June 19, 2018

Government Will Investigate Government in Maine Warden Service Conundrum

*Editor’s Note* – I have written previously on this subject. Follow these links for more information and commentary – HEREHEREHEREHERE

I told you so! Back on May 13, 2016, in response to a news report that the State of Maine would conduct an investigation into possible illegal or improper tactics by undercover Maine Wardens, and the subsequent accusation of stonewalling the press for information under the Freedom of Information Access Act law, I expressed myself thus: “There have been calls for an “investigation” into what’s going on as well as a look into the written policies, which evidently are a secret, that regulate the behavior of undercover Maine wardens. The problem with such an investigation is that it is likely to be the government investigating the government, and we all know what that outcome will be.” (emboldening added)

The Portland Press Herald is now reporting that limited representation from the Maine Judiciary Committee, along with limited members of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Warden Service, will be part of a “hearing,” open to the public but with no outside questions or input. In short, a dog and pony show. “There is no public hearing scheduled. No members of the public, no alleged victims of entrapment, no members of the press who have been stiffed on their FOAA requests, no criminal defense attorneys, nor other interested parties will be allowed to speak or participate. This is simply not fair or adequate.”

Not since the Maine Government investigated itself (this link has several articles about the Baxter Land Swap as well as Gardner Lumber Company cutting of deer yard timber) on the extremely controversial “Baxter Land Swap” and an investigation of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife of itself, concerning actions that allowed for the cutting of deer yard forest of certain public lands, – land that was part of the Baxter Land Swap – is there such thumbing of noses at a legitimate judicial review and public transparency – one can only conclude the good ole boys are at work covering their own asses. And, is it my imagination or does it appear as though even the undertaking of a much needed investigation is highly political and falls mostly, if not completely, along party lines?

Like good, non-thinking, robotic slaves, we are to never question government, or its authority, and accept what we are told as being the truth…their truth.

Lying

CoconutsBearEggs

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MDIFW Provides Conflicting Information HSUS Claims as Facts

One of the biggest arguments members of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and their blind followers have wrongly stated throughout the latest anti bear hunting campaign in Maine, is that in states that have banned bear hunting over bait, there has not been any problems with bear numbers. Colorado is one state that the antis love to cite as being a state where there was an increase of bear hunters and bear populations remain stable.

However, according to information found at the Maine Public Broadcasting Network website, in a story told there of baiting bear, Jen Vashon, a Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) bear biologist, provides information that is contrary to the information being spread by HSUS.

Conflicts between bears and people account for about 500 complaints each year in Maine. Vashon says that’s a small number considering the size of the bear population. She says other states that have restricted bear hunting have seen those complaints rise. Including one western state that banned the use of bait and hounds more than two decades ago.

“Colorado is a great example,” Vashon says. “Their bear population has doubled since their referendum. They have about 1,000 bear complaints each year and in 2012 alone, 400 bears were killed in backyards to protect human safety and almost 100 were killed on roadways.”

HSUS makes the claim that baiting bears is what causes an increase in bear populations. If this claim was true, then Colorado’s bear population would not have doubled in twenty years. This false claim has been levied against all states that have banned bear baiting and it just isn’t factual that bear baiting causes populations to grow.

Here’s a link to a related story out of Colorado where bears are posing a serious problem.

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Maine IFW Recaptures Bear “Big John”

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife(MDIFW) captured a black bear for study purposes. It turned out to be “Big John” a big bear that had been captured for study before about 4 years ago. He now weighs in at over 400 pounds. You can read the story on the Bangor Daily News website.

But what I wanted to take a minute or two to share with readers here is that the MDIFW bear biologists captured “Big John” in a foot-hold snare trap, the same kind of foot-hold snare trap that trappers use when trapping bears. “Big John” was captured and safely released. Trappers who snare bears, can, if they choose, also safely release a captured bear. Readers should not listen to the misleading rhetoric being put out by the animal rights groups attempting to ban bear hunting, baiting, trapping and hounding.

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Maine Police Officer “Unintentionally” Shoots Cow Moose

According to the Lewiston Sun Journal, Farmington, Maine police sergeant, Edward Hastings, while legally hunting with a shooting partner for moose during the annual moose hunt in Maine, “unintentionally” killed a cow moose and a bull moose. I believe that the intent was to kill only the bull.

Hastings immediately notified authorities, including his boss at the Farmington Police. The Maine Warden Service is charging Hastings with “a rule violation.”

What wasn’t exactly pointed out in the news article is that Hastings, by lottery, had drawn a permit for a bull moose. You can find the results of the moose lottery on the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) website. A screen shot is included below.

hastingsmoosepermit

By rule, the winner of a moose lottery can name a shooting partner. That partner can legally shoot a moose for the permit holder. The news article is not completely clear as to whether or not the shooting partner fired any shots at the moose, only to state that the investigation revealed it supposedly was Hasting’s bullet that killed the cow. It appears the shooting partner was not charged. And, of course, by rule if your permit is for a bull moose, you cannot legally shoot a cow moose.

I’m sure that Mr. Hastings had no “intention” to shoot two moose and one ended up being a cow. From the news report it states:

Hastings and his moose-hunting permit partner shot at a bull moose during the legal season on Oct. 16 in Freeman Township, but when they got to the site where the moose fell, two moose were down — a bull and a cow, Lt. Tim Place of the Maine Warden Service said Thursday.

It is also, by rule, the responsibility of the hunter to be 100% sure of his or her target. Apparently, Hastings and his shooting partner were not 100% sure. The news article also stated:

Hastings’ case was treated the same as those of other violators, Place said.

Failure to identify a target is pretty cut and dry, with no room left for error, when it involves the shooting of a human. Not that a moose and a human are equal in value of life (maybe to some it is) but it will be interesting to see to what extent, if any, failing to identify target will play in this court hearing.

And let’s hope that preferential treatment isn’t extended to Hastings because he is a member of the law enforcement fraternity.

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U.S. Sportman’s Alliance Submits Comments To USFWS on Maine’s ITP for Canada Lynx

The U.S. Sportsman’s Alliance Foundation (USSAF) announced this week that they have submitted comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in regards to the State of Maine’s application for an Incidental Take Permit, that, if granted, would release Maine and the trappers from liability for accidentally trapping a Canada lynx while trapping other legal species.

The USSAF stated that they support the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s (MDIFW) application and request that the USFWS not add any further restrictions to the trapping codes, citing Maine’s current trapping laws are more than adequate in protecting the lynx.

Tom Remington

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Open Letter to Maine Trappers, Hunters, Commissioner Woodcock and Governor LePage

*Editor’s Note:* The below letter was sent electronically to Gov. Paul LePage, MDIFW Commissioner Chandler Woodcock and several hunting industry leaders throughout Maine.

I have spent much of the last three days studying and researching the laws governing trapping, snaring and in particular the Coyote Control Program. I finished up a 30 minute session on the telephone with the Maine Law Library this morning and learned some very interesting pieces of information. I’ll try to spare all the details and provide only those of importance.

PL2003 c. 655 an act by the Legislature, effective Aug. 31, 2004, repealed all of Title 12, section 10105 subsection 3. In other words there is no longer a Coyote Control Program in Maine. Prior to the repeal, the language of 10105 sub 3 was as follows:

“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.”

All that exists now in Maine Statute Title 12, Section 10105 is:

3. Coyote control program.
[ 2003, c. 614, §9 (AFF); 2003, c. 655, Pt. B, §21 (RP); 2003, c. 655, Pt. B, §422 (AFF) .]

The history line across the bottom tells us the process of the elimination of the Coyote Control Program laws.

All that governs snaring in Maine is Maine Statute 12252 which bans snaring and Maine Statute Title 12, Section 10105, subsection 1:

1. Authorize taking or destruction of wildlife. Whenever the commissioner determines it necessary for the accomplishment of the commissioner’s statutory duties, the commissioner may authorize a person to assist the commissioner in the taking and destruction of any wildlife. The commissioner may place conditions or restrictions on any authorization granted under this subsection. A person who violates a condition or restriction placed on an authorization granted under this subsection invalidates that authorization and subjects that person to applicable laws under this Part.
[ 2003, c. 614, §9 (AFF); 2003, c. 655, Pt. B, §20 (AMD); 2003, c. 655, Pt. B, §422 (AFF) .]

This repeal, which by the way includes LD237 which provided the guidelines in which the IFW Commissioner could implement a snaring program, could have effectively been undertaken during the recodification process that became law in 2003. I don’t know that this happened but it is a possibility. Regardless, it is my opinion that the laws of the State of Maine and the wishes of the people have been circumvented through manipulation of the “process” in order to achieve certain goals and agendas.

So, it would appear, by law, the ONLY thing the Commissioner has a legal right to do is hire or appoint trappers/hunters to target coyotes, with limited traps due to lynx lawsuit protections or rifles, that are killing our deer herds. And with no more Coyote Control Program, in which the Legislature once many years ago and reiterated several times after, mandated that the Commissioner/IFW formulate a Control Program, does this not make Maine more susceptible to lawsuits by targeting coyotes or any other predator to save deer?

Any notions anyone has that Maine will ever implement a snaring program again should be flushed out of their minds. We can waste time blaming anyone and everyone for what has happened but it fails to change the facts.

Snaring is not supported by IFW, I don’t know if the Legislature or the Governor’s office supports it, but it will never happen and it will definitely not happen with the approval of the USFWS. So, let’s stop wasting our time and energy. It’s just NOT going to happen.

As sportsmen, who care about our opportunities to hunt for deer and fill our freezers for food for the year, how do we change 1.) the laws and support needed from the Joint Committee and the Legislature to save this industry?, and 2.) how do we change the attitudes of those at IFW who support the propagation and spread of predators, rather spend their time and efforts on non game programs and view hunting and trapping as activities that they deem as socially unacceptable activities? These attitudes have no place in a fish and game department in which I invest my hard earned money to support. This MUST change!

It’s time for IFW, the Legislature and the Governor’s office to come clean on where Maine stands in its statutes to govern trapping and snaring and move forward in an aggressive and meaningful manner to remove harmful predators and rebuild the deer herd. If this can be done, it is my belief that there will be more support from the sporting community to dig in and help.

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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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What Will Maine’s Hunter Task Force Recommend To Bring Hunters Back?

Reports are that the Nonresident Hunter Task Force will formally submit recommendations to the Joint Standing Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife on January 23, 2012. George Smith gives readers a glimpse into what he believes the Task Force’s recommendations will be.

In brief those recommendations or perhaps what they will NOT recommend, might look like this:

1. Will NOT recommend Sunday hunting.
2. Recommend to allow nonresident hunters to hunt on residents only day. (What will we name that day?)
3. Recommend a more equitable means of distributing Any-Deer Permits and Moose Lottery Permits.
4. Recommend better and/or different marketing strategies to bring hunters to the state to hunt turkeys, upland birds, ducks and rabbits.

Missing from Smith’s report and presumably missing from any recommendations we can expect by this task force, is increased efforts to control predators that are seriously limiting hunting opportunities for deer. As I’ve written many times before, the overwhelming majority of hunting licenses sold in Maine are to hunt deer. While it’s a good recommendation to market Maine’s other hunting opportunities, Maine is only kidding itself if they think they can somehow replace lost license revenue by promoting bunny hunting (isn’t killing bunnies competing directly with the “threatened” lynx population whose main diet is bunnies?).

Even an obligatory and cursory mention that the Task Force recognizes the need to grow whitetail deer would at least acknowledge they do see this as a problem. However, reading and studying the minutes of the Task Force meetings, the objective appeared to be to ignore that problem and concentrate on trying to hide it from potential or past nonresident hunting license holders.

As Smith points out, “most of the recommendations can (unfortunately) be placed in the category of wishful thinking”, does this then show what a waste of time and effort it all was? Can we collectively compute all the accomplishments of the numerous “task forces” the Maine Government has assembled to “solve” fish and game problems and fit them with room to spare into a sewing thimble? Perhaps another task force to determine if previous task forces have been productive?

Government in action!


Photo Editorial by Richard Paradis

Tom Remington

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Call to Action on Maine Application for Trapping Incidental Take Permit

*Editor’s Note:* Below is a copy of a letter sent to licensed trappers and others in the State of Maine from the Maine Trappers Association. It concerns a request for comments about proposed rules that will govern trapping in Maine to protect the “threatened” species of Canada lynx, according to the Endangered Species Act.

It may or may not be the position of this author to agree with the contents of the letter sent nor do I necessarily agree that all the content of this letter is accurate. I will, however, take this time to encourage everyone, not just trappers or those from Maine, but concerned outdoor advocates to carefully consider the Application the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for “incidental take” of Canada lynx. It’s a liability issue. Also consider reviewing the Draft Environmental Assessment crafted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

At the end of the following letter are instructions on the proper way to submit comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The deadline for comments is February 7, 2012. Please reference this website for additional information on this issue.

Dear trapper, December 28, 2011

We need your help! Twelve years ago the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) listed the Canada lynx as a threatened species. Maine’s healthy lynx population was included in that listing. At the same time, the USFWS promised to adopt a rule to “to address incidental take of lynx resulting from otherwise lawful hunting and trapping”. Unfortunately, that never happened. Failure of the Service to address “incidental take” paved the way for animal activists to use the listing to attack trapping. They filed two separate lawsuits against the State of Maine, both of which attempted to outlaw trapping in lynx habitat, nearly half the State, and which eventually resulted in increased trapping restrictions. Until the incidental take issue is resolved, more lawsuits are likely and our trapping heritage remains in jeopardy.

The USFWS now appears ready to address the incidental take of lynx by trappers in Maine. They are currently accepting comments from the public in response to Maine’s application for an Incidental Take Permit (ITP). This permit, if issued, would allow a limited number of lynx to be taken incidentally in traps set for other furbearers. Depending on the conditions attached to the ITP, trapping for other furbearers would be allowed to continue, and individual trappers would be protected against prosecution for accidentally catching a lynx

Maine’s application spells out the things the State plans to do to try to keep lynx from being taken accidentally in traps. The State believes, and the MTA agrees, that what they have proposed is adequate to protect lynx. However, the USFWS has listed numerous additional requirements and restrictions for protecting lynx that could be added to, or adopted in place of, what the State has proposed. That’s where things get really scary for trappers. The animal fanatics will be pushing hard for the most severe restrictions and will be sending lots of written comments to support those restrictions. If the number of comments received by the USFWS is lopsided in favor of the protectionists, there is a possibility that the ITP could be accompanied by restrictions that would be devastating to trappers, including an end to land trapping in lynx areas.

In order for trappers to have any input, they must prepare comments in writing and submit them to the USFWS prior to February 7, 2012. The MTA will be submitting comments on behalf of our membership, but that’s not enough. The USFWS will consider it as “one comment received”. That’s why we are asking individual trappers, not just in Maine but from across the country, to help us out and send comments opposing the alternative restrictions listed by the USFWS.

Here is a list of the things the State is proposing to do that would directly impact trappers. The Maine Trappers Association supports this list.
* Maintain most of the trapping rules that are currently in place.
* Maintain current restrictions on the use of killer-type traps in WMDs 1 through 11 and 14, 18 and 19, but consider expanding the use of killer-type traps at baited boxes, protected with lynx exclusion devices, on the ground.
* Maintain current size restrictions on cage-type live traps.
* Work with trappers to continue to develop techniques that will help reduce the incidental trapping of lynx.
*Eliminate the jaw-spread restrictions on foothold traps that are currently in place in WMDs 1 through 6 and 8 through 11.
* Maintain current rules regarding anchoring devices on foothold traps.
* Maintain current restriction regarding the use of visible bait.

The USFSW has listed other restrictions that could be implemented to protect lynx from being trapped incidentally. These things could be added to, or take the place of, the things the State has proposed. The MTA is adamantly opposed to every item in this list. However, the USFWS will have the final say. What they decide will depend a lot on the comments they receive.
* Require lynx-exclusion devices for all killer-type traps at land sets, including elevated sets on poles and trees, in WMDs 1-11, 14, 18 and 19.
* Require that all trappers phase in foothold traps meeting BMP standards for fox, coyote and bobcat over the next 5 years and rescind existing jaw-spread restrictions once BMP trap requirements are fully implemented.
* Eliminate the use of drags and require short chains, swivels or in-line springs for foothold traps at land sets in WMDs 1-11, 14, 18 and 19.
* Limit the use of killer-type traps at land sets, including elevated sets, to size #120 (5-inch) and smaller in WMDs 1-11, 14, 18 and 19.
* Require 24-hour check of all killer-type traps at land sets, including elevated sets, in WMDs 1-11, 14, 18 and 19.
* Require pan-tension devices on all foothold traps at land sets in WMDs 1-11, 14, 18 and 19.
* Limit the use of foothold traps at land sets in WMDs 1-11, 14, 18 and 19 to the months of October and November only.
* Prohibit trapping with land sets (including elevated sets) in WMDs 1-11, 14, 18 and 19.
* Require periodic re-training of all trappers on how to avoid incidental lynx captures.

How to Submit Written Comments
It is important that your comments address one or more of the items mentioned in the list above. You should include factual information about why a particular restriction is objectionable and unnecessary. These comments must be submitted prior to February 7, 2012 in order for them to be considered. All comments must be in writing and may be submitted either through regular mail or by email to one of the addresses below.

Regular mail: Email address:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hcpmainetrapping@fws.gov
Maine Field Office
17 Godfrey Drive, Suite 2
Orono, ME 04473

Additional information about the Maine lynx situation, including Maine’s application for the ITP and the Environmental Assessment prepared by the USFWS in response to that application, is available online at the following website: www.fws.gov/mainefieldoffice/Canada_lynx.html

Thank you sincerely for your help!
Maine Trappers Association

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The Future of Trapping in Maine Looking Sketchy Leaving a Lot of Unanswered Questions

With the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) recently presenting an application for incidental taking of Canada lynx to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), what most deemed a great opportunity to rectify a lot of trapping and snaring issues, is rapidly turning into a nightmare.

The Canada lynx was declared a “threatened” species in the state of Maine in 2000. In 2009, the Federal Government designated a large chunk of northern Maine as “critical lynx habitat”. In the midst of a lawsuit by animal rights/environmental extremist groups, Maine agreed to and signed a Consent Decree that would allow the state to continue with its trapping program, albeit in a limited and restricted fashion. Also in the Consent Decree, MDIFW listed Wildlife Management Districts (WMD) 1,2,3,4,5,6,8,9,10, and 11 as their own brand of critical Canada lynx habitat designation. According to the Consent Decree, within these WMDs, Maine trappers were restricted to smaller trap sizes, aimed are reducing “incidental” trapping of lynx and the use of snares for limiting coyote mortality on deer in wintering yards was banned, among other restrictive measures. Maine remains under the throes of the Consent Decree until such time as the state can obtain an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) from the Federal Government.

An ITP is an agreement reached between the state and the Feds on how to conduct a trapping plan in order to continue adequate protection of a “threatened” or “endangered” species in order that this species will not be blocked from recovery. You can view the application for an ITP for Canada lynx at this link.

I learned a few days ago, through hours of research, that Maine’s current laws on trapping are NOT what most sportsmen believe them to be. I would strongly suggest reading that article before proceeding with this one.

Most sportsmen in Maine believe that if Maine can obtain this seemingly illusive ITP, then trapping can resume as normal and that the commissioner of the MDIFW can implement snaring programs to save the deer herd. This is not the case.

To be as brief as possible, the current law governing trapping and specifically snaring in Maine can be found in Maine Statute 12252 and Maine Statute 10105, as recodified under LD 1600 signed into law on June 3, 2003 by Gov. John Baldacci. MS 12252 bans snaring in Maine with exceptions. In part, MS 10105 lists the authority the commissioner has to utilize some form of “coyote control program”, in which he can hire trained agents to implement snaring in unorganized townships during winter (this was not part of LD 237).

While the law was effectively rewritten during recodification, it must be further understood that obtaining an ITP from the USFWS will not free up the commissioner or even the Maine Legislature to use snares to kill coyotes.

First of all, the application for an ITP is nothing more than a clone of the Consent Decree signed in 2007. It bans the use of snares and still retains the restrictions on trap sizes. The application and plan is not restricted to just those WMDs that MDIFW listed. It becomes statewide.

In the very first parts of the application it states:

The Department seeks a Section 10 permit that would cover its agents and licensees from liability in the event of incidental take of Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) in Maine that may occur as the result of otherwise lawful activities.

This Consent Decree clone of an application now will stretch out and cover the entire state, or at least that is how I understand the terms of the plan as written thus far. In essence Maine rids itself of one ball and chain, Consent Decree, and replaces it with a bigger ball and chain, ITP.

In short, where currently Maine is continuing its trapping program under the Consent Decree, which I believe in conjunction with current laws, the commissioner COULD, implement a snaring program outside of the 10 WMDs listed, in unorganized townships during winter. When and if this ITP is granted, the commissioner will lose his authority to do that.

If my calculations are correct, then short of dealing with some kind of liability issue for incidentally catching and or killing a lynx (which by the way, since 2000 no lynx has been killed as the result of an incidental take), why would Maine even seek an ITP that is more restrictive than the one in place now?

Some believe that Maine then needs to apply for an ITP for snaring in Maine. You will probably witness me walking on water before that ever happens. I doubt that if you collected all those in Maine Government and the Federal Government who would support an effective snaring program, you could fit them all into the eye of a needle.

From the frying pan to the fire.

Tom Remington

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