Advisory Council Meeting Minutes

March 26, 2008 – 9:30 a.m.
Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
284 State Street, Augusta

Attending: 

Roland D. Martin, Commissioner
Paul F. Jacques, Deputy Commissioner
Andrea Erskine, Assistant to the Commissioner
John Boland, Director of Fisheries Operations
Mark Stadler, Wildlife Division Director
John Pratte, Wildlife Section Supervisor
Regis Tremblay, Director of Information & Education
Gregg Sanborn, Acting Colonel, Warden Service
Warden Steven P. Allarie, Whitewater Boating Specialist                     
Becky Orff, Secretary and Recorder

Council Members

Leo Kieffer, Chair
Joe Clark, Vice-Chair
Mike Witte
Frank Dunbar
Ron Usher
Steve Philbrick
Bos Savage
Sheri Oldham
Al Goodwin

Guests
                                               
Senator Bruce Bryant
Skip Trask, MPGA, MTA
Cathy Demerchant
Clayton Burgess
Don Kleiner, NWTF
Kevin Miller, Bangor Daily News

I. Call to Order                                       

Mr. Kieffer, Council Chair, called the meeting to order.

Senator Bryant gave a brief report about the IF&W Committee and stated they were working on the budget and wrestling with the idea to increase fees for 2009.  The Committee wanted advice from the Advisory Council as to what they thought would be reasonable.

Commissioner Martin stated that the Governor had reappointed Leo Kieffer to the Advisory Council, and also appointed Cathy Demerchant who was in attendance.  Mrs. Demerchant would be filling the Androscoggin/Kennebec/ Sagadahoc position that was being vacated by Mrs. Oldham.

Mr. Stadler introduced John Pratte.  He had assumed the responsibilities of the Wildlife Management Section Supervisor.  Gene Dumont was the previous Section Supervisor.

II. Introductions

Introductions were made.

III. Acceptance of Minutes of Previous Council Meeting

Motion made by Mr. Clark and seconded by Mrs. Oldham to accept the minutes of the previous Council meeting as written.

Vote: Unanimous - minutes accepted as written.

IV. Rulemaking

Step 3

1. Sebago Rules

There was no discussion.

Motion made by Mr. Usher and seconded by Mr. Savage to accept the proposal as presented.

Vote: Unanimous - proposal accepted.

Whitewater Rafting - Order of Launch, Insurance Requirements, First Aid & CPR Certification

Warden Allarie stated there was an error in the packet.  The insurance information and CPR and First Aid was accurate.  However, the launch order was incorrect and a supplement page had been distributed.  There were no comments during the comment period and no changes from Step 2.

Council Member Comments and Questions

Mr. Goodwin asked how many people were allowed in a raft.

Warden Allarie stated it depended on the length of the raft.  It was broken down into 3 different categories. 

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

Vote: Unanimous - proposal accepted.

Step 2

1. Size of Traps - Permanent Rule

Mr. Stadler stated this was the result of the settlement decree with the Animal Protection Institute regarding the lawsuit against the State of Maine, IF&W as regards Canada Lynx.  The Department, last October, undertook emergency rulemaking to adopt some trap sizes and trapping regulations.  The emergency rulemaking process then required the agency to permanently implement a rule and go through the regular rulemaking process.  The proposal was now going through the formal rulemaking process to establish this in Maine rule.

Mr. Stadler stated the Advisory Council packet had that rule and it mirrored the emergency rule they worked on last October.  The packet also contained a letter from the MTA with some clarifying text they would like inserted (see packet).

Council Member Comments and Questions

Mr. Philbrick asked where in the rule that language would be inserted.

Mrs. Erskine stated it would likely be inserted under “partially covered by water at all times.” Where they talked about the inside jaw spread.

Mr. Clark asked Mr. Trask if the language was also incorporated in other states?

Mr. Trask stated some states did, but one of the reasons they wanted it in rule was the Department sent out some language last fall which was very similar to the proposed language, but there was a lot of confusion.  One of the reasons there was confusion was that different states did it differently.  Some states measured from jaw post to jaw post which was the opposite way from the proposal.  The MTA wanted to make sure it was in rule so interpretations by other states didn’t get mixed up. 

Mr. Kieffer stated he had discussed this with Mr. Trask.  He belonged to the Aroostook County Trappers and he had met with them and they were adamantly opposed to making this permanent without the potential of getting #3 traps back.  They had asked Mr. Kieffer to vote against the proposal.  He had asked them to wait until after the Advisory Council meeting discussion.  They felt very strongly this had closed the coyote trapping season up there.  Mr. Kieffer had visited the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies website and it showed that there were 19 states that met on the development of best management practices for trapping and the #3 trap was approved as a best management practice for coyotes under the study of the 19 states.  Mr. Kieffer stated he also had a copy of the settlement decree and it was very clear that there was no “wiggle room” on this.  It had to be done or we would probably be in contempt of court.  Mr. Kieffer stated he wanted to bring this to the Council’s attention because the area up there was the primary area that was affected by the changes in WMDs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

Mr. Trask stated there were some trappers that were upset.  It did basically eliminate #3 traps.  We had to remember that one of the recommendations that came out from the USFWS and IF&W for several years, if you’re trapping in areas where there is lynx habitat, you shouldn’t be using #3’s.  That was the recommendation, it wasn’t law.  We went through the lawsuit for about a year and the Department spent about $140,000 in legal fees to fight the court battle.  We didn’t want to go through that again.  Mr. Trask felt we came out of it as good as we could have.

Commissioner Martin stated this had been discussed last fall.  The consent decree tied our hands on this matter.  However, if and when we were successful in obtaining an ITP most of this would go away. 

Mr. Kieffer asked if we did get the ITP, would the size of the trap go away?

Mr. Trask stated his guess was when they issued the ITP they would include restrictions and it may include the same restrictions that were in the consent decree.  But, it was pretty clear that once an ITP was issued the consent decree no longer existed.

Mr. Kieffer asked where the ITP was with the Feds, had it been filed?

Mr. Stadler stated that it had not.  The process had been that we would draft sections of it, and the USFWS had a chance to provide input.  Wally Jakubas was the principal author with input and guidance from Ken Elowe.  It looked like there might be a finished document by late spring.

Mr. Philbrick asked about the crafting of the ITP.  Did it make sense to include the #3 trap size in the vocabulary so as it was submitted the due diligence would be on the Feds to reconstruct to eliminate so that it was clear the Department wanted to see it on the table.

Commissioner Martin stated that would be part of negotiations and discussion.  Once the product was finished it became a public document.  When we submit the document we want to make sure the State and Feds and all parties concerned are on the same page.  That would be part of the discussion.

Mr. Witte asked where snaring stood in this process.

Mr. Trask stated it was not part of this issue.  It was a separate issue.

Mr. Witte asked if we got the ITP, then they could come back to the Department and look at snaring as it had taken place in the past?

Mr. Stadler stated we wanted to keep the 2 issues distinct and separate for obvious reasons.  We were working to save regulated trapping.

Step 1

1. 2008 Any-Deer Permits

Mr. Stadler gave a brief overview of the process.  Lee Kantar, the deer biologist, had been analyzing the data that was collected from the 2007 season.  Through the course of the winter regional biologists had been making weekly trips to deer wintering areas where we had weather stations set up to monitor snow depths, deer sinking depths, take profiles, record temperatures and all that information was fed into a model that Gerry Lavigne developed a number of years ago that correlated the cold and snow depth and created a winter severity index.   Based on that index we could predict the deer mortality that would occur as a result of winter severity.  Right now across northern Maine we’re anticipating 25% mortality in our deer population as a result of this winter.  As a result of that we were probably going to be looking at a substantial decrease in the number of any-deer permits for 2008.  We were probably looking at a large number of bucks only WMDs for 2008.  The other thing that would likely be recommended would be a rule change that any WMD that was bucks only during the regular firearms season would also be bucks only for the archery season and for the youth hunt.  This was a recommendation that came out of the Northern and Eastern Deer Task Force. 

Mr. Stadler stated he had polled the regional biologists to try to get a handle on deer mortality and as of the middle of March, the level of predation that they were seeing and warden service was seeing was fairly low.  The other situation regarding deer was on I95 and a timber operation happening in the Bangor area.  Deb Turcotte was working with Public Safety and DOT to review the situation.  Many deer/car accidents had been reported.  DOT had put up warning signs.

Council Member Comments and Questions

Mr. Clark stated the legislative intent for the youth days was to have more opportunity for the youth.  If we went to bucks only, would that play into bucks only for youth day as well?

Mr. Stadler stated yes.  In some WMDs the youth kill of does was so high we had to reduce or eliminate any-deer permits in those areas.  With deer populations as they were in some parts of the state (2 deer per sq. mile) we could not afford to lose any does.  One of the ways we could do that was through a reduction in take.

Mr. Philbrick stated that when this information came to the Council regarding the issuance, particularly youth, could the Council have numbers to tell them how many youth were licensed for youth day, and tagging numbers for 2007.  He thought that would have some bearing on what they decided to do relative to saying to a child in southern districts that didn’t have the snow.

Mr. Stadler stated that an area that was not bucks only would not be affected.  Mr. Stadler stated he could provide them with the youth harvest of deer by WMD as it related to the doe harvest objective.

Mr. Savage asked if in the end, once the number of dead deer were counted that they found, did they actually add a factor for the fact that they probably did not get them all?  Was it adjusted to anticipate that they didn’t find every dead deer?

Mr. Stadler stated the winter severity index was based on intensive field survey work that was done in the 70’s and correlated with winter severity.  Now, we collect the winter severity data and run it through that model and it predicts the mortality.  The regional staff were out every week collecting that data and looking at and monitoring mortality.  That mortality information per say was not plugged into the system because the system already was built on the model.

V. Other Business

1. Heritage Waters - Artic Charr (major substantive rule)

Mrs. Erskine stated they wanted to table this item because it was still working its way through the legislative process.  We presented them with the proposal and the list of waters that was presented to the Committee was still on the floor, it had not been finalized.  We hoped to have it back before the Council at the next meeting.

Motion made by Mr. Goodwin and seconded by Mr. Savage to table the proposal.

Vote: Unanimous - proposal tabled.

2. Forum procedure

Commissioner Martin asked Deputy Commissioner Jacques to discuss the protocol for when Advisory Council members wanted to hold a forum in their area.

Deputy Commissioner Jacques stated one of the issues we were having was our regional people, we were planning forums here in Augusta with the Advisory Council members and then we would inform the regional people and there were some problems.  The procedure we set up was that if the Advisory Council members wanted to have a forum they contact area clubs and work out a date with them, and also staff from the regional IF&W office.  Once the date had been set, the Council member would contact Regis Tremblay in I&E and Regis would take care of getting the advertisement out and notifying Augusta staff.

3. Milfoil Group Update

Mr. Philbrick went over the items in the handout he distributed.  They wanted to extract blame from the process.  We couldn’t focus on just boats and trailers.  Everybody was a stakeholder.  He went over the key goals and stressed that there were still a lot of things to iron out.  (see packet for handout).

Mr. Witte stated from a search and rescue standpoint, and an identification standpoint it was felt the registering of canoes and kayaks was an important issue.  He and Mr. Philbrick had attended a milfoil summit recently that was very informative.  He and Mr. Philbrick had been soliciting the proposal to people.  They had heard that the Float Plane Assoc. in Maine had endorsed stickering or licensing of float planes. 

Commissioner Martin thanked the milfoil group for their hard work and the great product that they had produced.  He felt that for the record, the Council should accept the report and that would send a strong message.  Then he felt that key staff at IF&W should analyze it and then they should all meet with the Administration; Karin Tilberg and the chairs of two Committees, our Committee of Jurisdiction and Natural Resources as DEP was also a key player.  Collectively, most of the report needed to be before the Legislature.  It was something they could work on through the summer.

Motion made by Mrs. Oldham and seconded by Mr. Usher to accept the report.

Vote: Unanimous - report accepted by the Council.

VI. Councilor Reports

Councilors gave reports.

VII. Public Comments & Questions

There were no public comments or questions.

Commissioner Martin discussed the new sportsman’s plate and stated it would be unveiled very soon.  The budget was being printed, there was a minority and majority report.  IF&W was asked to make $840,000 worth of cuts.  $700,000 in General Funds would be lost.  However, we would be allowed to use our carrying account.  Part YY of the budget, the compromise language required a group including legislators, members of the public and the 5 Commissioners to meet through the summer to study and discuss additional opportunities and efficiencies.  They would be required to submit language to the Legislature in January of 2009.

VIII. Agenda Items & Schedule Date for Next Meeting

The next meeting was scheduled for Thursday, April 24, 2008 at 9:30 a.m. at Unity College.
A tentative meeting schedule was set for the following dates and locations…

  • 5/22/08 – Princeton Rod & Gun Club – meeting to include elections for Chair and Vice-Chair
  • 6/19/08 – Scarborough Fish & Game
  • No meeting in July
  • 8/21/08 – Marine Resources Facility in Boothbay
  • 9/21/08 – Sunday meeting (prior to moose hunt) Ashland

No further dates and times were discussed.

IX. Adjournment

Mr. Philbrick motioned to adjourn the meeting and Mr. Witte seconded that.  The meeting was adjourned at 11:30 a.m.