins got involved in Maine’s commitment to restore the deer herd? If Sen. Reid can find millions of dollars, can we assume that Snowe and/or Collins could as well? Have all Maine’s hunters and trappers and outdoor sportsman’s groups anted up?

If the commitment is lacking, then perhaps there is also lacking a firm belief in the seriousness of the problem. Or, the belief exists but a poor job of selling and recruiting all influential people stands in the way.

On May 1, 2012, I wrote:

I am assuming, which might be a mistake, that before the Governor and MDIFW made a public announcement of their commitment to rebuild Maine’s deer herd, they crunched some numbers and explored all aspects of the hunting industry in order to decide whether or not declaring “all in” was an investment that was responsible and in the best interest of the people of Maine.

Surprising many, the Maine Appropriations Committee has coughed up $138,000 on two programs to be used to directly or indirectly help the deer herd. It’s now up to the Governor to sign these bills. Will he?

If Gov. LePage signs these bills, it will be far from “all in” but it would be far more encouraging than the crickets we were hearing prior to this and no positive words that any money would be available.

I suggest sportsmen get on the phone and email and let the governor’s office know you urge him to sign these bills.

Tom Remington

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Perhaps Maine Approaches Game Management as a Hobby

There’s an old expression that I learned perhaps 55 years ago about doing something in a pot or getting off it. I’m beginning to wonder if the State of Maine, specifically the office of governor and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) approaches the entire functional aspect of fish and wildlife management as nothing more than a hobby. The present governor promised to rebuild the deer herd. The present commissioner at MDIFW promised to rebuild the deer herd. Maine government devised a plan to rebuild the deer herd and nothing has been done to rebuild the deer herd. I think it’s time to do something in that pot or get off it and put the pot away.

We are in tough times. There’s no doubt about it. Maine’s governor, Paul LePage, is doing what he thinks is best to reduce wasteful spending, something that must be done, and so it’s a big pill to swallow in any attempts to convince the taxpayers that borrowing and spending more money is in the best interest of all. So, the question for deer hunters becomes: Is spending money now or in the immediate future a good investment for all of Maine?

George Smith, a journalist, blogger and former executive director for the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, beats a steady drum. Agree with him or not, when he latches onto an issue he remains persistent until the issue is dead……and then some more. His latest attack has to do with funding Land for Maine’s Future(LMF), a governmental program that, “seeks to conserve lands that have exceptional recreational or ecological value along with working lands for farms, forests, tourism, and working waterfronts.”

Smith says the Land for Maine’s Future program is broke and he has a problem with the governor’s dislike of spending money by saying, “Governor Paul LePage’s antipathy to bonding is well known”. Smith sees this as a problem because he wants money to fund LMF in order to buy up and protect deer wintering forest areas.

In Maine’s Game Plan for Deer, one of the many things identified that contributed to the demise of the whitetail deer herd, is the loss of habitat, specifically deer wintering areas (DWA). Smith wants the $5 million bond issue to pass to fund LMF in order to buy up DWAs to protect deer.

This is probably a good idea but I am not aware of anyone, at least with any position of legislative authority or otherwise, who has come up with a plan of just how we are going to convince private land owners to sell off a deer yard that happens to sit in the middle of their property? Smith even says, “No landowner is going to sell the state a stand-alone deeryard.” Not to be accused of taking Smith out of context, he also stated that the habitat surrounding a deer yard is important as well, implying all of the land, inside and out, of the deer yard areas need protecting.

With a deer management plan, that contains no specific information about how it is going to protect deer habitat, is it then prudent to bond out $5 million to LMF, with the target goal for that expenditure deer yards in Maine?

Personally, I would like to see two things happen. One, I want to see a viable plan worked out between the State of Maine and private landowners about how a program could function that would, hopefully, provide for the needs of both parties. Once a workable plan is in place, that is one that isn’t Marxist by nature, strong-arming landowners to give up land or else, then let’s proceed with the funding. The only way money should be appropriated for this action is only AFTER a majority of private landowners, i.e. those who own the deer yards needing protection, have agreed to such a plan.

Secondly, I think there are things that can be done right now that will have an immediate effect on the deer herd, if and when the governor’s office and MDFIW makes a real commitment to it. So far, the people, even though they were promised during those dreadful campaign days, have seen nothing. Should I put that in all capitals? NOTHING!

Here’s the deal, in case you really haven’t caught on yet. Campaign rhetoric is cheap. Anyone can spew it and all do. Why we insist in getting caught up in it is a lesson that might never be learned. The only thing any of us can ever get out of it is to throw it back in the politician’s face that he or she lied. Big deal! They all do it because we let them. These days the end always justifies the means.

So the governor, in this case Mr. LePage, gets elected and as is the usual case, promises are forgotten and he hires an expert to make excuses for his lack of action. But this case puzzles me a bit. Governor LePage pushed for this Game Plan for Maine’s Deer. Why? Is this a double entendre? Perhaps political naivete to offer twice a broken promise? A lack of a commitment brought on by the absence of understanding money would be needed? Or perhaps the governor and his cohorts didn’t fully examine the deer hunting industry and whether it was an investment worth the money and the commitment? Or, maybe something else.

I’ve written a few times about this lack of engagement at all levels of the State of Maine; HERE, HERE, HERE. I am assuming, which might be a mistake, that before the Governor and MDIFW made a public announcement of their commitment to rebuild Maine’s deer herd, they crunched some numbers and explored all aspects of the hunting industry in order to decide whether or not declaring “all in” was an investment that was responsible and in the best interest of the people of Maine. Why would you do it anyway?

If it has been determined, again I’m assuming here, that it was a worthy investment and the Governor made a public announcement, twice actually, of his “commitment” to rebuild the deer herd, then where is this commitment? It’s not like the economic difficulties that Maine and the rest of the nation experience crept up on us overnight.

If there is no concentration of effort, including funding, then either the Governor and MDIFW knowingly misled the voters and hunters because they knew, specifically the Governor, that he would not fund any effort to save the deer herd. In other words, he was placating the voters and again the sportsmen with his hollow promises.

Therefore, without any further explanation available that I am aware of from MDIFW or the Governor’s office, I am left believing that the MDIFW is an expensive hobby and is promoted as such from the Governor’s office. The only commitment that I see is to keep enough funding going to pay a lot of salaries, the most of which have nothing to do with management of game species. This is an expensive hobby. I have contributed a lot of money over the years, as have hundreds of thousands of others, to support this hobby.

It is time to get off the pot because obviously nothing is being put into the pot. If the Governor and MDIFW cannot see the deer hunting industry as viable enough to warrant investment, surely my money should not fund a department in which I no longer have a vested interest. The governor and MDIFW can go play with their wildlife on their own time and money.

Tom Remington

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Commissioner Woodcock in Response to Open Letter

*Editor’s Note* On January 26, 2012 I sent an open letter to Maine’s Governor Paul LePage, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Chandler Woodcock and others concerning Maine’s ability through statute to control coyotes and other predators. Below is a copy of the email response I received this morning from the MDIFW commissioner’s office.

Dear Mr. Remington:

Your recent e-mail to Governor LePage has been forwarded to the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife for response. In your message you discuss coyote control as it relates to the deer population in Northern, Eastern, and Western Maine. Specifically, you mentioned concerns about the Department’s ability to control coyotes in Maine. I would point out that in statute (Title 12, Sec 10053 (and Sec 10105), Sub 8 the Commissioner is authorized to initiate predation control. When the statutes were recodified there were changes made to improve clarity and eliminate duplication. The sections that you mentioned in your email were eliminated as part of that recodification effort. However, the Statutes in place clearly grant the Commissioner the authority to implement a predator control program.

In fact, the Department has implemented a predator control program in selected Deer Wintering Areas in Northern Maine. The Department is also continuing to work on implementing its Game Plan for Deer. At the same time we are working with the USFWS to get the Incidental Take Plan approved and in place for trapping. The Governors office is supportive of our efforts to address the issues related to the deer population in Northern, Eastern and Western Maine. We have been working with the Maine Forest Products Council, the Maine Department of Transportation and the Sportsmen Alliance of Maine among others to address the issues of Deer Wintering Shelter, Feeding of Deer, Car-Deer mortality, and predation on Deer. The overall solution to the problem requires our attention to multiple issues working in concert with many partners. There aren’t any simple answers and in the end our success will be gained by good old fashioned hard work with people from all over the State who care about the wildlife habitat and resources. We encourage you to participate in the efforts undertaken by the Department and these groups as we move forward. Information can be found on our website relating to these issues. Thank you for your interest and advocacy on behalf of the Wildlife Resources of the State of Maine.

Sincerely,
Chandler E. Woodcock
Commissioner

This morning I took the time to offer a response to Commissioner Woodcock:

Mr. Woodcock:

Thank you very much for taking the time to respond to my open letter. I am fully aware of the existing laws and what they allow and do not allow, although I am not a legal expert trained in law interpretation. I also am aware and have been that you, as commissioner, hold a degree of authority for animal damage control and dealing with predation issues. That is really not the point here.

The recodification and legislative appeals process, in my humble opinion, did a bit more than, “improve clarity and eliminate duplication”.

Prior to the process of recodification and the legislative repeal of “Maine Coyote Control Program” (notice this is in capitals), the commissioner had the authority in the use of snaring under the guidelines provided by statute. We are of course, restricted by the Consent Decree.

There has to be serious discussion as to how Maine went from a coyote/predator control program, including the use of snares, to an outright ban on snaring Title 12, Section 12252 and the commissioner with authority to conduct animal damage control, with limited tools available, all through the process to, “improve clarity and eliminate duplication”.

However, I believe short of an investigation into this process by the Attorney General, on all other points I am beating a dead horse. At this point it appears the only help the State of Maine can get is approval of an Incidental Take Permit for Canada lynx that does not put any more restrictions on trapping that now already exist. What is being suggested by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would so restrict trapping it would effectively eliminate it. Where would this leave our Animal Damage Control?

Hoping for the best.

Tom Remington

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Dealing With Deer Herd Rebuilding: Maine Sportsmen Groups vs. Utah Sportsmen Groups

Two states that face similar problems with dwindling deer herds are Maine and Utah. In Utah, efforts are underway to improve habitat but the sportsmen there recognize that those efforts are limited. What they do recognize is that the number one problem and one that they CAN do something about is reducing coyote populations that have driven the fawn survival rate to near zero.

In Maine much of the effort is talk and complaining that loss of habitat, loss of quality wintering habitat and severe winters are killing the deer and there are no serious plans to address an overblown coyote population; again something that CAN be done while implementing programs to deal with habitat.

Recently sportsman’s groups in both states have launched efforts to address withering deer herds. In Maine it was announced that a conglomeration of “outdoor partners”, mostly coordinated by the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, were going to work with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) to address the deer herd issue.

In Utah, efforts are already underway by similar “outdoor partners”, mostly coordinated by the Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, to address the deer herd issue.

Below is a comparison of ideas and plans by each of the two groups. Please compare and then decide which one stands the best chance of actually accomplishing the goals of rebuilding a deer herd.

Maine: (According to the statement made by the “outdoor partnership”)

1.) Create a “network” of sportsman’s clubs.
2.) Provide access to information Online.
3.) Host meetings, conferences, and training seminars dealing with habitat management, trapping and predator hunting, and a variety of other topics related to deer restoration and management.
4.) Produce DVDs and other educational materials.
5.) Provide a place where hunters and landowners can share tips, tactics and ideas that may help others succeed at protecting and managing deer.
6.) Support the Maine Deer Management Network at the Legislature and in other political venues.
7.) Provide outreach.
8.) Provide information in the print media by providing feature articles on deer management and outdoor recreation topics.
9.) Coordinate closely with MDIFW to assure mutual progress in restoring and then maintaining healthy deer populations again.
10.) Manage habitat.
11.) Manage predators.
12.) Manage hunting.
13.) Eager to support Dept. efforts to reduce predation losses near deer wintering areas.
14.) Develop coyote hunting into the next big hunting activity in Maine by transitioning the coyote from varmint status, to the valuable, huntable furbearer resource.
15.) Envisioning a volunteer “Adopt a Deer Yard” program targeting coyote hunting near deer wintering areas by individual hunters, or clubs.
16.) Intending to be a resource that individuals can turn to for information on coyote biology, hunting tactics, available equipment, bait sources, etc.
17.) Find opportunities to strengthen the connection between hunters and the non-hunting public and be a resource where hunters can find information on the latest hunting regulations, including legislative changes as they occur.
18.) Stress the importance of ethical hunting behavior, encourage active participation in game law compliance, and help define the importance of hunting and trapping as a means of keeping wildlife populations at compatible levels.

Utah: (According to the most recent email on future plans)

1.) Continue the aerial gunning of coyote pairs in the spring with $470,000. Better efforts will be made to target paired coyotes.

2.) Hire 5 Full time – NON Biologist – Regional coyote trappers/trapping coordinators. Job requirements: proven track record of knowing how to kill coyotes, and teach and motivate thousands of sportsmen to join the effort. Every day, the job is to wake up and kill coyotes, and additionally teach other sportsmen how to trap, snare, and otherwise kill coyotes. These full time people would also coordinate county bounty programs, and help target and measure – hopefully – increased fawn survival. These coordinators will also come up with some new and creative efforts to get sportsmen out killing coyotes.

3.) Have some current DWR Employees participate in coyote control efforts while doing spring and fall counts, etc.

4.) See coyote $1 Million coyote bounty below

Since it is not in the current Governors budget submitted on December 8, the bounty money will have to come from Legislative leaders like Senator Hinkins and Okerlund, who take the Governors budget and tweak it. I also think the Governor, after the meeting in Cache, and having aides see the turnout at other meetings, and realizing the need, will be supportive. So, the new piece of the puzzle? see Number five below:

5.) With the help of Sportsmen, obtain $1 Million in additional funds to pay $50 coyote bounty. This would lead to 20,000 dead coyotes, a DRAMATIC increase in coyote kill.

Let me give you some numbers.

1.) Last year, after seeing the dismal fawn survival on 4 central Utah deer units – Pavant, boulder, beaver – the Director spent an additional $100,000 on coyote control

a.) Fawn Survival from 2010 to 2011 went from approximately 43 fawns per 100 to 62 per 100

It is estimated that there are 80,000 coyotes in Utah.

Last year it is estimated that the government professional trappers took 4,000 coyotes. This program would stay the same, but it would be better targeted in fawning areas.

$1 Million for a $50 bounty would result in 20,000 dead coyotes, plus all the coyotes taken by 5 full time coyote killers from the UDWR, plus all the coyotes taken by aerial gunning $470,000 in the spring on deer winter ranges.

I would like to point out some important differences between these two state’s ideas on how to rebuild a deer population. First, the proposals written about from Utah are actually those made by the fish and game director Jim Karpowitz. From most of the accounts I have read about Utah’s efforts, it appears that for the most part the fish and game department, Legislature, Governor and members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, sportsmen and citizens, understand the importance of hunting to their state and are committed at all levels to do what is necessary.

Second, I do not believe that Maine has the same commitment from the fish and wildlife department, the Governor or the Legislature and definitely not the U.S. Congressional Delegation. Sportsmen are split and citizens need to be educated. For this reason, I believe it is the major steering factor in the proposals that I’ve outlined above from Maine.

Governor Paul LePage campaigned on the promise that he was committed to rebuilding Maine’s deer herd. And what has transpired to date that has resulted in any effort to that end? I am not an advocate to fund the MDIFW with general fund taxpayer money. If Maine and the governor honestly are committed to the rebuilding of the deer herd to keep a vibrant industry providing jobs and upholding traditions and heritage, the value of investment would be realized and the Governor and Legislature would find the money to kill a lot of coyotes, reduce bear populations, protect wintering habitat, etc.

I’m not suggesting throwing money at a problem. The Governor must demand change and accountability for any state investment in rebuilding the deer herd. One can argue and spin the information anyway they so choose but the fact is the current management plans for deer failed miserably. Blame it on winter, blame it on habitat or predators, the realization is there are no deer left in many of Maine’s locations. Therefore, the plan fails simply because it doesn’t deal with these issues in a realistic manner. Winters have been around in Maine for longer than MDIFW and loggers have cut trees for centuries, and we still can’t deal with those two issues?

Whether you are from Maine or Utah or points in between, you decide from the information that I’ve provided which state has the biggest commitment to herd rebuilding and which plans have a better chance at seeing real results.

Tom Remington
 

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“Recodification” of Maine Statutes in 2003 Gave That State It’s Ban on Snaring

In 2003, by mandate of the Maine Constitution, laws governing the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife were “recodified”. The end result was a statewide ban, with exceptions, on the use of snares for trapping, other than underwater snares for beaver and foothold snares for bear.

If you are puzzled, join the ranks of thousands of other Maine sportsmen.

Let me present a bit of personal history to help readers understand how I got here. As a hunter, I have become concerned over what I believe to be an overgrown population of coyotes in many parts of Maine. This has contributed to a sizable reduction in the whitetail deer population there. Efforts to do something about that population have seen many hurdles and are currently mired in court orders and confusion over just what the Maine laws are. Perhaps it is intended to be this way.

Trappers using snares has proven to be an effective tool to target those coyotes who like to consider wintering deer yards as their own private 5-star restaurants. Implementation of snares around deer yards took care of a respectable number of coyotes that would kill winter-weary deer.

Use of snares was stopped and subsequent lawsuits by environmental and animal rights groups, coupled with a federal listing for protection of Canada lynx, has left Maine in a situation where, even if IFW agreed coyotes were that serious a problem, there is little they are willing or able to do to stop the demise of the deer herd.

But confusion has run deep as to what the Maine laws governing trapping and in particular snaring are. Here’s a brief history.

In 1929, the Maine Legislature passed and was signed by the governor, a law that banned the use of snares…..period. Over the years there have been minor changes to what equipment and definitions constituted a snare. I believe it was in 1983 when the Maine Legislature mandated that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) begin a program to control the population of coyotes. This, to my knowledge, was the first attempt at implementing the use of snares.

Through the 80s and 90s, it seems the Maine Legislature as a whole has been mostly supportive of controlling coyotes and have instructed MDIFW to do something about coyote control, and yet there is none.

To keep my focus where it needs to be in this article, I’ll become more directed to the events of 2003. The Maine Legislature and Gov. Baldacci, signed into law LD237, “An Act to Improve the Coyote Control Program”. Initially, LD237 was a bill to ban snaring again, even after it had shown its effectiveness. Subsequently and during debate, etc., LD237 was amended and thus the title I gave above was attached to the bill.

LD237 was not an all out ban on snaring. What remained was the authority given to the commissioner of MDIFW to use “agents” to “meet management goals established by the commissioner for deer……”. I say this with all due diligence that I firmly believe the overwhelming majority of Maine sportsmen believe this is the law that is in place today as it pertains to snaring. If this were the case, then surely the Commissioner, Chandler Woodcock, or any commissioner before him or after, could have easily put together a plan to implement a targeted snaring program for coyotes in areas of Maine most vulnerable to coyotes……if that were the law.

As the result of a lawsuit filed against Maine by the Animal Protection Institute, in 2007 a Consent Decree was activated by the Courts. In that Consent Decree, the use of snares was prohibited within those Wildlife Management Districts that had been deemed critical habitat for the Canada lynx; a species protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Because the majority of hunters and trappers (and to be honest, I think the ignorance ran deeply into MDIFW and probably the Maine Legislature) were still thinking that Maine was operating under the statute of LD237, people began asking why MDIFW didn’t implement snaring programs in areas outside critical lynx habitat. Downeast regions come to mind.

The Consent Decree was to remain in effect until such time as Maine was granted an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), for the “incidental” taking of lynx during trapping season. Once again, sportsmen waited eagerly for Maine to acquire such a permit, believing that with this ITP, the commissioner has authority under LD237 to begin a snaring program. In the meantime, the deer herd is suffering.

I was one of many in the ranks of those led astray, or poorly informed, who wrote extensively on LD237 and the commissioner’s authority granted in that bill, fully believing through many hours of research that LD237 was the snaring law we were abiding by. Nobody has attempted to clear this up that I am aware of.

So, what law is the MDIFW, trappers and the people of Maine being governed by as it pertains to the use of snares? It took me many hours of research and a lot of dead ends and frustration, before I contacted the Maine Law Library seeking information, hoping it would answer some of my many questions.

What really piqued my level of frustration came when I was reading the Application for an Incidental Take Permit. Included at the end of this application was a copy of the trapping laws and rules that govern trapping in Maine. This is where I came upon Maine Statute 12252. Reading that statute, it says that it is unlawful to “set or tend a snare…….”. I told myself that there was something seriously wrong here. This isn’t even close to LD237, the law I and many others believed to be the law governing snaring.

A very important note that needs to be made here: This is the only statute provided in the ITP application that refers to the use of snares for capturing and killing coyotes. More in a minute.

Once the fine people at the Maine Law Library helped me and sent me some 800 pages of files and documents, I have learned that LD1600, “An Act To Recodify the Laws Governing Inland Fisheries and Wildlife” is the bill that governs trapping statewide.

Before I proceed, I want you to embed into your memory that LD237 was signed into law by Governor John Baldacci on April 25, 2003.

On June 3, 2003, Governor John Baldacci signed into law LD1600. LD1600 was introduced by Senator Bruce Bryant. There were no sponsors or cosponsors. Mr. Bryant was Chairman on the Joint Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife at that time I was told by the Law Library. By law, the Joint Committee was to read LD1600 and debate all 600 pages or so and they ultimately made a unanimous recommendation to the Maine Legislature, “Ought to Pass”. According to House and Senate records there was no debate on LD1600. It passed the Legislature on May 27, 2003 and was signed into law by the governor as described above.

The Maine Constitution, Article X, Sec. 6, mandates the “recodification” of statutes every ten years beginning in 1973.

Section 6. Constitution to be arranged by Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court; Constitution to be enrolled and printed with laws; supreme law of the State. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court shall arrange the Constitution, as amended, under appropriate titles and in proper articles, parts and sections, omitting all sections, clauses and words not in force and making no other changes in the provisions or language thereof, and shall submit the same to the Legislature; and such arrangement of the Constitution shall be made and submitted to the regular session of the Legislature in 1973 and every 10 years thereafter unless sooner authorized by the Legislature; and the draft and arrangement, when approved by the Legislature, shall be enrolled on parchment and deposited in the office of the Secretary of State; and printed copies thereof shall be prefixed to the books containing the Revised Statutes of the State. And the Constitution, with the amendments made thereto, in accordance with the provisions thereof, shall be the supreme law of the State. (emphasis added)

My first knowledge about codification as it pertains to laws taught me that codification was more of a housekeeping measure. Its intent was to clear up language, redundancies, typos, grammar, etc., that sometimes made it difficult to interpret and administer the laws, but never to alter the law. Once statutes have been “codified”, which according to the Maine Constitution appears to have been in 1973, each ten-year term becomes “recodification”.

Wikipedia defines “recodification” this way:

Recodification refers to a process where existing codified statutes are reformatted and rewritten into a new codified structure. This is often necessary as, over time, the legislative process of amending statutes and the legal process of construing statutes by nature over time results in a code that contains archaic terms, superseded text, and redundant or conflicting statutes. Due to the size of a typical government code, the legislative process of recodification of a code can often take a decade or longer.

I think it becomes clear and should be a logical conclusion that the purpose of recodification isn’t to rewrite existing laws; only to clear up any confusions, etc. that make it difficult to understand the law.

And so, with the passage of LD1600 by the Maine Legislature, this is where the MDIFW came up with the statute that they provided in the application for an ITP to the USFWS that included a statewide ban on the use of snares.

As you might expect, this story doesn’t end here. In the “recodified” MDIFW trapping laws, i.e. Maine Statute 12252, Section 2, paragraph A reads: “A. Set or tend a snare for the purpose of trapping any wild animal or wild bird, except as provided in section 10105, subsection 1 and section 12259;” (emboldening added). If we examine the “recodified” MDIFW statutes under section 10105, subsection 1, we see that it tells us that the commissioner has the authority to issue permits to anyone in order to assist in the “taking and destruction of any wildlife”.

However, there is no mention in Statute 12252, of any reference to section 10105, subsection 3, “Coyote Control Program”, which I am under the impression is an attempt to recodify LD237. There exists no other place in the MDIFW statutes any law that resembles LD237 except for what is found in Statute 10105, subsection 3.

But, I’m left here with some of what I am considering serious and troubling problems with this entire procedure and the end results. First, if the purpose of recodification is to clear up confusing laws, errors, etc., one would think that during this process that Maine Statute 12252, Section 2, paragraph A. would have been changed to read: “A. Set or tend a snare for the purpose of trapping any wild animal or wild bird, except as provided in section 10105, subsection 1 and subsection 3 and section 12259;” (I emboldened what should have been added during recodification.)

As far as the laws that govern snaring, doesn’t it make sense that if a law is created that bans snaring and there were exceptions to that ban that all exceptions would be listed? Furthermore, shouldn’t it be expected that this should have been corrected during the recodification process? So was this a mistake by those undertaking the ginormous task of recodification, or something more sinister?

Second, before you answer that last question about the possibilities of something being more sinister, let me get back to something I mentioned before about the only snare-relevant statute included on the application for an ITP was 12252. Why didn’t the application also include statute 10105? The ITP application was drafted, according to dates on the draft, August 13, 2008. Gosh, the recodification and passage of LD1600 took place on June 2003.

The purpose, I am to presume, of MDIFW including the trapping statutes for Maine, is to show the USFWS what Maine’s current laws are that pertain to trapping, including snares so that USFWS officials can better determine how current laws will effect protection of the Canada lynx. The application included 12252, which “exceptions” 10105 subsection one but no mention of subsection three.

Was the omission of Statute 10105, the recodified law about coyote control and snaring an error, or something more sinister? You have permission to attempt to answer that now, however, you might want to read further.

Third, I have one more issue to discuss and bring to light. Above I provided information that I had as it pertains to codification and recodification. I think I made my case that recodification is not a tool to be used to rewrite existing laws, only to clear up discrepancies.

If that be the case, then certainly there is room for debate as to whether the recodification of the laws governing snaring were clearing up discrepancies or rewriting laws.

I am of the opinion that Maine Statute 12252 is a clear attempt at re institution of a statewide ban on snaring as was done in 1929. Maine Statutes in 1929, Chapter 331, Section 44 reads: “No person shall set a snare…..for any fur-bearing animal…”. Statute 12252 reads that it is unlawful to: “Set or tend a snare for the purpose of trapping any wild animal or wild bird”. Other than changing up some non existent and outdated terms and language, the recodification appears cut and dry.

I’m not sure the same can be said about Maine Statute 10105, Section 3, paragraphs A, B, and C. This has to be either an attempt to recodify LD237 or LD237 was stricken from Maine Statutes and this law was inserted in its place. This article is already quite lengthy but I believe it’s imperative to post the following information in order that readers can easily review and decide for themselves.

First, is LD237 passed into law on April 25, 2003:

Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:

Sec. 1. 12 MRSA §7035, sub-§3, ¶B, as amended by PL 1999, c. 636, §1, is repealed.

Sec. 2. 12 MRSA §7035, sub-§3, ¶B-1 is enacted to read:

B-1. An agent may use snares to control coyotes during winter months under the following conditions.

(1) Agents may use snares only for animal damage control purposes to help meet management goals established by the commissioner for deer, threatened or endangered species or other wildlife species or to benefit agricultural interests as described in paragraph C.
(2) Agents must be trained and certified by the department in the use of snares.
(3) Agents must be deployed by a department wildlife biologist before setting snares.
(4) Agents shall post access points to areas in which snaring activity is taking place, including, but not limited to, roads and trails for motorized vehicles, cross-country skiers or hikers or other obvious travel ways that may be used by people.
(5) An agent shall plainly label snares with the full name and address of that agent.
(6) An agent shall keep an accurate record of the number and location of snares set by that agent and must be able to account for those snares at all times.
(7) An agent shall check that agent’s snares that are equipped with relaxing locks on a daily basis.
(8) Department employees may accompany agents at any time an agent is checking snares.
(9) Agents shall report monthly to the department on forms provided by the department the coyotes and nontarget species taken by snaring during the reporting period.
(10) The commissioner shall revoke the snaring certificate of an agent who violates any provision of this paragraph.

The commissioner shall adopt policies and procedures on the use of snares as necessary to minimize the potential for taking nontarget species and to adequately protect threatened and endangered species.

And the following is Maine Statute 10105, Section 3:

3. Coyote control program. Pursuant to section 10053, subsection 8, the commissioner shall maintain a coyote control program as follows.

A. The commissioner may employ qualified persons to serve as agents of the department for purposes of coyote control. These agents must be trained by the department in animal damage control techniques and must be utilized by the department to perform coyote control duties in areas where predation by coyotes is posing a threat to deer or other wildlife. Each agent shall execute a cooperative agreement with the department specifying the conditions and limitations of the agent’s responsibilities as an agent, including any terms for reimbursement of expenses or payment of wages.

B. Agents must be trained in the use of snares and must be deployed in the unorganized townships to control coyotes during the winter months. All snaring must be carried out under the direction of department officials and with the knowledge of the local game warden. All areas of snaring activity must be adequately posted.

C. Agents may be utilized for the benefit of agricultural interests as long as the department is reimbursed annually for the cost of those efforts by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources from funds specifically appropriated or otherwise made available to the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources for that purpose.

It certainly would appear to me that certain liberties were taken in “recodifying” LD237, if that is what this is supposed to be. While at first glace it may appear that this recodified statute is the same or at least similar to LD237, there is at least one specific qualifier in this statute that does not appear in LD237 and is far more than a clarification of text or outdated language, etc.

The first sentence in subsection “B” above states: “Agents must be trained in the use of snares and must be deployed in the unorganized townships to control coyotes during the winter months. (emphasis added).

In my opinion, this far exceeds what should be considered “recodification” of existing laws. Nowhere in LD237 did it state that snaring can only take place in “unorganized townships” nor was it limited to the winter months.

Granted LD237 gave the authority to the commissioner to formulate a plan which may spell out precisely that snaring will be in unorganized townships and in winter only. However, that was not necessarily the desire of LD237 nor was it even implied, nor is it the point of this article. If the Maine Legislature had intended to ensure that snaring was only going to take place in unorganized townships during the winter, then the bill would have stated such. Whoever rewrote this took the liberty to add in language that didn’t exist in LD237.

The question should become, who authorized or took in upon themselves to rewrite the laws of the state of Maine? Unless the laws in Maine that govern the recodification process are so lenient as to provide for such action, one must be left questioning whether this in an illegal action that needs some serious attention.

It should matter not whether one thinks snaring should or shouldn’t be used. It matters not whether snaring, if used, were to be relegated to unorganized townships. It matters not whether snaring should take place in winter or summer. What should matter is whether or not the recodification process in Maine results in the rewriting of laws enacted by the people of Maine? This cannot be. There has to be some kind of better oversight here, otherwise what confidence do any of us have that every 10 years our laws will get changed and we know nothing about it.

Did the process fail the people or was the failure a result of the process, which includes certain checks and balances or lack thereof? The Maine Supreme Court, via the constitution, is responsible for this undertaking. Were there all the necessary checks and balances done here to ensure no rewriting would take place.

The recoded laws, done by whom I am not sure, then went to the Joint Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Did they read the entire revised statutes or give it a cursory nod that it must be alright? Was there a failure to perform according to the wishes of the people of Maine?

And then it went on to the Legislature in which there was no debate recorded. This should tell us nothing was read and obviously no questions asked. It all appears like a very easy and convenient way to make changes and rewrite existing laws for which most people will never be informed about until one day it might effect them personally.

While recodification may be a great idea and may help in the process of reading, understanding and applying laws, if laws are being rewritten, whether intentional or not, whether allowed by law or not, it can’t be. Something must change. This is a faulty process to say the least.

In my mind, I am left with three very important and unanswered questions:

1. Was it someone’s intent through recodification of the MDIFW statutes to actually alter the existing laws that govern snaring or was it ignorance, lack of proper skills and poor workmanship?

2. Was the omission of Maine Statute 10105 on the application for an Incidental Take Permit from USFWS an error, oversight or was it intentionally left off in order to deliberately deceive anyone reading the application?

3. And during the recodification process was it also intended to NOT make reference to Maine Statute 10105, subsection 3 when the recodification of Maine Statute 12252 was carried out?

Answers to these questions will never come about as there is no way to prove a person’s intent. I feel it is my duty and responsibility to share what I have learned and to ask questions that many of us will also be asking.

If, however, there is intent here somewhere to deliberately mislead the people of Maine through, 1). Using recodification as a tool to rewrite Maine’s laws, and/or 2). intentionally deceive the USFWS in order to achieve an ITP, then I shall have nothing to do with that. Other than exposing what I know, there is no way that I will become partner to any unethical, illegal or deceitful acts in order to obtain an objective that I feel is important.

I hope my efforts have helped some to come to better understand where we are as it pertains to snaring and trapping and its associations with Canada lynx.

Tom Remington

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