Advisory Council Meeting Minutes

October 29, 2009 – 10:00 a.m.
Bald Mountain Camps
125 Bald Mountain Road, Oquossoc

Attending: 

Roland D. Martin, Commissioner
Andrea Erskine, Assistant to the Commissioner
Ken Elowe, Director, Bureau of Resource Management                
Mark Stadler, Wildlife Division Director                      
Sandy Ritchie, Habitat Conservation Biologist
John Pratte, Wildlife Management Section Supervisor
John Boland, Director of Fisheries Operations
Joe Dembeck, Fisheries Management Supervisor
Adam Gormely, Warden Service Lieutenant

Council Members:

Mike Witte, Chair
Ron Usher, Vice Chair
Stephen Philbrick
Al Goodwin
Dick Thurston
Frank Dunbar

Guests:

Katie Lisnik, HSUS 

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

II. Introductions

Introduction were made.

III. Acceptance of Minutes of Previous Council Meeting

Motion made by Mr. Dunbar and seconded by Mr. Philbrick to accept the minutes of the previous Council meeting.

Vote: 5 in favor; 1 opposed (Mr. Goodwin) - minutes accepted.

Mr. Goodwin requested that an Attorney General’s opinion be sought on the Department/Council’s action taken regarding piping plovers.  It constituted a “taking” and was not legal in his opinion.  Discussion ensued regarding the action the council had taken, specifically, the fact that Hills Beach in Biddeford had been removed from the adopted rule; Mr. Goodwin believes that the Department did not have the authority to enact this regulation and questioned the fiscal note included in the notice of agency rulemaking.  Commissioner Martin explained that the minutes were factual as to what had taken place and so there should be no objection to accepting the minutes as presented.  It was the consensus of the Advisory Council that an Attorney General’s opinion was not required and that the minutes should be accepted as presented. 

IV. Rulemaking

1. Step 3

1. 2010 Spring Turkey

Mr. Stadler presented the proposal and stated there were no public comments received and the Department would like to move forward with the proposal as presented.

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

Vote: unanimous - motion passed.

2. Fishing Regulations

Mr. Boland presented the proposal.  There was discussion about the size of the lawbook, cost etc. Mr. Boland agreed to present a summary of printing options, costs, options (ads) and the Department’s recommendation at the December 3 meeting.  The Department was now seeking the Council’s consent on the rulemaking proposal as amended.

Mr. Goodwin asked why the Department was not changing the regulations on East Grand Lake.

Mr. Boland explained that due to the fact that the regulation that was proposed was not consistent with the Canadian regulations, the Department would like to continue working towards agreement and not adopt the inconsistent proposal at this time.

A motion was made by Mr. Philbrick and that was seconded by Mr. Usher to accept the proposals, with amendments as presented.

A motion was made by Mr. Philbrick and that was seconded by Mr. Usher to accept the proposals, with amendments as presented.

Vote: 5 in favor; 1 opposed (Mr. Goodwin) - motion passed.

Step 2

1. 2010 Moose Season

Commissioner Martin stated a public hearing was going to be held on this issue.  He was not ready to make a determination on numbers of permits, etc. until he had heard from the public.  The Council had seen his letters to Senator Jackson and Representative Martin in regards to the issue.  Senator Jackson still interpreted the resolve as he introduced it, not as it was amended in the Senate to reclassify WMD 2 from a compromise zone to a recreation zone.  Senator Jackson was still concerned and wanted us to go from 250 to 490 permits. 

Mr. Philbrick asked about the permit numbers going from 90 to 250.  Was that a compromise to the 490 number that was originally suggested?

Mr. Stadler stated the difference was under compromise management WMD 2 was converted.  The goal for a WMD that’s been managed as compromise is to reduce the moose population by 1/3.  By the legislation WMD 2 had to be managed as a compromise zone, what number of permits were needed to achieve the objective of reducing the moose population by 1/3; 250 was the number. 

Commissioner Martin stated there had been recommendations and he agreed that more permits needed to be issued in the area of Rts. 161 and 162 and the crossroad from Van Buren to Portage Lake due to heavy traffic.  However, they were saying it was quite congested.  Staff recommended a third week of hunting for that area.  The third week should have been in the proposal but discussion took place after the rulemaking notice was advertised.  We would be proposing to add a third week.

Mr. Goodwin asked about the 2009 moose harvest.

Mr. Elowe stated preliminary numbers were in and there was about a 75% success rate.

Commissioner Martin asked that the Council be sent the final numbers sometime before the December 3 meeting.

Mr. Witte stated he would like to comment regarding WMD 9.  Apparently there had been no other recommendation than one made by Mr. Clark to increase it by 30 or more.  With no more than just that recommendation, no biological data, he was not in favor of doing that until more information was provided on WMD 9.

Step 1

1. Moose Season Dates
                       
Mrs. Erskine stated it was left out of the original 2010 Moose Season proposal and she would be advertising just the additional week of hunting in October. 

V. Other Business

1. Animal Damage Control

Mr. Pratte gave some history about the program, the current status and where we were headed.  At one time the Department handled many of the nuisance complaints that came in.  Regional biologists, the wardens, a call would come in and they would decide how the problem should be addressed.  This way there’s 3 statutes in place that give the Department the ability and power to do that.  One example was what we could do, the other was the definition of the Commissioner’s powers and the statutes specific to animals.  Most of the species people had the ability to handle themselves if they felt comfortable depending on what part of the state they were from.  He thought in 2006 due to the budget cutting process we lost most of the funding for the ADC program.  When we got a call we evaluated it and then passed it on to ADC agents.

Mr. Pratte discussed the process for when we got a call.  Basically they go to the wardens, wildlife staff or ADC officials.  It was evaluated and we offered guidance to the landowner or the homeowner.  Part of the responsibilities for the wildlife staff was to administer the program. 
Mr. Pratte stated there were requirements to be an ADC agent.  They had to be a qualified trapper, pass review standards, background check and interview.  Most of the time staff is recommended somebody.  Before they could actually begin working as an ADC agent they would sit down with staff and go over the ADC policy that was in place.  Certification was for 2 years, so every 2 years they would have to attend training and during those 2 years they also had to demonstrate that they were acting on the behalf of the party, submitting their reports and overall just cooperating well with staff.

Mr. Pratte discussed the role of ADC agents.  It was to resolve human and wildlife conflicts.  In a nutshell our ADC policy was based on a step down approach, prevention and extension, educating the public on what they could do to prevent the problem in the first place.  He discussed non-lethal control such as relocation of beaver.  Lethal control was also used.  He gave examples of calls and experiences in dealing with nuisance wild turkeys and bear. 

Mr. Pratte stated there were some things going on to move forward with the program.  The website was being updated and would include an electronic version of the report for ADC agents.  They could go there to fill out their monthly activity report and it would go directly into a database.  Monthly reports were a crucial part of the program as we did use that information to guide us with season dates, referendum questions, etc.

Council Member Comments and Questions

Mr. Goodwin asked how many calls per month we received for activity.

Mr. Pratte stated hundreds. 

Mr. Witte stated he had moved or handled 211 animals since May 1, 2009. 

Mr. Witte discussed how ADC agents were pricing their work.

Mr. Elowe stated to be successful at maintaining fish and wildlife we had to help people learn to live side by side with it.  People that didn’t know how to do that and needed help, we had no way of dealing with that internally.  The ADC cooperators that we registered were an essential part.  We didn’t want people to devalue wildlife so much, if they became such a nuisance, that it hindered our ability to manage fish and wildlife.  There would be no public value attached to it.  We were trying to strike a balance.  Mr. Elowe stated that was private enterprise and we didn’t get into pricing.  It was not likely the Department would get involved.

2. Wildlife Rehabilitation   

Mr. Carter distributed a packet of information regarding wildlife rehabilitation.  Wildlife rehab in Maine, there was an expectation and a desire of the public for the agency to provide care for the wildlife in Maine whether it was injured or orphaned.  The agency relied upon citizen volunteers and organizations to provide the service of rehabilitation.  The agency did not have the funding or the resources to provide financial assistance to the rehabilitation community to provide rehab for wildlife.  Licensed rehabbers could not charge for their services, but could accept donations. 

Mr. Carter stated the permit itself, the stated purpose of the rehabilitation permit was to possess dehabilitated or orphaned wild animals or wild birds for the purpose of restoring them to full health and release them to the wild or to be humanely euthanized.  In 2004 the permit application process and requirements were revamped and there was a working group process to develop the recommendations to improve the existing conditions or review them and provide recommendations.  The results of the working group’s efforts were incorporated into the current application/permitting process.  The information in the Council’s packet was what an individual that applied to become a rehabilitator would need.  The process also included a background check for fish and wildlife violations and then we would conduct a facility inspection prior to issuing the permit.  Currently there were 66 permitted rehabbers in Maine.

Mr. Carter stated that in order to rehabilitate in Maine a state permit was required and if you handled Federal migratory bird species you needed a Federal rehabilitation permit as well.  Mr. Carter then went over the items in the Council’s packet (see file).

Council Member Comments and Questions

Mr. Witte stated there was a policy on the ADC side that they were not supposed to transport furbearers more than 5 miles from the trapping location.  We had rehabbers that were taking these in large numbers, up to 20 and 30 raccoons, etc.  What control did anybody have on where they’re dumping them?

Mr. Carter stated the preferred avenue would be that the animal’s taken back where they were picked up.  Next would be that they were released into suitable habitat.  The difference in an animal that’s being rehabilitated is it typically doesn’t have a history of being a nuisance.

VI. Councilor Reports

Mr. Philbrick requested that the Department reconsider the youth deer day in reference to antlerless deer permits next year.

Commissioner Martin stated a meeting had been scheduled with SAM Board members for November 17th to discuss ongoing issues between IF&W and SAM.

VII. Public Comments & Questions

Mr. Kirby discussed the Rangeley Lakes Region Historical Society museum.

VIII. Agenda Items & Schedule Date for Next Meeting

The next meeting was scheduled for Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 9:30 a.m. at the Augusta Headquarters. 

IX. Adjournment

The meeting was adjourned at 12:00 p.m.