Advisory Council Meeting Minutes

May 23, 2012 @ 1:00 p.m.
Princeton Rod and Gun Club
North off West Street
Princeton, ME

Attending:       Chandler E. Woodcock, Commissioner
                        John Boland, Director, Bureau of Resource Management
                        Keel Kemper, Regional Wildlife Biologist
                        Lee Kantar, Deer, Moose Biologist
                        Joel Wilkinson, Colonel, Warden Service
                        Dave Craven, Sergeant, Warden Service
                        Jim Martin, Game Warden
                        Joe McBrine, Game Warden
                        Brad Richard, Game Warden
                        Becky Orff, Secretary/Recorder
                        COUNCIL MEMBERS
                        Cathy DeMerchant, Chair
                        Dick Thurston, Vice-Chair
                        Steve Philbrick
                        Wade Kelly
                        Lance Wheaton
                        Mike Witte
                        Jeff Lewis
                        16 members of the public       
I.  Call to Order

Steve Philbrick, 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 and seconded by Mr. Thurston to accept the Council minutes for the last meeting.

Vote:  unanimous – minutes accepted.

III-A.  Election of Chair and Vice-Chair

Council Chair

Motion made by Mr. Witte and seconded by Mr. Thurston to nominate Lance Wheaton as Council Chair.

Motion made by Mr. Kelly and seconded by Mr. Thurston to nominate Cathy DeMerchant as Council Chair.

Nominations ceased.

A vote was taken by secret ballot.

Vote:  Commissioner Woodcock counted the votes and stated Cathy DeMerchant had been elected as Council Chair.

Council Vice Chair

Motion made by Mrs. DeMerchant and seconded by Mr. Philbrick to nominate Dick Thurston as Council Vice-Chair.

There were no further nominations.

Vote:  Unanimous – Dick Thurston elected as Council Vice-Chair.

IV.  Rulemaking

            A.  Step 3

1.  2012 Any-deer Permits

Mr. Boland stated a copy of the proposal was in the Council’s packet and asked Ms. Orff if any comments had been received.

Ms. Orff stated only one comment had been received and it was regarding WMD 20.  Mr. Kantar had responded to the comment.

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

Mr. Philbrick stated he had a couple of questions for Mr. Kantar.  In the WMDs 1-11, 14, 18, 19, 27 and 28 it was stated at the last couple of meetings that Sandy Ritchie, former Wildlife Biologist, had made comment that if does were taken at a minimal level in those areas, there would not be significant impact.  Did Mr. Kantar agree?

Mr. Kantar stated looking at the population, if you removed 2% of the adult does for a time, and that was the threshold, so how ever many deer there were in that WMD, that would be the starting point to say that was having an effect.  If you took that and looked at all the WMDs in Northern and Eastern Maine and look at how many adult does were harvested, there were some years where maybe hunters took that threshold level and other years where they didn’t.

Mr. Philbrick stated at the last meeting there was a suggestion by the Aroostook County Conservation Association that contradicted the biological standpoint.  They suggested that taking a few does was healthy for the herd because of….was Mr. Kantar familiar with that.

Mr. Kelly stated what they were saying was that they felt the buck to doe ratio was off and maybe not all the does were being bred.  The youths taking those few does would not impact the herd.

Mr. Kantar stated as far as the does not being bred, there was zero evidence that was the case anywhere in Maine.  Last year of all the 2 ½ or older road kill does that were looked at in the spring, 98% of those animals were bred.  There was no state that he’d looked at that had ever seen an issue with buck to doe ratios.  There had been work done in New Brunswick collecting road kill, etc. and the rate of adult does dying over winter had increased.  There was no doubt that deer would be able to find each other during the mating season.

Mr. Wheaton stated we were not talking about shutting down youth day to the shooting of does.  All we were saying was in WMDs where there were no deer, we had zero permits and did not want youth shooting does in those regions.  There were plenty of regions where they could shoot doe deer.

There were no further comments.

Mrs. DeMerchant stated the motion had been moved and seconded and asked for a vote.

Vote:  unanimous – motion passed.

            B.  Step 2

1.  Wolf hybrid rules

Mr. Boland stated the legislature passed a law that required IF&W to assume the rules and regulations pertaining to wolf hybrids.  The proposal would require people keeping or importing into Maine wolf hybrids to get a permit from IF&W, and also establish cage requirements, etc.  At the last meeting it was asked how many permits the Department would be assuming from Agriculture and he believed the number was 5.

Council Member Comments and Questions

Mr. Wheaton stated Washington County did not want wolves or wolf hybrids.  He asked Mr. Witte to discuss any problems he had with wolf hybrids in his county.

Mr. Witte stated there were 6 wolf hybrids in his area.  One of the hybrids had been taken to an emergency vet on a Saturday afternoon with over 100 porcupine quills in its face and neck.  The animals were supposed to be constrained in 10 ft. high fences and they were trying to determine how the animal escaped.  It was believed to be human error.  Other instances he’d had hybrids confronting horses and killing chickens.  A bus driver would not let the children off the school bus because two of them were loose.  There were a lot of ongoing issues.  Regarding the rule itself, he had been dealing with Animal Welfare and they still had control over the existing rules while we were phasing in LD 11.  He had several comments regarding fence height.  He had received an e-mail from a game farm and they were definitive about the 6 ft. fences.  Animal Welfare also questioned the 6 ft. high fence requirement and thought maybe we should require the top of the cage be fenced in.  The wolf hybrids in Mr. Witte’s area were enclosed in 10 ft. high cages.  He would like to see the rule changed to a minimum of 8 ft. fences for containment.

Mrs. DeMerchant asked if there were human error issues and the animals escaped, what was the Department’s recourse?

Mr. Witte stated it happened in his area and they took them to court.  They were considered a dangerous dog and fined $750.  The judge could make a determination as to whether that animal could return to the property or be euthanized.  Animal control officers along with wardens would have the enforcement responsibility.  If the animal has wandered further than 5 miles it would be considered abandoned and abandoned hybrids could be shot depending on what they were doing.

Commissioner Woodcock stated he had seen a comment from the general public regarding the fence height that the 6 ft. minimum would be insignificant for a wolf hybrid.  The person suggested 12 ft. as a minimum.  We would be examining that.

Mr. Witte discussed a problem when IF&W issued the licenses.  He had just experienced this with someone that had two desert foxes from Arizona that had pups.  The two adults were licensed by the warden and the license that the warden wrote ended up in Augusta and the warden had the other copy.  Because of enforcement problems at a local level, he would like to see that the licensing of each hybrid in a refuge, that these animals be licensed and on file with the Town Clerk.  The Department of Agriculture license states that it is to be posted to the public, he would assume that was the Town Hall or Municipal Building.  This would make it much easier for enforcement purposes.  Each wolf hybrid would be permitted and with that permit would be a veterinary certificate showing they have been chipped or tattooed, rabies vaccinations were no good, and if there were any other health issues associated.  They would then have access to records stating the name of the dog, the color, the weight and that it was a definitive wolf hybrid.  They had requested the owner of the refuge do this and he had complied.  There was a petition of 150 signatures in the Town of Bristol.  The Town petitioned for an ordinance to ban it originally and because the ordinance was not properly done and MMA got involved the ordinance did not take place.

There were no further questions or comments.

2.  WMD 24 Expanded Archery Zone Revision

Mr. Boland stated at the last meeting Mr. Connolly indicated we had a request from people in WMD 24 which was in the expanded archery zone.  Expanded archery zones were typically in towns where we had high deer densities and hunting with shotguns or rifles was very restricted.  The Town of Phippsburg was located in WMD 24 and was also within the expanded archery zone, but you could also use shotguns to hunt.  The people in Phippsburg felt the shotgun hunting was controlling the deer herd and there was no need for the expanded archery zone.  Mr. Connolly or the regional wildlife biologist had discussions with the Phippsburg Sportsman’s Association and they were in favor.  A letter was written to the Maine Bowhunter’s Association and they supported it as well.

There were no further questions or comments.

3.  Youth day any-deer permits

Commissioner Woodcock stated this was before the Council previously and voted down.  There were segments of the State that were in favor and offered to us that they would like to see this proposal again.  Because it was brought forth by the Commissioner, it was often thought it had his stamp of approval.  It really didn’t have a stamp of approval, he was waiting to hear the conversation.  The Advisory Council had the opportunity to make the vote.  He would be listening carefully to all the comments.  There were many facets, not only biological but ethical, practical and political.  He was enthused about the discussion, many comments had come in to the Department.  The vast majority had been opposed to youth taking any-deer in those permit zones.  There were a few in support and one that was neutral.  It remained a controversial issue and he looked forward to the discussion and the Council’s vote.

Council Member Comments and Questions

Mr. Witte stated there had been very heated discussions over this issue over the last 3 years.  He did not feel in a 3 year period of time our deer herd could recover to that magnitude.  If the winters went right we might over the next 5 years get some degree of recovery.  The precedent had been set, he had not had a lot of complaints about not being able to hunt deer.  As far as he was concerned there was nothing more frustrating than taking a kid out hunting and never seeing a deer.  We had a deer management plan and we had to make it work.  He did not like the letter they received stating they were “anti-youth”.  They were not anti-youth and he felt it was a slap at the Council.  Hopefully with another good winter and spring things would start to look up but for now his position was we stay the course.

Mr. Philbrick stated there was some validity to staying the course.  He had maintained from the beginning that we should allow youth day hunts.  After the Presque Isle meeting he came away with an idea that it was time to find a compromise that addressed the youth component of hunting and the ability to have a complete hunt with an opportunity to harvest the deer.  He felt that one time in your experience from 10 to 15 years of age you get to harvest a doe, just once.  His proposal was to allow youth day to continue and in the zones that currently had zero doe permits, give the youth in those zones an opportunity to harvest a deer of any sex one time.  The numbers were not huge and those that got to go and hunt deserved this opportunity.  He believed what Leo Kieffer suggested in Presque Isle was true.  Originally this was brought to the Council by a Committee appointed by the Commissioner and it was a suggestion this would help the deer population, it was not based on science.  Although now it was corroborated with science.  We had seen some decent winters and seen some regrowth in the deer in Northern Maine.  He felt this was a great compromise and addressed all the issues.

Mr. Thurston stated he hunted in Mr. Philbrick’s area and had for many years.  He had taken his grandsons hunting and saw value in passing along the urgency of rebuilding the herd.  He was for standing as it had been although Mr. Philbrick’s proposal had validity.  He thought if it was a good idea it might not be good to implement until 2013.  He would be ok with some possibility of that but he was for staying the course.  If it was a bucks only zone, it was a bucks only zone.

Mr. Wheaton stated without a doe we would not have another deer.  He felt some of the blame was with the Department.  Why couldn’t we have a youth day and the youth have a biggest buck ticket or a badge presented to them, why did it have to be a doe?  Maybe the Department should have a certificate to give to the youth that shot the nice buck.  His vote on the issue would be with the people that were in the room and he would listen to what they had to say when the Chair called on them.

Mr. Lewis stated there had been a lot of talk about rebuilding the deer herd.  Overwhelmingly the calls and e-mails he had gotten had been to keep it the way it was.  He did not believe that just because a youth could not go out and kill a doe that they would quit hunting.  They still could hunt and there were other areas of the state where they could go.  He would be for increasing the youth hunt to a couple of days, not just one to give them the opportunity to go somewhere else.  He felt we should keep it as it was.

Mr. Kelly stated he came from Aroostook County where the people wanted to have youth day be either or, and he did too.  He understood other areas that possibly did not have the deer.  Where he came from they did have the deer and what they had was a blanket law that covered the whole area.  He had heard a lot of different comments on the reasons for and against, some emotional.  Emotional reasons were not good for them to make their decision; it had to come down to could the deer herd sustain it.  Some of the comments from the Presque Isle meeting, there were 15 or so people saying there were deer.  A member of the public from the Presque Isle meeting had informed Mr. Kelly that they felt Mr. Thurston’s opinion for not doing it was that he had two friends in Madawaska that disagreed, but they were not at the meeting.  They had taken a long ride in Northern Maine and didn’t see any deer tracks.  More or less he listened to them, but didn’t hear them.  Mr. Kelly stated the comments were about where he lived.  The area Mr. Thurston mentioned he had hunted, fished and trapped for 40 years.  When he said he saw a lot of deer and plenty of does to withstand 6 being taken a year, it came from experience.  Some of the other comments received were that we should not make an exception to adult rules for the kids.  Youth day was an exception in itself.  He believed what it came down to was what the biologists were telling them.  Mr. Kelly asked Mr. Kantar if the taking of doe deer by youth on that one day, would that keep IF&W from achieving their deer management goals?

Mr. Kantar stated that hunting mortality was the only control.  Mr. Philbrick had asked about the biology.  If you looked at data in the past in some years youth and October archers didn’t take many deer.  In other years they took a lot of deer, especially in Aroostook County.  That was not something we could predict.  Just the sheer number of youth hunters that are out there is not a tremendous amount.  The debate the Council was having was all based on other events and was very different across the state.

Mr. Kelly stated 120 deer were taken out of 15 WMDs, not just Aroostook County.  The deer herd as it stood now, would it sustain 120 deer taken on youth day?

Mr. Kantar stated he would have to look at that.  If Mr. Kelly went out in WMD 4 he probably wouldn’t see many deer, but toward the Eastern part of the state in Presque Isle and Caribou where people were seeing more deer because there’s a town.  There’s deer in town, but you go out in the woods and there are no deer in the woods.  We manage by WMD not by town.  How did we want to make the rule, one for all or piece it out?  There was a big difference across the County.

Mr. Kelly stated he spoke with Regional Biologist Rich Hoppe and asked him if Aroostook County would sustain the youth hunt.  He would say yes, but because he’s a biologist and paid by the state to put more deer on the ground that was not what a biologist would say.  If they were going to kill 120 does were the deer in danger of extinction?  He still did not think we had a biological reason for not allowing youth to harvest does on youth day.

Mrs. DeMerchant stated her opinion had not changed in the last 5 years.  The 6 does Mr. Kelly referred to were probably not just 6 does, it would be those 6 does and whatever fawns they might have.  Allowing them to shoot does in those districts was sending a contradictory message because they understood there was an issue and then allowing them to shoot those does anyway contradicted the conservation piece we were trying to teach them.  She did not believe the Department had reached the objectives they were trying to meet.  If the Department was able to meet objectives the youth hunt would come back.  The youth were still able to hunt on that day and every other day during the hunting season, they just were not allowed to take does in those districts.  Mrs. DeMerchant had received a business card from one of the members of the ACCA stating “saving 1 white-tailed deer at a time”.  She felt that was contradictory to what they were asking them to do, which was allow the youth to hunt does that day.  That was not saving 1 white-tailed deer at a time.

Mr. Kelly stated they were not asking to shoot does for themselves, it was for their children.

            C.  Step 1

1.  Open WMD 18 to Fall Turkey hunt

Mr. Boland stated there had been a lot of discussion with staff and people from the area about opening WMD 18 to hunting in the fall.  It was a proposal to open it in Zone 1 which was archery only.  Mr. Boland asked if any comments had been received.

Ms. Orff stated two comments had been received.  Both were from wardens that felt the area could withstand a two week shotgun season.

There were no further comments.

2.  Furbearer Regulations/Seasons

Commissioner Woodcock stated we did not have the data available yet to set the proposal for the furbearer trapping seasons.  That information would be available in July.  The Commissioner had some concerns regarding furbearers.  The primary concern was a catch 22 in the trapping community that the prices currently were reasonably high.  Muskrats were going for $14 each.  With high furbearer prices also came increased pressure.  When we set the seasons it was at a time when the furbearer prices weren’t so high so we were looking closely at the statistics to see if we may want to be cautious with some of the species.  This was the second year of those higher prices.

There were no further comments.

3.  Islesboro Deer Reduction

Mr. Kemper stated at the last meeting in Augusta, they introduced the idea to the Council.  The citizens of Islesboro had been experiencing increased incidents of Lyme disease.  Since the last meeting with the Council the Islesboro Deer Reduction Committee had met with the Town.  Islesboro drafted an article for the Town vote and the vote was passed.  We could not move forward with rulemaking until the idea was passed by the Town of Islesboro.  Islesboro had now voted in the affirmative and we would be crafting for Step 2 a more definitive rule.

Council Member Comments and Questions

Mrs. DeMerchant stated at the last meeting in Augusta there was some concern that they wanted to restrict the hunt to only the residents of Islesboro.  Had that changed?

Mr. Kemper stated as it stood now in Islesboro they had an expanded archery season and that season was heavily populated by non-island residents.  Last year Islesboro probably had 125 licensed hunters from off island that participated in the expanded archery season, and approximately 20 or 25 that were resident island hunters.  They were proposing that the Monday following the close of the expanded archery season would be the season for the special hunt and it would close the last Saturday in December.  They were proposing that island residents or island landowners would be the ones participating.  That equaled approximately 90 hunters.  Traditionally Islesboro had been archery only, but this was not about a recreational opportunity.  This was about making a significant reduction in the deer population.  In doing that the hunting methods would be bow and arrow, crossbow and shotgun.  Some of the Department’s initial concerns were access and availability of land.  Islesboro is ½ a township, it is 17 square miles and that is different than a traditional island hunt like Monhegan.  In the proposal for the special hunt it is requested for Islesboro residents and landowners. 

Mr. Witte asked if there was an incident after the expanded archery season, would the owness of proof be put on the hunter to show proof that he was a landowner.

Mr. Kemper stated the rule would state that only hunters who have qualified with the Deer Reduction Committee’s plan would be eligible to hunt.  That would require; 1. They must be a citizen of Islesboro or a property owner, 2. They must obtain written landowner permission from every parcel they are on, 3.  Be a licensed hunter and take the safety briefing at the range.  The issue of doing something in violation would be enforceable by both Maine Warden Service and Islesboro’s constable.  Islesboro had spent considerable money for two professional surveys looking at populations.  The first was approximately 55 deer per square mile, the second was about 48.  There were far too many deer on Islesboro and a very spiked Lyme disease issue.  If the rule was passed we would conduct the special hunt for 3 years and have another population estimate to ascertain where we were and to inform where to go from there.  From the Department’s perspective we were very interested in biological data collection. 

Mrs. DeMerchant asked how many deer per hunter would be allowed during the season.

Mr. Kemper stated an unlimited number.  They were trying to significantly reduce deer numbers.

Mr. Kelly stated there was already an expanded archery hunt, and there was currently no firearms hunting?

Mr. Kemper stated there had never been firearms hunting on Islesboro.  It had really good habitat, very mild winters, lack of predators.  There were 120 licensed hunters coming from the mainland and about 25 residents, all bowhunters. 

Mr. Kelly asked about the 90 hunters.

Mr. Kemper stated they were people that did not bowhunt.  Once it was allowed to hunt with a shotgun he felt they would have more participation.  That was why they wanted to make certain they were more interested in safety than in anything else.

Mr. Philbrick stated it may be a good opportunity for a youth hunt.

Mr. Kemper stated this was not a recreational opportunity, this was to manage a public health problem.  There were 27 cases of Lyme disease on Islesboro last year.

Mr. Kelly stated mainland hunters may want permission to open it to guns for the general public to hunt.

Mr. Kemper stated they did already have opportunity to hunt on Islesboro with an expanded archery season. 

Commissioner Woodcock stated the concern for 50 deer per square mile vs. the 0 any-deer permit discussion earlier only accentuated the incredible diversity and challenge we had when managing the deer population for the entire State of Maine.  There was some concern amongst staff with the hunter safety portion.  He would encourage them to use the term briefing, or one that did not include hunter safety.  The Department had a requirement for hunter safety in the state and this briefing was not a substitute for that requirement.

Mr. Kemper stated hunters would have to go through a hunter safety course if they had not already done so.  This was not an effort to provide an additional requirement. 

V.  Other Business

1.  Antler Point Restrictions

Commissioner Woodcock stated last year prior to the setting of regulations for the deer season, the antler point restriction conversation was beginning with staff initiated by forums and events he had attended.  Antler point restrictions were a controversial topic with the biological staff, and frankly, they were opposed to it in general.  It really didn’t realize what people hoped it would realize which was to make more mature bucks available for the breeding of does.  Mr. Kantar distributed a handout to the Council about antler point restrictions and related activities and comments as well as New Hampshire Fish and Game.  The Commissioner believed NH had this in the works for last season, and withdrew it because they were concerned.  The agenda item was not under Step 1, solely under Other Business because he wanted it on the agenda so people could see it in public and help generate comments.  It was being considered and he was looking forward to hearing people’s comments.

VI.  Councilor Reports

Councilors gave reports.

VII.  Public Comments & Questions

Mrs. DeMerchant stated she would like to open the meeting up to public comments and would be taking comments from the people from Islesboro first and then would move on to the rest.

Fred Thomas – Chair of the Deer Reduction Committee (DRC) on Islesboro.  I’d like to thank everybody for taking this into consideration.  Keel Kemper covered the information very well and I’d like to thank him for all his help and support.  I did want to comment, since the DRC has been putting the deer reduction plan together we sent out a survey to all the property owners on the island.  I know that everybody is concerned and wants to see the heritage continue of hunting and all that and would like to increase that potential.  Before our landowner survey 48% of the acreage belonging to respondents was open during the expanded archery season.  As a result of the survey and also letting more people become aware of our problem with the DRC which we were tasked…the whole thing started from a tick committee and it was determined that the best way to address the Lyme disease was to reduce the deer herd.  As a result of the survey 81% of that acreage would be open for the special hunt of the whole island which is an increase of 69%.  This has increased the amount of land on Islesboro that will be open for hunting. 

We would love to invite you folks to come over and have a meeting on Islesboro.  As far as the unlimited amount of deer to be taken, I noticed there may have been a cringe or two.  We are pretty confident that out of the 90 or so people that expressed desire to help in the deer reduction that there would be a small amount of people (10 to 20) that would actually take multiple deer.  The vast majority of people he’d talked to were people that were deer hunters but didn’t have the opportunity to hunt in their hometown on Islesboro with a firearm to harvest a deer, and they were not bow hunters.  Now they would have an opportunity to help the Town reduce the deer herd and use a gun on Islesboro to shoot a deer.  They would take one, maybe two deer and that would be it.  There would be some that would brave the weather, because it was not going to be a pretty hard time of year.  We did want to respect the expanded archery season, the recreational season and not interfere with that.  Another thing I’d like to discuss that you made mention of is that we’re not allowing “off island” people to hunt in this reduction.  I can honestly tell you right now that if the way we presented this plan to you, if it was not presented that way the townspeople would never have authorized this to happen, to use firearms on Islesboro to shoot deer.  Everybody agrees if we can’t use firearms there’s no sense to even try to reduce the deer herd other than what we have in place already.  There’s no way the expanded deer season with archery, you could expand it to 5 months and it would not affect the deer herd by the numbers needed. 

Mrs. DeMerchant stated we would now open it up to public comments on the youth day.

Mike Look – President of the Downeast branch of QDMA.  I want to start by saying our branch enthusiastically supports the concept of youth day.  I was a hunter safety instructor for 28 years.  My brother and I lived on the outskirts of East Machias and there were 8 or 10 deer, does, that everybody came after on our property.  Our property and all of our neighbors was posted and there was a steady parade of pickups back and forth in the Valley from dawn to dark on youth day hoping to find one on someone’s lawn.  That’s the reality of youth day for us.  It’s the worst day of the year for a landowner who supports whole heartedly open access to hunting anywhere in the state.  I enjoy hunting almost anywhere I want to go hunting in Downeast Maine but youth day is a different reality.  I raised a son.  If I wanted him to shoot a deer I wouldn’t bother playing around in the woods because the chances of seeing a deer out in the woods in Downeast Maine is almost nonexistent.  Pick a number, I pick 1 per square mile and that’s probably counting the 8 that are in town.  They aren’t out there.  I have a hunting camp and there are 5 of us in the camp and we’ve hunted there our entire teenage and adult life, we moved last year to hunt.  We know the woods there and probably were successful because we know every square inch. We left the area and hunted down in Lubec and Prescott where there are some deer left, because there are none left around the camp and we didn’t want to shoot the last ones.  There’s a reason why there’s a $1,000 fine for shooting a doe. 

I’ve been involved in conservation from all angles.  I’m not a biologist, I’m a high school biology teacher.  Since I saw coyotes appear in the 70’s and Gerry Lavigne was the biologist then and I was at his house a week or two ago talking with him and we’ve seen this problem coming since the late 70’s and probably earlier.  That’s when the coyotes really exploded and the deer population has been crashing ever since.  I’m sure you’ve got access to tagging numbers, they just keep going down.  I’m the contact person for the study that they’re doing in conjunction with the Department for road killed deer.  I get called, I’m the first one on the list for RCC if there’s a deer somewhere in Washington County.  I go all over the County if I can’t find a volunteer to pick up that road killed deer.  I got called twice this winter, that’s a good thing.  There is a problem there, there are a few more car/deer collisions than that.  I don’t know how many but there weren’t many hit this year.  Part of it was there weren’t so many to hit.  Even the in town pockets the population is shrinking.  I don’t know how much lower it can go before they are just plain gone.  As much I’d like to see the kids have the opportunity to shoot a doe, I don’t think the herd could support it.

Ed Renaud – I’m the President of Washington County Conservation.  I’ve polled the organization and we’re 100% against allowing youths to kill does on youth day.  I’m really surprised that this rule change is even before this Council.  It’s pretty obvious that there’s many areas of the state that are well below high levels of deer population.  If we ever want to get there we need the does, all of them.  The last year that youths could kill does, I think that’s 3 years ago, in the Town of Wayne there were 6 does that were seen pretty regularly in the fields.  They were all tagged on youth day.  Since then in my fields, I have 5 fields that I put in, they’re all food plots, there’s no deer tracks there.  We don’t have any deer.  I respectfully ask this Council to consider resource number one.

Nathan Beal – I started hunting in 1969 and the first day my father had me up in a tree and a mature buck came out.  Unfortunately he wounded it and he never did recover that deer, but I’ve been an avid deer hunter ever since.  He hunted that area 20 years and watched the deer population go down.  When was the first bucks only year?  Early 80’s?  The year before that I swore off does.  I’ve been not hunting does ever since.  I went back to that spot where I first started hunting this past February.  It’s a mile away from the road.  Back in the day there were no ATV trails, we had to hike in and drag the deer out a mile.  Found a pile of droppings about 200 feet from the highway and there’s a little bit of snow, no deer sign whatsoever.  I have a son who will be 10 years old in August and if he had that chance for that doe, I wouldn’t let him take it.

Donna Renaud – I’m part of this Rod and Gun Club as well as the secretary for WCCA.  I’d like to add the fact that IF&W has these zones closed for a reason.  The youths understand this, I’m hearing that you have adults calling you.  The youths in this area understand why we’re not shooting any does.  We’ve talked to kids around the neighborhood and they know there’s a reason.  They don’t mind because they know they can hunt all month and they know they can go out with their parents.  I agree with what Mike said also, we saw the same thing people riding around in trucks just looking for a place.  That deer 3 years ago that we talked about, Princeton sold out of signs right after all this happened, they sold out of No Trespassing signs.  Just about our whole road was posted.  I just want you to know that the youths do understand a lot more than some of the adults that are calling in making these complaints on these issues.

John Acaro – Grand Lake Stream Guides Association.  I’m here to represent our 42 active members and our numerous retired members and associate members.  We’re completely opposed to youths hunting day for does.  If you kept it as bucks only that would be fine if there were something to hunt.  I agree with everybody that spoke before, I don’t want to sound repetitive but I successfully raised 3 kids and all 3 of them are hunters, avid bowhunters.  My son has taken bucks up here with a bow and cast off many does because I’ve taught him does are not a surplus animal.  Once that buck has bred he’s surplus.  That’s all I have to say.

Craig Woodruff – I’m a 4th generation Maine guide and I’ve grown up in this area.  I’ve got mixed emotions about the any-deer youth thing.  I know most of the wardens.  I don’t know where everybody’s hunting but I do an awful lot of hunting and walk an awful lot of miles and I see a lot of does.  You talk about 50 does per square mile, that’s happening here in Princeton.  There’s animals being killed.  I’d rather see a youth shoot that deer than a car hit it.  A lot of deer don’t get reported to the wardens, they just go off in the woods and die.  My daughter’s been hunting for years, she just shot her first buck.  I’ve seen a trend in generations of kids growing up and we were all active hunters and you just followed suit with your fathers and grandfathers.  It seems like a lot of the youth that I know growing up now have no interest in hunting.  I kind of support Steve’s agenda of maybe the one deer because it’s a win, win situation to keep the youth interested.  But, we also need to protect.  I’m on the fence about this.  There are lots of bucks out there, there’s a lot of competition in this area to go out there and shoot those bucks not just by youth but by adults.  I don’t know what the answer is but I think Steve’s idea is the best so far.

Steve Whitman – Long Lake Camps.  I wrote the Council last year and I just wanted to come here today and thank you in person for your support in closing the Grand Falls Flowage to the killing of bass.  Its probably one of the best things that ever could happen to our watershed.  Also, for the past few years, looking at the entire watershed Big Lake, Long Lake, Louie Lake and the Flowage, they’re all connected.  By closing the Flowage which is very good, its going to put additional pressure on the remaining part of the watershed, mainly Big Lake.  Big Lake does have its problems.  In the last few years we’ve seen the size of the fish decrease.  Big Lake is just not the same as it has been in the past.  I wrote a letter last fall after talking to some guides as well as the warden about actually closing all the flowage to the taking of bass.  Realistically I don’t think this can be really done because there’s a lot of factors going on here not just the taking of bass but also one of the main problems is the use of plastics on Big Lake and our water.  There is a lot of hook death.  I guide about 70 days a year on the water.  I’ve seen guests use plastics with the big hooks.  I didn’t know what the process would be but looking at protecting our big fish right now we kill bass over 18”, we also have a slot.  If we kept the slot from 10”-13” and go from 2 fish to 1 fish and anything over 13” would be released along with possibly going to barbless hooks and pinching barbs as part of the regulations on our water.  It would go a long way protecting our big fish and hopefully bring back the remaining watershed along with Grand Falls Flowage.  Big Lake is not as severe as the Flowage but to prevent further problems down the road I’m wondering what would be the feelings of the Council about possibly entertaining those changes in the rule.

Commissioner Woodcock – We’ll have to review that with the biological staff.  The Council may discuss it at their leisure, but as far as a proposal is concerned it would be coming from the Department and we’ll have to take a look at it.

John Acaro – Steve’s got a great idea, barbless hooks.  A barb is really the only way to keep a worm on, but I have seen a lot of states limit the size, the distance between the barb and the shank.  I’ve found with a smaller hook you can get that hook out nicely.  Maybe it’s not a barbless idea but maybe its just a hook size.

Donna Renaud – We have a little sport shop and it does a lot of gunsmithing and we’ve had several people ask on the rule for youth day turkey and have it clarified about equipment.  They know they can’t handle the youth’s gun, but there was something in there about the equipment and they were calling us to get clarification.  Can they carry the blind and the decoy?  It just says that they couldn’t do the equipment, and they didn’t want to bog the youth down with it.

VIII.  Agenda Items & Schedule Date for Next Meeting

The next meeting was scheduled for Thursday, June 14, 2012 at 9:30 a.m. at IF&W in Augusta.

IX.  Adjournment

A motion was made by Mr. Witte and that was seconded by Mr. Thurston to adjourn the meeting.  The meeting was adjourned at 3:30 p.m.