Advisory Council Meeting
March 21 , 2019 @ 9:30 a.m.
Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (upstairs conference room)
284 State Street, Augusta
Judy Camuso, Acting Commissioner
Timothy Peabody, Deputy Commissioner
Christl Theriault, Assistant to the Commissioner
Mark Latti, Communications Director
Nate Webb, WRAS Supervisor
Bob Cordes, Special Projects Coordinator
Kelsey Sullivan, Game Bird Specialist
Lee Kantar, Moose Biologist
Nathan Bieber, Deer Biologist
Francis Brautigam, Director of Fisheries and Hatcheries
Steve Allarie, Warden Service Corporal
Becky Orff, Secretary/Recorder
Don Dudley (Chair)
Jerry Scribner br> Sheri Oldham
Brian Smith - by phone
Gary Corson, New Sharon
Fern Bosse and Sylvia Bosse, Norway
James Cote, MTA
Jeff Reardon, MTA
Bob Parker, TU
Dierdre Fleming, Portland Press Herald
Bob Noonan, Somerset
David Anderson, Maine Clerks Association
Don Kleiner, MPGA
I. Call to Order
Don Dudley, Council Chair, called the meeting to order
Introductions were made.
III. Acceptance of Minutes of Previous Meeting
A motion was made by Mr. Fortier to approve the minutes of the previous meeting and that was seconded by Mr. Scribner.
Vote: unanimous - minutes approved.
B. Step 2
1. Bear Trapping rules
Mr. Webb stated a public hearing was held in Hallowell on March 5th and the comment period had ended. We received a fair number of comments and quite a few questions from the trapping community in terms of whether certain devices or practices would be legal under the proposed rule. We were able to answer most of those questions at the hearing. There had been some concerns expressed related to the fact the rule as written would prohibit the use of drags for bear trapping. A fixed anchor point would be required and typically that would be a tree. Some members of the trapping community had expressed they would like to see the option for drags continue. There was also some concern expressed related to the requirement to have a clear catch circle and the size of the area that they would have to clear in order to create the catch circle. There were some comments received in opposition to bear trapping in general. The component of the rule related to the pipe or bucket style traps for which the emergency rule was put in place last summer, there had been minimal feedback on that. There were some questions on certain devices whether or not they would be legal. The amount of concern was minimal.
Council Member Comments and Questions
Mr. Sage stated he spoke with the president of the Maine Trappers Association and he could bring in some examples of the bucket traps so the Council would understand them better.
Mrs. Oldham asked with the change in the rules they had seen where changes in trapping rules previously had led to decreased harvest and participation. Was it anticipated that we would see that with the change in bear trapping rules.
Mr. Webb stated it was hard to say. Bear trapping was unique in that it was an activity that was increasing. Permit sales were steadily increasing. We believed the rule would allow most of the common techniques the trappers were using. He felt most of the trappers were already following most of the standards. It could cause some trappers to not continue because the way they liked to trap would no longer be allowed. The primary concern that had been expressed was the use of drags. In the Department's experience, we had a lot of experience trapping bears for research primarily, as well as conflict management, and we felt confident the methods did allow trappers to be successful but it would require a change for some.
Mr. Thurston asked if we had a breakdown of residents vs. nonresidents and where that growth was coming from.
Mr. Webb stated it was coming from both. Permits sales had steadily increased from the 300-400 range to the 500-600 range. There had been slow and steady growth both in the resident and nonresident permit sales.
Mr. Sage stated he knew because they taught the trapping classes and asked people why they were getting into trapping and 95% of them said they wanted to trap a bear.
Commissioner Camuso stated we did have a bill before the legislature that would give the Department the authority to set the bag limit for bear and it would also require a mandatory bear trapping course. That would be available online so nonresidents would still have the opportunity to take the class before they came to Maine.
Mr. Webb stated one of the challenges that nonresident bear trappers currently had was that many of them were bear hunters and they viewed bear trapping as another harvest method and they were not necessarily trappers in the sense they had a background in trapping other species. Currently, they had to purchase a nonresident trapping license which was fairly expensive and to do that they had to take a trapper education course. The bill would allow them to buy a bear trapping permit either a hunting license or a trapping license, but they would be required to take an online bear trapping education course.
Mr. Lewis stated with the drags, it was the same when they went through it with the foothold traps. He had trapped quite a few bear, mostly nuisance bear and a lot of times there wasnt an area he could find an anchor. He was doing it around beehives, blueberry fields, etc. where it was hard to find a place to anchor. Also, he did not want the bear to be left out in the sun.
Mr. Webb stated there were pros and cons. The way they trapped for bear for research was, he thought many trappers were trapping where they had their bait site and then they found a spot to set the trap. We found an anchor tree in a shady spot in an area that we didnt have to clear other trees, there was a clear catch circle and we would attract the bears to that site. As opposed to having a location and finding a way to do a set that would trap the bear. It was a different approach.
Mr. Smith stated the bill before the Legislature for a second bear, was that hunting or just trapping?
Commissioner Camuso stated the bill was to give the Department the authority to set the bag limit through rule.
Mr. Smith asked if the Department wanted to extend the hunting season by a week for baiting, would that be a rule change?
Mr. Webb stated we currently had that authority in rule. Statute set the boundaries for a 13-week season, set the bag limit. Within that 13-week season through rulemaking we could adjust when the use of bait or hounds was allowed. The current framework had been in place for quite some time.
Mr. Smith stated he had some bear hunters in Washington County say they wanted to kill more bears, it seemed averse to a spring season or a two-bear limit, give them an extra week of bait hunting and they could take additional bears.
Mr. Webb stated part of the challenge was in some years in the northern part of the state we had bears denning up about the end of the third week of baiting season. There were guides that did not put clients the last week because they didnt know going into the season when the bears had denned up.
Mr. Thurston asked if the bill would give us the option to create a spring season.
Commissioner Camuso stated it did not.
Dudley asked what the guidelines were.
Mr. Webb stated currently the start date was fixed to the last Monday in August and youth day was the Saturday before, and that would be moved back to August 15th. The seasons would be set in rule, the sideboards were in statute.
Mr. Smith asked what the harvest numbers were for last year.
Mr. Webb stated 3,306. Our target was about 15% of adult females with a rough estimate we had about 36,000 - 38,000 bears, we would need to harvest in the 5,000 bear range again.
2. Migratory Bird Season 2019-2020
Mr. Sullivan stated a hearing was held on March 6th. At the hearing, there were a few comments about the sea duck season timing. Based on those comments and where we had been we didnt feel there was any good reason to make any changes at this point. We could look at doing a survey again of sea duck hunters and look at what the majority of folks would prefer in terms of season dates if we made any changes. The proposal was pretty much the same as at Step 1, but there was a change in the brant season. Brant seasons were set after the January survey, and the proposal was before the January survey. It came back the population estimates were below the liberal threshold so based on federal guidelines we had to go from 60 and 2 to 30 and 2. On section D. Brant, there were some changes in the dates. On the coastal zone, in Maine there was not a lot of brant hunting but someone that was a brant hunter on the coast came to the public hearing and commented the season on the coastal zone should be when the brant were more likely to be there. We changed our original thinking of setting brant seasons at the beginning of our zones to the end of the coastal zone. December 3 to Jan. 6 was 30-days counting backwards from the end of the coastal zone.
Mr. Sullivan stated there was a comment about the woodcock season. Maine Professional Guides sent a letter asking for timing the woodcock season, if there was a potential change in our grouse season to match them. Under federal guidelines we couldnt set the date any sooner than October 1 for woodcock.
Council Member Comments and Questions
Mr. Lewis stated the public comment that was received from the person in southern Maine talking about sea duck hunting, that was not the way it was in Hancock County. There were outfitters gassing up every morning to go, it was hard to find a place to launch. It was unbelievable how many people were sea duck hunting in his area compared to what it used to be.
Mr. Scribner asked about the possession limits on geese. During the early season, we had a possession limit of 30 up to September 25th and once the migratory season started the possession limit in the south went down to 6. What would the possession limit be in the interim period and going forward?
Corporal Allarie stated technically you couldnt exceed your daily bag limit.
Mr. Fortier stated with the early winter was that affecting the partridge?
Mr. Sullivan stated not unless there was an extended period of snow into June. Even grouse in southern Maine would have a second attempt 3 weeks to a month later. They were still keyed up to breed well into the middle or end of June. There was a large window for breeding.
C. Step 1
1. 2019 Moose permit allocations
Mr. Kantar stated wildlife division biologists met and the biggest driver for 2019 was the fact they were implementing the new big game plan. There were a couple of take home messages with the big game plan. One, we transitioned to looking at moose health and what health was driven by for moose was really about productivity and producing calves. It was about trying to minimize parasites and disease. That had a lot to do with permit allocations. The second big thing was for WMDs 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 27, 28 we developed a new dynamic for issuing permits. We recognized that in WMDs where we had very few permits over time there was very little data or knowledge about moose. Harvest data would not get us anywhere when harvesting just a few animals. In recognition of that we took a step back and looked at how many permits we could have on the ground where you could actually hunt moose. The example he used was looking at WMD 17 and looked at permit levels, what was the reality of where you could hunt moose. WMD 17 ran from Bingham all the way over to Bangor, it was not moose country except in parts and there were four towns where people had harvested moose over the years. We built a dynamic where we were issuing permits based on the reality of how much habitat was there. Looking at WMDs 10-14 there were a lot of changes there and that reflected a straight metric across the board being evenly done for all those areas. That was also what we called in the big game plan a peripheral range for moose. We were also recognizing there was a core range for moose which was the commercial forest land which was really WMDs 1-11 and 19. We had been very successful for the last decade of being able to conduct aerial surveys and get information on reproduction and our survival study. We had a lot of data that informed us about the status of moose in those areas. In the core range, we felt we could be more specific and strategic with how we issued permits and the reason why. The driving factor remained that we had depressed or low reproduction on our moose. In some parts of the state we had issues with winter tick. Winter tick was an issue on moose calves; in our study area, it influenced calves in our western study area as far as survival mortality. In northern Maine in our WMD 2 study area survival was twice as high. There were winter ticks out there that could be lethal but it affected calves. Adult survival remained high in Maine. The answer from a management perspective was that we should be increasing hunting permits. We had always been conservative with moose permits in Maine. Hunting mortality on an annual basis was not what drove the moose population in Maine. What did drive the population was productivity and that meant how many calves a cow dropped every year, her age of first reproduction, whether she had twins or not and if the calves survived the first month of life in May and then their first winter.
Mr. Kantar stated in the past when we had a moose population with low reproduction that had been tied to the food resource meaning, whatever number of moose were out there, there wasnt enough food for all of them so they were all producing at a robust rate. In Maine, combined with New Hampshire, looking at moose it was not the food driving the decreased productivity but the winter tick. The winter tick did not kill a cow moose, but it put enough pressure on her physiologically so that when she was carrying a fetus in March and April by the time May came she was in poor enough condition perhaps that it was impacting how well the calves survived. In northern Maine we recommended some moderate permit increases in many WMDs with an increase in cow permits. In WMDs 1 and 4 during the new planning process they acknowledged that we could also afford to increase the bull permits there. Prior to this, our plan had a static number to maintain a level of bulls to cows, 60 per 100. If we dropped below that we would take management action. Fortunately, we recognized that having one point like that was a very difficult way to manage. We needed to have a range of values. Our range of values for bull/cow ratio had increased and we had a wider range, especially in WMDs 1 and 4 we could issue more permits.
Council Member Comments and Questions
Mr. Dudley stated it had been a difficult winter snow wise, what affect did that have on the calves?
Mr. Kantar stated based on information from our collared animals, in a difficult winter moose were like deer in deep snow, they did not go anywhere. To date, we had lost very few calves in our study. In our western study area we collared about 35 calves and another 35 in the northern part and we had not lost any calves there. In the western study area, the first calf lost was predisposed with a swollen front and rear leg which impeded movement. The other three calves, two of the three had the highest winter tick loads of all calves captured.
Mr. Lewis asked if they always stayed in a small area in the winter or did it depend on the snow.
Mr. Kantar stated this was the 6th year of data and the reason we did not fly aerial surveys past mid-February was because the moose disappeared. They were holed up in places and not going far.
2. Wild Trout Conservation Strategy - North Zone General Law concept
Mr. Brautigam stated this was again at Step 1. The comment period was still ongoing and we wanted to allow enough time to review the information and comments. Two public hearings had been held, one in Millinocket and one in Hallowell with fairly low attendance at both. Except for one individual there had been support for the proposal. There were concerns with some of the specifics where we were retaining the use of live fish as bait on some waters. There was some concern about the information provided in the packet not being comprehensive enough for one NGO in terms of being able to do a comprehensive and complete analysis of all the data. There were some concerns that more proposals that involved retaining live fish as bait occurred in just one part of the northern region. There were some concerns that retention of those use opportunities wasnt equally distributed throughout the north region. Overall people were supportive of the concept to move forward with the no live fish as bait provision in the north region. We looked forward to reviewing the comments to the extent they were germane to the scope of the effort and would look at the merit of making any further additions to the list of waters that would be retaining the use of live fish as bait use in the north region.
3. Ch. 20 Taxidermy - Freeze Dried Classification
Mrs. Theriault stated this came about due to someone calling and asking if they could preserve specimens via a freeze-dried method. After reviewing the statute it did appear that somebody would need to be licensed as a taxidermist to use that method. Currently, we had five different classifications for taxidermy; bird, fish, mammal and head, skull and bone and a general classification which encompassed all of them. We were proposing to put forward a new classification called the freeze-dried classification. Those interested in doing it would not have to take a written exam but would have to provide us with three species that they had done in the last 3 years. It would be consistent with testing for other classifications. Additionally, as we started the review a staff member pick up on the way the statute was written for all fish and wildlife and parts thereof that someone could preserve using taxidermy. Had we ever considered they could do it for reptiles and amphibians? Someone could, but we did not have a classification specific to it. In order to accommodate that we also created a classification for reptiles and amphibians. The classification would not require a written exam, just an oral exam where they would provide specimens they had done in the last 3 years. Also, we were looking at our testing requirements for other commercial licenses and trying to bring consistency in terms of the time frame for notification and the time for retesting and some changes would be included in the proposal. If someone came in for a written exam they would be told that day if they passed or failed. We would allow them 14 days before they could retest on the written exam. For an oral exam where they came in and provided a specimen we would allow 30 days before they could retest.
Council Member Comments and Questions
Mr. Lewis stated the language for skulls said, should be bleached and sealed. Was that for part of the test? The newest thing was that you shouldnt seal them. If they were sealed they would turn yellow, it wasnt as good as just leaving them.
Mrs. Theriault stated that was something we could look into and possibly change in the testing.
Mr. Sage stated under the freeze drying they had to present specimens. How could they provide specimens if they were not licensed?
Mrs. Theriault stated they could work under a licensed taxidermist.
4. Ch. 13 Watercraft rules
Mrs. Theriault stated the primary reason for the proposal was to establish some specifications on statutory and operational boat testing for decibel levels. This stemmed from complaints in the Sebago Lake area on loud boats. Our statute allowed the Commissioner to adopt rules for provisions such that a game warden could do testing on boats to determine what the noise levels were. We never had rules in place. Lt. Gormely, the boating law administrator, had looked at rules from New Hampshire and we were utilizing their framework for standards for testing. The stationary test was not very practical for Maine but we were going to put it in the rules as the statute did speak to it. Primarily, we would use the motion test where a boat would pass by as they ran the test. We referred to the SAE standards, they were a national standard for testing. We had purchased the most recent layout for that and would provide a link in the rule.
5. Wild Turkey hunting
Mr. Sullivan stated we had a new approach to turkey management through the big game management process and one of the things identified was getting better information on basic turkey biology, survival rates, and managing at a WMD level. There had been interest in liberalizing the turkey season. Moving forward with the proposal we wanted to recognize that and in a lot of the state turkeys were abundant. There were basically five aspects of the proposal: 1) eliminating the A/B season in WMDs 1-6; 2) opening the fall turkey season earlier by about two weeks. Putting the start date the Monday closest to September 17; 3) proposing to have a fall youth day the Saturday prior to the beginning of the fall season; 4) increasing the bag limit in the fall for the core turkey area (WMDs 15-17 and 26) going from 2 to 5 birds. WMD 26 would increase from 1 bird to 3; 5) expanding the shotgun gauges including 28 and .410. Also increasing shot size to 2 through 9. They had discussed the effectiveness of .410 #9 lead shot which if you were 10 yards away would probably kill a turkey but maybe not at 40 yards. There were some new products available, tungsten TSS that had shown to be pretty effective at killing turkeys at a significant range. It would be difficult to start identifying particular products, expanding in a general sense and education would be the approach. Most turkey hunters knew what was effective.
Council Member Comments and Questions
Mr. Smith stated he was part of the wild turkey working group that worked to get the shot size restrictions to 4 to 6 after a warden was shot. At 40 yards #2 shot may have been fatal, but #4-#6 was not. Also, not shooting birds out of a tree, they were looking at ethics and safety. Why the .410, they knew what a marginal shotgun gauge that was as far as killing ability and distance. He could understand the 28 gauge with some of the new loads but not .410. He did not have a problem with the bag limit increase. What he saw in WMD 27 where he lived was someone would shoot a bird in WMD 27 and then go across and shoot another bird in WMD 28. He was concerned about the shot size restrictions, he knew there was newer shot but a .410, #9 wouldnt kill a grouse at 30 yards.
Mr. Sullivan stated it was in response to interest with the new TSS, tungsten matrix #9 out of a .410.
Mrs. Oldham stated the shot would not be cheap, it was very expensive. If the rule passed, and the argument was for the .410 for youth hunters, a .410 shotgun kicked more than a semi-automatic 20 gauge. It was not ethical hunting. The number of people that were going to be able to afford the newest and latest was minimal. People would be using lead shot and that was not ethical if we wanted to promote ethical hunting.
Mr. Thurston stated he agreed with the concern with respect to the .410, but the 20 gauge with the right loads increased kills. The 20 gauge was something the kids could handle, had a longer range and was more accurate.
Mr. Lewis stated he had a concern with the 5-bird limit and that they could do it all at once. He had seen other states where you could only take 1 or 2 per day and then the rest another day. He felt some people would take the opportunity and wipe out a whole brood.
Mr. Fortier stated he agreed with the others regarding the .410. He had recently purchased 2 new .410s but waited 1 yrs. to get them. They outperformed his 20 gauge. 24" with four different chokes, there was no kick, but more penetration and more range. They were new to the market, lever action. The technology was changing, the ammo was expensive, but he would not hesitate to use one on a turkey.
Mr. Sullivan stated we tried to go around being specific to what type of material was in the shot.
Mr. Sage stated he saw us getting sections of rural Maine that would buy the cheapest .410 ammo they could and go out and try to hunt and end up wounding a lot more birds.
Mr. Smith stated the last two weeks in September should be limited to bow and crossbow instead of shotgun to help resolve conflicts. Instead of .410 they should be allowed to hunt turkey with a handgun. He felt we should be cautious with the shot size, he didnt see a reason to go to shot size #2 because of the penetration factor of #2 if a hunter was shot.
Mr. Scribner stated his concern was more connected to making sure that on an annual basis there was a link to winter mortality, nesting success, etc. He fully supported the bag limit of 5 in the fall at this point in those particular WMDs that we were proposing. He was cautious in that going forward he wanted to make sure we were keeping in mind the population health and making sure each year there was an annual link to winter mortality as with deer and moose. Also nesting success and adjust accordingly. Otherwise, as weve seen with other populations if our bag limit became too liberal then we would have issues.
Mr. Sullivan stated the basis of his research project was to address those things that Mr. Scribner mentioned.
Mrs. Oldham stated in terms of expanding the fall season we were waiting for survey results. Her concern was she felt there could be a fall turkey season in WMD 7 based on the marked increase of turkeys in the last two years. If it was going to take 2 or 3 years to get results of the study, there werent a lot of turkey hunters in that area. If we wanted to encourage hunting a 1 bird fall bag limit for WMD 7 would not be that detrimental if they had to wait 2 or 3 years for a good study.
Mr. Sullivan stated some of the other regions had concerns but WMD 7 did not come up. It was up for consideration. If we could maintain registration and do something like that he would be comfortable. We could track things with registration data and see if there was a significant drop.
V. Other Business
1. LD 1298 - An Act to Enhance Fish & Wildlife Laws
Commissioner Camuso stated we had a request to extend the ice fishing season in the north zone on water bodies that were currently open to ice fishing. There was a tremendous amount of ice still available with no sign of much change. We did not currently have the authority to extend the ice fishing season so we worked with our legislative committee to put forward an emergency bill that would give the Department the authority to extend the ice fishing season. It passed unanimously through the committee and was reported out and was scheduled to be on the House and Senate floor. Once that was completed we would work with the Attorney General to enact an emergency rule. Ice fishing ended March 31 so we needed to move fast. Mr. Brautigam and staff would make a recommendation on how long the season would remain open in the north region. The Commissioner asked for a show of hands from the Council to show if they were in support of an emergency rule going forward. It was unanimous from the Council they would be in favor.
Mr. Fortier stated he assumed it was just the Fish River chain up north.
Mr. Brautigam stated all the waters currently open to ice fishing. It would only really effect the northern region. In the southern region it was pretty much year round fishing. We did not have the wild populations and fall spawning issues as up north and had a different framework for seasons.
Commissioner Camuso stated this was not on the agenda, but deer biologist Nathan Bieber was going to give an overview of our proposal for the any-deer permits. This was in preparation for the actual allocation of permits because we had identified in the big game plan the ability to manage deer at the sub-WMD level. Nathan would be walking them through the process for the sub-WMD level so when the proposal was advertised they would have the background on how we were handling the sub-WMDs.
Any-deer permits sub-WMDs (this was presented in conjunction with a PowerPoint slide presentation. A copy of the presentation is available by request to Becky.Orff@maine.gov )
Mr. Bieber stated some of the priorities items in the new big game plan we were trying to address with the proposal included developing adaptive processes and management triggers to deal with overabundant deer. It was a new high priority item from the game plan to adjust deer densities using any-deer permits and where deer abundance exceeded social and ecological carrying capacity to use whatever tools we could to control those issues of local overabundance and also monitor nuisance deer complaints and deal with those complaints with whatever management tools we had available. We currently managed deer at the WMD level and had been since 2006. For the most part it worked well. WMDs were small enough we were able to represent different areas of the state but still big enough we were able to collect data that was represented above those WMDs. There were areas of WMDs that did not seem to quite fit with the whole WMD and management at the WMD scale did not always address all of the towns within a WMD. Some of the negative impacts we may see associated with locally overabundant deer could be damage to property, increased deer vehicle collisions, high prevalence of Lyme disease, decreased forest regeneration, etc. It was also worth noting that as long as we allowed these little pockets of locally overabundant deer to persist our WMD scale management efforts may be skewed. It would be ideal if we could address these areas.
The goal was to use tools we already had and data that was readily available, not to develop new things. What data did we have to support deer being locally overabundant? There were a number of different sources, we could get road kill data from MDOT; nuisance deer report data from Warden Service; Lyme disease prevalence data through CDC; harvest data; ideally would could incorporate some measure of impacts on stand regeneration but currently there was not a good source for that. All the data sources were incomplete in some way or another but were useful as trend indicators to compare towns around the state. We compiled data for those metrics for all the towns around the state and basically ranked every town from where it stood for each of the different problem deer metrics. If a town was in the top percentile for road kills it would receive a score of 10. If it was on the very bottom, a 1. Likewise, for the different metrics. We created a composite index to basically describe all the towns in the state as far as deer issues who had it the worst consistently across all the different metrics. Of note, he only included the Lyme disease metric for the southern districts. Lyme prevalence was pretty much a coastal, southern Maine thing at this point. Also, the harvest metrics he didnt include any towns that were closed to hunting.
They mapped the composite scores to identify visually chunks of area around the state that were experiencing a lot of issue with locally overabundant deer. He mapped the higher priority towns with red, orange was moderate, tan was low priority and white towns were non-priority. The threshold of what made a red vs. orange vs. tan were arbitrarily set and could be adjusted in the future. The way we proposed to designate a sub-unit, a sub-unit should consist of at least one high priority town and one moderate priority town or at least three of the orange moderate priority towns. Those towns should be connected side adjacent or connected by lower priority towns. We were looking for chunks of area around the state where they were experiencing all the different deer issues. Sub-units should be in a single WMD where the management strategy they had for deer was to either decrease or stabilize the deer population. We hadnt overlapped with expanded archery areas to avoid confusion with what weapons could be used and because we already had additional harvest options in those areas. Any area we identified as a sub-unit should be an area that was open to hunting. Before we would designate a sub-unit we would confer with the warden service and regional biologist to make sure there was on the ground support for the idea and some sort of corroborating evidence that suggested the data but also the people in the area and staff agreed this was a problem area that should be addressed.
We would define sub-unit boundaries using readily identifiable features like highways, roads, waterways, etc. We would be proposing two sub-units, one in WMD 25 and consist of Georgetown/ Arrowsic. We had many discussions around this area and there was general agreement that the areas were very high deer density and needed to be brought down. There had been efforts to put a special hunt into place and he thought the sub-unit permits may address that. We would also propose a sub-unit for WMD 26 consisting of portions of Brewer, Holden, Dedham, Orrington, Bucksport, Orland, Verona, Penobscot and Castine. A lot of staff discussions about the area and locally overabundant deer compared to the rest of the WMDs. During the comment period for any-deer permits last year we received comments about WMD 26 and we had letters as well from orchard owners.
The sub-unit permits we would give out would be additional to other any-deer permits we were putting in the WMD. Essentially, we were looking at how much area was made up of the sub-unit within the WMD and what was our doe quota for that WMD. How much of the doe quota we ascribed to the WMD would be normally ascribed just to that sub-unit if all things were equal, then multiplying by how much more productive was the area within the sub-unit compared to the whole WMD. There was a second term within the equation if we wanted to be more conservative that accounted for the fact that some of the any-deer permits we already allocated were going to be used in the sub-unit naturally so we were subtracting those numbers. If we wanted to be aggressive vs. conservative would determine which formula we wanted to use.
For the proposed sub-units in the Georgetown/Arrowsic sub-unit depending whether we were being conservative or aggressive we would propose harvesting an additional 27 does if we were being conservative or 52 does if we were being aggressive. Naturally, similar to any-deer permits when we issued those permits some fawns were going to be taken as well so those were accounted for. In the sub-unit 26 we proposed an additional 74 does if we were being conservative, or 110 does if we were being aggressive. Similar to any-deer permits there would be an expansion factor. The estimated expansion factors were based on bonus permit expansion factors we had seen around the state as well as just the WMD expansion factors we had seen. He would estimate in WMD 25 an expansion factor of 4 or 5 would be appropriate to achieve the doe quota and the sub-unit for WMD 26 an expansion factor of 1 or 1.5 would probably be used.
We would reevaluate the existing sub-units every 5 years to give the area a chance to have the extra management take effect. Additionally, every year we would look at the data for all the towns and see if any other areas of the state should be identified as sub-units for further management. For permit allocation, the simplest method would be to use the currently existing permit lottery. Someone picks where they want their any-deer permit or bonus permit and they would just be able to choose their bonus permit for a sub-unit instead. We wanted people in those areas to be encouraged to get permits so they had some ownership over the deer problems in their areas. The most appropriate approach would be to achieve that through outreach and do a ".Gov delivery or something to hunters who took a deer within the sub-unit area last year or had a residence in that area and let them know we were doing an additional harvest and encourage them to apply.
Council Member Comments and Questions
Mrs. Oldham asked if this was an adaptation of strategies used elsewhere.
Mr. Bieber stated it was our own creation for the most part. A lot of other states used sub-units for different things.
Mr. Webb stated the idea was we would start small with the two units and if it went well the criteria could be adjusted to be more aggressive.
Mr. Scribner stated having been to Georgetown and hearing their concerns he was sure this would be received very well.
Mr. Dudley asked how the collar study was going up north.
Mr. Bieber stated it was going well this year. In WMD 6 where it was pretty easy to catch deer they put out 40 collars and they had lost 5 so far. They went to a new study sight northeast of Baxter around Scraggly Lake and were hoping to get 10-15 collars out before the end of the season.
Councilors gave reports.
VII. Public Comments & Questions
Fern Bosse stated what was brought up about using .410 for turkey hunting, please dont. What was mentioned about the heavier shot people were not going to pay $1.25 for a .410 shell to give the kid to use. If we let the proposal go like that there would be a cart load of wounded turkeys. In the right hands of an experienced shooter, yes, but more youth would be using a .410. Also, the mix of the shot size #2 was too big and dangerous.
David Anderson stated he agreed the .410 was an experts gun, not a kids gun. The clerks association the town clerks wanted to encourage the councils support with the LD going through for increased agent fees. The agent fees had been static for even longer than the license fees and although not a significant source of revenue to the towns it was a revenue line and they would appreciate an increase. If it came up in their discussions, they would ask for support.
Jeff Reardon stated regarding the fishing regulations proposal, there were several categories of waters they would be flagging that they had concerns about. There were a number of tributary streams that were proposed to be left open to live fish as bait that were either direct inlets to or outlets of or both of heritage waters. The whole thing that started it was the bill about tributaries to heritage waters, so they thought all of those should be captured unless there was a very specific reason. There was another category of lakes and ponds that were upstream in the watershed above heritage waters so it was kind of the same issue as tributaries. The legislation proposed would not have captured those, but the idea was this approach would be better because it would be more comprehensive. In a couple of watersheds there were some extensive stream networks and he questioned whether there was much public demand for use of live fish as bait for brook fishing. He was not talking about muskellunge waters. These were watersheds that were wild brook trout waters. Overall, they were supportive of the proposal.
VIII. Agenda Items & Schedule Date for Next Meeting
The next Advisory Council meeting was scheduled for Tuesday, April 30, 2019 at 9:30 a.m. in Augusta.
A motion was made by Mr. Fortier and that was seconded by Mr. Sage to adjourn the meeting. The meeting was adjourned at 11:30 a.m.