Advisory Council Meeting Minutes

December 17, 2013 @ 1:00 p.m.
Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
284 State Street, 2nd Floor Conference Room
Augusta, ME

Attending:       Chandler Woodcock, Commissioner
Andrea Erskine, Deputy Commissioner
Christl Theriault, Assistant to the Commissioner
Jim Connolly, Director Bureau of Resource Management
Doug Rafferty, Director of Information and Education
Judy Camuso, Wildlife Division Director
John DePue, Wildlife Biologist
Becky Orff, Secretary/Recorder

Jeff Lewis, Council Chair      
Dick Fortier
Don Dudley
Dick Thurston
Gunner Gundersen
Sheri Oldham 
Lila Ware
Cathy DeMerchant

Representative Tim Marks
Don Kleiner, MPGA
Larry Barnes, MFRC
Steve Wilcox, MTA
Dave Gretch, Rangeley

I.  Call to Order

Jeff Lewis, Council Chair called the meeting to order.

II.  Introductions

Introductions were made.

III.  Acceptance of Minutes of Previous Meeting

A motion was made by Mrs. DeMerchant to approve the minutes of the previous meeting and that was seconded by Mr. Gundersen.

Vote:  unanimous – minutes approved.

IV.  Rulemaking

A.  Step 3

There were no items under  Step 3.

B.  Step 2

1.  Taxidermy Rule Amendment

Deputy Commissioner Erskine stated we did not receive any public comments.  One question was received internally from Warden Service and that was resolved.  She had received calls regarding individuals trying to retrieve their mounts from taxidermists.  That was being addressed in the proposal because currently we did not have a way to deal with a taxidermist taking a client’s money and specimen and not following through with the work.

            C.  Step 1

1.  Falconry Regulations – take of N. Passenger Peregrin falcons

Mr. Connolly stated we had a request from the falconers to make changes to the regulations.  There were 26 peregrine falcons allowed to be taken, and that was regulated by the Atlantic Flyway Council.  Maine had an allocation of 2 falcons that we were allowed to give permits for the taking of.  Other states did not have that same opportunity.  Maine regulations were restrictive and consistent with Federal guidelines and allowed Maine to manage the falconry within the state. 

Mr. Barnes stated initially when they got the peregrine take there were a lot of people involved in the falconry community in Maine and they wanted to make it fair so everyone had a good opportunity knowing they had limited allocations on an annual basis.  They started with a 2 year wait once someone had successfully trapped a bird before they could reapply to the lottery.  They had been very successful and taken all of the allocations over the last 4 years.  The supply had outpaced the demand.  Now there were still 5 birds trapped over the last 4 years still being used for falconry by falconers in Maine.  What they were asking to do was eliminate the 2 year wait so they had a better opportunity of filling those spots in the lottery.  Once you got a bird and it worked out, typically you would fly it for a few years and where there were so few falconers in Maine by eliminating the 2 year wait it gave the opportunity for people to be able to put in annually if they wanted.  One thing great about a passage Peregrine was you could trap it in the fall, hunt it through the winter and then release it in the spring.  If the rule moved forward, he believed that was the practice that we would see from most falconers in Maine.

Mr. Barnes stated there were about 15 active falconers in Maine, only about 6 or 7 flew falcons on either ducks or pigeons.  As a club they discussed how to make it fair for up and coming falconers to be able to have a good opportunity to take a bird in the future where there were a limited number of allocations annually.  They devised a lottery system whereas if you were a first time Master falconer when you put into the lottery you were on the same level as everyone the first year.  In the second year you would be able to put in twice to increase your odds of being selected in the lottery.  If you stayed in consecutively year after year, you would have a numerical advantage of eventually being drawn. 

Mr. Barnes stated on the last page of the proposal, paragraph 5, line 4 it should read “first time” before “applicants” to make it clear that the advantage was to be given to people that hadn’t had a chance to trap a peregrine as opposed to all.

Council Member Comments and Questions

Mr. Fortier asked how people got proper training, etc. to get started in falconry?

Mr. Barnes stated there was an apprenticeship program.  You had to be an apprentice falconer for a minimum of 2 years under either a general class or master class falconer to get into the sport.  It was a demanding past time, that was why there was an apprenticeship program.  Here in Maine, even though it was unwritten, we tried to maintain a high level of practice.  They set a level of proficiency before someone could move up to general class falconry.  Someone would have to take 10 head of game in one hunting season to attain that level of proficiency.  The facilities were regulated by the state and inspected by a state biologist before you could get a license and you also had to pass a 100 question test on falconry and husbandry of birds of prey.

Mrs. Ware asked about Mr. Barnes’ birds.  Were they caught birds?

Mr. Barnes stated his birds were captive raised birds.  Through the reintroduction of the peregrine falcon in North America over the last 25 years, North American falcon breeders who were falconers had become very proficient at breeding birds of prey.  His 2 birds were from separate breeding projects in Spokane, WA.

Mrs. Ware asked what the advantages were to having a live caught bird.

Mr. Barnes stated it was basically a clean slate when you took the bird out of the chamber.  The term “passage” came from, the bird was on its first passage.  All they were allowed to take were immature birds.  There was about an 80% mortality rate for birds of prey in their first year.  They were not allowed to take any birds from the adult population.  A bird that had been out on its own and surviving on its own really knew what it was doing, as opposed to introducing a chamber raised bird to game.  A wild bird was an aggressive predator.

Mr. Connolly asked about other birds that were used in falconry.

Mr. Barnes stated falconry was really about matching predator with prey.  What we had for a prey base in Maine were grey squirrels, snowshoe hare and ducks.  He used large falcons to hunt ducks.  In central and northern parts of the state the bird of choice would be a red-tailed hawk or a goshawk. 

Mr. Fortier asked how many licensed falconers there were.

Mr. Barnes stated he was not sure how many were licensed.  There were about 15 practicing in Maine currently.

Mr. Fortier asked how many got out of the sport.

Mr. Barnes stated those that really got into it and followed through, it was for a lifetime.  It was a lifestyle.   

Ms. Camuso stated in order to qualify for the passage peregrines you had to be a Master falconer so that was even a smaller subset.

V.  Other Business

There were no items under Other Business.

VI.  Councilor Reports

Council members gave reports.

Mrs. Oldham requested the Department give a demonstration on proper release of dogs from a trap.  She felt it would be helpful when answering questions from the public.

VII.  Public Comments & Questions

There were no public comments or questions.

VIII.  Agenda Items & Schedule Date for Next Meeting

The Council would be notified of the next meeting date and location. 

IX.  Adjournment

A motion was made by Mr. Thurston and that was seconded by Mrs. Oldham to adjourn the meeting.  The meeting was adjourned at 2:00 p.m.