April 1, 2015

No Deer Harvest Data: Put on That Same Ole Broken Record

It was one year ago today, according to my most reliable source of information, that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife(MDIFW), finally posted deer harvest data so the rest of us can discover what took place going on 5 months ago.

I and others sound like a broken record wanting to know why it takes 5 months to count deer tagged at tagging stations and make it available to the public. One year some of us made a bunch of noise and got MDIFW to release a preliminary harvest number a couple months after close of the hunt. Now we are back to waiting, waiting, and waiting some more.

If you visit the website, you’ll also notice data from the black bear harvest isn’t even posted yet.

George Smith today wants to know how Maine sportsmen would spend extra money if MDIFW had it. Perhaps we could spend five bucks to teach somebody how to count.

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Fish and Game Hypocrisy Over Commenting on Issues?

Back on March 19, 2015, a Maine guide wrote an editorial about the decision by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) to issue a certain number of cow moose permits for a Wildlife Management District (WMD) near Greenville. The writer believes that there are not enough moose in this region to justify the number of permits. There is a system in place that allows for public comment on this issue.

In this editorial, it states that in a telephone interview with Judy Camuso, wildlife division director of MDIFW, “Our rules don’t allow for us [to comment] because the public comment period is still open,” Camuso said. “We don’t want to sway people’s comments.”

In a subsequent editorial response, a writer claims that there exists hypocrisy with MDIFW because the department was very outspoken during the recent bear referendum but MDIFW claims it is against the rules to offer public comments while the comment period for that issue is still open.

One might understand, to a degree, the issue about following rules, however, it would appear that the rules for one issue do stand hypocritical to the rules of another issue. The argument can be made that MDIFW has already made their statement about the issuance of cow moose permits by the act of issuing the number of permits they did. They obviously must support the action and was approved by the department.

However, this action would seem to support the argument made by those opposing the department to be able to participate in referendum campaigns when they say that the MDIFW should be able to make a statement only and that public participation in other campaigning programs should be disallowed.

Even though the issues are different, i.e. one a referendum, the other a permit allocation management decision, there does seem to be a bit of unexplained hypocrisy going on here. If the rules prohibit the discussion of an issue “while the comment period is still open” in fear of “sway[ing] people’s comments” then this rule needs to be changed. Can comments be effectively and honestly made if information and explanations are being squelched?

Some, of course want to change the law, to prohibit or censor MDIFW from participating in referendum campaigns beyond the issuance of a statement of position. I disagree with that approach. The state of Maine created a department for the purpose of managing game and other wildlife. While I am not a blind supporter of all things MDIFW, voters do rely on the department to offer the facts and data that they use to make decisions. Those same facts and data must be made transparent and available to all taxpayers.

Having said that, it would only seem the right thing to allow MDIFW to discuss with anyone who questions decisions at all times and not just relegated to an obscure and not very “public” public comment period.

The people are entitled to information. That information cannot be gotten through government and totalitarian censorship. Let the facts speak for themselves and thus let the facts be well seen and heard.

Prevalence of Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus Antibodies Among White-Tailed Deer Populations in Maine

Mutebi John-Paul, Godsey Marvin, Smith Robert P. Jr., Renell Melanie R., Smith Leticia, Robinson Sara, Sears Stephen, and Lubelczyk Charles. Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases. March 2015, 15(3): 210-214. doi:10.1089/vbz.2014.1696.

Published in Volume: 15 Issue 3: March 20, 2015

ABSTRACT:

During the fall of 2010, 332 deer serum samples were collected from 15 of the 16 (93.8%) Maine counties and screened for eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV) antibodies using plaque reduction neutralizing tests (PRNTs). The aim was to detect and map EEEV activity in the state of Maine. Forty-seven of the 332 (14.2%) sera were positive for EEEV antibodies, showing a much wider distribution of EEEV activity in Maine than previously known. The percentage of EEEV antibody–positive deer sera was ?10% in six counties—Piscataquis (100%), Somerset (28.6%), Waldo (22.2%), Penobscot (21.7%), Kennebec (13.7%), and Sagadahoc (10%). Positive sera were detected in all the six counties (Somerset, Waldo, Penobscot, Kennebec, Cumberland, and York) that were positive in 2009, suggesting endemic EEEV activity in these counties. EEEV antibodies were not detected in sera collected in five counties—Franklin, Knox, Lincoln, Oxford, and Washington—which was either due to low sample size or lack of EEEV activity in these counties. Our data suggest higher EEEV activity in central Maine compared to southern Maine, whereas EEEV activity in Maine has historically been associated with the southern counties of York and Cumberland.<<<Full Report>>>

Maine Should Try Some Originality in Their Quest for Constitutional Amendment

I read an article today from Texas. The link was sent to me by a reader. The article was an announcement of sorts of the Texas Legislature’s proposal for a constitutional amendment for the “right” to hunt, fish and trap. The proposal is HJR 61.

Here are the magic words:

“Sec.A34.AA(a) The people have the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife, including by the use of traditional methods, subject to laws or regulations to conserve and manage wildlife and preserve the future of hunting and fishing. (b)AAHunting and fishing are preferred methods of managing and controlling wildlife. (c)AAThis section does not affect any provision of law relating to trespass, property rights, or eminent domain.”

Here is what one amendment proposal from Maine says: (LD 753)

“Section 26. Right to hunt, fish and harvest game and fish. The right of the people of this State to hunt, fish and harvest game and fish, including by the use of traditional methods, may not be infringed, subject to reasonable laws enacted by the Legislature and reasonable rules adopted by the state agency designated for fish and wildlife management to promote wildlife conservation and management, to maintain natural resources in trust for public use and to preserve the future of hunting and fishing. Public hunting and fishing are a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. This section may not be construed to modify any provision of law relating to eminent domain, trespass or property rights.”

Recently Idaho passed a constitutional amendment for the “right” to hunt, trap and fish:

“SECTION 23. THE RIGHTS TO HUNT, FISH AND TRAP. The rights to hunt, fish and trap, including by the use of traditional methods, are a valued part of the heritage of the State of Idaho and shall forever be preserved for the people and managed through the laws, rules and proclamations that preserve the future of hunting, fishing and trapping. Public hunting, fishing and trapping of wildlife shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. The rights set forth herein do not create a right to trespass on private property, shall not affect rights to divert, appropriate and use water, or establish any minimum amount of water in any water body, and shall not lead to a diminution of other private rights.”

Do you see what has happened? This wording is nearly verbatim to words adopted by other state fish and game departments. I am contending that these words are being deliberately pushed through any state seeking an amendment, including Maine.

I just don’t know how I can get people to realize what this wording does…..effectively nothing. Oh yeah, it MIGHT help to stop a couple of silly lawsuits here and there but will do nothing to protect a right and provide a means in which we can exercise that right. Carefully consider the language of each of these bill proposals and the Idaho amendment passed. Then picture a group of lawyers dissecting that language. Then I ask again, will this language guarantee anyone’s right to hunt, trap and fish? It’s no different than the Supreme Court of the United States declaring in Heller v. District of Columbia and NRA v. Chicago, that the Second Amendment is an individual right to keep and bear arms, and yet, what good is that right if you are not allowed to buy a gun in state or bring one in from someplace else or to be able to go outside and use it. Our “right” might be protected, but the ability to exercise it has been taken away.

Maine sportsmen and others, at least some, recognize that fish and game departments, with each passing year, are becoming nothing more than mouthpieces and useful idiots of the environmentalists. With this infiltration of environmentalism into every facet of our being, we are only a short time away from fish and game (i.e. “natural resources”) departments deciding to manage wildlife for non consumptive use. It’s happening! Open your eyes! And then where is the “right” to hunt, fish and trap? Yep! The right still exists but those “natural resource” managers have decided that “nature” can do a better job of managing and controlling ALL wildlife and that “non consumptive” use of a “public resource” will preserve that resource. What we will see is a gradual decrease in licenses or tags available and loss of opportunities.

But nobody gets it. I get emails from a few telling me I’m wrong. Telling me that those other states that have amendments, it’s working real good. Maybe, maybe not! But I can guarantee you, it hasn’t stopped the environmentalists from taking over fish and wildlife management.

I realize that few see it the way that I do and think me wrong, and I might be. But, it is my opinion that without specific wording that mandates the fish and wildlife department to manage wildlife for surplus harvest, I’m afraid the proposed wording will only prove to protect a right without a guarantee that that right can be exercised.

It is unfortunate that it appears that these state proposals for constitutional amendments resembles what we see in news media everyday – one news source (AP, Reuters) prints a story and the whole world accepts it and parrots it. Maine should think these proposals through better and come up with some original text that will do a better job if they really want to keep hunting, fishing and trapping into the future.

Mud Runts Kick Off Official Start of Spring

What does Punxsutawney Phil know about when Spring arrives in Maine? Nothing! Only two people, that I am away of, have the uncanny ability of seeking and finding the first emergence of an “official” Maine Mud Runt.

Ron Fournier, owner of Orion Outfitters appears to have been the first to sight a Runt. He wrote me:

“Just last week during the brief warm up, we took just enough time off from ice fishing to check some of the streams and trout ponds in search for early season open water trout fishing spots. As I walked the banks of the West Branch of the Pleasant River, deep in the National Forest I saw not one but two Runts! Each only about 12″ long, sunning themselves on a distant branch that poked from the water. Their impeccable hearing was no match for the crunch of my snowshoes and they soon disappeared before I could get the camera.

But what was even more promising, and concerning…I then departed to pull off one of our ice shacks off of North Pond. The edges of the lake are getting a little punky and open in some spots. As I approached the ice, there in the slush was the telltale sign of a mud runt slowly coming out of hibernation!

This one was much larger, and it’s black beady eyes were quite visible above the surface. The distinct “croak” followed by 3 short whistles seldom heard from a mud runt quickly let me know that he wasn’t in the mood to move anytime quick. Not knowing how many more lurked in the slush and mud, I decided to leave the shack for another day.

Be careful out there folks, and if you can get a photo please do so. The state still does not recognize this invasive species as having a foothold in Maine.”

Eleazer Peabody, “noted” Maine storyteller and keeper of some of Maine’s best secrets, evidently has not yet spied on his own the coming out of hibernation of the Mud Runts. His only comment, upon hearing Ron’s discovery was:

“Here it is to be in the forty’s all day and overnight above freezing!! Certainly a day of some celebration….”

A man of wisdom and few words – and probably fed up with winter.

mudrunts2010

Stock Photo

Ballot Issue Facts Should Not Be Censored

According to a Bangor Daily News editorial, Rep. Ralph Chapman, D-Brooksville, is sponsoring a bill, LD990, that would prohibit state employees from offering factual information and knowledge about issues surrounding ballot initiatives. This is ridiculous. Instead of voters and taxpayers being able to have an understanding of facts and knowledge from a specific department that might be directly effected by a ballot measure, the only resource voters would have is to be subjected to the propaganda professionals from all sides, including special interest groups. Evidently this is what the sponsor is seeking.

Chapman said that allowing departments to “campaign” on ballot initiatives, “invites corruption” and that he is not clear if the employees are “politicking” and that we have to, “have confidence that government is doing the people’s work.” What about people doing the people’s work?

While Chapman says his proposal would still allow a department to issue an, “impartial factual summary” the people are still then subjected to propaganda. Present law prohibits employees from campaigning for or against a candidate for obvious reasons, but in issues where a ballot initiative is forcing a changing of laws or rules within a department, I think each department should be heard openly and honestly, in the same fashion that the bill’s sponsor campaigned for his own election. Is he suggesting everyone else is corrupt? Is somehow perceived corruption from a government department more corrupt than that of the sides battling over a ballot initiative? That argument makes little sense and is quite dishonest.

Ultimately it is still the responsibility of the voter to decide how they want to vote. Censoring information that a voter needs is denying them access to the true.

The bill proposal states that the department would be allowed to create and distribute an “impartial factual summary” but that summary must, “contains a record of arguments made both for and against the issue.” What’s the point? Such a mandated summary would not necessarily contain real facts about an issue only concocted arguments for and against. Those are a dime a dozen in any referendum.

This proposal is nothing more than another typical government grab of control over the liberties of the voter. People have the right to know. It is their money that creates these agencies. They cannot make the best decisions when information is censored. This government overreach is also a typical maneuver to keep a voter population ignorant.

Maine should reject this bill.

SAM Proposing Legislation/Amendment to Stop HSUS Harassment

TrahanBelow is a video from the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine with an explanation about five proposed bills the organization is supporting in which the goal is to force the collection of petition signatures to be done by only Maine residents and to close up, what SAM calls, other loopholes.

Another huge issue involves the proposal for a constitutional amendment to declare a right to hunt and fish. It seems there are more than one proposal and the three I have seen, as they now stand, I’m not too nuts about.

In this video, David Trahan, executive director for the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, states that the SAM amendment proposal is LD 739. I couldn’t find an LD 739 dealing with the subject of a constitutional amendment. I am still looking and have friends helping.

Two proposals are near the same. LD 703 is written:

Section 26. Personal right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife; limitations. Every citizen has the personal right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife, subject only to statutes enacted by the Legislature and to rules adopted by the state agency designated to promote wildlife conservation and management and to preserve the future of hunting and fishing. Public hunting, fishing and harvesting wildlife are a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. This section may not be construed to modify any provision of law relating to trespass or property rights.

LD 753 is as follows:

Section 26. Right to hunt, fish and harvest game and fish. The right of the people of this State to hunt, fish and harvest game and fish, including by the use of traditional methods, may not be infringed, subject to reasonable laws enacted by the Legislature and reasonable rules adopted by the state agency designated for fish and wildlife management to promote wildlife conservation and management, to maintain natural resources in trust for public use and to preserve the future of hunting and fishing. Public hunting and fishing are a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. This section may not be construed to modify any provision of law relating to eminent domain, trespass or property rights.

LD 754 is actually an amendment to the existing constitution – Constitution, Art. IV, Pt. Third, §18, sub-§1. The amendment would add the following: “and not an amendment to the laws of the State governing hunting and fishing” the purpose of which would be to prohibit any efforts to change the laws governing hunting and fishing through citizen initiative/referendum process.

I have stated often that in order for a constitutional amendment to be effective in actually providing some semblance of a future guarantee of any right to hunt and fish, such an amendment must contain language that mandates that the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, or whoever and under what name wildlife management becomes in the future, manages Maine’s game species for the purpose of surplus harvest. None of the language in these three proposals gives us that.

History has shown that constitutional amendments, believed to be for the purpose of protecting the right of citizens to hunt and fish, without specific mandates, does nothing in protecting that right. What good is a right if it cannot be exercised? If and when any state fish and game department decides it will manage any and all wildlife for non consumptive use, then there is little purpose in protecting one’s right to hunt and fish.

In addition, the wording of such an amendment should be done in order that if and when the State of Maine decides it wants to merge departments or make changes in its department structure, which has been proposed in Maine in the past, which may also change its department name (department of natural resources as an example) that this amendment, which includes the mandate to manage game for surplus harvest, travels with those changes. Otherwise, restructuring, which might involve dissolving the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and creating of a new department, may present a legal issue and concern over whether such and amendment would still apply.

I hope that SAM and others aren’t so heavily focused on making sure that the Humane Society of the United States, and/or other environmental/animal rights groups, can’t force referendums that they miss an opportunity to do the job right and with complete protection.

I would also like to state that in LD 739, which is a process aimed at prohibiting the use of citizen initiatives in changing hunting and fishing laws, while an argument can be made about whether such an amendment would take away the public’s right to petition the state, it also sets a potentially dangerous precedent. Actions of this sort, have a way of coming around and biting us on the butt. I would not prefer this method of accomplishing the goals of SAM and other outdoor sportsmen.

Idiocy Begets Idiocy

“The Portland Sea Dogs will not be serving Linda Bean’s Maine Lobster at Hadlock Field concession stands this season, according to a press release Monday from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

David Byer, a spokesman for PETA, said the organization contacted the Sea Dogs during the 2014 season, showing team officials video footage of lobsters and crabs being processed at Bean’s Rockland plant in “crude and cruel methods.” He said PETA was told earlier this month of the team’s decision to stop selling the product.”<<<Read More>>>

Instead, let’s promote the practice of “crude and cruel methods” of murdering unborn babies, by ripping their legs and arms off while still alive, sticking needles in their heads or sucking them apart with a vacuum cleaner. PETA thinks that ripping live lobsters apart is “crude and cruel.” And yet I doubt they even consider the same treatment of humans as crude and cruel.

PETA is a fringe group of perverted freaks and so what does that say about the owners of the Portland Sea Dogs? If they intend to honor the perverse ideologue of PETA then I would have to seriously consider whether I would ever attend another Sea Dogs baseball game.

HSUS: “Hollow, One-Dimensional Ideologues and the Unbridled Cynicism”

V. Paul Reynolds, in his weekly column in the Sun Journal, shares his perspective on the State of Maine dealing with the Humane Society of the United States. In part he says:

There can be only one explanation for HSUS’s strategy, notwithstanding its stunning gall and apparent contempt for Maine’s way of life. Policymakers in this organization have determined that they can eventually wear us down, that we, sportsmen and outfitters, will run out of money before they do. And they may be right.

Never mind ethics. Never mind integrity. Never mind fair play. Never mind the public will. Winning is all that counts, so spend money willfully and wear down the opposition. Bury it with piles of greenbacks! Buy a victory. To hell with what the people want. Impose your values on those who don’t see it your way. Shove it down their provincial throats!

BearAndNoose

Hunting Bill Unfair

It always amazes me that when bills are passed or proposed that somebody doesn’t like, they claim that it is unfair. To justify their rant about the unfairness, they present their own ideology with the expectation that everyone else must conform to the way they choose to live. I fail to see how whining and carrying on all in an attempt to force others to think and live the way they do, is in any way living in a free country where a person should have the right to self determination.

Read an opinion piece on the Maine Legislatures “unfairness” in presenting a bear hunting bill aimed at youth.