More than 200 people packed the Elks Club Sept. 15 to celebrate the previous years’ work and lay the groundwork for the future. Several candidates for state and national office, including now U.S. Sen. Angus King, U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine; Maine Senate President Kevin Raye, Majority Senate Leader Jon Courtney, and many legislative candidates were in attendance.
Thirteen children between the ages of 5 and 15 years received lifetime fishing licenses. The children were from all over the Maine, and each child and most of their parents attended the banquet.
Emily McCabe, coordinator of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Hooked on Fishing Program, presented the lifetime licenses, along with the sponsoring organizations. The presentation was the centerpiece of the SAM banquet.
We anticipate this new program will expand in the future as several organizations and SAM members have expressed interest in sponsoring a child next year. Anyone interested in sponsoring a child should call Becky at 623-4589 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coyote hunting and trapping workshop
The SAM Conference Center was packed with trappers, guides, and sportsmen from all corners of the state on Sept. 29 who were eager to listen to experts from across the state on methods used to harvest coyotes. Seminar speakers covered many subjects, including hunter ethics, hounding, and trapping calling.
Dick Drysdale gave a particularly interesting talk on how to call coyotes, and Gayland Harkins kept the room interested in hounding. With the help of all the presenters, the day was a great success, and special thanks go to those listed above in addition to Ray Gushee, Everett Salisbury, Dave Miller, Ron Weeks, Jerry Brayley, Bob Noonan, Al Pinkham, and Gerry Lavigne.
We already have received requests and are beginning to organize similar seminars in western and northern Maine.
Upcoming Legislative Agenda
As of the SAM News deadline Nov. 6, we have introduced several pieces of legislation for consideration in the 126th Maine Legislature.
We have introduced a bill to stop towns from charging fees for hunting and fishing. The bill is in response to towns like Hallowell that have begun charging archers a fee to hunt in the expanded archery zones.
We also introduced legislation to give the Commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife the authority by rule to adjust the opening day of open water fishing. This is an attempt to expedite the opening of the season if ice-out conditions are earlier than usual.
In October we sent out our yearly questionnaires asking how our members feel about issues ranging from Sunday hunting to hatcheries, and when we receive your answers to the 20 questions we will tally them and finalize our agenda. We will complete the report in the next SAM News.
Maine State Conservation Center
SAM members, business owners, and visitors interested in everything outdoors should visit the Maine State Conservation Center for information on topics ranging from energy conservation and tax preparation to networking and maps. The web site is stateconservation.org/maine.
The amount of information available for businesses and outdoors enthusiasts is staggering. Make sure you check it out.
SAM Members Feedback is Helpful
One troubling trend I see emerging from the SAM questionnaires flooding back to my office from membership is that you feel SAM isn’t doing enough in the areas of hunting and fishing. I think this response reflects our declining deer herd and in some areas, poor fishing. In addition, I have done a poor job communicating to you what we are doing.
So here goes.
When I was first hired a year ago, I recognized the incredible untapped wealth of information and experience we had within our organization. I approached well-respected retired deer biologist Gerry Lavigne and asked him to take a more active role in SAM deer policy.
He has become a SAM board member and has developed a deer management network. The network has taken on the controversial subjects of deer feeding, predator control, and habitat protection.
Working with DIF&W, the governor, and the legislature, Gerry and I have helped restructure the Land for Maine’s Future Program to prioritize deer yards for protection. This change alone will make a dramatic difference in the future.
SAM is working with Gov. Paul LePage’s administration on a project in The Forks that likely will protect 8,000 acres of trout spawning habitat serving the upper Kennebec and Dead River. The purchase includes a high priority, 2,000-acre deer yard.
Gerry and I will further expand our coyote hunting and trapping seminars to develop a coyote big-game industry across the state. Gerry and I have begun discussions with several large construction companies to change their re-seeding policies to high levels of clover and spring and fall grasses. his best management practice could create hundreds of miles of edge cover for deer, bear, and moose.
We will update you later on the progress.
Finally, we have worked with DIF&W and Poland Spring to reopen the Dead River hatchery. This modest expansion of the DIF&W hatchery system is a unique public-private partnership that SAM will work to expand in the future.
This legislative session, hatchery expansion will be our high priority, we feel good about our prospects to work with the LePage administration; but more importantly, in the future, I will work hard to keep members informed of what we are doing on the things you feel are important.