AUGUSTA, Maine — Attracting young hunters and anglers to outdoor sporting activities is among the priorities of Chandler Woodcock, who is poised to head Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife given Wednesday’s solid committee endorsement.
Gov. Paul LePage’s nominee won an 11-0 vote of support from the Legislature’s fisheries and wildlife committee after a series of questions ranging from department finances to Sunday hunting. The committee’s strong recommendation puts a virtual lock on his Senate confirmation.
The Farmington resident, a former English teacher and high school basketball coach, was the Republican candidate for governor in 2006 but lost to Democrat John Baldacci. A lifelong outdoorsman who has canoed the Allagash and St. John rivers and kept an outdoor journal since 1974, Woodcock is now executive director of the Maine Harness Horsemen’s Association.
“The chance to assist and effectively preserve and enhance Maine’s sporting tradition and to also assist the nonsporting experiences of generations to follow is a challenge that I readily accept,” said Woodcock.
Woodcock said his priorities include restoring the thinning deer herd in northern, western and eastern Maine, where businesses related to the hunt represent significant economic activity. He also listed preservation and replenishment of the brook trout fishery and attracting young people to hunting and fishing, which “should be a central focus for all of us,” he said.
As DIF&W commissioner, Woodcock said, “our department will have a renewed emphasis on customer service.” No one spoke against Woodcock’s appointment, and several groups, including the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and Maine Audubon, spoke in his support.
In response to questions from committee members, Woodcock vowed to “continue to fight vigorously” for general state funding for the fish and game department, which is heavily dependent on fees from fishing and hunting licenses. The Legislature is considering a proposal to amend the state Constitution to allocate 0.125 percent of state sales tax revenues to the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
Woodcock expressed disapproval of Sunday hunting, a proposal that repeatedly has been advanced and then shot down in past sessions.