State fish and game officials are holding four meetings this week in order to allow Mainers to share their thoughts on furbearer management issues.
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will stage meetings in Portland, Orono, Augusta and Presque Isle. Those sessions are designed to gather ideas and information that will help the state formulate its 15-year management plan for furbearing species. In Maine, those animals include coyote, red and gray fox, bobcat, fisher, marten, raccoon, skunk, short- and long-tailed weasel, mink, otter, beaver, muskrat and opossum.
“We’ve already conducted extensive public surveys, but this is your chance to provide additional input on the management of these species for years to come,” said Nate Webb, director of the DIF&W’s wildlife division.
The meetings scheduled for this week:
— Tuesday, Dec. 3, at Fireside Inn and Suites in Portland, 81 Riverside Street, 6:30 p.m.
— Tuesday, Dec. 3, at Black Bear Inn in Orono, 4 Godfrey Drive, 6:30 p.m.
— Wednesday, Dec. 4, at the Augusta Civic Center, 76 Community Drive, 6:30 p.m.
— Thursday, Dec. 5, at the Northeastland Hotel in Presque Isle, 436 Main Street, 6:30 p.m.
The DIF&W is also creating an online forum to provide further opportunity for Mainers to share their opinions on furbearer issues. The website went live on Nov. 7 and will be accessible until Dec. 7, at which point the comments will be reviewed.
As part of its effort to formulate a new 15-year management plan, the DIF&W also contracted with Responsive Management, which conducted surveys and focus groups. While those surveys have taken place over the past month or more, the public meetings and open-ended online forums open up the process to even more Mainers.
The DIF&W says the meetings and online forum will help assess priorities for furbearer management, including the issues residents see as important. Mainers will be able to share their thoughts on current and desired population levels of the furbearers, and discuss management techniques for each species. Any ideas for potential changes to existing management programs will also be welcomed.