Advisory Council Meeting Minutes

September 26, 2010 @ 2:00 p.m.
Ashland Headquarters, IF&W
63 Station Hill Road, Ashland, ME

Attending:      

Roland D. Martin, Commissioner
Andrea Erskine, Assistant to the Commissioner
Sandy Ritchie, Habitat Conservation Biologist
Rich Hoppe, Regional Wildlife Biologist
Major Gregory Sanborn, Warden Service      
Lt. Tom Ward, Warden Service
Sgt. Durwood Humphrey, Warden Service
Sgt. Dan Menard, Warden Service 

Council Members:   

Al Goodwin
Frank Dunbar
Wade Kelly    
Mike Witte     
Alan Greenleaf
Dick Thurston
John Simko

Guest:

Judy Finley

I. Call to Order

Mr. Witte called the meeting to order.

II. Introductions

Introductions were made.

III. Acceptance of Minutes of Previous Meeting

Motion make by Mr. Dungar and seconded by Mr. Goodwin to accept the minutes of the previous Council meeting.

Vote: Unanimous - minutes accepted.

IV. Rule Making

A. Step 3

1. 2010-11 Beaver Season/Closures

Mrs. Ritchie stated annually Department biologists and Warden Service met to decide on what areas of Maine would be open or closed to beaver trapping.  There were 4 different ways to handle that.  We could open a town, open with exceptions, close or close with exceptions.  The proposal reflected the recommendations for 2010-11.  Also, there was a small portion of the trapping rule that was omitted last year, so that was being added back in. 

Commissioner Martin asked if there were any changes from Step 2.

Mrs. Ritchie stated there were no changes.

Mrs. Erskine stated there was one change.  WMD 5 was going from November opening date to the October 17 opening date.  Also, she questioned if the setback was in the original proposal.

Mr. Hoppe stated no, we were going to look at taking that away in WMDs 1, 2 and 4 we didn’t have a setback on the dam and that was put in place last year.  This year we were eliminating the setback of the lodges for WMDs 1 – 6.

Mrs. Erskine stated the 2 changes had been made since the August meeting, the setback change and the date change.  There were no changes in the closures themselves.  The changes could be viewed on the last page of the proposal under K. Location and preparation for traps.

Mr. Witte asked Mr. Hoppe why we were playing with the setbacks.

Mr. Hoppe stated the issue in northern Maine, they worked with wildlife services, industrial landowners, railroad, etc. and during a 5 month period in the summer they were doing lethal control on 600 to 800 beaver.  Taking the beaver from the major thoroughfares where they were causing problems and disposing of them, a waste.  Instead of wasting, why not open things up during the regular trapping season and have a utilization of the resource.

Mr. Witte asked why the setback wasn’t standardized, why only these few zones.

Mr. Hoppe stated they weren’t having the lethal controls or killing the beaver elsewhere like they were in northern Maine.

Commissioner Martin stated that usually these initiatives were discussed at Step 1 and Step 2.  If there was a change between Step 2 and Step 3 he needed to be made aware.  Did we know if this change had been made recently between Step 2 and Step 3, because he was not aware of it.

Mrs. Ritchie stated she was not aware of the change until Mrs. Erskine had brought it to their attention.

Mr. Hoppe stated he was aware of the change and had checked a week ago with Mr. Stadler to make sure it was a go.

Mrs. Erskine stated Mr. Stadler sent the amended proposal around about 2 weeks ago and there was one other additional change that was made since August.  The proposal the Council had included the changes that had been made since it was advertised in August.  Those changes were WMD 5, moving that to the earlier opening date; the setback in WMDs 1 – 6 and traps set for beaver in Oct, November and April were restricted to killer type traps and drowning sets.  We were adding in, “ and so-called suit case type live traps such as the Hancock live trap.”  That was a request that everyone was ok with adding that type of trap as well.

Commissioner Martin asked the Council if they had concerns regarding these changes.

Mr. Witte had concerns regarding the setback.  Throughout all the WMDs with the exceptions of 1, 2, 4 and 5 we had standard setback regulations that were in the lawbook.  He didn’t fully understand why we would modify those in just those few WMDs.

Mrs. Ritchie stated what Mr. Hoppe had tried to explain was that in those 4 WMDs we currently had so many nuisance beaver complaints and were taking so many nuisance beaver that they were basically being wasted.  By relaxing the restrictions we were allowing  trappers to take beaver as a fur resource rather than as a nuisance animal. 

Mr. Witte stated as an ADC agent and in the process of getting traps out and going through all that, he would like to see a relaxation of this regulation statewide to allow trappers to get in and take more beaver in his area.  The Midcoast area had a huge problem too.  They handled 300 complaints on beaver out of the Sidney office in a year.  When the beaver trapping season started, ADC work was supposed to stop.  ADC agents were not allowed to trap on houses or on dams which they did have permission under certain circumstances during the off season. 

Mr. Hoppe stated what precipitated this was the excessive number of beaver being wasted.  Relaxing the setback they were being utilized better.

Mr. Witte stated this was an incentive to trappers.  He would go along with it, but would like to put something in at a later date that they make the incentive statewide because we had a statewide beaver problem.

Commissioner Martin stated they could move forward on this and have Mr. Stadler at the October meeting to start the process and discuss other WMDs.

Motion made by Mr.Thurston and seconded by Mr. Goodwin to accept the proposal as amended.

Vote: Unanimous - motion passed.

B. Step 2

1. 2011 Spring Turkey

Mrs. Ritchie stated a petition had been received to consider opening WMDs 27 and 28 for spring turkey hunting.  A public informational meeting was held in Harrington last spring and the Department presented its wild turkey management program and received public comments.  After that meeting it was decided that populations weren’t quite where they wanted them to be in order to open WMD 27, but they would open WMD 28 to hunting.  The proposal did two things, it adjusted the season dates to reflect the calendar and we were recommending opening WMD 28 to spring turkey hunting.  The petitioners were satisfied with just opening WMD 28.  Mrs. Ritchie stated it would allow them to look at this year’s brood productivity to make recommendations for next year.

Mr. Simko asked if there had been any discussions about expanding it any further, other areas statewide.

Mrs. Ritchie stated Mr. Greenleaf had mentioned WMD 19, and staff had looked into that and in some respects it was like WMD 27, isolated pockets where the turkey population seemed to be doing well but throughout the remaining part of the district they were slower in advancing forward.  They were not recommending at this time to move forward with WMD 19.  That was something they would look at on an annual basis.

Mr. Dunbar asked about WMD 26 in the fall.

Mrs. Ritchie stated they did have Kelsey look at WMD 26 for the fall 2011 and there did appear to be room to open WMD 26 in 2011.  Kelsey’s comments were as follows… “WMD 26 has reached and exceeded the threshold allowable for the opening of a fall shotgun season in 2011.”   Barring anything happening between now and then it looked like we could proceed with opening WMD 26 in 2011.

Mr. Witte asked about the heavily populated areas of expanding that fall season to 2 weeks.

Mrs. Ritchie stated that Kelsey, in looking at WMD 26 also looked at WMDs 24 and 25 and based on his preliminary analysis that it did allow for increased opportunity and we might be able to look at allowing a 4 week bow season for each next fall.  Shotguns were not mentioned.  He was not recommending extending it for shotguns based on the input he had given. 

C. Step 1

1. 2011 Moose Season

Mrs. Ritchie stated the Council would be mailed a proposal.  We were not proposing any increases in the permits in any of the traditional areas open to moose hunting.  In the spring we conducted public informational meetings and through the rulemaking process expanded moose hunting further into southern Maine by opening WMDs 22 and 25.  The proposal recommendations for 22 and 25 would be to allow 20 permits in WMD 22 and 45 permits in WMD 25 for a total of 65 permits for those two districts.  That would occur during the November season.  Those were the permit numbers discussed at the 2 public hearings.

Mrs. Ritchie stated they were discussing the 2011 moose season, and the 2010 moose season had not yet started so they did not have the benefit of reviewing the harvest information from 2010 prior to setting the next year’s season.  This was set up several years ago and was done this way due to the timing back when we were printing the moose applications.  It was largely done to coincide with the timing we needed to print the applications to get them out to the public to allow a 3-month application period that would conclude in late April.  Now that we’re online with our application and we have a shorter window of applying we would like to move our rulemaking process for the moose season into the winter months after we have the benefit of reviewing harvest data from the previous season.  We were not proposing any changes for the 2011 season so this would give a year to advertise.

Commissioner Martin stated we were not proposing any changes at this time, clearly by the time it was voted on at Step 3 in early December we would have some information on this year’s moose hunt and that was clearly subject to change.

Mr. Goodwin asked if the numbers from the depredation hunt would be available at the next meeting.

Commissioner Martin stated yes, good point.

Mr. Hoppe stated he could speak to that season.  September 26th was the last day they could register moose from the controlled hunt.  It was a 6-week hunt.  Last year there were 81 permits out of 100.  This year there were 111 including the 6 disabled veteran permits that were issued.  The number so far was 72. 

Mr. Witte asked how many of the veterans got a moose.

Mr. Hoppe stated all 6.

Mr. Witte asked Mr. Hoppe if he would recommend having the season next year.

Mr. Hoppe stated ultimately they would bring their recommendations to the Commissioner and he would make that determination.

Mr. Witte stated he would like to be privy to the debriefing on the season.

Mr. Hoppe stated they could write that up and send it out to all members.

Lt. Ward stated their plan was to have a debriefing in November.

Commissioner Martin stated at the December meeting there would be an update on the controlled moose hunt.

2. Heritage Waters Modifications

Mrs. Erskine stated back in 2005 the Legislature defined the State’s heritage fish and they adopted a list of heritage waters and designated that when waters were going to be added to that list, that we could do that through rulemaking, routine technical.  If we were going to remove waters from the list it had to be brought back to the Legislature.  We had not removed any waters up until this point.  In 2009 we added 6 waters; in 2010 we added 8 waters.  We were proposing to remove 6 waters from the list.  For major substantive rules, in effect the Legislature used the Department to go through the public process.  The Council would not take final action until the Legislature had given it approval.  The Council would go to Step 2, the process would stop, Mrs. Erskine would file a bill with the Legislature and it would go before them for their consideration.  Even though it is not required, we would then bring it back to the Council for a final vote with whatever modifications the Legislature made.

Mr. Witte stated some of them were removed from the A list and added to the B list.  Could she explain the B list?

Mrs. Erskine stated she believe the B list were heritage waters that had been stocked at some point, but still had restrictive regulations on them.

Mr. Goodwin asked between now and the spring of 2011, could they be given a break down on the A and the B list.

Mr. Witte stated the A list was native trout, no stocking.

Mrs. Erskine stated that was correct.  On the waters under the heritage list, the Commissioner may not stock or issue a permit to stock those and a person may not use live fish as bait, or possess live fish as bait on those waters.  In order to meet the criteria they’re waters that have never been stocked according to any viable records.

V. Other Business

Commissioner Martin stated Mr. Philbrick had reminded him that he had made a commitment a few years ago to have a moose lottery drawing in the Rangeley/Oquossoc area in 2011.  2011 commitment had already been made to Cabela’s.  Mr. Philbrick wanted the Commissioner to bring to the Council’s attention that he would like to host the drawing for 2012.  Commissioner Martin stated some members of the Council would no longer be serving in 2012, and he did not want to tell the next Commissioner as to where the moose lottery was going to be held.  He did want to state for the record that folks in the Rangeley/Oquossoc area did wish to have the moose lottery drawing there in 2012.

Commissioner Martin discussed Council appointments.  After the election and prior to the swearing in of the new Legislature, there would be another opportunity for the current Governor to be making additional appointments.  He asked members with terms expiring to let him know if they wished to continue serving or not.

VI. Councilor Reports

Councilors gave reports.

Mr. Simko stated he had accepted a new position in the private sector and would be leaving his position as Town Manager of Greenville.  He also presented Commissioner Martin with a letter of resignation from the Advisory Council effective December 31, 2010.

VII. Public Comments & Questions

There were no public comments or questions.

VIII. Agenda Items & Schedule Date for Next Meeting

The next meeting was scheduled for Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 9:30 a.m. in the Rangeley/Oquossoc region.

IX. Adjournment

The meeting was adjourned at 3:30 p.m.