Advisory Council Meeting Minutes

October 28, 2010 @ 10:00 a.m.
Bald Mountain Camps
125 Bald Mt. Rd., Oquossoc, ME


Roland D. Martin, Commissioner
Andrea Erskine, Assistant to the Commissioner
John Boland, Director, Bureau of Resource Management
Sandy Ritchie, Habitat Conservation Biologist
Lt. Adam Gormely, Warden Service
Becky Orff, Secretary/Recorder

Council Members:
Stephen Philbrick, Chair
Ron Usher, Vice-Chair
Al Goodwin
Frank Dunbar
Wade Kelly    
Mike Witte     
Alan Greenleaf
Dick Thurston
Cathy DeMerchant 

John Buchanan, Old Town
Kirby Holcombe, Rangeley Guides and Sportsman’s Assoc.
Judy Finley
Sue Underhill 

I. Call to Order
Mr. Philbrick called the meeting to order.

II. Introductions

Introductions were made.

III. Acceptance of Minutes of Previous Meeting

Motion made by Mr. Goodwin and seconded by Mr. Witte to accept the minutes of the previous Council meeting.

Vote: 8 in favor; 1 abstained (Mrs. DeMerchant) - minutes accepted.

IV. Rule Making

A. Step 3

1. 2011 Spring Turkey

Mrs. Ritchie stated the proposal established the spring turkey season for 2011.  It set the season dates to reflect the 2011 calendar and opened up downeast WMD 28 to spring turkey hunting.  There were no changes from what was presented at Step 2. 

Mrs. Erskine stated she had not receive any public comments.

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

Vote: unanimous - motion passed.

Council Member Comments and Questions

Mr. Dunbar stated WMD 26 had always been archery in the fall due to the density of the population.  He wanted to know if the Council had considered a fall shotgun season there.

Mrs. Ritchie stated there was a number of criteria they looked at that equated the spring harvest number of gobblers taken per square mile of forested habitat and when it reached a certain threshold that would kick in additional fall hunting opportunities.  The Department would look into WMD 26 and see where they were with the fall season thresholds and consider for next year.

Mr. Dunbar stated he would like to have a shotgun fall hunt in WMD 26.

Commissioner Martin stated the Council did not initiate rulemaking unless it was through a petition.  The Council’s role was to approve or disapprove the rule itself.  It was something he would like the biologists to take a look at.  What the Department could do was submit a report as to the pros and cons and when we felt like we could start initiating it. 

Mrs. Ritchie stated it would not take long to prepare a briefing.  We annually looked at where we were with the spring harvest, how that would affect the fall harvest and we were always looking to provide more opportunity.  We could report back specifically on WMD 26 at a future meeting.

Commissioner Martin stated a report of preliminary facts and findings could be presented at the December meeting.  Fall turkey for WMD 26 and why we couldn’t move forward with spring turkey for WMD 19.

Mr. Goodwin stated if they were going to do some studies on turkeys, he would like to consider, after the spring hunt, the possibility of going into the fall hunt in WMD 28.

Mrs. Ritchie stated for the December meeting they would be looking at considering WMDs 26 and 28 in the fall and why we did not choose to open WMD 19 in the spring.

B. Step 2

1. 2011 Moose Season & Preliminary 2010 Moose Hunt update

Mrs. Ritchie stated the Wildlife Division was not proposing to have any permit changes in any of the WMDs that were open in 2010 to hunting.  However, this spring we opened up WMD 22 and 25 to moose hunting beginning in 2011.  We were proposing to put 20 permits in WMD 22 and 45 permits in WMD 25. 

Commissioner Martin stated at the last meeting it was requested that we supply the group with preliminary figures for the 2010 hunt.

Mrs. Ritchie stated there was a table in the packet with those figures. 

Mr. Philbrick stated they would discuss the preliminary numbers with this agenda item, not under Other Business.

Mrs. Ritchie stated the wildlife management section was asked to go to the various registration stations in their respective regions to get a tally on the September and October season.  The information in the packet was a preliminary tally.  Some stations had already sent in their tagging books, others had not.  Obviously this did not include numbers from the upcoming November hunt.  The numbers seemed to be on target. 

Commissioner Martin stated at the last meeting it was touched upon that the process for setting this season would hopefully be changed next year. 

Mr. Kelly referred to WMD 27, if you ended up with only 7%, would they look at that and think they overstepped there.  Was that what they used for setting numbers?

Mrs. Ritchie stated we used harvest numbers.  We also had a deer hunter effort survey where we received input from deer hunters on numbers of moose they were seeing.  We also review results from the moose hunter questionnaire to get a handle on what hunters were actually seeing vs. what they killed.  Come December we would likely have the harvest information but we would not have a lot of the survey information.  That was why we wanted to move to a different rulemaking schedule in the future.

Mr. Greenleaf asked about tabling the agenda item and holding it at Step 2 for the December meeting after they had the figures.

Mrs. Ritchie stated the final numbers could go out to the Council as soon as possible, but the southern Maine moose hunt went until the end of November.  It would be fairly close to the next meeting before we could get final figures to the Council.  The population was not sensitive enough that we had to respond immediately, so she would recommend maintaining status quo this year, do Step 3 in December and then next year move into a timeframe where they were analyzing data before making recommendations.

Mr. Witte asked about tooth data which depicted age.  When would that data be available?

Mrs. Ritchie stated a lot of that did not take place until late winter or early spring when biologist Randy Cross’s field season slowed down.  Despite collecting teeth during the fall moose hunting season, that tooth was not often sectioned and aged until several months later.

Mr. Witte asked if when that age data became available could it be forwarded to Council.

Mr. Philbrick discussed surveys that were used.  Was it possible to use the civil air patrol or volunteer organizations that would give us similar or same interpretive information to give us an idea of areas that we may not be able to access readily.  He gave fire patrols as an example.

Mrs. Ritchie stated that no option was off the table, but it needed to be consistent and reliable and statistically significant. 

Mr. Boland stated that Warden Service had recently purchased infrared cameras and they were discussing working with the Wildlife Division to possibly use those cameras in conjunction with some of their work.

2. Heritage Waters Modifications

Mr. Boland stated 4 or 5 years ago the Legislature passed the Heritage Brook Trout law which identified and protected, at the time, 296 native brook trout waters.  What separated these waters from the rest was the fact that they had never been stocked.  As far as we knew the genetic integrity there of these wild stocks was pure.  The protection level was not to be stocked, and no live fish as bait restrictions placed on these waters.  Also, part of that law required that if we were ever to decrease the number of waters on that list through legislative approval it needed to be done by substantive rule.  The list of waters was included in the packet.  IF&W and the Brook Trout Working Group had identified the fact that these waters were in fact stocked and legitimately didn’t belong on the list.  It had unanimous support around the table of the Wild Brook Trout Working Group to go back to the Legislature to secure and affirm that the list was accurate and delete these waters from the list.  Substantive rule exercise called for us to do two steps at the Advisory Council level and then go the Legislature to get their blessing to decrease the list by those 6 waters.  To add waters to the list we did not need Legislative approval.

Commissioner Martin stated for this particular initiative, the Council acted in an advisory capacity.  When Mrs. Erskine brought this to the Legislature in January she would share with them that it had been reviewed by the Council.

C. Step 1

1. 2011 Crow Season 

Mrs. Ritchie stated since the hunting lawbook was now a 2-year book, we were proposing to establish the crow season dates for 2011 and 2012.  We were allowed a 124 day season for crows and we received some input from crow hunters asking us if we would consider allowing crow season to go into October so that crow hunters could hunt both crows and also waterfowl.  This was discussed with Warden Service and they, for any number of law enforcement issues, did not recommend proceeding with opening the seasons into October.  Primarily waterfowl hunting was a steel shot season with a plugged shotgun, crow hunting season you could use lead and rifles.  Crows you could also use electronic calls, you couldn’t with waterfowl.  There were many issues that would make enforcement duties difficult. 

Mrs. Ritchie stated their comments were taken a step further.  We have a resident Canada goose season in September and there were currently enforcement issues with crow season overlapping with the resident Canada goose season.  We were proposing to back off the crow season during September.  Instead of ending on September 30, we would back it off a week to reduce some of the law enforcement issues with the overlap of crow and Canada goose season.  We were still allowing for the full 124 day season, but we were backing it off to avoid law enforcement issues between crow and waterfowl season.

Mr. Philbrick stated he had asked a few years back if it could be delineated in the lawbook the difference between crows and ravens.

Mrs. Ritchie stated that was a law enforcement issue and had been raised by Warden Service.  Most people did not understand the difference between crows and ravens.  We would be redoing the lawbook so that was something we could put in.

Mrs. Erskine stated it was mentioned in the migratory bird schedule that there was a closed season on ravens.

V. Other Business

1. 2010-2011 Beaver Season changes follow up

Mrs. Ritchie stated at the September meeting with the passage of the 2010-2011 beaver season that we relaxed the 10-foot setback requirement for setting traps near beaver houses in WMDs 1-6.  This was primarily done because each year during the spring, summer and fall months between 600 and 800 nuisance beaver were killed and discarded and basically wasted and by relaxing the setback requirement we were hoping that would entice greater recreational trapping into that area so that the animal would be taken as a wildlife resource and not wasted as a nuisance.  Largely that was done because of the overwhelming nuisance complaints in that area and the amount of beaver that were being wasted on an annual basis.  Mr. Witte asked why that set back couldn’t be relaxed in the other WMDs.  That question was posed to staff within the agency and we also consulted with the MTA and for the reasons cited in the packet, we were not proposing to do that at this time. 

Mr. Witte stated as far as conflict with the trappers, he thought part of the problem was that we did not have enough trappers.  They also had complaints in the southern area with beaver.  He knew in Region B they averaged 300 complaints per year.  If they looked at everything south and started adding up the amount of ADC beaver that were removed from all the different southern regions he felt they would far exceed 600 that were lethally being taken out that were junk beaver.

Mrs. Ritchie said they could do a couple of things.  There was the annual spring meeting with the MTA and that could be brought up as a topic of discussion.  We could further poll regional biologists within the Wildlife Management Section.

Mr. Witte stated we were constantly trying to simplify things, and then we did something like this that complicated things.  It should be kept uniform throughout the state.

VI. Councilor Reports

Councilors gave reports.

Mr. Goodwin requested a discussion regarding ATV’s and history regarding the Canada lynx lawsuits at the December meeting.

VII. Public Comments & Questions

Kirby Holcombe made a request that the 2012 moose lottery drawing be held in Rangeley.

VIII. Agenda Items & Schedule Date for Next Meeting

The next meeting was scheduled for Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. at Kittery Trading Post.

IX. Adjournment

The meeting was adjourned at 12:30 p.m.