Advisory Council Meeting Minutes

June 24, 2009 – 10:00 a.m.
Bucks Mill Rod and Gun Club
Bucksport, Maine

Attending:

Roland D. Martin, Commissioner
Andrea Erskine, Assistant to the Commissioner
Mark Stadler, Wildlife Division Director
Major Gregg Sanborn, Warden Service
Lieutenant Pat Dorian, Warden Service
Sergeant Ralph Hosford, Warden Service
Warden Shannon Fish
Becky Orff, Secretary and Recorder

Council Members:

Joe Clark, Chair
Mike Witte, Vice-Chair
Al Goodwin
Cathy DeMerchant
Ron Usher
John Simko
Dick Thurston
Stephen Philbrick
Frank Dunbar  

Guests: 

John Holyoke, Bangor Daily News
Kate Liznik, Humane Society of the United States
Laurel Richards
Ed Davis, retired safety coordinator

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

II. Introductions

Introductions were made.

III. Acceptance of Minutes of Previous Council Meeting

It was decided that a notation should be put into the Council meeting minutes indicating that agenda items III-A. Election of Chair and Vice Chair and Step 3, 1. 2009 Any-deer permits were revisited at this meeting due to a question of a lack of a quorum at the May 20, 2009 meeting.

Motion made by Mr. Dunbar and seconded by Mrs. DeMerchant to accept the minutes of the previous Council meeting with notation added.

Vote: unanimous - minutes accepted.

III-A. Election of Chair and Vice Chair

Commissioner Martin stated the Council should have seen the e-mails regarding a lack of quorum at the May meeting and also the differing Attorney General’s opinion in regards to parliamentary procedure.  In his June 10th e-mail he advised the Council that the 2009 any-deer initiative, it was very clear after discovering Mr. Clark had left the teleconference that they did not have a quorum.  Obviously they would have to take another vote on that issue.  To avoid additional confusion, he was convinced when the Chair and Vice Chair were elected last month that they did have a quorum, but after discussion with Mr. Kieffer, Mr. Witte and Mr. Clark he felt more comfortable having another vote on the election of Chair and Vice Chair.  Also, prior to adjournment, he strongly suggested that there be a discussion on how to conduct themselves in the future and the possibility of adopting rules.

Council Chair

Motion made by Mr. Usher and seconded by Mr. Philbrick to nominate Mike Witte as the new Council Chair.

Motion made by Mr. Usher and seconded by Mr. Simko that nominations cease.

Vote: Unanimous - Mike Witte elected as new Council Chair.

Council Vice-Chair

Motion made by Mr. Clark and seconded by Mr. Goodwin to nominate Ron Usher as the new Council Vice-Chair.

Motion made by Mr. Simko and seconded by Mrs. DeMerchant to nominate Stephen Philbrick as the new Council Vice-Chair.

Motion made by Mr. Clark and seconded by Mr. Dunbar that nominations cease.

Vote: Taken by secret ballot - 5 - 4 -Ron Usher elected as new Council Vice-Chair.

IV. Rulemaking

Step 3

1. 2008 Any-Deer permits

Mr. Stadler stated there were no changes from Step 2 when we adjusted the proposal upward as far as the number of deer permits because of the moderation of the winter that occurred as we went into spring.  The proposal included the provision that any WMD that was bucks only would also be bucks only to youth and archery hunters.  The reason the wildlife division made the recommendation was because in 2008, via legislative resolve, the Fish and Wildlife Committee established a Northern and Eastern Deer Working Group.  That group met over an entire year to develop a strategy for the Department to help guide the deer management program.  One of the recommendations they gave the Department was that in any WMD that had bucks only for regular firearms hunting, they should also be bucks only for youth and archery hunters. 

Mr. Stadler stated that was also proposed last year, and the Council struck the youth component and went with the archers.  To be faithful to the work that the Northern and Eastern Deer Task Force did, the Department felt obligated to carry forth the recommendation for 2009.

Commissioner Martin stated the Council did not strike the youth provision; it was done at the staff level.  At Step 3 the Council could not modify the proposal, it was an up or down vote.  At the May Advisory Council meeting it was also discussed that a public hearing was held regarding the initiative in Greenville.  This was in conjunction with a public informational meeting and no one spoke regarding any-deer permits.  At the last meeting Mr. Goodwin made the motion to accept, it was seconded by Mr. Usher and we thought we had a quorum but at that point and time Mr. Clark had to leave.

Mr. Clark stated they did have a quorum at that time.  It was 4 to 2 and did not pass and then Mr. Goodwin had asked for the item to be tabled.  Mr. Clark was in favor of that but then he had to hang up the phone.

Commissioner Martin stated another vote was needed. 

Mr. Witte asked if this would delay the normal time frame for the application process to start.

Mrs. Erskine stated that was in June, and they had already delayed it by a couple of weeks.

Mr. Witte asked if there could be an extension placed on the application period.

Mrs. Erskine stated she thought that was the plan. 

Mr. Witte asked if we were going to accept hard copy applications as we did for the moose drawing, or was it online only.

Commissioner Martin stated yes, we would be accepting paper applications as we did with the moose lottery.

Mrs. Erskine stated the Legislature enacted a law that gave license agents the authority to enter applications for people for a fee of $2.

A motion was made by Mr. Usher and that was seconded by Mr. Thurston to accept the proposal as presented.

Mr. Goodwin asked what the total number of kill was on youth day last year.

Mr. Stadler stated the information was provided to the Council at the previous meeting and provided for those WMDs that were bucks only for 2004 – 2008.  2008 bucks only WMDs the youth harvest was 110.

Mr. Goodwin asked what harm that would do if youth only harvested that number.

Mr. Clark stated this was done by the Task Force that was set forth by the Legislature; it was a recommendation of that Task Force why that was in the proposal.  Last year, staff delayed that for one year.  That was not the recommendation of staff for the 2009 proposal.  Mr. Clark stated he would be voting in opposition.  There would be 19 WMDs that would not allow youth to harvest any deer on youth day.  That was not fair to the youth.  Ethics and conservation of resources needed to be across the board.  We needed to encourage the youth hunters.

Mr. Philbrick asked what would happen if the proposal was voted down.

Commissioner Martin stated we had asked the Attorney General’s opinion on that.  The Council at Step 3 could not modify proposals, it was an up or down vote.  If there was a negative vote on the any-deer proposal, would we go back to the 2008 any-deer permit numbers?  The answer was no, there would be no any-deer permits issued for 2009.

Mr. Simko stated he had spoken with several hunters and business owners in the Greenville area about the proposal.  There was a common understanding that the deer population was hurting and measures needed to be taken to restore that.  However, they were all favorable of keeping any-deer permit for youth.  Youth were the future of the sport and future leaders of their communities.  There was strong support in his area to try to find a way to allow youth to hunt any-deer on youth day.  There was also understanding of the need to eliminate any-deer permits in some areas.

Mr. Philbrick stated he had an e-mail that brought up a valid point about the continuing extrication of larger bucks.  Was there valid impact, from a biological standpoint, regarding that issue?  Was it weakening the herd?

Mr. Stadler stated Lee Kantar had addressed the issue.  Mr. Stadler could not respond as precisely as Lee could, but he felt it was not an issue.

Mr. Witte stated he didn’t think they were giving the youth hunters enough credit as to what they were trying to do, manage the deer herd.  He was an advocate of youth hunting and fishing, but the youth turned into adults and he heard adults talking about giving up hunting and guiding because there were no deer.  He thought, from what he’d heard from Lee Kantar and others, at this point 100 deer were a critical issue. 

Mr. Stadler stated IF&W took very seriously public involvement.  We were asked by the Legislature to convene a group of stakeholders to consider Northern and Eastern deer populations and what we could do to manage them, and that group came up with a set of recommendations for our management program, if we blew those off, what did it say about our public involvement process?

Mr. Clark stated we talked about the stakeholder group looking at various ways to control the deer herd.  Did the stakeholder group identify the people feeding deer during the winter months where all the deer were crossing back and forth and being susceptible to deer/vehicle collisions?  He traveled 60 miles one way to work and there were deer everywhere.  75% of those were hit by cars and killed.  We had to look at different alternatives, not just any-deer permits.  If the Task Force was going to restrict the youth on one day alone for any-deer in 19 WMDs they should look at the whole spectrum.  He believed there was a lot more devastation to deer by automobiles during the spring and winter months then there was by youth on that one day.

Mr. Philbrick stated next year when this was visited for 2010, should it be requested that they separate the youth component.  Was that possible?

Commissioner Martin stated yes that could be considered.

Mr. Philbrick stated that would be his recommendation.  He thought it was important considering the youth and the notion that they needed to keep this vital for the youth hunt day, and looking at the 19 WMDs that Mr. Clark had pointed out, that they separate it for next year.

Commissioner Martin stated they had his commitment and he would give it serious consideration and yes, it was doable.

Vote: 6 in favor, 2 opposed and 1 abstained - motion passes.

2. 2009 Expanded Archery Season

Mr. Stadler stated the Council would be asked to table the agenda item and take it up again in August.  He had been working with the Town of Camden on modifications to the expanded archery season.  He had been dealing with Chief Roberts and Ken Bailey.  Ken had been very ill and that had slowed the process.  Also, the town manager had been on vacation.  He did not want to move forward until the Town of Camden had approved changes.

A motion was made by Mr. Usher and that was seconded by Mr. Thurston to table the agenda item.

Vote: 8 in favor, 1 opposed - agenda item tabled.

3. Significant Wildlife Habitat Rule (Definitions)

Mr. Stadler stated our original draft rule was reviewed by the Attorney General’s office and in her review of the rule, she suggested that we take out the reference to our rule where it references back to the DEP rule ie: 10.02 D we needed to replace the citation with the actual text.  There was no substantive change, just bringing forth the language into our rule.

A motion was made by Mr. Clark and that was seconded by Mr. Usher to accept the proposal as presented.

Vote: 8 in favor, 1 opposed - motion passed.

4. Marsh Island Controlled Deer Hunt

Mr. Stadler stated this was a request from the Department to extend the sideboards to allow a little more flexibility in the timing of the hunt.  We were asking to set the sideboards from November 1 – January 30.  This had been reviewed by both Orono and Old Town and letters of support had been received. 

Commissioner Martin stated last year was the first experimental season after close to 20 years of discussions with Old Town and Orono.  It was a success and we were asking the Council to continue the program as modified.

A motion was made by Mr. Clark and that was seconded by Mr. Usher to accept the proposal as presented.

Vote: unanimous - motion passed.

Step 2

1. Piping Plover Essential Habitat

Mr. Stadler stated he had no new information to add.

Commissioner Martin stated he would refresh everyone’s memory as to why this was not at Step 3.  Since this was discussed at the May meeting a couple of things had occurred.  At the May meeting some Council members were present on the beach where we were proposing the additional sites, and there was now a better understanding of what was being proposed.  When this was discussed last time, a Mr. Archibald was there, and they talked about whether or not a second public hearing should be held.  A 2nd public hearing had been requested and it was followed up with a petition.  The public hearing was scheduled for July 23 at Hills Beach Fire Station.  The agenda item would be at Step 2 again in August for discussion so that they might incorporate any changes that came up at the public hearing.

Mr. Clark asked if currently we received $50,000 from the Federal Government for piping plovers.

Mr. Stadler stated well in advance of the next Council meeting he would send out that information.  The Department had several sources of money toward the management and recovery of piping plover.

Mr. Clark asked if this did not pass, would the funds still be used or go into the general fund.

Mr. Stadler stated the funds could not be used for other species, they had to be used for what it was specified and would not go into the general fund.

2. Wells Archery Hunt Season Dates

Mr. Stadler stated this was an established hunt and we were asking to add another month.  There was nothing new.  There was wide public support.  This would be at Step 3 in August.

Step 1

1. 09-10 Migratory Bird Regulations
           
Mr. Stadler stated USFWS was the agency of jurisdiction for migratory birds.  USFWS was responsible for setting the hunting season framework for migratory birds, including waterfowl.  Over the course of the summer the USFWS convened several meetings across the flyways to meet with state biologists to set up the parameters for the upcoming waterfowl season.  The flyway council meetings had not occurred yet, and IF&W was guessing on what was anticipated for sideboards for the 2009 – 2010 season based on last year’s numbers.

Mr. Stadler stated the process was that the flyway council meetings would be occurring in June and July.  The setting of the migratory bird seasons was a little different than what the Council was used to.  This was abbreviated from Step 1 right to Step 3, eliminating Step 2.  The Department would hold a meeting with the Waterfowl Council in August for a briefing on the upcoming migratory bird season and to solicit their comments.  Then, a public hearing would be held that evening.  The next day, the Advisory Council would meet and consider and vote on the 2009 – 2010 migratory bird seasons.

Mr. Stadler stated the expectations for the upcoming season, they were expecting the USFWS to continue with provisions for a liberal framework.  They were anticipating that the waterfowl seasons and bag limits would be largely identical to last year.  Something we were asking the Waterfowl Council to consider was a reduction in the eider limit from 5 daily to 4 daily and a possession limit of 10 to 8.  Biologist Brad Allen had spoken with the Waterfowl Council previously about this.

Commissioner Martin stated the public hearing would be held on August 19 and the Advisory Council meeting would be held on August 20th.

Mrs. Erskine discussed the law that exempted the migratory bird season from a 60-day comment period and would allow them to vote at Step 3 in August.

2.  2009 Fall Turkey Season: open WMD 12, fall archery

Mr. Stadler stated we were proposing an addition to the season and add WMD 12.  Kelsey Sullivan had been working with others and determined the turkey harvest in that WMD had been stable for the last number of years.  It was still a bit below the threshold that we would normally consider opening to an archery hunt, but felt comfortable enough to move forward and add WMD 12 for a 2-week archery season.

Council Member Comments and Questions

Mr. Dunbar discussed the spring turkey season and stated that he heard from others that they felt the season should be 2 weeks earlier.

Mr. Stadler stated the Fish and Wildlife Committee passed a Resolve in the last session which directed IF&W to assemble a working group to look at opportunities to increase hunting opportunity for turkeys.  He had asked Sandy Ritchie to pull together that working group.  She had a list of names and would be sending invitations shortly.  The group would probably meet over the next few months to develop a report that the Department would present to the Fish and Wildlife Committee in the next session.  He would let the Advisory Council know who the group members were and an Advisory Council member could also serve on that group.

Mr. Witte referred to the fall shotgun season and stated it was very short and should go to 2 weeks.

3.  09-10 Beaver Closures and Fur Trapping/Hunting Seasons

Mr. Stadler stated annually in the spring, the Department met with the MTA and the Maine Tree Hound Association and discussed fur bearer issues.  From that came proposals for the upcoming fur hunting and trapping season.  Through the course of the summer the wildlife biologists and warden service looked at beaver trapping and proposals there.  The beaver population statewide was quite abundant and we had liberal beaver trapping seasons for a number of years.  The beaver population continued to do quite well.  The USDA and IF&W were working together on a nuisance beaver program. 

Mr. Stadler stated the Department was considering liberal beaver trapping opportunities again this year.  In WMDs 1-6, 8-11; Oct. 18 – April 30.  WMDs 18, 19 and 28; Nov. 1 – April 15.  In all other WMDs Dec. 1 – March 31.  Other furbearers, we were proposing to maintain the current fisher and marten trapping seasons.  We were proposing to retain a limit of 10 fisher and 25 marten.  No other changes were being proposed.

Council Member Comments and Questions

Mr. Clark stated with the new dates for beaver, were they subject to the 30-day waiting period?

Mr. Stadler stated that was a policy.  MTA had talked with the Department about that.  In the ADC policy, 30-days prior to a trapping season, we tried to avoid having beaver removed via animal damage control agents so that the beaver would be available for trapping.  With the proposed earlier season we were taking that into consideration for possible policy changes.

4.  Elimination of Bald Eagle Essential Habitat designations

Mr. Stadler stated legislation based on the Commissioner’s recommendation had taken the bald eagle off the endangered species list.  The proposal eliminated the essential habitat designation for bald eagle nesting sites.  Because the bald eagle population was recovered and the species was no longer listed, it no longer qualified for protection under the State’s endangered species act and no longer qualified for the protection afforded to certain endangered species habitat under Maine’s endangered species act.  The proposal would undesignate all of the essential habitats for bald eagle that currently existed in Maine.  Bald eagles were now covered by the USFWS under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Act. 

5. “Housekeeping” revisions to ET rule

Mr. Stadler stated this was a housekeeping proposal to clean up outdated references that existed in Title 12.  There would be a handout provided at Step 2.

6.  Horsepower Restriction Petition – Ward Pond

Mrs. Erskine stated she had received a valid petition for a horsepower restriction on Ward Pond in Sidney.  Because it was a valid petition she had scheduled a public hearing for August 13 at the Sidney Town Office at 6:00 p.m.  This would be at Step 2 at the August meeting.  They were requesting to limit the pond to 10 horsepower or less.

V. Other Business

There were no items under Other Business

VI. Councilor Reports

Councilors gave reports.

VII. Public Comments & Questions

Ed Davis, retired Safety Course Coordinator with 40 years of service, stated he was concerned with safety, especially the wearing of helmets and distributed a written statement to the Council (see packet).

Commissioner Martin stated he would now discuss what was listed at item III-B Adoption of Rules on the agenda.  Because there was not a quorum at the last meeting, he would ask if Council members could not make a meeting to please let Becky, Andrea or himself know.  He would rather reschedule a meeting if there would not be a quorum. 

Mr. Witte asked that the Council contact someone as soon in advance as possible if they knew they were not going to be able to make a meeting.

Commissioner Martin discussed teleconference meetings.  The attorney general’s opinion stated that teleconference meetings should be advertised as such in a public place where all in attendance could hear both sides of the conversation.  At the May meeting, phone calls were made and not everyone in attendance could hear those discussions and that was the issue.  He asked for the Advisory Council’s opinion on teleconference meetings.

Mr. Thurston asked if it was a distance issue, if that’s why people were calling in.

Commissioner Martin stated it was either because someone was out of state or someone was ill or other circumstances.  At the last meeting we did not have a quorum and a phone call was made.  Luckily Mr. Clark was available.  That worked ok, as long as the rest of the Council was ok with that policy.  A council member challenged Mr. Clark’s vote from that meeting.  Commissioner Martin thought ground rules should be established so everyone knew what they were and they could move forward. 

Mr. Goodwin stated in reference to teleconference meetings, just for individuals – no.  If the total Advisory Council participated, emergency only – yes, as had been done in the past.

Mr. Philbrick stated they were kind of forced into the teleconference meetings by the Legislature and budget cuts that did not allow pay to members for travel time.  Should that happen again he felt there should be a contingency for the Commissioner to be able to hold a meeting, because rules had to be decided, and if Council members did not want to drive without reimbursement their input was still necessary.  He thought the teleconference option should be available and held in Augusta.

Commissioner Martin stated teleconference meetings would continue to be authorized provided they were pre-advertised and that the public had the ability to attend and listen in to everybody that was calling in.  He asked in instances where we assumed there would be a quorum, and there was no quorum, should he have the flexibility to call other members.

Mr. Clark stated it was not advertised.  If someone could not make a meeting they should have the courtesy to call or e-mail.  It just so happened on the day of the May meeting he happened to be in his office for 20 minutes, and had to leave for a public works issue and had to hang up the phone, therefore not voting during the second vote for any-deer permits.  If there was not a quorum he felt the Commissioner should not have the ability to call a Council member because no one on the other end of his or her phone would be able to listen to see how it played out.

Commissioner Martin stated he also felt he should not call members if there was not a quorum.  He felt he should have cancelled the May meeting after arriving and discovering there was not a quorum instead of calling members.  That was not the case, and now something would be put in the record.  The Advisory Council was a 10-member group with the Commissioner being an ex-officio member #11.  The only time he could vote was to break a tie.  A quorum was a majority of the group, which was 6.  Parliamentary procedure under Mason’s rules indicates you would need the majority of those present and voting, for the record, to adopt something.  Since the Advisory Council was the creation of the Legislature, and the House and Senate had both adopted Mason’s rules, that would be his recommendation for the Council.

A motion was made by Mr. Goodwin and that was seconded by Mr. Philbrick to adopt Mason’s rules.

Vote: unanimous - motion passed.

VIII. Agenda Items & Schedule Date for Next Meeting

The next meeting was scheduled for Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 9:30 a.m. at the New Harbor Fire Station.

IX. Adjournment

Mr. Philbrick motioned to adjourn the meeting and Mr. Thurston seconded that.  The meeting was adjourned at 1:00 p.m.