Advisory Council Meeting Minutes

 ADVISORY COUNCIL MEETING
January 30, 2014 @ 9:30 a.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
Judy Camuso, Wildlife Division Director
Mike Brown, Fisheries Division Director
Dana DeGraaf, Coldwater Fisheries Biologist
Chris Cloutier, Game Warden Major
Rick LaFlamme, Game Warden
Becky Orff, Secretary/Recorder

COUNCIL MEMBERS (currently 1 vacancy)
Jeff Lewis, Council Chair      
Dick Fortier
Dick Thurston (by phone)
Gunner Gundersen
Cathy DeMerchant

GUESTS
Don Kleiner, MPGA
Larry Barnes, MFRC
Steve Wilcox, MTA
Fern Bosse
Brian Cogill, MTA
Guy Randlett


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

1.  Taxidermy Rule Amendment

Deputy Commissioner Erskine stated we did not receive any public comments and there had been no changes to the proposal since the last meeting.  She had met with those that would be affected by the rule change and they were aware of the proposal.  They had been given an exemption for the year as they had been operating under a letter from the Department and would be allowed to continue that for the rest of the year.  The next step would be to bring the taxidermy board back together and establish a basic testing process for the skull type mounts.

A motion was made by Mr. Fortier to accept the proposal as presented and that was seconded by Mrs. DeMerchant.

Vote:  unanimous – motion passed.

 

B.  Step 2

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

Ms. Camuso stated there were no changes to the proposal to change the number of years that those eligible to take a peregrine; it would shorten the time frame so they could take a second bird.  No public comment had been received.

There were no further questions or comments.

            C.  Step 1

1.  Wildlife Violators Compact

Major Cloutier stated the Wildlife Violators Compact was something we had been talking about since the mid to late 90’s.  If you’re convicted of a fish and wildlife violation (hunting, fishing, trapping) in a state that’s a member of the compact, you’re revoked in all the states that are members of the compact.  We were given approval by the Legislature to enter into the compact.  Major Cloutier discussed the hand out he presented to the Council (see packet).

Major Cloutier stated the compact started in the early 90’s and there were several states that adopted it in the Western part of the Country, specifically Colorado, Nevada and Oregon.  Some of those states where they all came together at the corners, somebody that violates big game laws in one state would typically drive to another state and keep making the circuit.  They formed a compact and it’s a group of member states made up by a compact administrator within a state and there were 10 administrative guidelines that they followed through the compact, which was compact process. 

Major Cloutier stated one of the benefits of the compact was if someone went to Montana for example and was caught night hunting, instead of just getting arrested and posting bail, etc. even though they hadn’t been convicted of a crime, it would allow the person to be treated as a resident of Montana and be issued just a summons.  What the compact allowed was if the person summonsed failed to appear on that summons that person’s license was automatically revoked in all participating states, even if not convicted.  On a fail to appear on a summons, you were automatically revoked and you would remain revoked until you proved that you’d taken care of the summons in that state.

Major Cloutier stated in Maine we had very specific revocation language which was 11902, and a host of mandatory revocations.  If you were convicted of night hunting, exceeding the bag limit, shooting a big game animal in closed season; those were mandatory 1 year revocations.  Those were what we would revoke for if a person committed that violation in another state.  If a Maine resident went to Nevada and shot an elk in closed season, they would revoke him in Nevada and we would revoke him here in Maine as part of the compact because it was a “like” violation.  We were not looking to revoke people for what would be considered civil infractions.

Major Cloutier stated there was a database that held all the violations.  It was a controlled process and the database worked very well.  For example, a Maine resident goes out of state and commits a like violation out there, that state revokes them and it goes into the database.  When the compact administrator went in the database and saw the revocation in the other state we would send the person a letter that states their license was revoked in Maine until that out of state violation was taken care of.

Deputy Commissioner Erskine asked about someone that did not have a license in Maine.  We would probably have to add a clause to the regulation that if they didn’t currently hold a license they would be ineligible to obtain one.

Major Cloutier stated he thought he had an answer for that if we defined what a revocation was and within the definition of revoke we had ineligible and suspended in there he thought that would take care of the issue.

Mr. Lewis asked if most of them were for 1 year.

Major Cloutier stated generally the revocation was for 1 to 2 years, sometimes 5.  We would be able to identify them in MOSES.  It was the responsibility of the person to call states to find out if they could hunt there.  We had been receiving approximately 6 phone calls per year from individuals asking if Maine was part of the compact.

Mr. Lewis asked about preference points.  Other states had permits for everything besides moose.  Would those also be revoked?

Major Cloutier stated he was not sure.  As the compact originated out west he felt they probably had it worked out as part of the compact.  There were about 14,000 people listed in the compact currently.  More than ½ of those were big game violations.

Major Cloutier discussed the map that was in the handout.  States in green were in the process of becoming members.  States in red were actual compact members.  MA had legislation that said they could not be in that type of a system such as the compact, but they were working to change that. 

Mr. Fortier asked about the Canadian Provinces, if those were included.

Major Cloutier said he had heard some talk about it, but was not sure where they were at with it.

2.  Moose Permit Allocations

Mr. Connolly stated the Department was currently working on a project to radio collar moose.  Our staff was working with Maine Forest Service spotting animals out ahead of the capture crew.  The capture crew handled 17 moose in one day.  WMD 8 was where the work was being conducted.  The goal was to put out 60 collars, 30 males and 30 females.  We would then also try to capture and collar 10 on the ground as well.

Mr. Connolly stated the preliminary numbers, the crew met on January 16th to discuss moose numbers and we decided not to make structural changes in terms of the season because of the lodge permits that had to be issued.  There were some minor adjustments in the number of permits in WMDs 1, 2, 3 and 4 and adjusting bull permits.  There were a couple WMDs where we added cow permits or antlerless only permits.  Overall in 2014 there would be a slight decline in the total number of permits, 4,085.  In 2013 there were 2,971 moose harvested.  Preliminary numbers would be forwarded to the Council at a later date.

Council member comments and questions

Commissioner Woodcock stated there was a unique component to the moose lottery this year.  The number of permits allocated, off the top of that number the lodge permits would be taken.  Off the top of that number would also be the new law which applied to those people in the permit system of 70 years and older and had maximum bonus points.  He felt that number was approximately 300 permits off the top; 200 to over 70’s and 100 to lodges.

Mr. Fortier asked what was defined as a permit for a lodge.

Commissioner Woodcock stated they originally had defined it as anything within Title 22 for meals and lodging and would have to have services of a guide.  The Legislature was considering altering that in emergency legislation to be more restrictive and make it compatible with the distinct definition of sporting camps which was a more primitive hunting, fishing, etc. sporting activities.  There had also been some discussion as to when the current law took effect.  The legislature adjourned last session and came back.  The new law would take effect 90 days after the session ends, that would be roughly the middle of July.  That was after the moose drawing would occur.  There were internal discussions on how to make that work and satisfy the needs of everyone involved.  If the legislature amended the law in emergency fashion, that would also put a new effective date on things.

Deputy Commissioner Erskine stated also in the law they made sure the conservation school scholarships stayed whole.  They set aside what we had captured that year from the moose permit auction and established that amount and said whatever money the Department got from the sale of the moose lodge permits would make the scholarship fund whole.  We anticipated that if you could buy a permit from a guiding outfit for $6,000 they probably wouldn’t put in a bid for the auction.

Ms. Camuso stated there were some things that staff recommended that went to a public working group.  One of those was opening a September bull season in WMDs 7 – 10, 12 – 18, and 27 and 28.  Another would be combining WMDs 27 and 28 and another would be relooking at WMDs 22, 25 and 23 and 26 (southern Maine permits).  Even though we told people when they applied for those WMDs that they weren’t really “moose country” we felt like people still didn’t understand.  Also, the collection of reproductive data and finding a way to make it more mandatory to bring the ovaries in in November.  Some other things to work on in the local communities were some changes to the allocation for cow permits in the Greenville area.

Mr. Lewis asked if there was any indication that our moose herd along the NH border was affected as NH and Vermont were.

Ms. Camuso stated what we were looking at in the radio collaring study was mortality.  We were doing the study in conjunction with NH and we were looking at the same issues.  We chose the NH border area to conduct the study purposefully to address that issue.   Currently the aerial surveys we’d done and the data we had showed the population was solid.

Mr. Fortier asked if the working group had any discussion about the November hunt with the impregnated cows.  Was that going to be detrimental to the moose herd?  For example WMD 1 there was quite a concentration of hunters there. 

Ms. Camuso stated the purpose of the hunt in November was so we could collect the reproductive ovaries.

Mr. Connolly stated we did not issue permits to take cow moose unless we wanted to decrease the population there first.  That was a decision that was made up front with the management system and had nothing to do with what kind of data we were looking to collect.  In terms of the timing of the harvest, if we’re able to take cows in November they had a longer time to maintain the cow/calf bond which was important for the calf’s survival.  If you decided to take a cow whether you killed it before or after it was bred it didn’t matter, because we didn’t have a problem with cows becoming pregnant.  We were going to have some cow permits in October to see if we could determine some reproductive success rate based on looking at those cows.  The State Wildlife Action Plan update was due in 2015 and as part of that we had a public participation process and we would be reaching out to the public.  We were also looking at what other states had done to improve communication with the public in general.

V.  Other Business

1.  Proper release of dogs from traps

Warden Rick LaFlamme gave a hands on demonstration with mounts and traps on releasing a dog or other animal from a trap.  He discussed different types of traps and other implements that may be used to release an animal from a trap such as a catch pole.

VI.  Councilor Reports

Council members gave reports.

The moose lottery drawing would be held on June 14th at the University of Maine Presque Isle.  The June Council meeting would be held prior to the drawing in Presque Isle.

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 Mrs. DeMerchant and that was seconded by Mr. Fortier to adjourn the meeting.  The meeting was adjourned at 11:30 a.m.