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Maine Fish and Wildlife Magazine - Winter 2009
The magazine is also available in the following formats:
Maine Fish and Wildlife is published four times a year by the Public Information and Education Division
Endangered & Threatened Species
Beginning with Habitat
Maine Warden Service
The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife receives federal funds from the U.S. Department of Interior. Accordingly, all department programs and activities must be operated free from discrimination with regard to race, color, national origin, age, or handicap. Any person who believes he or she has been discriminated against should write to the Office of Equal Opportunity, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C. 20240.
Permission to reprint text material is granted, provided proper credit is given to the author and to the Department. Clearance must be obtained from artists, photographers, and non-staff authors to reproduce credited work. © Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. 2009
Letter From the Commissioner
IF&W magazine goes online
By Roland “Danny” Martin
After a half-year hiatus, Maine Fish and Wildlife magazine is being published once again. Now it’s online and available to more readers!
As you may recall, earlier this year we proposed ceasing publication as a way to save money. We knew how much you liked the magazine, and we did too. But we figured that because of tight budgets we needed to save money somewhere, and that you’d understand.
The Maine Legislature didn’t want to see the decades-old magazine cease in existence. It told us to come up with a way to continue production. So here we are – on the Internet! Articles are written by Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife staff, and the publication is put together in our Division of Information and Education.
One benefit of putting the magazine online is our ability to reach more people. License and registration holders who have shared their e-mail address with us will get a copy sent to their e-mail box. Viewers of our web site, www.mefishwildlife.com, can see it as well. And all of you who like it can forward it on to a friend. Now greater numbers of people can read about the work we’re doing to preserve and protect Maine’s outdoor resources.
As you already know, IF&W staff is a lot like you – people passionate about the inland woods and waters of Maine. The 300 employees at IF&W are dedicated to managing fish and wildlife resources and enforcing the laws that protect them. Like you, our staff hunts, fishes, boats, snowmobiles, hikes or canoes/kayaks in the abundance of wilderness Maine has to offer.
Their commitment will be evident in this publication.
The electronic version of the magazine is not much different than the paper one. You’ll still read insightful articles about projects or programs within the Department, see colorful pictures of biologists, wardens and educators at work, and share the reader-favorite “KidBits” with your children.
Plus, now you’ll be able to read “Field Notes” regarding Game Wardens’ activities on the job or cases they have closed, “Biologist’s Journal” about an awe-inspiring or introspective event biologists may have experienced, and“Inside IF&W,” a feature about a talented individual on our staff.
We appreciate your interest in the work being done at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. And we hope you like the online version of the magazine.
Remember: Please share with a friend.
Dear Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
Injured hiker thanks wardens
It is with deep appreciation and gratitude that I write to commend the game wardens who responded to my emergency on White Cap Mountain in the Katadhin Ironworks last Saturday (Oct. 5, 2008).
As you may know, I twisted my ankle hiking with two companions and, although I tried to find a way to get out on my own, it became evident that my injury was too severe for this to happen. One of my fellow hikers was able to go down the mountain and call 9-1-1 and was then put in touch with your bureau. After sitting in the cold for several hours, it was like having angels arrive when (wardens) Dan Carroll, Roger Guay and Troy Dauphinee arrived with blankets, jackets, crutches and news that they had organized a team of volunteers to help get me to a medical facility. Fellow Warden Rick Clowry arrived shortly after, having gone as far as possible on the trail in an ATV. As volunteers and EMT staff arrived the wardens took charge of organizing personnel and communicating procedures to ensure everyone’s safety.
These wardens performed with impressive professionalism and competence, while maintaining a sense of humor and reassurance for me. The carry out was done in the dark on a steep, wet and treacherous path. The volunteers ranged from Brewer High School freshmen to graduates, but the wardens instilled a sense of confidence in these young people and made sure that my safety and theirs was the priority.
When we reached the ATV, Warden Clowry drove us through more rough terrain. The way I was situated with the litter forced him to stand most of the time he was driving, but he never complained. When we finally arrived back at the road, Lt. Pat Dorian drove me to the ambulance. He distracted me with tales of other rescues and conversation about (Chaplin) Kate Braestrup’s book. This was quite a night for me – first ride on an ATV and in an ambulance.
When I finally arrived at the hospital and had X-rays, it was determined that I had broken my ankle bones and I had surgery early the next morning. Because of the excellent work done and supervised by the wardens, I had no additional injuries.
I am sure you are always proud of the Bureau of Warden Service, but I do hope you will let your staff know how impressed I was with the work they did that evening. They were heroes to me.
Please let the wardens know that I am recovering nicely. If there is anything else I can do to acknowledge these fine men, I would be happy to do so.
Sincerely, Donna Chale, Pittsfield
By Regis Tremblay
Maine is a state inseparably linked with its natural resources. For over a century, visitors and residents alike have taken pleasure in our year round opportunities to experience nature.
Few other places offer a natural experience as authentic as Maine’s outdoors. Maine is a land rich in contrasts between fresh and saltwater, alpine and lowlands, quaint villages and millions of acres of uninterrupted wilderness. Maine’s quality of life and its economy rely on the diversity and abundance of fish and wildlife that inhabit our state.
Whether wetting a fly, photographing a young moose in a stream, marveling at migrating waterfowl, biking and hiking along favorite trails in the Fall, catching a glimpse of a black bear, or boating on our lakes and rivers, Mainer's and those who come to visit our state value this personal connection and contribute more than $2.4 billion annually to the state’s economy.
The 300 employees of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife are the stewards of Maine’s fish and wildlife and we take this responsibility very seriously. We share your passion for preserving the Maine we know and love for our children and their children’s children and are working on your behalf to ensure that Maine’s natural resources are never depleted.
The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is a very small agency, made up of 50 Wildlife Biologists, 31 Fisheries Biologists, 28 Hatcheries Biologists, and 115 Game Wardens. What makes them unique is their commitment to their chosen calling in life to be stewards of this special place. They perform their duties and responsibilities, not primarily for pay, but out of a dedication to the natural resources.
It takes an annual budget of approximately $37 million for the Department to protect the future of Maine’s natural resources. $21.2 million comes from license fees and registrations. Another $8 million comes from federal matching funds, and $5.9 million comes from other special revenues such as the Moose Lottery, the Chickadee Check off on tax returns, and the sale of the Loon and Sportsman’s license plates. Approximately $2 million comes from taxes.
With that $37 million, the Department conducts over 2,000 environmental reviews annually to determine whether development will impact wildlife and the habitat; projects such as, the wind farm at Mars Hill, or the placement of new power lines.
There is no doubt that our natural resources are the lifeblood of our economy. 800,000 people watch wildlife in our state with a $1.3 billion impact on our economy. 289,000 people purchased fishing licenses in 2007, while another 209,000 purchased hunting licenses. Hunting and fishing had a combined $498 million impact on this economy. (U.S. Fish & Wildlife – 2008 Addendum)
And that’s not all. The snowmobile and ATV industries added a combined $500 million, (ATV Maine, Snowmobile Association of Maine), boating added $153 These outdoor recreational pursuits support nearly 16,000 jobs and $449 million in salaries and wages and they account for more than $865 million in retail sales, $109 million in state and local taxes, and $95 million in federal tax revenues. (U.S. Fish & Wildlife – 2008 Addendum) Clearly, The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife plays a major role in preserving and protecting the lifeblood of our economy.
As stewards of Maine’s natural resources, it is our job to preserve and protect our natural resources, Maine’s outdoor heritage, and our economic future. It is our duty and moral responsibility to make sure that our children and future generations can enjoy this beautiful and magical place which is unmatched in the lower 48 states.
Also contributing: Wildlife biologists Sandy Ritchie and Steve Walker, Licensing Director Bill Swan, and the IF&W communications team.
The Bald Eagle Soars Again in Maine
In January, the Commissioner of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) will be recommending removal of the Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) from Maine’s list of Endangered and Threatened Species.
State and federal law first designated the Bald Eagle as an Endangered Species in Maine and 42 other states in 1978. Subsequent recovery of eagle populations led to reclassification as a Threatened Species in 1995. Further improvements prompted the federal government to remove Bald Eagles from its list of Endangered and Threatened species in 2007. However, the Bald Eagle remains listed as a Threatened species under Maine’s Endangered Species Act (MESA), because federal delisting does not automatically trigger state delisting in Maine.
To remove the Bald Eagle from Maine’s list, the Commissioner of MDIFW must recommend its removal to Maine’s Legislature, the final authority for listing and delisting, but only upon the recommendation of the Commissioner.
We cannot precisely gauge Maine’s historical eagle population, but it likely once numbered in the thousands. Modern inventories of Maine eagles began in 1962, when revealing low numbers, reduced range, poor reproductive rates, and an uncertain future for the Bald Eagle. By the late-1970s, a remnant of 30 - 60 nesting pairs in Maine and one in New York were the only breeding eagles left in the Northeast between the Chesapeake Bay and Canada. At that time, Maine was one of only five population centers for eagles nesting in the lower 48 states.
Scientists blamed a variety of human-related factors for the decline, including widespread use of the insecticide DDT, which started in the late-1940s. The federal government banned DDT use in 1972, but by then, biologists could account for only 29 pairs of nesting bald eagles and eight young eaglets throughout Maine.
Eagle numbers gradually increased following listing and implementation of intensive management practices, including working with willing landowners to conserve eagle-nesting sites.
There are currently at least 477 nesting pairs of Bald Eagles in Maine; there are more than 300 fledglings produced annually; there have been no population declines greater than 5 percent since 1997; and 97 nesting areas are now in secure conservation ownership or easement.
Bald Eagles have potentially long lives (20 years), delayed maturity (4 - 5 years), and limited recruitment (0 - 3 offspring per year). Eagles are very selective of suitable habitats and are extremely loyal to chosen sites. Food supplies (quantity and quality) typically limit top-level predators such as eagles; thus, the local abundance of bald eagles is self-limiting and in balance with available resources in their environment. These factors influence the rate of eagle population growth. Maine’s population recovery rate of 8 percent average annual growth since 1990 is moderate, compared to some other states.
The range of Bald Eagles has gradually expanded from easternmost Washington County, which was the only stronghold 30 years ago. Eagles now reside in all sixteen Maine counties, but 58 percent of the population still nests in three Downeast counties: Hancock, Penobscot and Washington. This forecast assumes no impacts from diminished legal protection or reduced habitat availability. Overall, the statewide picture is a continuing, steady recovery for at least the next 25 years.
Bald Eagle Conservation
Eagle numbers should continue to rise in Maine after delisting. Ample habitats exist for nearly twice as many nesting pairs as we currently have. If recent growth rates persist, more than 740 pairs could be present by the year 2014.
Nesting eagles need mature trees and wooded buffers along shorelands – a niche that will always be at risk to land development and recreational pressures. The high fidelity of eagles to their nests makes site-specific management efforts very effective, which is why it has been the cornerstone strategy of Maine’s eagle management program since 1972, and will continue to be ensure a lasting recovery of eagles well into the future.
Since 1990, eligible nests have been designated “essential habitats” under Maine’s Endangered Species Act. At present, there are 521 such locations, but this protection will end after state delisting of the Bald Eagle. However, concerns for nesting eagles will not cease at that time! We have developed other strategies to maintain suitable Bald Eagle habitat, including cooperative efforts with landowners, conservation partners, and municipal planners.
To minimize setbacks in continued Bald Eagle recovery, we have developed a “safety net” approach in Maine that includes at least 50 nesting areas under complete fee ownership or suitable conservation easements, and an additional 100 territories under similar conservation and/or cooperative agreements with private landowners. We are trying to balance this across the spectrum of habitats and watersheds in proportion to the nesting distribution of bald eagles. For nearly 30 years, private landowners have championed stewardship of eagle habitats in Maine, but we need appropriate incentives to help stabilize and reward these voluntary arrangements over the long term.
MDIFW and partners will not end Bald Eagle monitoring, research, and management because of delisting. Strategies are already in place, and they will evolve further as necessary.
In 2004, the Department convened a group of representatives from the public to develop Bald Eagle management goals and objectives to the year 2019. The Commissioner and Advisory Council adopted them on September 23, 2004, and they are now the Department’s marching orders.
Our management goals and objectives for Bald Eagles are listed in the box. The Department is committed to meeting them by working with willing landowners to increase the number of bald eagle nesting sites that are secure, and to encourage landowners to consider timing of activities that may disrupt nesting success.
Protection After Delisting?
Although the Bald Eagle no longer receives protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), it will continue to receive protection under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Lacey Act. All prohibit “take,” which is defined as possession, transport, export, import, purchase, sale, trade, or offer to exchange eagles, parts thereof, eggs, or nests. The Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and Pesticides Control Act address contaminant issues that have plagued eagles, other raptors, and fish-eating birds.
The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act is the primary protection tool now that the Bald Eagle is federally delisted. (This act is available online for viewing. See bos for address.)
Under Maine statute, protection for wild birds ensures perpetually closed seasons on Bald Eagles, and prohibits hunting, possession, and destruction of nests or eggs of Bald Eagles. We will list the Bald Eagle as a Special Concern Species after delisting, which enables review under Maine’s Site Location of Development Act. IF&W will provide technical assistance to other agencies, municipalities, and landowners, when requested.
Future Eagle Monitoring
USFWS has developed a technique to periodically assess eagle population trends across the continental U.S., especially in high priority Bald Eagle population centers such as Maine. This provides independent verification every 5 years (starting in 2009 and continuing at least until the year 2024) of eagle numbers. Maine partnered with federal agencies in the initial test of this protocol in 2004.
IF&W will conduct traditional, statewide inventories in 2008, 2013, 2018, and 2023 to get a statewide minimum tally of nesting eagles comparable to methods and results during the years 1962 – 2007. We will measure nest occupancy and productivity indices for eagle habitats to evaluate differences based on conservation status, cooperative management, and other eagle habitats managed only by applicable regulations. With this strategy, we should be able to detect emerging problems and seek remedies before significant population setbacks arise. Our intention is to ensure a lasting recovery of the Bald Eagle in Maine and to provide a secure stronghold for the species in the northeastern U.S.
Increase the population and expand the range of breeding bald eagles in Maine.
Identify, maintain, and enhance bald eagle breeding, foraging, and wintering habitat to allow for future expansion of the bald eagle population in Maine.
On the Web
Bald Eagle Delisting Criteria
There are currently at least 477 nesting pairs of Bald Eagles in Maine; there are more than 300 fledglings produced annually; there have been no population declines greater than 5% since 1997; and 97 nesting areas are now in secure conservation ownership or easement.
We have not met criterion 5b, but there are now more than 220 partially protected nesting areas in Maine. Ongoing efforts by conservation partners, and an effort to enroll key parcels in management agreements via the federal Landowner Incentive Program (LIP), should resolve this criterion in the near future.
We have exceeded all criteria by at least a factor of two, except 5b. Biologically, we have greatly surpassed the criteria established for safeguarding eagle recovery; consequently, we are recommending removal of the Bald Eagle from the list of Endangered and Threatened species in Maine.
For over 30 years, Wildlife Biologist Charlie Todd has helped Bald Eagles take flight in Maine
By Deborah Turcotte
The graveyard was in the trees above him, and wildlife biologist Charlie Todd was aghast.
Tombstone after tombstone of bald eagles’ nests that for years served as incubators for willful parents to hatch eggs and raise their young were empty shells of death. Despite their efforts, the adult eagles hadn’t hatched an egg since the early 1960s.
The desolate landscape was a display of how humans and prosperity contributed to the near extinction of a beloved national symbol, and Todd, a newly enrolled University of Maine graduate student at the time in the mid-1970s, was on a guided canoe tour of it.
“This one was used three years ago,” the biologist-guide told Todd, pointing to a massive vacant nest. “This one, four years ago. This one was good until last year.”
Todd was stunned. Populations had disappeared.
“There were no birds,” he said. “There were just empty nests. These nests are so big and so well built they would usually last years and years - even after the eagles had gone. We were watching these monuments to places where eagles had been. What kind of project was this? It was like writing a history lesson on how not to do things.”
The field trip was a life-alerting experience for Todd. More than 30 years later, co-workers at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife credit him for restoring the bald eagle population in Maine.
“When you mention bald eagles in Maine, the first name that pops up in many people’s minds is Charlie’s,” said George Matula Jr., IF&W’s Endangered and Threatened Species Program Coordinator. IF&W, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, other state and federal agencies, private conservation organizations, land trusts, and citizens all worked together to restore the bald eagle population in Maine. However, the one common denominator and driving force behind this remarkable recovery has been, and continues to be, Charlie.”
Eagle restoration almost did not get off the ground.
In 1975, a year or so before Todd became involved, there was some interest at the then Maine Fish and Game Department and the University of Maine to undertake a bald eagle management project. But there wasn’t any money. Attempts to garner federal funds fell short when a high-ranking state official turned down a one-year grant, saying it wasn’t enough money.
Funding wasn’t the only challenge. The eggs produced by Maine’s bald eagles were laced with more than 100 different chemicals carried into the state by weather patterns sweeping upward from industrialized Midwest states. Landowners needed to be educated on how to protect nesting grounds. Also bald eagles faced “unintentional human risks” such as electrocutions from power lines and car collisions. Public education would be essential.
All would be daunting challenges, but none of them deterred researchers, including Todd.
To try to build up eagle populations along the Kennebec River, researchers would replace “bad” eggs produced by Maine’s eagle population with eggs brought in from other states. Todd says the egg swap is “very much like a tactical swat mission.
“You have to get in and get out quickly,” he said. “When the birds are on eggs, they don’t like to be disturbed - even if it’s by well-intended biologists. So you have to move very quickly. The bad eggs come out, we put eggs from Minnesota in, and we get out.”
And then one day was like no other.
“In 1978, we went to Swan Island, our (IF&W) property in Richmond, where the last pair of eagles nesting in the Kennebec River Valley anywhere happened to be. They, like the others, hadn’t had any luck raising their own young and we were introducing eggs to help them.“Only this time the eggs don’t feel bad.”
Photo by Bill Hanson, FPL Maine Hydro Energy
Todd said the eggs were taken to a wildlife rehabilitator in Vassalboro, who incubated and hatched them. Then they were returned to Todd.
“I say ‘we’, but my wife did the most work, raising two eaglets from hatching to 30 days of age. We then fostered them back into another nest in Maine,” Todd said. “Right after that, the Swan Island eagles started producing their own young regularly, and a few years later eagles began to re-circulate in the Kennebec Valley. At the present time, the area is almost saturated. There are three pairs of eagles on Swan Island. Every vacant nest that I saw on my first day of work down there is re-occupied, without exception.”
Todd said the event changed him – and solidified his career path.
“Raising those chicks was kind of an eye-opener of what adult eagles must do and how hard it is,” he said. “I have had two boys and two eaglets, and the eaglets were harder to raise than the boys. We had to warm them. We had to feed them. We had to separate them the first week of life because they were going after each other. We’ve been telling people for years about the special needs of nesting eagles and how vulnerable they are. And I would always think back about what it was like.”
In 1983, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife established a ‘nongame’ program, complete with a limited funding mechanism. Todd joined the department from the university in 1986.
“It’s kind of nice to think we can reverse the fortune of some individual wildlife that are at risk,” Todd said. “And hopefully, that’s a lesson to not let others get in trouble, but rather manage species before they get into dire straits. You just can’t expect to invest 30 years to bring everything back. It’s better to take care of it before that stage. That’s the focus of our conservation programs now.”
Less than 100 eagles graced Maine’s skies when Todd became involved in eagle restoration more than 30 years ago. There were none in the other Northeastern states. Now, more than 475 nesting pairs – 950 birds – are dispersed among every county statewide. Maine could support 1,000 nesting pairs, said Todd, just like Wisconsin and Minnesota.
“We are the stronghold for New England and are eighth or ninth in eagle abundance in the nation,” Todd said.
Over the years, as part of the ongoing effort to protect eagles, Maine has put regulations in place that protect eagles’ nests and their habitats. Landowners have become allies, and the public has taken ownership in their welfare.
“I feel like there are many eagle experts in the state of Maine because people have grown into an understanding and sympathy for them,” Todd said. “I don’t feel like the sole expert any more.”
But at IF&W, Todd will always be the expert.
“I feel very fortunate and lucky to have been in the right place at the right time,” Todd said. “(I came to) an agency that had no money and no program. But that didn’t stop us from doing eagle work. That’s pretty impressive to me.”
On the Trails Again: Maine Warden Service to encourage safety, enforce laws
By Deborah Turcotte
When snowmobilers prepare to head out onto the trails, the Maine Warden Service and the Maine Snowmobile Association would like everyone to put safety on the top of their to-do list.
Each year, the Maine Warden Service and the Maine Snowmobile Association partner to remind the public that safety is a priority when out on the state’s 13,500 miles of trails. This season, Gov. John E. Baldacci and Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Roland “Danny” Martin joined MWS Col. Joel Wilkinson and MSA Executive Director Bob Meyers to deliver the safety reminder during a press conference at IF&W in late December.
Most of the state’s major newspapers, radio and television stations attended.
“It’s important to be serious about safety,” Baldacci said. “It’s a great industry and a great opportunity, and we think we have some of the best trails in the country.”
More than 100,000 snowmobiles are registered in Maine, and the sport contributes $300 million to Maine’s economy.
But last season, 12 people died while snowmobiling, with five fatalities occurring in just one March weekend. On Dec. 23, a 19-year-old Cushing man died on a roadway, and on Dec. 27, a 15-year-old Winthrop man died on a trail outside of Portage.
“Maine’s snowmobile trails – and Maine’s outdoors – are not closed tracks like you see in television commercials,” Col. Wilkinson said. “And snowmobilers are not professional stunt drivers. Your sled’s speedometer may show 100 miles per hour, but just like in your car it doesn’t mean you drive that speed. That’s way too fast.”
Wilkinson said the Game Wardens will be on the trails often this season, conducting safety checkpoints and educating snowmobilers on safety. Drunken sledders will not be tolerated, he said, and laws will be enforced.
The majority of people who snowmobile are safe drivers, Col. Wilkinson said. After last March’s deadly weekend, the Maine Snowmobile Association, with assistance from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the Maine State Police, conducted 35 special enforcement details and checked more than 2,100 snowmobilers. Only 48 people received summonses and 15 people received warnings.
Meyers said snowmobiling is a family activity, and all sledders should be proactive in practicing safe sledding.
“Brush up on safety,” Meyers said. “Remind yourself of the rules, and have a fun season.”
It's Still the One!
Last year's ice fishing law book remains in effect through March 31, 2010. Do you still have yours from last year? Limited copies are available at IF&W or at licensing agents statewide.
By Steve Walker
“The outstanding scientific discovery of the 20th century is not television, or radio, but rather the complexity of the land organism. Only those who know the most about it can appreciate how little we know about it. The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant: "What good is it?" If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.”
So wrote Aldo Leopold some 60 years ago.
Three short years ago, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIF&W) issued its Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy. More often referred to as the State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP), this document sets the course for the future of wildlife conservation in Maine. Never before has this Department undertaken a more all-encompassing planning effort including the identification of 213 Species of Greatest Conservation Need, 21 Priority Habitats, and 140 Focus Areas of Statewide Ecological Significance. The plan is the embodiment of topics pertaining to your ever-evolving state wildlife agency: answering to broader charges with limited funds. More importantly, this plan addresses every cog and wheel necessary to maintain a healthy, hunt-able, and fishable Maine landscape for future generations.
The SWAP, similar to a municipal comprehensive plan, considers each of the Department’s public roles and responsibilities concerning wildlife and habitat conservation, and breaks them down into prioritized, implementable actions. The purpose: to direct limited funds and Department resources to issues and opportunities that result in the greatest conservation benefit for the State of Maine.
The SWAP planning process was originally created as part of the Congressional Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Program that allocates State Wildlife Grant monies to states with accepted comprehensive wildlife plans.
As outdoor enthusiasts, we know, but often take for granted, that Maine still has large, healthy and robust landscape scale habitats. Unless you have friends or relatives in the D.C. to Boston urban expanse, the extent of habitat loss and fragmentation elsewhere in the eastern US is very foreign. Biologists at MDIF&W have long recognized the great opportunity Maine has to learn from states to our south and to better balance future conservation and development, an opportunity that positions Maine to be a leader in future outdoor recreation.
Compared to many other states, Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife found itself well ahead of the conservation-planning curve as we began SWAP drafting. Since the 1970s we have realized the importance of focusing on habitat health -- and not just species populations for long-term success. Our habitat planning got its start with the concern of a potentially catastrophic oil spill along our coast line in the late seventies, and was subsequently fueled by the building boom of the 1980s. MDIF&W mapped and cataloged the highest value wildlife habitats in our coastal communities and eventually developed a mapping protocol statewide based on the USGS map grid and land sub-units. The intent was to highlight those areas most critical to maintaining sensitive species and their habitats and provide this information to inform planning decisions at all levels of government.
By 2000, the concept of Beginning with Habitat had started to congeal. Together with sister agencies and non-governmental conservation organizations, MDIF&W developed a straightforward and very intuitive approach to guiding effective landscape level conservation planning. The model is simple: 1) start your conservation planning by taking a good hard look at the state of your local landscape; 2) identify the key ingredients that maintain local habitat functions (remaining large undeveloped areas, rare species and natural community types, and greenways along streams, wetlands, and ponds that provide linkage between); and 3) identify local actions that can protect and conserve these elements as local growth decisions are made. The theory is also simple: if habitat functions are maintained as we develop, most of Maine’s Species of Greatest Conservation Need will continue to successfully find habitat opportunities without direct, and costly, Department intervention. Additionally, using this umbrella approach to habitat protection will keep common species common. The result will be a landscape that provides traditional hunting and angling opportunities, open space values, maintain rural character and promote “Quality of Place.”
To date, the Department has provided Beginning with Habitat data and tools to well over 200 of Maine’s organized towns, most of the state’s 100+ land trusts, and has been successful in partnering with other state agencies such as the Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Transportation, and the State Planning Office to utilize Beginning with Habitat’s common language and data sets in day-to-day project planning, permit review, and public outreach efforts.
Our next article -- in the next edition -- will highlight the successes and challenges of putting Beginning with Habitat to work throughout the state in an effort to preserve our collective Quality of Place and Outdoor Heritage.
Why It Matters
Beginning With Habitat is the only state program that promotes the protection of local “Quality of Place” and traditional outdoor recreations through strategic habitat and open space conservation by Maine’s 455 municipalities.
Also, it is the only state program that currently provides in-depth plant and animal habitat maps and local growth planning suggestions to Maine’s organized towns.
BwH is the primary outreach mechanism for the state’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy and is key in its implementation at the local and regional levels.
Maine’s Beginning With Habitat approach has been recognized nationally and is being replicated in many states.
Limited Edition Conservation Prints by Tom Merriam
Fine Art Prints Portraying Maine's Famous Upland Game Birds - "Wytopitlock Woodcock" and "Rangeley Grouse".
A signed and numbered edition of only 450 of each print is available! Purchase as an identically numbered set or individually. Sets will be sold on a first come - first served basis. Prints are 10 " by 15". No requested numbers. $55.00 each or both prints for $100.00. Shipping is $2.50 per order and ME residents must add 5% sales tax. Prints can be ordered from our online store or by sending check or money order payable to "Treasurer, State of Maine" to:
Questions, please call (207) 287-5244.
Fall is Spawning Season
Photo by Kristina Paulhus, 2008
Just like it was done in 1935, fish are “stripped” of their eggs at IF&W fish hatcheries, fertilized, incubated and then raised to be stocked in Maine’s inland waters two years later. Recently, at the Governor Hill Hatchery, large lake trout, or togue, were stripped by staff Tom McLaughlin, Jim Knight, Mark Damren, & Trapper Lemay, as shown in these photos.
Then and Now
By Todd Langevin
Left Photo by Bill Cross, 1935; Right Photo by Kristina Paulhus, 2008
Every fall the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife conducts fish spawning operations at its hatcheries statewide to supply our annual stocking programs. Fish culture staff have recently taken nearly 3 million eggs from broodstock of brook trout, brown trout, lake trout and landlocked salmon that will, in turn, provide fish to stock (and you to catch) in 2009 and 2010.
Larger-sized broodstock that have been set aside at six of the eight hatcheries currently operated by IF&W, are called into action once it has been determined that the female fish are “ripe” and ready to spawn. Eggs are “stripped” into a pan from female fish and combined with milt from male fish to fertilize the eggs. These eggs are incubated inside the hatchery, where they will hatch and begin feeding before they are eventually transferred to outdoor rearing units.
Hatchery personnel have also been busy finishing up their fall stocking across the state before the cold weather freezes up the waterways. Increasing numbers of larger fish have been stocked as part of the fall yearling program, to provide expanded fall opportunities and quality fishing for ice fishermen this winter. These fish are generally greater than twelve inches and many a pound a piece. There will certainly be happy fishermen when these fish are iced!
State hatcheries currently produce 1.3 million fish per year, and have recently stocked more pounds than ever before. Species MDIFW produces are brook trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, lake trout, splake, landlocked salmon and lake whitefish. The hatchery product being released is of ever increasing quality, and has become much more attractive to avid anglers. A 2008 real-time stocking report is available on the IF&W web site, www.mefishwildlife.com.
Each decision to stock a particular water is scientifically determined by regional fisheries biologists, and depend on factors such as water quality, status of existing natural fish populations, available habitat, restoration considerations and angling pressure. The role of the Hatchery Division is to produce high quality fish to fulfill the needs of stocking programs across the state, and is critical in sustaining fisheries for future generations.
By Peter Bourque
In late October, fisheries staff from IF&W’s Augusta office assisted fishery field staff from Strong and Bangor in sampling wild landlocked salmon from the Kennebago River.
This was a unique situation where in a single day’s effort, using a large seine in Steep Bank Pool, biologists were able to gather a large biological sample of landlocks to help assess the effectiveness of regulation changes on Mooselookmeguntic Lake.
In a single seine haul, 189 salmon and four brook trout were taken. All fish had lengths and weights recorded, and scale samples were taken for aging at a later date.
The efficiency of this seining technique was very evident. Gathering a salmon sample of this size often takes two to four weeks of trapnetting in most of our salmon lakes.
Growth rates and body condition of salmon in Mooselookmeguntic Lake declined markedly in recent years because salmon densities became very high, so fishing regulations were liberalized in 2000 and 2006 to encourage additional harvest by anglers.
We’ve seen improvements in fish quality since 2006, but a greater harvest still is necessary for fish quality to be fully restored.
By Chuck Hulsey
One recent December I received a call about a Canada goose with a broken wing. It was residing on an iced-over farm pond in a big field next to a secondary road. Due to its visibility, the plight of this bird generated several telephone calls to unresponsive third parties. Fortunately I was able to meet with the farmer upon getting the call. I was also lucky to have my black Labrador retriever Dusty with me that day.
When I arrived the adult Canada goose was sitting on about one inch of ice in the middle of a large farm pond. I could see that one wing was broken at the “elbow” and there was no way this bird was going to leave the safety of the pond. Further, my limited knowledge of physics let me know that one inch of ice equals one cold swim. So with just a big net in hand this situation was going nowhere. This may have been why other calls about this bird resulted in no conclusion.
My lab was very experienced at retrieving waterfowl and was letting me know she wanted in. Because she was gentle when retrieving birds shot in front of her, I figured involving her could do no harm. Though the ice looked like it could support a dog, I wanted to be safe and secured a 100-foot yellow rope to her. Lining her up on the bird I gave the command “back” which means go get it and stay on a straight course. She took off like being shot out of a cannon.
Seeing an oncoming 80-pound black dog trailing a long yellow rope was all the goose needed to realize that the safety of the pond was quickly evaporating. At the same time the dog reached the shore, the goose took off flapping and running towards the field. When the dog got onto the ice, legs were at full speed but her forward momentum came to near zero as she just spun on the ice. When the dog reached the opposite shore and the traction afforded by bare ground, the goose’s lead was easily a couple hundred yards.
Streaking across the field went the running and flapping goose trailed by a big black dog, followed by a snaking, bouncing 100-foot length of yellow rope. They traveled at rather high speed across this huge field in a long, gentle arc, with the farmer and me back at the pond watching. As the dog slowly closed in on the goose it appeared that their route might eventually circle back near us. We jumped behind a big bushy white pine, net in hand, and watched as the two came closer and closer. Amazingly, with only a 20-yard lead the goose was about to run right past my hiding place. When it did, I stuck out the big net and the goose ran right into it. Incredulously, the farmer asked how in the world I ever got my dog to do that and I replied, “just lot’s of training”. Later that day my lab and I delivered the Canada goose to a licensed wildlife rehabilitation facility.
Chuck Hulsey is a wildlife biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, based in Strong.
By Deborah Turcotte
The call came into the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s main telephone number – the one that reaches the Department’s information center – and Ralph Brissette answered expecting one of the usual questions: Did I get an Any Deer Permit? When is hunting season? How do I reach a Game Warden?
“I’m looking for a lobster hunting license,” the man told Brissette. “I see you offer different hunting licenses for other things. What’s the difference if I want to hunt lobster, than deer or other things?
Brissette couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“I want to sit in the weeds, dressed in camo, and hunt lobsters,” the man said. “Watch for me on CNN as I’ll soon be famous hunting lobsters in Maine!”
Brissette momentarily was stunned. Then he couldn’t help himself.
“Yea, I just laughed,” Brissette recalled. “I told him I couldn’t wait to see him on CNN.”
Well, the man hasn’t appeared on CNN, and Brissette, along with Wendy Bolduc, continue to answer calls and e-mails – from the zany to the legitimate ones -- in the Department’s information center.
But Brissette is more than a voice on the telephone, one of the frontline representatives that help IF&W’s constituents daily. He’s an artist. And a good one at that.
This year, as a thank-you recognition, the Department’s volunteers received a signed and numbered pen-and-ink lithograph of a perched eagle that Brissette put together in one evening. The exquisite drawing impressed many at IF&W, who were taken by surprise that such a detailed endeavor was accomplished in one sitting.
The original is framed and gracing a wall in Deputy Commissioner Paul F. Jacques’s office.
“I’m a big Bald Eagle fan and a supporter of Maine wildlife artists,” Jacques said. “We have a guy here that’s very talented and in that vein I asked if I could buy the original and if he’d personalize it for me, which he did with the IF&W logo.”
Brissette, who has worked at the Department for seven years, has dabbled in art since he was a child, if he could get a hold of something to draw with.
“I was number 9 out of a family of 10,” Brissette said. “Finding a full box of 8 Crayons would have been a miracle. My medium was pencil, and I would draw anything that didn’t move. Except chickens! We raised them.”
From scribbles to portraits, Brissette’s passion evolved and his talent honed. Brissette studied art at the University of Maine in Presque Isle and at community Adult Education classes.
His best work from childhood is a picture of “Alice” sitting on a large mushroom, from the novel, “Alice in Wonderland.” His best from adulthood: “It’s a portrait of my dad and it’s among my work in my art room.”
Brissette began drawing and painting wildlife for one simple reason. “I love the outdoors and all that live in it.”
“IF&W began commissioning the Volunteer Recognition Print in 1987,” said Emily Q. Jones, youth activities coordinator. “There are usually 700 prints that are awarded to volunteers throughout the state who have gone above and beyond to assist the Department.”
In past years, a Maine wildlife artist would be commissioned, and a full-color print would be created depicting either a large or small game animal or a cold or warm water fish species.
Instead of going outside the Department for the artwork, a decision was made to stay in house.
“We chose Ralph because he’s very giving of his talents to this agency,” Jacques said.
Brissette said he was happy to help out. “I asked if they might be interested in one of my works,” he said. “(Natural Resources Educator) Lisa Kane provided an eagle mount that I brought home and had sitting on my dining room table over a weekend, and I went from there.”
Getting lost in what he’s doing is why Brissette draws and paints. He said he enjoys his job, and believe it or not, his favorite part is “dealing with the general public’s sometimes zany questions.” Like lobster hunting in Maine’s woods.
And when he’s home, there is art. “I become very involved in my attempt to capture the feel of the subject,” he said. “I often lose track of time.”
Why It Matters
Approximately 225 people call and another 50-80 people e-mail the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s information center daily. Approximately 700 people volunteer in IF&W programs statewide, helping the self-sufficient agency conduct research or provide educational support.
Neck High in County Snow
The picture was e-mailed so many times we’re unable to track who took it.
Did you? We’d like to give you credit! Please e-mail us at email@example.com and let us know your name, of course, how we may reach you, where it was taken, and your impressions of this moment in time.
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife recommends that all outdoor enthusiasts obtain landowner permission before sporting on private land. The majority of recreationalists respect private property and appreciate that they are able to use private property, with permission.
Maine Game Wardens are responsible for enforcing trespass as it pertains to the Fish and Wildlife statutes (Title 12), specifically protecting the rights of landowners. To contact the Maine Warden Service, call the closest office of the Maine State Police.
Most of Maine’s outdoor recreation such as hunting and snowmobiling occurs on private property. Always remember that you are a steward of the land. Treat the property of others as if it was yours.
Many landowners prohibit ATVs and other “off-road” vehicles on their lands and roads.
Always consider other people, especially landowners and those who may not snowmobile or ATV ride. Ensure that your conduct is not offensive.
In short, put the survival of the sport first. Whatever is best for the image of the sport must take priority. Remember, your behavior will reflect back on you, your sport, and may determine future public access to huntable lands.
Brochures, web site getting revisions
Bob Duplessie, director of Landowner Relations for IF&W and the Maine Department of Conservation works diligently to coordinate the care and management of land and trails between landowners and off-road vehicle users.
Duplessie reports that work is progressing on some new brochures and a new web site to help all groups in Maine understand their rights and responsibilities, according to a MDOC press release. Updates of the brochures, “Landowner Liability Law” and “Access to Private Land is a Privilege, Not a Right,” should be ready in January as well as the web site.
Among other projects he has undertaken, Duplessie is working to coordinate with various parties to remove an abandoned 20-foot-long boat on the Crooked River at Edes Falls at the Naples-Casco town line. Those involved include the Maine Warden Service, Western Foothills Land Trust, the town of Naples, Portland Water District, and several private individuals.
As part of his responsibilities, Duplessie gives presentations on landowner relations to a sportsman’s ethics classes sponsored by IF&W and organized by IF&W Safety Coordinator Michael Sawyer. The class is mandatory for all convicted violators of fish and game laws if in the future they want to get another license related to fish and game.
Why a Loon Plate?
Get a Loon Plate
Go to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to get a Conservation "Loon" Plate today, and you'll help Maine's natural environment.
Oh, and by the way - you'll also grace your car or truck with the nicest looking license plate anywhere.
Missing girl found safe: IF&W Photo: Nine-year-old Leah Cuetera of Winslow, who was reported missing on Saturday morning, Aug. 30, stands with members of the Maine Warden Service shortly after being located on an ATV trail in Salem Township and reunited with her family on Sunday afternoon, Aug. 31. MWS coordinated the search for Cuetera, which included law enforcement and 400 volunteers.
By Deborah Turcotte
Six family members involved in the illegal killing and selling of deer in the South Paris, Greenwood and Bethel areas have plead guilty to charges that resulted from a nearly two-year investigation by the Maine Warden Service.
The Maine Warden Service’s Wildlife Crimes Investigation Division initiated the special investigation in late 2006 after it received numerous complaints from the public, hunters and law enforcement about alleged poaching activities they witnessed regarding one of the men. Six men who are relatives were summonsed last February after search warrants were served on four of the men’s residences last January.
Oxford County Assistant District Attorney Joe O’Connor worked with the Maine Warden Service to adjudicate the individuals. Many of the defendants plead guilty in the last few months; one plead guilty on Monday, Oct. 27.
The crimes included: night hunting, hunting deer in closed season, exceeding the limit on deer, killing of deer over bait, theft of traps, and trapping without a license. All were charged with Class D and E hunting crimes according to Title 12 of the State of Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife laws.
“Poaching is a serious crime and we will prosecute,” said Colonel Joel Wilkinson of the Maine Warden Service. “It robs valuable wildlife resources from the people of the state of Maine. They are the real victims in this and all poaching incidents.”
The following subjects plead guilty as the result of plea bargains:
Several of the convicted individuals also will be subject to license and permit revocations by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
Also from the Field:
Warden School Graduation: IF&W Photo: The Maine Warden Service welcomed six graduates of the Advanced Warden School during ceremonies on Oct. 17. They are (left to right) Cadre Ben Drew, Wardens Kristopher MacCabe, Eric Dauphinee and Joshua Bubier, Sgt. Mark Warren, Wardens Aaron Cross, Josh Tibbetts and Kevin Pelkey, and Cadre Mike Pierre. Sgt. Warren was the warden trainer.
Maine Warden Service Calls For Service
38.9 percent of calls from Jan. 1 - Sept. 30, 2008 involved nuisance wildlife or dead or injured fish or wildlife.
Other calls are:
Mallard Time:Maine Migratory Waterfowl Stamp Art contest underway
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife once again is holding a Maine Migratory Waterfowl Stamp Art Contest for 2009.
This year, Mallards are the subject.
The winning entry will be selected during judging at 1:30 p.m. April 2 at the Augusta Civic Center.
Entries for the contest must be mailed or delivered to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife from 9 a.m. March 2 until 4 p.m. on March 27, 2009.
The winning artist will retain ownership of the winning entry and will receive an award of $1,000 and a sheet of 10 stamps.
The top five submissions will be displayed for the duration of the Maine Sportsman Show in April in Augusta.
For a copy of the Full Entry Requirements and the Official Entry Form, please contact Kristina at (207) 287-5244.
Contest is open to Maine residents only.
Maine Wildlife Park
2009 family season passes available for purchase online
Family or individual passes to the Maine Wildlife Park can be purchased online at www.mainewildlifepark.com.
Season passes provide limitless visits, including all special events, during our regular season, which will run from mid-April to Nov. 11, 2009.A family pass is valid for up to 6 members. Cost is $70 for a family pass and $35 for an individual pass.
Hunters for the Hungry
Hunters for the Hungry, a cooperative program between Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and The Food Assistance Program, provides a means for hunters to donate all or a portion of their hunt to a local food pantry. This program has been a boon to our citizens, providing meat to those who may no longer be able to hunt, to those who have a medical necessity of having natural low fat meat and to others who visit their local emergency feeding organization. Those wishing more information on this program may call toll free 1-888-4DEER-ME.
L.L. Bean Outdoor Hero
Retailer honors former IF&W employee
By Deborah Turcotte
Former Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife marketing specialist Bill Pierce recently was named a recipient of the prestigious L.L. Bean 2008 Outdoor Heroes award.
Mr. Pierce, who worked at the Department from 1999 until April 2008, was nominated by Fisheries Division Director John Boland. He now works at the Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust.
The L.L. Bean Outdoor Heroes Program was developed to thank individuals who have dedicated their time to preserving the outdoors and encouraging the use of recreational outdoor space.
Winners are awarded a $5,000 grant towards their organization to support continued preservation, conservation and educational efforts. IF&W will apply the grant to its youth fishing and education programs.
“The award honors those people who make a difference in the world around us – the one we enjoy today and the world that we will pass along to our children and their children,” said Mike Gawtry, L.L. Bean project line manager for hunting and fishing.
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is grateful to L.L. Bean for its continuous support of its conservation, and youth fishing and education programs.
“Bill’s love of Maine’s great outdoors is evident in his never-ending enthusiasm to share its fishing and hunting opportunities with others, and the programs he developed while at the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife could be viewed as an invitation for all to go outside and play,” said Commissioner Roland “Danny” Martin. “We thank our partner L.L. Bean for recognizing the dedication we saw in Bill, and for its generous donation to our programs that bring outdoors opportunities to Maine’s youth.”
Among Mr. Pierce’s accomplishments:
“Maine is now a destination for hunters and anglers from across the nation due in part because of Bill’s work with local and national television, radio, web, and print-based media,” Gawtry said. “Anglers, hunters, bird watchers understand the management programs and needs of IF&W due to Bill’s work.”
Mr. Pierce said he is appreciative for the Outdoor Heroes award, noting that “the Department’s mission of managing Maine’s fish and wildlife resources – and the resources themselves – are such wonderful things to promote.”
“I am grateful to be honored by L.L. Bean with this award, but any success I have enjoyed is largely due to the hard work of my friends and co-workers at IF&W,” Pierce said. “I am truly blessed to have worked with a lot of very special people in the main office, the regional staff and the Maine Warden Service. Those folks are the real Outdoor Heroes.”
Different animals have different preferences for the many kinds of native fruits and nuts that grow here.
Fall is a great time to plant new shrubs and trees, and in many cases, may be purchased at reduced rates from nurseries clearing out their inventories for the season.
Although some of the fruits pictured on below are delicious for people too, make sure you DO NOT try to eat any wild fruit unless you are POSITIVE it is edible!
Wild Food for Birds
Which backyard birds like which nuts and berries the best?
Set up a simple experiment.
Scout around your neighborhood for some of the fall fruits and nuts pictured here. Ask permission to cut a handful of each, especially if it is not on your property!
Hang the fruits from a clothesline or string where you can easily watch the feeding birds from your house.
Early morning and late afternoon are generally the most active feeding times.
Which berries do the birds feat upon first?
The fruits that are eaten up first and fastest are perhaps the best kinds to plant in your yard.
Word Scramble - Text-only version
Find answers here.
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