March 20, 2023

Fish and Game Hypocrisy Over Commenting on Issues?

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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.