Meeting Minutes

Advisory Council Meeting
September 18 , 2018 @ 9:30 a.m.
Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (upstairs conference room)
284 State Street, Augusta

Attending:

Chandler Woodcock, Commissioner
Timothy Peabody, Deputy Commissioner
Christl Theriault, Assistant to the Commissioner
Judy Camuso, Wildlife Division Director
Francis Brautigam, Director of Fisheries and Hatcheries
Bob Cordes, Special Projects Coordinator
Bonnie Holding, Director of Information and Education
Chris Cloutier, Warden Service Major Becky Orff, Secretary/Recorder

Council Members:

Don Dudley (Chair)
Jeff Lewis
Jerry Scribner
Sheri Oldham
Shawn Sage
Brian Smith - by phone
Gunnar Gundersen
Matt Thurston
Dick Fortier
Larry Farrington

Guests:

Gary Corson, New Sharon
Fern and Sylvia Bosse, Norway
Katie Hansberry, HSUS
James Cote, MTA
Karen Coker
Melissa Sage
Deirdre Fleming

I. Call to order

Don Dudley, Council Chair, called the meeting to order.

II. Introductions

Introductions were made.

III. Acceptance of Minutes of Previous Meeting

A motion was made by Mr. Gundersen to approve the minutes of the previous meeting and that was seconded by Mr. Sage.

Vote: unanimous - minutes approved.

IV. Rule Making

A. Step 3

1. Bear Trapping Emergency Rule

Commissioner Woodcock stated we had a situation arise where we had to take emergency rulemaking into consideration. He consulted with the Attorney General‚€™s office as there was a very short time span and it cut into the last few days before the start of the season. He read the AG‚€™s office statement into the record, ‚€œActions by the Advisory Council must be taken in a public meeting and preceded by at least 7-days notice. Proceeding with a conference call would be adverse to the public meeting requirements of FOAA. That requirement, however, should not interfere with the ability to adopt an emergency rule with less than 7-days when needed. The Department should have the inherent authority to adopt an emergency rule without Advisory Council consent when it is not possible to convene a public meeting within the time required to address the situation. I suggest the rule be adopted under the regular emergency rulemaking authority in 5 MRS, Subsection 8054 without convening a conference call to obtain the Council‚€™s consent. You should then schedule a special meeting of the Council with appropriate public notice at which time you would ask the Advisory Council to ratify the emergency rule.‚€ Commissioner Woodcock stated that was what we were seeking to do.

Mrs. Oldham asked what the history was regarding the emergency rule.

Commissioner Woodcock stated we had a new device that was presented to us for examination for bear trapping season. We took the opportunity to closely examine it and that was Thursday of the week that bear trapping season would start on Saturday. There wasn‚€™t much time. In the discussion, other devices came into play. The emergency rule would pertain to the current trapping season and would be in effect for 90 days. It was our desire to examine the issue more closely for the 2019 season. The Commissioner felt strongly we had to protect our lynx and ITP scenario with the emergency rule.

A motion was made by Mr. Fortier to accept the rule as presented, and that was seconded by Mr. Lewis.

Vote: unanimous - motion passed.

2. Beaver Season and Closures/Furbearers

Ms. Camuso stated for the beaver season there was one town that had been closed to trapping of beaver that had now been opened and we were requesting authority to extend the fisher season by two weeks in a subset of WMDs, mostly in the southern part of the state. The bag limit for fisher remained at ten. A public hearing was held with about 20 members of the public attending. Everyone there was supportive and there was not a lot of comment. The bag limit for fisher would remain the same, we were proposing to extend the season by two weeks and trying to recognize that with the requirement of exclusion devices we had reduced both the number of people participating as well as the effectiveness of the trappers. We were trying to provide them with more opportunity.

Mr. Sage asked if there was any proof that the lynx were moving south.

Ms. Camuso stated that staff did surveys every winter and we did have evidence that lynx were in more areas than had been in the past.

Mr. Sage stated they had to use the exclusion devices in southern Maine, but what if they weren't an animal that migrated south.

Ms. Camuso stated the approach they took when they developed the exclusion device requirement was they thought the trappers and the Department felt strongly that we needed to protect lynx statewide. It was not likely we would have a lynx in York County but we felt we needed protections if there was an animal that was roaming. The exclusion device requirement would stay in effect.

Mr. Fortier asked how much territory a family of lynx would stay in.

Ms. Camuso stated it depended on the time of year. There had been reports of dispersing animals.

3. Eastport Special Hunt

Ms. Camuso stated the town of Eastport was requesting a special hunt to assist with their overabundance of deer. They were pretty successful last year and they were proposing to give permits first to the successful hunters from last year and allow them to take up to a certain number of deer and also to use crossbows. They were going with the same number of permits (30) with up to 90 tags.

Mr. Thurston stated there was some apprehension with the special hunts in the beginning. He asked why the Georgetown special hunt had been taken off the agenda.

Ms. Camuso stated it was removed at Georgetown‚€™s request. They had reached out to staff and were emphatic even though we had some plans to help them next year, they wanted to address some things this year. We scheduled a meeting with members of the town to talk about the issues. With the Advisory Council rulemaking schedule, in order for them to have an approved hunt for this season, they would have needed to be at Step 1 in September. They were on the agenda as a placeholder so they would have the opportunity if they decided to move forward. They met with staff and talked about their issues and we discussed what we would need to see for a proposal and models for success. One of the most important things being support from the town rather than just a small group of people. They had a broader meeting and found they did not have the consensus they initially thought they had. They decided without the town level support the hunt would not be effective so they withdrew their request to take more time to work on their proposal.

A motion was made by Mr. Lewis to accept the proposal as presented, and that was seconded by Mr. Sage.

Vote: unanimous - motion passed

4. Fishing Regulations/State Heritage Waters 2019

Commissioner Woodcock stated we had been trying to decide the definition of a pond. He went to Cold Water Brook Pond and around Kennebunk Plains. He went to the dictionary to find the definition of a pond as it was not clear. Cold Water Brook Pond had a ‚€œWat code‚€ which was assigned to ponds. The dictionary definition of a pond was, smaller than a lake. The lake definition was, bigger than a pond. The pond definition also stated it could be a pool or a puddle, often man-made. After processing the information, he had decided to remove the proposal from the packet and Cold Water Brook Pond would remain on the heritage fish waters list. It was only one of four heritage waters in Region A. It fluctuated in size and had a self-sustaining population of brook trout. He decided to leave Cold Water Brook Pond on the heritage list, and the definition of pond we would expand further in the future.

Commissioner Woodcock stated for Henderson Pond, that would also be removed from the proposal and remain on the heritage waters list. In an attempt to locate a body of water to salvage the rapidly diminishing charr population in Bald Mountain Pond, Henderson became the leading candidate. Staff examined what bodies of water would be acceptable to receive charr. It went to the top of the list for a variety of reasons. The current statute did not support stocking of heritage fish waters. He believed that a statutory change was an important part of the heritage water discussion and should be closely examined. The concept of possibly losing a heritage fish water because of another heritage fish was worthy of discussion. We would leave Henderson Pond on the heritage list and pull it from the proposal. The population of charr and the necessity to do something with them seemed to have been lost in the comments and discussion. It was more about salvaging heritage waters by definition. He thought the heritage brook trout working group should take a look at that. Should the two heritage fish species conflict and why should it be considered under certain circumstances.

Mrs. Oldham stated she had been prepared to vote down the proposal if the waters had not been removed. She re-read the packet and there were two heritage fish, but on Big Reed and another reclamation we had relied on a private contractor. Some of the discussion should be, was there something in our hatchery system where we could rescue these fish until we figured out what to do with them.

Commissioner Woodcock stated there were more options than moving them to another heritage water, we could tank them. Gary Picard had talked to us about that and sometimes the charr were very small and it was difficult to get the right food source. They were planktiverous feeders.

Mr. Sage stated after reading all the comments, someone had stated it had been attempted 25 times to move charr to other bodies of water and only two were successful, Big Reed bring one of them. Was that correct?

Mr. Brautigam stated there had been a number of attempts over the years to establish, and some of the earlier attempts were in waters that weren‚€™t the most suitable. They were using age classes that did not take. The most successful attempts we had aside from Big Reed was at Wadleigh. We also successfully introduced charr from Floods into Enchanted and also into Long, and that was using a pre-spawn adult fish. Looking at how things had been done in the past, the considerations and approaches had varied. It was a viable option moving forward we were likely to anticipate more challenges in managing and conserving charr populations. Any options we explored would involve significant costs.

Mr. Farrington stated the Bald Mountain Pond report they had received showed we had spent a considerable amount of time at Bald Mountain Pond. The trapping of the charr that were present there had not been successful. It appeared they would have to find them before worrying about re-creating them. The feed could be purchased commercially. What kind of strain would we put on Henderson Pond by putting the fish from another water body there. He would be supportive of putting them in a hatchery.

Mr. Brautigam stated we had purchased transmitters and the intent was if we successfully collected the charr we would insert transmitters on the fish in an effort to identity where there might be some concentrations.

Mr. Farrington stated what he read in the Bald Mountain report indicated we had not found many of reproduction age. Was there a cause why they were not making it in Bald Mountain Pond?

Mr. Brautigam stated besides the interaction with smelt, it did appear as though water quality was limiting there in the summer. Historically, that did not appear to be the case prior to the smelt introduction.

Mr. Lewis stated he agreed with Mrs. Oldham, he was glad the proposal was removed from the packet. He thought we had time to look at all avenues and do what was best.

Commissioner Woodcock stated an important notion for him was we were talking about Bald Mountain Pond, but it wasn't solely a Bald Mountain Pond issue for him. It was the future of charr issue.

A motion was made by Mrs. Oldham to accept the proposal as amended, that was seconded by Mr. Scribner.

Vote: unanimous - motion passed

5 Fishing Regulations - Striped Bass

Mr. Brautigam stated he was not aware of any public comment that had come in with regard to the proposal. It was being advanced on behalf of the Department of Marine Resources to ensure we had the same minimum length limits on inland waters that we currently had on the coast line to support interstate management of the species.

A motion was made by Mrs. Oldham to accept the proposal as presented, and that was seconded by Mr. Sage.

Vote: unanimous - motion passed.

B. Step 2.

There were no items under Step 2.

1. Chapter 4 Rules repeal and replace

Mrs. Theriault stated we started about six months ago with the review. This was to bring the rule up to date with statutory language as there were some inconsistencies, reformatting the rule for clarity and it was decided to separate the rule into three separate chapters. Chapter 4 would remain and contain the falconry rules, and we would create a Chapter 16 for hunting rules, and Chapter 17 for trapping rules. We reviewed the WMD boundaries to ensure they were consistent with current road names. Railroad names were removed due to the large volume of turnover in companies that purchase railroads. Charts were created for the season dates and bag limits for ease of use. Outdated information was removed such as someone having to attach a tag to their antlerless deer. We didn‚€™t provide tags anymore, individuals now created their own tag. Prior to Step 2 a list would be sent out of all the changes that had been made. There were few substantive changes.

Council Member Comments and Questions

Mrs. Oldham asked about substantive changes.

Mrs. Theriault stated for example, because we were going to electronic tagging we looked at the registration station language for furbearers and big game species and the language was updated so it would be consistent with what the practice would be.

Commissioner Woodcock stated the task was to have a set of regulatory mechanisms that didn't contradict statute or other rules.

Mrs. Theriault stated a lot of the changes were clarification and removing statements that were redundant.

Commissioner Woodcock stated we were a public agency and the goal of the project was to make it easier for the public.

Mrs. Theriault stated she created in each rule chapter a scope of the rules, a table of contents and a definitions section. Lengthy sections specific to species also had a table of contents.

Mr. Fortier suggested to keep it simple. A lot of times an example or a for instance was used to help clarify what someone had read. If the rule could have an example it would explain better and help with interpretation.

Mrs. Theriault stated some of the substantive changes came from the big game species planning process. A complete review of the rules had not been done in 20-25 years.

Mr. Farrington stated we should work with the technology to make things easy to find online.

Mrs. Oldham stated when you opened something up for repeal and replace, there could be unintended consequences. Did we anticipate any fights with the Legislature over unintended consequences?

Mrs. Theriault stated this was the public process for rulemaking, this was not going through the legislative process.

2. Animal Damage Control rules

Ms. Camuso stated this was a brand-new rule. The Department had administered an animal damage control program for a number of years through a policy, but we decided it was time to put something in rule so those applying would have an understanding of what the requirements were. Very similar to becoming a wildlife rehabilitator, there were certain things you would have to do to meet our standards to perform the duties for us. The rule would outline the educational background, when you would need a trapping license, what animals you would be authorized to work on, testing requirements and requirement to work with game wardens and regional biologists. There would be four classes of ADC agents; bat exclusion, harass wildlife with dogs, home and garden and all other. There would also be a requirement that individuals applying for and those that held an ADC license have and maintain a clean background; no fish and game violations. We did not want to be sending people with crimes against a person in their background to someone‚€™s home. We set up standards for those applying and once they were issued a license there were standards they would have to maintain.

Mrs. Theriault stated we tried to mirror rule language similar to taxidermy and guide licenses so we had authorization to do some of the things.

Council Member Comments and Questions

Mr. Farrington asked about those that were currently licensed, would they be grandfathered?

Ms. Camuso stated there was a grandfathering provision. They wouldn‚€™t have to retest, but they would be expected to maintain a clean background. There were provisions for revoking a license in the proposal.

Mr. Sage asked about an insurance requirement.

Mrs. Theriault stated they would be independent contractors, although they were agents of the Commissioner. They were not technically licensed, they would be certified so they would have to get their insurance on their own.

Ms. Camuso stated she would like to update everyone on the direct data entry process. In August, we started our direct data entry web portal for tagging agents and we had trained over 300 tagging agents across the state. We had a contract person working specifically on the project. Brittany Peterson had been doing the majority of the training along with game wardens and regional biologists. There had been a few issues. We began with the controlled moose hunt, then bear season and then into archery season for deer. The volume had grown; there were some issues such as people with a Superpack license tagging under expanded archery. We were working through the issues. The mandatory bear tooth submission requirement, if somebody didn‚€™t have the tooth it wouldn‚€™t allow the tagging agent to register the animal. The vast majority of calls we were getting were that the tagging agent had forgotten their log-in information. Overall, there was positive feedback. There was a 1-800 number for agents to call for assistance. On the positive side, we could log into the system and know how many bears had been harvested. More data was available for the current bear season than last years. There had not been time to do a quality check on last year‚€™s data. The instantaneous feedback was fantastic. When hunters tagged an animal, they would get an email with pertinent information. Wardens were also able to query to see who had harvested animals in their district.

Mr. Fortier stated if a warden stopped someone he could log into the system to see if the animal was tagged, he wouldn't have to travel to the facility.

Mrs. Camuso stated the warden could monitor daily for tagging information.

Major Cloutier stated the wardens could access the information from their smartphone in their truck.

Commissioner Woodcock stated he wanted to credit Maryellen Wickett and Brittany Peterson for their hand in this project.

Mrs. Oldham asked if there was a concern with volume. The website had crashed with the any-deer permit deadline, did we have a sense what the volume would be and how to address that.

Ms. Camuso stated InforME had assured us they could handle the volume of registrations. The biggest holdup to this point were people tagging deer with paper licenses that had not been entered in the MOSES system.

Mr. Thurston stated he had gotten a call from Naples Bait & Tackle and told them he would follow up.

Mrs. Camuso stated the Department offered to facilities that needed a device to reimburse them for up to $100.

V. Other Business

Mr. Fortier stated in the Square Lake area, the boat landing site that belonged to a private individual, the water was really low. The Square Lake area in the spring got a lot of fishing and they would like to be able to access it. Most of the people that had camps accessed it in the spring because that was when the water level allowed them to put boats in. The exceptionally low water level had brought things to a head with people wanting to access the lake. Maybe the state did not want to own the site, but a lot of people fished the lake.

Commissioner Woodcock stated it had been discussed and was discussed often.

Mr. Brautigam stated typically when we utilized federal funds for water access development we had to have some kind of right or title to the site we developed and made those investments for the public. It also spoke to how the regional biologist was managing the waters. Management objectives there, and with the strategic planning we were trying to develop more water specific management plans with local stakeholder input. Square Lake had been managed more as a remote lake experience. The biologist may not be on the same page as far as enhancing access to the lake. Before considering any investments there we would have to make sure we had a site we could develop that would address the long-term needs. The current site may not be the best prospect for access development.

VI. Councilor Reports

Councilors gave reports.

VII. Public Comments and Questions

Katie Hansberry asked about the checking of traps, wasn't that once a day not 24 hours.

Ms. Camuso stated, once a day.

Melissa Sage asked about the squirrel issue. They were seeing a lot of dead squirrels and she was concerned it was going to cause an accident.

Mr. Cordes stated we had an outstand mast year last year which added to their survival and reproduction.

MR. Corson stated he would like to thank the Council and Commissioner for the effort that was put in on the heritage waters.

VIII. Agenda Items & Schedule Date for Next Meeting

The Council would be notified of the next meeting.

IX. Adjournment

A motion was made by Mr. Farrington and that was seconded by Mr. Sage to adjourn the meeting. The meeting was adjourned at 11:00 a.m.