Advisory Council Meeting Minutes

August 19, 2010 @ 10:00 a.m.
New Harbor Fire Station
Rt. 130, New Harbor


Paul F. Jacques, Deputy Commissioner
Andrea Erskine, Assistant to the Commissioner
Mark Stadler, Wildlife Division Director
John Boland, Director, Fisheries Operations
Major Gregory Sanborn, Warden Service
Becky Orff, Secretary and Recorder

Council Members:

Stephen Philbrick, Chair
Ron Usher, Vice-Chair
Al Goodwin
Frank Dunbar
Wade Kelly    
Mike Witte     
Cathy DeMerchant
Alan Greenleaf
Dick Thurston

Katie Lisnik, HSUS
Maine Falconryers and Raptor Conservancy: Mark Fanning, Scott
Kenniston and Larry Barnes
Sylvia Fanning
Dick Hutchinson
Fern & Cynthia Bosse
Judy Finley

I. Call to Order    
Mr. Philbrick, Council Chair, called the meeting to order.

II. Introductions

Introductions were made.

III. Acceptance of Minutes of Previous Meeting

Motion made by Mr. Dunbar and seconded by Mr. Usher to accept the minutes of the previous Council meeting.

Vote: Unanimous - minutes accepted.

IV. Rule Makeing

A. Step 3

1. Cervid Carcass Transportation

Mr. Stadler stated the cervid carcass importation rule that we had was established a number of years ago to limit the import of deer, moose, elk and other cervids from being brought into Maine because of fear of chronic wasting disease.  Over the years many of the states and the USDA had implemented surveillance programs to monitor for chronic wasting disease.  Based on public input and internal discussions we decided we could soften that importation rule. 

Mr. Stadler stated we had amended the proposal to include NH, Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Laborador.  Those states or provinces could bring their harvest into Maine if legally taken in those jurisdictions.  There was minimal chance of chronic wasting disease coming into Maine from those areas.  All other states and provinces would fall under the importation restrictions.

Motion made by Mr. Goodwin and seconded by Mrs. DeMerchant to accept the proposal as amended.

Vote: Unanimous - motion passed.

2. Passage Peregrine Falcon Take

Mr. Stadler stated the USFWS was responsible for the management of all migratory birds including raptors.  They had concluded that the recovery of certain portions of the peregrine falcon population was such that a limited number of passage peregrine could be taken for use in falconry.  IF&W worked with the Maine Falconry and Raptor Conservancy to develop the rule and it provided a mechanism for the Department to be able to issue via lottery any permit options the USFWS provided.

Mr. Stadler stated for 2010 USFWS provided 2 permits so there would be an opportunity for the take of 2 passage peregrines in Maine.  If the proposal was accepted by the Council, we would get letters out to licensed falconers and develop a web based application.  The deadline to apply would be September 3, 2010 and the drawing would be September 7, 2010.  The season would be between September 20 and October 20, 2010.  It would only be in effect for the offshore islands and that area south and east of Route 1 excluding MDI.  The proposal had been amended from Step 2 to clarify the permits would only be offered to Maine residents.

Motion made by Mrs. DeMerchant and seconded by Mr. Dunbar to accept the proposal as amended.

Vote: Unanimous - motion passed.

3. 2010-11 Migratory Bird Season

Mr. Stadler stated the USFWS was the agency that was responsible for the management of migratory birds including waterfowl.  Annually the states and the USFWS along the Atlantic flyway meet and discuss waterfowl populations, activity, etc. and set the sideboards for waterfowl hunting opportunity in Maine.  Basically it’s a 60-day season and followed an abbreviated rulemaking process.  The Department met with the Waterfowl Council on August 18 and discussed the rulemaking proposal.  The public hearing was held that evening and there were some minor changes suggested to the seasons.  The revised proposal was discussed (see packet).

Council Member Comments and Questions

Mr. Goodwin stated that he and Mrs. DeMerchant had attended the public hearing.  There were about 34 members of the public there.  A number of people made comments.  Eight members of the Waterfowl Council met after the hearing and approved changes.

Motion made by Mr. Goodwin and seconded by Mrs. DeMerchant to accept the proposal as presented.

Vote: Unanimous - motion passed.

B. Step 2

1. 2010-11 Beaver Season/Closures

Mr. Stadler stated annually Department staff and Warden Service worked together to develop the beaver trapping seasons and the beaver closures for each town in Maine.  We had a very abundant beaver population so over the years we were providing liberal trapping opportunity in an attempt to harvest beaver as a fur resource rather than having them destroyed as nuisance wildlife.  We had a wide range of seasons, as was reflected in the proposal.  Many towns were open for beaver trapping, but some were not.  Some landowners requested that people not trap on their property. 

Mr. Stadler stated last year when editing the trapping rule, a section was deleted that was not intended.  We were now adding that back in and it was listed under 1.A.

Mrs. Erskine stated she had not received any comments.  Sometimes closures were added later on.

Council Member Comments and Questions

Mr. Kelly stated trapper education courses were hard to find in his area.  The closest one was in Lincoln.  It discouraged people from taking that course that might want to do recreational trapping.

Mr. Philbrick asked the Council to e-mail him items that were important to regions to keep for an agenda item.  Mr. Kelly had already sent him some.  When Mr. Trask was in attendance they would bring that up as a Council.

C. Step 1

1. 2011 Spring Turkey

Mr. Stadler stated we were proposing a change to the 2011 spring turkey season.  We were proposing to add WMD 28 which was Downeast.  We received a petition requesting the Department to consider opening WMDs 27 and 28 to spring turkey hunting.  An informational meeting was held in Harrington.  The wild turkey management plan was presented to the public and comments were received.  Based on the public comment we concluded that opening WMD 28 was appropriate.  The population there was not quite at the level we had set for our goal, but that was the agricultural area with blueberries, etc. and we thought it may be a good idea to be proactive and establish a season in that WMD.

Mr. Stadler stated the rest of the rule making proposal was scheduling and adjusting the season dates to reflect the 2011 calendar.

Council Member Questions and Comments

Mr. Philbrick asked Mr. Stadler to explain why the petition suggested WMDs 27 and 28 and after the informational meeting it was decided for only WMD 28.

Mr. Goodwin stated they knew where the turkeys were, they were west of Machias.  Instead of working their way all the way to Eastport and north where there were no birds, they should stay with the area that was starting to grow with plenty of birds to shoot.

Mr. Philbrick asked if the petitioners were in agreement.

Mr. Goodwin stated yes they were, they suggested it.

Mr. Stadler stated it was not a valid petition, but we decided that to show support we would hold a public informational meeting, which is different than a public hearing.  In discussions with staff we concluded that the turkey population in WMD 27 was still expanding and we wanted it to be unhunted for the time period to continue its expansion.  Once it expands further to the east and reaches a certain population density we would consider opening it.

Mr. Greenleaf stated he had mentioned a few months ago WMD 19.  He knew for sure that part of 19 was loaded with turkeys.  How come 19 was not open?

Mr. Stadler stated it was not part of the request and he assumed that it was not proposed to be opened yet because the population had not expanded as fully as they would like and/or the bird density was not what it should be to open a spring hunt.  The situation may be in that fringing area that’s more towards WMD 28, may have higher density than further to the north, but we managed on a district level, not sub-districts.  If an entire district didn’t meet certain standards we kept it closed.

Mr. Greenleaf stated his personal survey that he was taking, WMD 18 was full of turkeys and they were going into WMD 19.  Probably the north part of 19 there were no turkeys, they were all down in the southern part.  Turkey hunters wanted to know why they couldn’t hunt 19.

Mr. Stadler stated he would discuss with staff and see what their thoughts were.

Mr. Kelly stated most of the questions he received from turkey hunters were why didn’t the season open up in April.

Mr. Stadler stated there had been concern that shifting weather patterns had advanced the breeding activity of the turkeys.  Generally the bulk of that breeding activity was driven by photo period.  What they wanted to do in April during the breeding activity and nesting activity was to make the hens less vulnerable.  We worked closely with the NWTF and the Maine Chapter in setting the seasons.  Most turkey biologists would be resistant to pushing the season into April.

Mr. Dunbar asked if when they opened up WMD 28, would it be 2 toms in the spring?

Mr. Stadler stated yes.

Mr. Dunbar asked about the fall season.

Mr. Stadler stated we only opened it in the spring.

Mr. Dunbar stated he was concerned about the 2 toms in the spring.  Was this going to be an experimental season?

Mr. Stadler stated it would probably be ongoing.

Mr. Dunbar stated he didn’t know how many people bought that second license to hunt a tom in the spring.  He didn’t think the guides in that area would be in favor of 2 toms in the spring.  They would like to see that still grow. 

Mr. Stadler stated that was discussed at the public information meeting.  He thought they were ok with the 2 bird limit.

Mrs. Erskine stated they didn’t want to do both the spring and the fall, but there was no concern with 2 toms in the spring.

Mr. Witte asked how many people bought two licenses.

Mr. Philbrick asked what the harvest was.

Mr. Stadler stated we could look at the tagging information and probably figure that out.

Major Sanborn provided some numbers for turkey licenses sold and Mr. Philbrick shared that information with the group.  Resident and spring/fall turkey 11,553; Nonresident spring/fall turkey 718; Second spring turkey 2,841; Superpack includes 2nd spring turkey 1,931.  Total 2nd spring turkey 4,772.

V. Other Business

1. Discussion on ice-fishing petitiion in the Rangeley area

Deputy Commissioner Jacques stated Commissioner Martin decided not to move forward with the ice fishing petition, and wanted to hear the Council’s comments.

Council Member Comments and Questions 

Mr. Philbrick stated the petition, although it had been pulled off the table, had brought to light many aspects of what the Council did.  The process had been defined publicly, in the press and at the Advisory Council meetings but no matter how many times it was put out there people still did not get the notion that if somebody brought forward a valid petition to a Council member, they had to bring it forward.  The petitioners may seek legislative action, and he was going to see that a particular component was brought forward; that a legislative act would come out of it that would allow the Department greater latitude with how they could get on a body of water and what could go on there.  Also, more continuity between fishing regulations and summer, spring and fall that would apply to winter as well.

Mr. Philbrick stated some parts of the petition couldn’t be looked at; vehicle access and fishing shacks.  That changed the outlook of the whole petition.  There was a petition process and Council members needed to follow that process.  The petitioners understood Commissioner Martin’s decision and Mr. Philbrick had spoken with them. 

Mr. Usher asked if there were other bodies open to ice fishing in the Rangeley area.

Mr. Philbrick stated there was one, Haley Pond.

Mr. Goodwin stated this would come back if people wanted ice fishing in Rangeley and a proper petition came forward.  He didn’t know why they couldn’t ice fish on Rangeley Lake.  We were still putting fish in lakes and ponds we should not because people couldn’t winter fish there without getting permission. 

VI. Councilor Reports

Councilors gave reports.

VII. Public Comments & Questions

Fern Bosse discussed kayaks that were found floating and there was no way to identify who owned them.  There should be some kind of ID or registration for them.  Everybody that used the resource should pay.

Scott Kenniston, Falconry and Raptor Conservancy stated that on behalf of the Conservancy he would like to thank the Department for all their work and help in putting together the regulations regarding falconry and the take of passenger peregrine falcons.

VIII. Agenda Items & Schedule Date for Next Meeting

The next meeting was scheduled for Sunday, September 26, 2010 at 2:00 p.m. at the IF&W Headquarters in Ashland. 

IX. Adjournment

IA motion was made by Mr. Thurston and that was seconded by Mrs. DeMerchant to adjourn the meeting.  The meeting was adjourned at 12:00 p.m.