Advisory Council Meeting
August 12, 2019 @ 9:30 a.m.
Inland Fisheries and Wildlife ((This council meeting was held during Governor Mill's State of Emergency due to the Covid-19 pandemic limiting the ability to hold public meetings. Participation was by video conference - Microsoft TEAMS meeting))
Judy Camuso, Commissioner
Timothy Peabody, Deputy Commissioner
Christl Theriault, Assistant to the Commissioner
Jim Connolly, Director Bureau of Resource Management
Nate Webb, Wildlife Division Director
Jen Vashon, Black Bear and Lynx Biologist
Matt Lubejko, Fisheries Planner and Research Coord
Tim Obrey, Regional Fisheries Biologist
Frank Frost, Regional Fisheries Biologist
Becky Orff, Secretary/Recorder
Matt Thurston (Chair)
Jerry Scribner (Vice-Chair)
Vacancy in Piscataquis/Somerset Cty
I. Call to Order
Council Chair, Matt Thurston called the meeting to order.
Introductions were made.
III. Acceptance of Minutes of Previous Meeting
A motion was made by Mr. Sage to approve the minutes of the previous meeting and that was seconded by Mr. Smith.
Vote: unanimous minutes approved.
A. Step 3
- Ch. 16 Crossbow and Misc. Rule Clarifications
Mrs. Theriault stated there were three portions to the rules that were modified creating consistency between rule and law. The first was modifying the definition of antlerless moose. The statute was changed the previous year and the language needed to be cleaned up in rule to be consistent. The title of adult supervisor was changed to junior hunter supervisor to describe the person supervising a junior hunter within all the youth hunt days in rule. Modifications were made to crossbow hunting because of the new expansion in crossbow hunting over the next three years. Only two public comments were received, one was a formatting error that was corrected and the other was questioning the antlerless moose definition change.
There were no further questions or comments. A motion was made by Mr. Sage to accept the proposal as presented, and that was seconded by Mr. Smith.
Vote: Unanimous motion passed.
2. Furbearer Rules
Mr. Webb stated the proposal would make a number of changes to the furbearer trapping rules to increase simplification and add clarification and a few substantial adjustments. The rule change would create a definition for visible attractor. There currently was not a definition for visible attractor in rule or statute. It would also update beaver season trapping dates and beaver trapping closures. It would clarify requirements for muskrat trap placements and also add some clarity regarding incidental capture of mink, muskrat and otter while trapping for beaver and muskrat. It would increase the annual fisher bag limit from 10 to 25 statewide; remove the temporary transportation tag requirement for marten and fisher; and amend the annual trapper survey requirements to only require those surveys be submitted by trappers age 16 and older. In the amended version of the proposal there were a couple of wording changes to the definition of visible attractor. The changes were identified in red in the updated version that was circulated. The first change was to clarify that fruits and vegetables used for muskrat trapping would not be considered a visible attractor. That was a clarification we thought was important. The items were used in muskrat trapping and there was no intent to prohibit those. We also clarified that small pieces of flagging could be used to mark trap site locations. That issue was raised during the public comment period. Other than the two small language changes to the definition, there were no other changes being proposed.
There were no further questions or comments. A motion was made by Mr. Sage to accept the proposal as amended, and that was seconded by Mr. Smith.
Vote: Unanimous motion passed.
3. 2020 Any-deer Permit Allocations
Mr. Webb stated this was the annual permit allocation. The numbers were set each year in rule based on biological data and our deer management plan. We discussed some relatively minor adjustments to the original proposal at the last Council meeting based on feedback from northern Maine. The amended proposal had an increase of 25 permits in WMD 2 and 3, and an increase of 50 permits in WMD 6 as compared to the original proposal for a total increase of 100 permits. Just under 110,000 permits statewide including a number of permits in two subunits were being proposed.
There were no further questions or comments. A motion was made by Mr. Sage to accept the proposal as amended, and that was seconded by Mr. Smith.
Vote: Unanimous motion passed.
B. Step 2
- Bear Feeding Rule Petition
Commissioner Camuso stated this was a petition brought to the Department by John Glowa. A public hearing was held on July 8, 2020 and the comment period closed on July 20, 2020. The Department compiled all public comments as well as provided some background information on the petition and the Departments approach. She asked Jen Vashon the State bear biologist to describe what had been received by the Council.
Mrs. Vashon stated the Council had been provided with a packet of information beginning with the spreadsheet. There were five tabs organized by comments in support, opposed or those that were neither in support or opposition. The comments were also organized by those that were most prevalent and area of topic. Many of the comments were in a similar theme. There were only 8 received neither in support or opposition so those were not organized in any particular order. The category was provided because even though many of the comments received were similar to comments we received in support or opposed, the individual didnt clearly articulate whether they were in support or opposition and based on the way the letter was written it was difficult to determine their position. The first tab in the document was support by most prevalent. We received 85 comments in support of the proposed petition. Of those comments, they covered 38 different topics. The majority fell in three categories; it was ethically wrong to hunt black bears with the use of bait or by feeding them, or that feeding or baiting bears caused the population to grow and could cause more problems with black bears. When organized by topic areas in different categories we had 8 that just mentioned general support but didnt give any specifics. Comments were also received from those in support that collecting information on bait would be helpful through permitting bait sites; some had general concern about how feeding or baiting might be impacting the bear population for conflicts; some about phasing out hunting over bait; some just in general opposition about bear hunting with bait or feeding bears; and some miscellaneous comments that were difficult to categorize. Those were the comments received in support of the petition.
Mr. Duchesne stated he reviewed all the comments that came in. The claim seemed to be that the population of bears was increasing and there was only one possible explanation and that was bear baiting and therefore they didnt need to prove it just assume that was true. Did anyone submit anything that was scientific? Any research from other states, or information that would support their theory that bear baiting was causing the increase in population.
Mrs. Vashon stated we received 4 comments that sited papers on the impacts of feeding supplemental food on increasing health and reproductive success. The majority of those were papers or articles that were focused on feeding whitetailed deer and just briefly spoke about impacts on other wildlife including black bears.
Mr. Duchesne asked if there was anything in the literature that suggested why there was an increase in state bear populations where there was no bear baiting?
Mrs. Vashon stated no, many of the papers didnt provide data just suggestions that it was going on and it was an area of concern. We received 164 comments in opposition to the proposed rule change. There were 75 different concerns raised by people that provided public comments. The most prevalent of those were 73 stating leave management to the wildlife professionals; 56 concerned about economic impacts; 42 concerned this was an anti-hunting agenda designed to phase out baiting and or hunting; 40 that the population was well managed and any restrictions would be in direct conflict with recommendations. Comments were also received that the issue had been voted on twice and that we needed to continue to support voters decisions. There were 37 comments that it was difficult to hunt bear in Maine even with bait, bait was the most effective method. Other comments had concern if the proposal was enacted that it would end bear hunting with bait. There were a significant number of comments covering other areas that were summarized by topic.
Mrs. Vashon stated in addition to providing the spreadsheet to the Council we also provided a response on the most prevalent comments in support of the proposed rule change. There were three topic areas that received the most public comments in support; hunting with bait or feeding bears was unethical or violated fair chase, hunting with bait or feeding bears increased bear numbers; hunting with bait or feeding bears habituates bears to people and caused more conflicts. The Departments response to those comments that hunting with bait was unethical or violated fair chase was as follows: fair chase means that the animal always has a fair chance of escaping and the hunter does not have an unfair advantage during the hunt. Maines thick forests makes it difficult to hunt bears by stalk and spot methods. Even with bait only 1 in 3 hunters in Maine were successful. This was a much lower success rate than hunts for many other wildlife species in Maine. Hunting over bait allowed hunters to get close to bears, provide an opportunity to view bears allowing them to avoid shooting bears with cubs and allowing better shot placement. All these aspects of hunting over bait provided for an ethical hunt.
Mrs. Vashon stated in response to concern that hunting with bait increased bear numbers, most studies had found relationship between the consumption of human foods and bear body condition and reproduction were in areas where bears had unlimited access to garbage. Maines long-term monitoring program indicated that natural food, not bait, drove bear reproduction. Maine bears produced fewer cubs and weighed less than bears that lived in areas where a large amount of human food was available throughout the year. For example, PA bears were heavier, gave birth to cubs as early as 2 years of age and produced litters of 4 cubs more commonly than in Maine. Conversely, bears in Maine also didnt produce cubs until between the age of 4 and 6 and typically averaged 2 to 3 cubs per litter. Another factor to consider was throughout the eastern U.S. bear populations were increasing, even in areas without hunting. Sixteen eastern states that did not allow bear hunting or hunting with bait reported an increasing bear population in 2019.
Mr. Duchesne stated he was always interested in what the actual science was. When he saw a claim stating the population had gone up, and that was the only factor that explained it, that conflicted with his experience. In his experience over the years the forests had changed. We had spruce budworm which thinned out the forest quite a bit and we had the forest practices act which eliminated large blocks of clear cutting but also did selective tree harvesting. As a result, there was just more sunshine producing, he thought, more food. Increased mast crop, etc. That seemed to be happening at the same time the bear population was increasing and could be an explanation if not the driving force. Did the Department have any science or knew of any that addressed that?
Mrs. Vashon stated yes. The Department had provided a lot of information over the years in relation to that. We had been monitoring black bears in Maine for 45 years. By equipping bears with radio collars we had extensive data. What we had seen was that natural foods were really driving bear numbers. Even with the constant presence of bait on the landscape, in years when natural foods were poor we saw that reflected in our bear population. The 2018 season was a very poor food year, and that year we saw low yearling rates. In our northern Maine study area we saw low cub survival and that was in the presence of baiting. In 2019 which was an exceptionally good food year, during den checks the yearlings were the heaviest in a long time averaging close to 70 lbs. In 2018 yearling weights averaged about 25 lbs. During 2018 and 2019 there was really probably no difference in the amount of bait that was on the landscape.
Mrs. Vashon stated despite the evidence we had that hunting was not increasing the bear population, we had heard multiple concerns and we were working with Purdue University and they would be looking at the role of anthropogenic foods, including bait, on Maines bear population. The grant was awarded in December 2019 and due to Covid there was a delay. Field work and lab analysis started in June 2020 and we expected a final report in 2022.
Mrs. Vashon stated the third most common concern that was expressed by supporters was that bait habituated bears to humans and caused more conflict. Although it may be a reasonable assumption, the data really didnt support the claim. Despite Maine having the largest black bear population in the eastern U.S., Maine had fewer bear complaints than most eastern states including those didnt allow bait. If bait was causing conflicts to rise or causing bears to be habituated to people, we would anticipate that Maine would have some of the highest incidents of bear complaints. What we actually saw in the eastern U.S. was that Maine ranked 17th in the number of bear complaints. Eight of the top ten states with bear complaints did not allow hunting with bait or hunting at all. The state with the highest incidents of bear complaints was FL with over 6,000 bear complaints over the last five years and that was in the absence of hunting.
Mrs. Vashon stated that bait could act as diversionary feeding bringing bears away from backyards and back into the woods particularly when natural foods were limited, so baiting could actually reduce conflicts and it also could potentially reduce conflicts because hunting with bait also tended to remove the bold and aggressive bears from the population as those bears were more likely to visit a bait site during daylight hours and be harvested by hunters. For those reasons, the Department was not in support of the proposed rule change. Management of Maines bear population was driven by science and public input. In 2017 Maines big game plan was guided by 45 years of monitoring radio collared black bears, monitoring conflict and harvest levels and included a variety of options to obtain public input. Bear management in Maine over the next 10 years was a public process. Bears were found nearly statewide, but most common in northern and eastern Maine where there was less development and lower human population densities. Maines bear population had increased since 2005 in response to declining hunter participation and harvest which was down an average of 13,000 bear hunters between 1999 and 2004 so less than 10,000 hunters in recent years. As a result, harvest had declined from an average of nearly 4,000 bears to 3,000 bears since 2005. Based on decades of monitoring the states bear population harvest models indicated that Maines bear population had been increasing due to lower hunter harvest. It currently exceeded 35,000. The low harvest had contributed to greater survival of female black bears and that was what was spurring population growth. By more females surviving the fall hunt, they were available to produce cubs the following winter. Although the population had been increasing, it still remained below both the state social and biological carrying capacity. However, the population was slowly starting to expand into areas of higher human density. For the Department to stabilize the bear population and meet objectives slowing the growth into southern Maine, we needed to harvest more than 5,000 bears annually. Currently, hunters were harvesting about 3,000. The bear management plan identified the need to increase harvest to meet harvest objectives and by increasing participation and opportunity for Maine hunters.
Mrs. Vashon stated the Department was opposed to the proposed rule change because it was in direct conflict with the goals and objectives of Maines bear management plan. State law currently prohibited substances that were harmful to bears. There was no precise estimate on the number of baits making it difficult to phase out bait using a formula based on 2019 levels. Finally, a permit system would be costly to administer and impossible to implement by 2020.
Mr. Smith stated it was two to one opposed for comments and the number one majority in the opposed comments was to leave wildlife management to the professionals. Mr. Smith asked who would be paying for the bear diet study which he thought was around $50,000.
Mrs. Vashon stated the Department had a bear research fund and she believed a lot of the funding was coming from that which was based on the sale of bear permits that the Legislature enacted in 2008.
Mr. Webb stated it was a combination of funds from the bear research fund and our annual allocation from the USFWS of Pittman Robertson fund dollars which were excise taxes on sporting equipment.
Mr. Sage asked Mrs. Vashon for the record if she had ever been ordered to document numbers or anything just for the fact of money? He was sick and tired of hearing that it was all just because the Department wanted more money.
Mrs. Vashon stated she had never done that or been asked to do that. She thought the concern from that was recognizing the Department was getting the funds and without license sales that would reduce funding for the agency, she thought that was where it was coming from. She described some of her education and stated that black bears were something she had always been passionate about and most people that studied black bears were passionate about bears.
C. Step 1
- Fishing Regulations/State Heritage Waters 2021
Mr. Connolly stated everyone though of fisheries in terms of the waters they fished, the water they lived on and what we were doing for them. It was sometimes challenging because they did not have statewide perspective and expected fisheries biologists to fix the problem where they cared about it, and sometimes not in a broader realization of what was going on in the world. Fisheries biology was challenging, and rulemaking was especially difficult. Biologists spent a lot of time out on the water doing their job, they recreated as fisheries biologists and they never really left it behind. One of the things Mr. Brautigam had done was bringing them together and looking at things statewide and explain the fisheries changes from the perspective of an overview or themes in terms of areas that we were trying to address to get people to recognize there was a general reason why statewide we would be concerned about something and the reason behind that. The Department had started presenting proposals in themes in areas so people could see the consistency across the state in terms of the issue, but recognize it was being implemented locally based on the information we collected such as anglers, water chemistry, fisheries population and things effecting the fisheries resource.
Mr. Connolly stated one of the ways it had helped us look at that was our digital regulation mapper, the FLOAT system. We started spatially laying out the regulations and recognizing sometimes in water sheds or water bodies in streams and systems there had been some inconsistencies. Some of the regulation changes were because when laid on the face of the land and the water there were connections between them, and fisheries was looking at those and trying to make sure there was consistency in approaches across the water bodies. There would be three presentations in terms of what we were trying to do. We were also asking for some changes in the state heritage waters. Those were based on information the fisheries division had collected. We were proposing one water for addition and because we had new and more definitive information on two waters, we were asking for the removal of those from the heritage waters list. There was an ongoing effort to assess the information and incorporate it and make it better.
Mr. Lubejko stated he would introduce the PowerPoint presentation (for a copy of the presentation please contact email@example.com). They were going to review a few notable proposals from the packet. The first would be Tim Obreys Moosehead Lake proposal, then Frank Frost would introduce the Big Reed Pond proposal and Mr. Lubejko would finish with the review of the theme errors, conflict and confusion.
Mr. Obrey stated at Moosehead Lake they had the development of a trophy fishery over the last few years. A lot of fish were showing up in the 3-7 lb. range. It was something they had not seen before. We wanted to protect what we had and had learned a little bit about the fish and they were under a little bit of stress and he didnt feel what was happening at Moosehead was sustainable. The proposals were to protect what we had. First, he wanted to discuss where the trophy brook trout they had came from. There were two factors, the biggest was the extensive removal of lake trout that began in 2008 where we implemented some very liberal regulations to thin the togue population. Nearly 100,000 fish were removed in about 3 years. The smelt population rebounded, and we were able to document improvements in growth and survival for all the game species after the togue population was thinned. The goal at Moosehead was to have catch rates for lake trout over 18" the same as the catch rate for lake trout under 18. The catch rates generally reflected the population density. In the mid 90s the number of small togue went through the roof and we struggled to get it under control. In 2008 the liberal regulations were implemented and in 2013 the lake trout were under control with catch rates where we wanted them to be and smelt were responding as we had hoped.
Mr. Obrey stated another change in 2006 we went from a 12 length limit to 14 on brook trout and we had the 12 length limit from 1987 to 2006 and we knew we would protect about 30% of the fish that were being harvested at that time and that would probably increase the population. Those two factors had really played a role in the development of the trophy brook trout fishery at Moosehead. The percentage of brook trout over 20 in the winter harvest back from 1969 when the Moosehead project started until 2007 we struggled to have around 3% of harvest over 20. Now the 20 fish were averaging about 3 lbs. The last few years the percentage of big fish had increased. The last two years it had been over 30% of the fish being 20 over 3 lbs. They had learned these big fish were not what they would call a typical Moosehead brook trout. Most of the brook trout there spawned in September or October and went to places like the Roach River or the Moose River and spawned. These big fish were spawning on the shoreline of Moosehead. They did not come in until mid-November as opposed to the typical brook trout which spawned in October. There was evidence the fish were still spawning in January when the ice fishing was going on. The problem with fish spawning in January, there was fishing going on and the fish were very vulnerable. The anglers had found them in Lily Bay and there was a very high harvest rate. It represented a disruption in the spawning activity, so they were at high risk.
Mrs. Theriault asked if they had seen brook trout spawn that late in other lakes?
Mr. Obrey stated they saw it in trout ponds, places like Thistle Pond they would spawn in deer season, but they had never been able to document it on Moosehead. One of the problems they had with studying the fish, it was so late in the year places iced in about a week after the fish came. They were able to get radio tags in some of the fish and they had learned quite a bit. They had been able to radio tag about 25 of the fish over the last two years to try to evaluate what was going on. The fish were staying in one spot under the ice until around Christmas and a week later people were fishing in those areas and the fish were still hanging around. People could not fish over the limited number of trophy fish while they were spawning. It would disrupt it and be the end of them and we wanted to protect those fish. Fish were concentrated in Lily Bay and still spawning. They typically took stomachs from the fish they saw in the winter time, and one was a brook trout that had fed on brook trout eggs the last week of January. Angler reports and photos also indicated brook trout full of eggs in January. They typically flew over Moosehead in the winter to count anglers and Lily Bay split areas two and three. Areas two and three represented about 25% of the annual use on Moosehead. Historically, use had been around 12,000 angler days in the winter, around 3,000 angler days in the Lily Bay area. The last few years the fishermen had found the large fish and they were seeing 45-50% of the total use was in Lily Bay and use had doubled to 10,000 angler days almost all focused in one area trying to catch the big trout.
Mr. Obrey stated our first priority was to protect the late shore spawning brook trout in the narrows of Lily Bay. The current harvest was not sustainable. The precedent had already been set on Moosehead, Spencer Bay was already closed for that purpose because there were post spawning fish that congregated there after they came out of the Roach River. We needed to develop a regulation that would protect the fish from all fishing. We were proposing to close off an area of that. We looked at measures to go further to protect the trophy fishery that had developed lake wide. The area we were proposing close went from Sugar Island to Laker Point which was southeast of Two Mile Island; from the property line for the state park over to Sugar Island just southwest of Dollar Island. We looked at pros and cons and wanted to come up with a regulation that was easy for the public to understand and for Warden Service to interpret and enforce. We didnt want to pit ice fishermen vs. summer fishermen.
Commissioner Camuso asked if the fish were spawning from October all the way into January or were they just spawning in January?
Mr. Obrey stated in the Lily Bay area they were probably coming in sometime in mid-November and done by the end of January. Back to the regulation, we focused on slot limits because they could be modified to do exactly what we wanted. An 18-22 protective slot was selected summer and winter. People could still take home a fish to put on the wall and there were a lot of anglers that still wanted to take home a fish to eat. There would be some hooking mortality, but we knew about 30% of the brook trout harvested for the last 3 years were in the protective slot. The population of trout in Moosehead was very healthy and there were a lot of 12-13 fish and about 5% of the catch were 22-24. Those were the fish people would be able to keep a trophy in. The proposed slot limit would be applied to the Moose River, east outlet because the brook trout in Moosehead would go up and down the tributaries and the outlet. It allowed people to keep a small fish to eat or a trophy, a 5 lb. trout. He had a focus group that dealt just with Moosehead and their support was unanimous.
Mr. Smith asked with respect to slot limits, was there a greater increase of injury to the fish being handled to be measured for the 18-22 slot limit vs. a later opening during ice fishing season or shutting it down November-December.
Mr. Obrey stated as a rule, we generally figured that there would be around 30% mortality in the winter time from fish released because they were hooked with bait. In the summer it was probably closer to 10 -15%. The mortality would be at a lower rate than what we were currently seeing with the harvest.
Mr. Thurston asked if the success on the big trout was only during a certain period of time during the winter or were they available during the summer season for catch.
Mr. Obrey stated anglers caught a lot of them in the summertime. It was concentrated in the winter in January mostly at Lily Bay.
Ms. Ware stated there was a possibility this was happening at other bodies of water as well because there had been some reports of females with eggs. How did they keep that apart for other bodies of water as well, that it was just not females retaining eggs well past the spawning time.
Mr. Obrey stated the information he received from other bodies of water, he had two independent anglers focus in on a specific spot. They would go there in mid-November and put in trap nets to try and capture some of the fish and radio tag them to find out what they were doing.
Mr. Frost stated the proposal for Big Reed was to revert back to before the restoration project that began in 2007. Currently, the rule on Big Reed was fairly restrictive with fly fishing only and arctic charr must be released, and a 2-fish bag limit on brook trout with the general law length limit of 6. That was a precautionary measure put in place at the beginning of the restoration project. The proposal signified the success of the project. The first six years was really the work on the ground and the seven years since we had been monitoring the population. We had a fairly small number of charr in Maine. It was a very important resource culturally and genetically. We put a lot of time into managing a few populations that had problems in recent years. Charr looked quite different from brook trout, in some populations the males would be a neon orange. Within populations and between populations the variations were incredible. The goals of the restoration project were to eradicate invasive smelt. They were documented in 1991 at Big Reed and the goals were to restore the ecosystem function. We wanted charr, trout and a dace system which we thought was the historical fish group there. The second priority was to restore the sport fishery. The planning team, the Bradford Camps and the Nature Conservancy and Maine DEP as well as the University of Maine were very important partners in the project over a number of years. The Nature Conservancy owned the entire watershed in a reserve and most of the watershed had not been harvested for timber, about 4,000 acres.
Mr. Frost stated the problem at Big Reed, they had a number of invasive fish, most notably smelt, that caused the issues. There was a severe decline in both Arctic charr and brook trout, both fish were important genetically and culturally. In this case, there was an overlap in diet. The smelt would overlap with young charr. After 2005 we saw almost no recruitment of young fish. There were very few adult fish in the pond. From 2007-2010 we captured charr and trout and held them in a hatchery. The Department contracted with Gary Picard at Mountain Springs Trout Farm in Frenchville working closely with Gary to culture the fish and maintain and increase the numbers, so we had fish of the same genetic stock to restore the population after the reclamation. The reclamation was in October of 2010 and for three years reintroduced charr and trout in a staged manner. In 1989 and 1993 we felt the population there was fairly healthy. Smelt were confirmed in 1991 and we didnt feel they had a negative effect at that point. The 1993 data point there was a population estimate at that time based on catch, mark and release study and the estimate at the time was 600 charr of catchable size in Big Reed. In 2004 to 2010 the population was low based on an intensive effort to catch charr to move to the hatchery. In that block of 6 years it was a total effort of over 600 gill nets set. We had been back several times since the reintroduction started in 2011and in 2017 we documented at least three age classes of charr by scale samples. We found that charr had spawned the very first year we reintroduced them in 2011. It was a big milestone to reach and the numbers had rebounded to the late 80s or early 90s. In 2019 we did 10-15 gill net sets and the population had rebounded nicely. That was the basis for the rule proposal to go back to allowing harvest of Arctic charr and also allowing people to use artificial lures only. We would not keep the length restrictions that we had prior to the restoration project, that was a 10 minimum length.
Mr. Lubejko stated he had one final presentation with an overview of the errors, conflict and confusion theme that was included in the packet. It was conflicting regulations, inconsistencies, inadvertent omissions, errors and confusing regulations. Most of these were identified through our FLOAT mapping process. Through that process we had to look at each line of each special, and he thought at the time there were about 1,700 in the lawbook and really make sure the language made sense and also look at them spatially and see if there was any overlap. Once we noticed an issue we looked through the other regulations within the lawbook to see if that issue persisted. In the 64 specials that were included in the theme there were some similar themes within the theme. It was also in line with our effort to simplify and clean up the lawbook where we were striving to reduce the number of specials. In the last 5 years we had seen a reduction of nearly 300 special regulations. In the current proposed packet we would see an additional reduction of 6 more regulations. We were also striving for consistent language and making the specials easier to interpret as part of the simplification effort.
Mr. Lubejko gave some examples discussing Moxie Pond "and tributaries and extensions for fall fishing; Moccasin Pond and outlet; and Aroostook River. The Aroostook River drainage (ARD) was a unique regulation within Maine where all landlocked salmon in the entire watershed must be released alive at once. This was enacted in the mid-90s in response to a public request for more catch and release opportunities in the area. However, it was not currently consistent with management goals and objectives and a huge burden on the FLOAT tool. The ARD was about 7% of Maines total area but accounted for about 30% of all the map features in our FLOAT tool, about 5,500 records. We had to create a new field in the database to manage it. It appeared to be over regulated compared to the rest of the state. Looking at the drainage and isolating the records that were only flowing waters in the drainage closed to the taking of salmon vs. the rest of the special regulations in the drainage, we were proposing to eliminate the catch and release on salmon and that would reduce much of the issue there. There were still special regulations that needed to stay in place within the drainage, but the regulations within the drainage would conform with current management goals and objectives and also free up storage space in the mapping tool. All of the changes within the theme were really to address more spring-cleaning type of things, things that did not make sense in the lawbook. The regions had been consulted to ensure the proposals were in line with current management goals and objectives. This was an ongoing effort to clean up the lawbook as time went on.
V. Other Business
Commissioner Camuso stated she thought members of the Council were aware there was a motion to try and stop the 2020 moose hunting season. We received note that the Superior Court dismissed the appeal of the moose rules and also denied the motion for a preliminary injunction to stop the 2020 moose hunting season. The formal court decision would be forwarded to the Council so they would have that for their records.
VI. Councilor Reports
Councilors gave reports.
VII. Public Comments & Questions
There were no public comments or questions.
VIII. Agenda Items & Schedule Date for Next Meeting
The next meeting was scheduled for Thursday, September 17, 2020 at 9:30 a.m.
A motion was made by Mr. Sage and that was seconded by Mrs. Peet to adjourn the meeting. The meeting was adjourned at 11:45 a.m.