May 20, 2018
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SAM reports from the field

By George Smith, SAM

New DIF&W Fisheries Groups

Three new fisheries groups have been chosen to provide Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife Commissioner Chandler Woodcock and his staff with advice — another signal that Woodcock is making fisheries a strong focus of his tenure.

Each group consists of activists who have had a lot to say in the past about fish and wildlife issues and programs. Members of SAM’s Fishing Initiative Committee will serve on two of the three groups.

The brook trout group includes: Gary Corson of New Sharon, John Whalen of Canaan, Matt Libby of Ashland, Ted Koffman of Falmouth, Dan Tarkinson of Portland, Dave Allen of T8R11, and Bonnie Holding. The previous brook trout working group has been disbanded.

Corson is a longtime member of the Fishing Initiative Committee of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and the principal advocate for year-round fishing. Whalen is a retired game warden who operates a smelt hatchery. Libby and his wife Ellen own the Orvis-endorsed Libby Camps on Millinocket Lake and is a former member of the Fish and Wildlife Advisory Council.

The landlocked salmon group includes: Dennis Smith of Mount Desert Island, Larry Farrington of Greenville, Larry Fiori of Kennebunk, Bruce Steeves of Raymond, Dennis Bolduc of Oakland, Tenley Bennett of Eagle Lake, and John Ouellette of Madawaska.

Smith is a longtime member of SAM’s Fishing Initiative Committee and former member of the Fish and Wildlife Advisory Council. Farrington is the president of the Moosehead Lakes Fisheries Coalition. Fiori is a longtime member of SAM’s Fishing Initiative Committee and leader of the Quality Salmon Program, a partnership between SAM and DIF&W.

The bass group includes: Andy Wess of Augusta, William Schwartz of Windham, Don Kleiner of Union, Carl Bois of Lovell, J.R. Mabee of Grand Lake Stream, and Ken Hoehlein of Trenton.

Dilly of an attack

Charging that Maine legislators were, “spending our time making it easier for people to become vigilantes,” Sen. Cynthia Dill, D-Cape Elizabeth, a candidate for the U.S. Senate this year, recently put gun owners and the National Rifle Association right in her sights.

In the process, Dill sharply criticized one of her Democratic primary opponents, Matt Dunlap, who was a friend of Maine sportsmen and gun owners during his tenure in the Maine House of Representatives. Most recently Dunlap served as Maine’s secretary of state and even spent a brief time as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine in 2011. He is currently a member of SAM’s Board of Directors.

In a March 30 Democratic candidate debate, Dill challenged Dunlap about his support for and membership in the National Rifle Association. In an April 4 press release, she continued to challenge Dunlap, quoting his March 30 response to her challenge, in which he said, “I would accept the financial support of the National Rifle Association.”

“The prevalence of guns — particularly the type that are modified to fire multiple rounds and outgun local law enforcement — is a problem in many areas of our country and is fair game for reasonable regulation,” Dill said in her April 4 statement.

“The NRA… is a divisive group out of step even with pro-gun Mainers. My campaign will not seek nor accept their support,” she trumpeted.

Deer feeding discouraged

Are you feeding deer? Stop it!

That’s what Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife would like you to do. The department contends that many deer feeders do more harm than good by providing food that’s not nutritious or placing the feed where deer must cross busy highways to get to it. Some deer feeding stations also draw coyotes for a feeding frenzy of their own.

DIF&W has had no authority to stop people from feeding deer, but it will have shortly. The Legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee gave its unanimous endorsement to a deer bill, LD 1242, sponsored by Washington County’s Rep. David Burns, R-Whiting. This bill gives the DIF&W authority to enact rules that prohibit the feeding of deer at any location if there is documented evidence of chronic wasting disease in the state.

The agency’s new rules may also prohibit or limit the feeding of deer when the department has reason to believe that the type or location of feed is creating a public safety hazard or having a detrimental impact on the deer.

SAM also has teamed up with retailers who sell deer feed, including Agway, to provide point-of-sale information with deer feeding guidelines. Those guidelines are also available on SAM’s website.

DIF&W reorganizes

Same number of positions. No new money. But the reorganization plan for Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife is a thoughtful restructuring that reflects the priorities of the agency’s new leadership: Commissioner Chandler Woodcock and Deputy Commissioner Andrea Erskine.

The reorganization leaves the agency with the same number of positions, a few of which have been redefined: some tasks added, some eliminated.

Among the most interesting changes, the agency will now have three biologists, each focused specifically on deer, moose and bear.

Lee Kantar, the agency’s deer biologist, “assumed responsibility for moose as a favor to the department,” said Woodcock, who also announced that he offered Kantar his choice of species, and he took moose. A new deer biologist soon will be chosen.

DIF&W also will dedicate a fisheries biologist to focus on cold water species: a brook trout and landlocked salmon specialist.

John Boland had a large role the reorganization and appears to have given a lot of thought to a better way to perform and supervise various fish and wildlife projects and functions.

Maine’s got 75,000 moose

Maine has a lot more moose than we thought. Based on his new sampling techniques using Maine Forest Service helicopters and pilots and a “double counting” system, Maine’s top moose biologist Lee Kantar estimates the state’s moose population to be an astonishing 75,000.

That’s 45,000 higher than the estimates reported by the DIF&W up until 2007, when the department’s longtime moose biologist, Karen Morris, upped her estimate as she approached retirement.

Morris stunned a 2007 moose working group when she reported we might have as many as 60,000 moose, begging the question: Why aren’t we issuing more moose permits? Today, given Kantar’s new estimate, that question is sure to be raised again.

In fact, Dr. Vaughn Anthony, a retired national marine biologist from Boothbay and SAM’s representative on the 2007 working group, already has raised the question. Anthony notes that DIF&W will issue 3,800 moose hunting permits this year, representing 5 percent of the 75,000 moose in the woods. He says a population of 75,000 moose should allow an annual harvest of 8,000 to 14,000 animals.

In 2010, DIF&W substantially increased the number of moose permits, from 3,140 to 3,862. Unfortunately, that did not win back the many hunters who have given up on the moose lottery over the years.

For more on these stories, visit and look for “SAM News Stories.”


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