September 18, 2019

Maine’s New Commissioner Intends to Recruit New Hunters, Anglers

In a Sun Journal article about Maine’s new commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (sorry, at this time the link in Google search is no good. Perhaps at a later time if you search “Meet the New Wildlife Boss: Judy Camuso” you will have better luck.), it is stated about Camuso that, “Her top goals are to recruit new people into the agency with the “Citizen Science Program,” recruit more hunters and anglers, and improve communication with the public about how they can participate in outdoor programs.” (emboldening added)

According to the latest report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the number of hunters and fishermen has seriously declined. From a high of 14.1 million hunters nationwide, that number is now down to 11.1 million.

According to this latest survey and previous ones, some of the major factors that have caused a drop in participation are, land access reductions, available time to hunt and fish, and opposition from environmentalists who oppose hunting and fishing.

I should like to take a moment and point out that although the same survey shows an increase in “wildlife watching” the numbers are misleading if not downright dishonest. Let me simply state that any hunter or fisherman is automatically labeled as a wildlife watcher whether that was their intent or not. So the numbers presented are not an exact representation of the number of people who purposely set out to “wildlife watch.”

If it is a top priority of Commissioner Camuso to recruit more hunters and fishermen, she has a monumental task before her. It has often been stated that although there may be somewhere around 10% of the nationwide population who hunt and fish, an overwhelming majority of people support hunting and fishing as part of a viable wildlife management program. Sadly, that support is dwindling.

One has to wonder what, exactly, can Camuso do to recruit sportsmen, when so many things are now stacked against such an attempt.

If land access is a big wall of prevention, what can the commissioner do to convince land owners to “tear down that wall?” Are there incentives worth pursuing that would prompt a landowner to offer access to their land for hunting and fishing? Some have tried. Few have succeeded. Are there fresh, new approaches to this dilemma? Maybe she has ideas that will work. Let’s hope.

I’m not sure how a wildlife commissioner would approach the problem of sportsmen claiming they don’t have time to hunt and fish like they used to or would like to. Economics is the driver of many things and when a person has to work to make ends meet, how do you convince them that they need to take the time off work to hunt and/or fish?

Perhaps the lack of motivation to take some time off is prompted by lousy hunting and fishing as well as a tiring of the opposition Maine has faced often in recent years from environmentalists and animal rights activists willing to spend millions of dollars to put an end to hunting and fishing. This all tends to spell more doom than encourage more participation.

Which brings me to the third part in this discussion. It would seem to me that if Maine could do a better job at providing bountiful game populations, mainly deer, recruiting would be easier. Deer hunting is really the cash cow but you wouldn’t know if from past management practices and the politics behind them. However, try as they may, the deck is stacked against such an approach.

With the exception of deer, Maine has an abundant bear population that needs to be better controlled. The turkey population is near out of control, judging by the number of landowner complaints and the visual of seeing turkeys overrunning peoples’ property. Moose have always been a favorite of both hunters and wildlife watchers, but managers don’t seem to understand the balance between a healthy moose population, void of deadly winter ticks, and the cash cow that comes from a moose lottery and moose gawking.

So generally speaking, Maine has an abundance of bear, turkey, and moose and yet there is a need for hunters to take this game but few are willing. Why? I hope Camuso has some answers. History shows us that public support is lost when that public sees these valuable game species as nothing but nuisances.

It would seem plausible to me that with so much game (not considering the deer) that’s one deterrent not missing and that the Department should be doing more to get hunters in pursuit. So far nothing has worked. Does Camuso have something up her sleeves? Let’s hope so.

I believe the biggest obstacle is the opposition that exists in this modern culture that have their ideas about animals out of skew. This includes some of the employees at MDIFW. While this opposition may not be that large in numbers – but those numbers are growing – they are well-funded and very vocal. Ongoing threats of lawsuits dampens the courage of any new commissioner regardless of their intentions.

Note: Camuso mentions that several in her department will be retiring and she will have jobs to fill. If she is serious about recruiting, she should make sure those that are hired are not environmental activists anchored in animal rights; that they are believers in the North American Model of Wildlife Management and that hunting, fishing, and trapping are integral and necessary parts of the management policy. It’s time to weed out those more interested in the rights of animals and their protection against hunting and fishing.

How do you curb these threats of lawsuits and do what you know is the right and scientific thing in a wildlife management plan?

The Maine Legislature stopped a recent bill that would have provided hunters with a chance to hunt bear in the Spring. When will the MDIFW stop caving in to the demands (always, always, always) of the Maine Guides Association and do what is scientifically right instead of what is politically best? And while I’m on this discussion, when will MDIFW stop attempting to responsibly manage wildlife when all decisions are too heavily influenced by social demands void of sound science?

Judy Camuso probably has great intentions when she says she wants to recruit more hunters and fishermen. If she is sincere about this and determined enough, there has to first be management changes within the department. Is she prepared to do that? Can she? Maybe?

During the latest anti-bear referendum, we got to see Camuso in action, working for the MDIFW, convincing the Maine population that baiting bear was a necessary part of bear management. It was a great job done and perhaps the one act in many years that gave hunters hope that proper and necessary management took a front seat to the demands of environmentalism. That act probably did more to save, or perhaps recruit, more hunters than anything else the department has done in many years.

Is there more where that came from? Was Judy Camuso’s actions at that time driven by her own perspective of things or was she just following orders from then commissioner Chandler Woodcock? I think we are going to find out…or at least I hope so and the sooner the better.

The new commissioner should take immediate action to save the hunters and anglers Maine already has and then head down that road that will actually recruit more of them.

A monumental task and good luck.

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Camuso Confirmed as IFW Commissioner

You can read Ms. Camuso’s testimony she read before the confirmation committee here.

Congratulations all around for the selection and appointment of Judy Camuso, former Wildlife Director at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), to the elevated, tough, and prestigious rank of commissioner. Only time will tell what kind of a commissioner she will be.

Reading her testimony, it runs like a well-prepared political campaign speech written for the purpose of impressing those appointed to approve or disapprove. It is for that reason I put little value behind such a speech, regardless of how promising it may seem to some and world-ending to others.

With all of this in mind, I would like to make a few comments about her goals and perspectives.

My biggest concern was somewhat addressed by the new commissioner when she said, “We need to bring consumptive and non-consumptive users together to help us address the complicated challenges facing fish and wildlife.” In her vision to bring more hunters and fisherman to the sport, one in which the new commissioner points out to be “the primary tools we use to manage fish and wildlife populations…”, she never gets to speak the words I would have loved to have heard.

It is nothing more than a political sham to make such statements of how I am uniquely qualified to bring both sides of the aisle together while never saying the words needed to drive that point home to reality. While anyone, and evidently many are doing it today, can say how great her speech sounds that she is going to unite the consumptive and non-consumptive users together in total harmony, it’s quite another to understand why there is such a deep divide between the two existences and solving the real reason for such a division.

I know of no so-called “consumptive” user who would consider it a decent thing to attempt to force non-consumptive users to abandon their idealisms and lifestyles and exchange them for those of the hunter and fisherman. The real problem here is that non-consumptive users, mostly those who are against hunting, trapping, and fishing, and support the “rights” of animals – sometimes over those of men – make no bones about getting into the faces of consumers demanding they end their practices and fall in line with the radical extremism lifestyles they promote.

The question I have is whether or not Commissioner Camuso understands that and if so, what she intends to do or say that will end the toxic attack? Until she can put an end to this sort of quasi-terroristic existence (totalitarianism), it would not only be ill-advised but dangerous to pursue any kind of funding for MDIFW through general taxation. Such a move would only embellish the already radical separation – the cause of such anger and hatred among groups. If both sides are convinced the other side isn’t out to assassinate their lifestyle in order to fulfill idealistic agendas, then general funding might work. Good luck with that.

The second issue to speak of concerns Camuso’s comments on women and their roles at MDIFW. Camuso states: “I will work to bring more women into the IFW community.” Placing this comment in what I believe to be the context of her testimony, I believe her reference to “the IFW community” means mostly the community existence of the MDIFW operation itself.

Personally, I have no issue with whether qualified men or qualified women are doing the job. I don’t intend to put words in Camuso’s mouth, but I would take opposition to bringing “more women into the IFW community, simply to bring in more women – the same as if it were men. I would hope that the objective of building and operating a fish and wildlife department is with the employment of the best qualified people rather than fulfilling some sort of quota to bring more women aboard. I doubt few understand or agree with my perspective on this. It’s the society we have created – part of striving for mediocrity.

Perhaps this is better toned down when Camuso speaks of her support and claims to continue to boost the involvement of women in outdoor pursuits, including that of hunting and fishing. Go for it! A great idea!

I was most disappointed in the new commissioner’s comments about Climate Change. “The potential impacts are catastrophic and mitigating climate change will require high level support, planning and funding.” And herein lies the political ignorance of Climate Change. A changing climate, something that has existed since the beginning of time, does not need “mitigating” through some fictitious “planning” and certainly not with any fraudulent “funding.”

Climate Change, once more accurately and falsely presented as Global Warming, does not exist in the context presented and any half-witt who didn’t flunk Chemistry 101 knows Climate Change, as sold to the public, cannot exist. It is nothing more than a hoax to con billions of dollars out of an ignorant public brought up on “Bread and Circuses.” Evidently, the new commissioner is part of that religious group (or she used the comment to get her through the confirmation process).

If the new commissioner intends to address climate change (not capitalized) then the effort should be placed in a better understanding of a naturally changing climate and what affects that has on the management of wildlife. That is understandable and should have been an integral part of any and all wildlife management plans; past, present, and future.

But, to think that by devising some kind of plans and finding “funding,” which means more taxation levied against the people, to “mitigate” Climate Change, is a con job that nobody should lend a hand to support.

Camuso has a big job to do. I doubt she will have the time nor the support to accomplish much of any of her lofty goals regardless of her own personal ideals. Government is a destructive, devouring monster that has claimed the ambitions of many who have come before Camuso and many who will follow.

I wish her the best of luck.

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

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