ADVISORY COUNCIL MEETING
November 19, 2020 @ 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)
Attending:Judy Camuso, Commissioner
Timothy Peabody, Deputy Commissioner
Christl Theriault, Assistant to the Commissioner
Jim Connolly, Director Bureau of Resource Management
Shevenell Webb, Furbearer Biologist
Dan Scott, Colonel, Maine Warden Service
Becky Orff, Secretary/Recorder
Matt Thurston (Chair)
Jerry Scribner (Vice-Chair)
Vacancy in Piscataquis/Somerset Cty
18 additional Department staff and members of the public
I. Call to Order> Matt Thurston, Council Chair called the meeting to order.
Introductions were made.
III. Acceptance of Minutes of Previous Meeting A motion was made by Mr. Sage to accept the minutes of the previous meeting and that was seconded by Mr. Scribner.
Vote: unanimous minutes approved.
A. Step 3 There were no items under Step 3.
B. Step 2 1. Ch. 6 Educational and Scientific Collection Permit Rules
Mrs. Theriault stated we received no public comment on the proposal. The rule would align with current statute. There was a legislative change a couple of years ago, and the rule in its entirety would allow the Department to permit organizations or individuals for collection of species when there was a scientific or educational endeavor. The law was changed from mammals and birds to include all wildlife so we could allow people to have permits to collect reptiles and amphibians. In order to make the rule consistent with the statute we were referencing wildlife. The comment deadline was November 13th and no public comments were received. The Department was ready to move forward with the proposed rule as written if the Council had no further questions or comments. The Council had no further comments or questions and a motion was made to move the proposal to Step 3 for a vote.
A motion was made by Mr. Sage to move the rule as presented to Step 3 for a vote and that was seconded by Mr. Smith.
Vote: unanimous motion passed; item moved to Step 3.
A motion was made by Mr. Sage to approve the proposal as presented and that was seconded by Mr. Smith.
Vote: unanimous motion passed.
2. Ch. 7 Wildlife Rehabilitation Rules
Mr. Connolly stated the comment period was open until November 20, 2020. We were adding four sections to the wildlife rehabilitation rules to establish that the Department could determine when and where wildlife rehab occurred within the state. That was to give the Department the ability to manage the permitting process going forward. It was not intended to go back and limit current permit holders. They could continue as long as they abided by the rules. There was a clear process if someone was not complying with the rules in terms of how they were noticed and how the permit would be revoked and did have rights to an appeal. We were also establishing a definition for what a volunteer was at a facility; we were creating a relationship where an approved facility could be designated as a training facility and begin to train additional individuals to become wildlife rehabbers and become subpermittees which would allow them more authority and ability to take care of animals as licensed rehabilitators, but working under an existing permitted individual. A public hearing was held on November 10, 2020 with 13 members of the public participating. They were very interested in understanding the rule and overall support with some questions. They were very anxious to continue working with the Department to strengthen the effectiveness of the program and ensure they were able to continue to participate and help the Department and care for wildlife.
Council Member Comments and Questions
Mrs. Peet stated she attended the public hearing and it was great to hear the comments. Her impression was that the wildlife rehabbers kind of freaked out when they saw the rule proposal, but then realized the intention was not to crack down but to help clarify. There were some comments asking for slight changes in time periods or clarifying certain aspects and she wondered what the Departments response was to those questions.
Mr. Connolly stated during the public comment period we did not react and engage with the public. Once the comment period was closed, we would review them and develop a response if we were either in support of the change or explaining why it was that way. We did express at the hearing the way the rule was constructed for the Department to work with the rehabilitators to design specific criteria. A number of things in the rule were set up that the rehabber came to the Department with a plan and there had been some interest expressed by the wildlife rehabilitation community to join together to identify the plans and proposals as to what would be acceptable and help provide guidance to the Department.
Mrs. Peet stated it seemed the rehabbers were excited about the additional engagement with IFW. The response from IFW, was that a collective response that was put out as a statement or did IFW typically respond to each comment.
Commissioner Camuso stated they would get staff together and decide if any of the comments warranted a change in the rule proposal. If it was a minor change, then we could move forward with that. More than a minor change, we would have to readvertise the rule. Whatever rule was passed, we had to acknowledge all of the comments and what our response to those comments were. We did not necessarily have to explain it to the person but did have to make it clear when adopting the rule why we did or did not move forward with requested changes.
There were no further questions or comments.
3. Notched Pond horsepower restriction petition
Commissioner Camuso stated a public hearing was held and all the comments were in support of the proposal. She and Mr. Thurston did a site visit and looked at the pond and the public access point or where people might try to access the pond. They did not really find any public access. The Department did not have a current recommendation. It was a very small water body; you could practically canoe it in the time it would take to get the canoe off the car. She could appreciate the desire to have a horsepower limitation to a smaller engine size on the water body but was also sensitive to restricting access or homeowners or camp owners there that already had boats. She was sensitive to both sides of the issue and the precedent it would set for other water bodies. It was a complicated matter.
Mr. Thurston stated it was small and not very deep. From doing some research and being local to the area, there seemed to be an isolated issue with one particular individual. The individual had not commented which was unfortunate. What Commissioner Camuso had stated was true, and there was already another horsepower restriction petition up for discussion on that days agenda. They could see the publics concern that lived on the pond.
There were no further questions or comments.
4. Predator killing contests prohibition petition
Commissioner Camuso stated we received a number of comments on the proposal as well as the next proposal. The comment period had closed the day before the last Council meeting, so it was held at Step 2 in order to compile all the comments. A packet was provided with a summary of all the comments and the Departments recommendation. Furbearer biologist Shevenell Webb would walk them through the comments and Department recommendations.
Shevenell Webb gave a PowerPoint presentation regarding the Departments response to the coyote rule petitions beginning with the hunting petition. (Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request a copy of the presentation or comment summary.)
Council Member Comments and Questions
Mr. Sage asked if the petition passed, would it effect other sporting contests such as fishing derbies, biggest deer contests, etc.
Commissioner Camuso stated we did not believe that it would.
Mr. Scribner stated as mentioned in Mrs. Webbs thorough and information presentation the public input received were very evenly split between opposition and support of the petition. By his count, approximately 60 of the comments in support focused solely on the emotional issue of killing contests. That was the title of the petition, killing contests, etc. and where the majority of people in support focused. If the petition only prohibited killing contests, it might have merited a different discussion. Whether or not the good of the contests outweighed the negative emotional response of some members of the public had was very debatable. Focusing on that aspect of the petition that was included in the title, in his opinion, was akin to having a petition entitled Columbus Day, etc. and disregarding that in the content, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter and July 4th were also impacted. In his opinion, the details of the petition would effectively restrict coyote hunting as a wildlife management tool. Coyote hunting over bait was the most effective method of harvesting the predator in the habitat in Maine. A bag limit of one per day would be established. Coyotes frequently hunted in pairs. Would it make sense to limit a hunter to one, if two responded in an area that the Department believed required additional coyote harvesting to protect wintering deer. Coyote hunting season would end February 28th. During March and early April whitetailed deer were weakest and therefore more vulnerable to predation and yet hunting coyotes during that period would not be lawful. Finally, as Mrs. Webb stated, limiting coyote harvest based on weigh was not practical. That detail by itself would effectively end coyote hunting by the lawful hunter. There was also a direct connection between hunting coyotes where required by wildlife management goals and support of healthy ecosystems. As Mrs. Webb stated, coyotes were an important predator of deer accounting for approximately 70% of the collared deer killed by predators. Coyote predation accounted for 30-40% of winter deer mortality in our northern big woods habitat. Those statistics could not be restated or emphasized enough. In 2020 there were 13 WMDs northern western mountains and downeast areas that were allocated 0 to 100 any deer permits. He assumed those permit numbers reflected the low whitetailed deer populations in those areas. Sustained year after year coyote control within deer wintering areas would support whitetailed deer numbers in those areas. An increase in whitetailed deer population in those traditional Maine hunting destinations would result in a likely increase in nonresident deer hunter numbers and the associated increase in hunter license revenue. Not only did that align with the objectives of the R3 program which the Department supported, but the increased revenue supported management of both game and nongame species in Maine.
Mrs. Rousseau asked why 40 pounds was the magic number. Was that a significant age class?
Commissioner Camuso stated that was the petitioners request. She was guessing the petitioner was trying to protect an older age class, but we did not know for sure.
Mr. Thurston stated we focused on deer and a lot of things, but the species had a lot of impact in southern Maine with nongame species, whether it be birds or domestic animals. If the population didnt stay in control they could move their range to new territory and that would be challenging.
Mr. Smith stated the report did not mention fawn mortality, because there may not have been a study on that in Maine, but it had been done in other provinces or states. Was Mrs. Webb aware of any fawn mortality by coyotes studies?
Mrs. Webb stated Nathan Bieber would probably be the best person to answer that. We knew a range of predators did prey on fawns and neonates.
Mr. Bieber stated he could not give an exact percent, but his experience working in Wisconsin on a similar collaring study, the majority of the young fawn mortality they saw was associated with not only coyotes, but also wolves and black bears. He would suspect black bears took quite a lot of neonate deer as did coyotes.
There were no further questions or comments.
5. Coyote trapping prohibition petition
Mrs. Webb continued with the Powerpoint presentation regards the coyote trapping petition. Please contact email@example.com for a copy of the presentation or comment summary.
There were no further questions or comments.
C. Step 1 1. Long Pond Horsepower Restriction Petition
Commissioner Camuso stated the Department received a petition to limit the horsepower to 25 horsepower or less on Long Pond in Hancock County. A public hearing was scheduled for December 7, 2020 and the comment period was open until December 17, 2020.
Mr. Smith stated when he worked for the fisheries division in college, they fyke netted it and there were amazing trophy brook trout there. He also fly fished it for several years and encountered the same thing. With respect to the trout population there he thought it might be beneficial.
There were no further questions or comments.
2. Airboat Noise Rules
Mr. Thurston stated he had done a site visit there and there was a strong group of people that had put in a lot of comments with respect to it.
Colonel Scott stated the 129th Legislature enacted Public Law 2019 Ch. 662, an act to address decibel limits of airboats. The law prohibited the use of airboats which exceeded the noise level limits as established by the Commissioner in IFW rule, so the proposal was trying to establish those rules. In the past, airboat noise levels were included in the statue that addressed noise level limits for marine engines on conventional motorboats as per Title 12, Section 13068-A. The inability to separate the noise of the engine and the fan of an airboat with the noise of just the engine resulted in a change in statutory language which removed airboats from the definition of motorboat. The objective of PL Ch. 662 was to set maximum decibel limits plateable to airboats in rule similar to the rules for motorboats. The law directed IFW and DMR to jointly collect information regarding airboats including but no limited to information regarding the use of airboats; noise levels and complaints and suggestions for reducing complaints regarding the use of airboats; input from interested parties including but not limited to harbor masters, town clerks, residents of coastal towns, and airboat users themselves.
Colonel Scott stated on January 9, 2020 IFW staff conducted a meeting regarding the Mere Point boat launch. The topic of airboats quickly arose, and staff heard from over a dozen interested individuals regarding the use of airboats. There were approximately 48 people in attendance at the meeting. Warden Service staff later consulted with Sensenich Propeller Company in Plant City, FL to determine if there was a way to quiet an airboat by changing to a different style or model of prop. Sensenich Propeller Company had intended to quiet the noise emitted from an airboat by designing different blades with limited success. Warden Service had two of their props currently on our boats. Warden Service staff also consulted with Diamondback Airboats in Cocoa, FL to determine if there was a way to quiet an airboat. We were advised by the owner of Diamondback Airboats they had put 6" downspouts on the through hull mufflers on large touring airboats they had built in an attempt to quiet the engine. Diamondback advised it did not have a great effect on making an airboat quieter. Warden Service owned two Diamondback airboats. They contacted a captain of the Florida Fish and Game for the purpose of getting information on laws governing airboat use in FL. Florida Fish and Game stated they only had noise laws unique to airboats as it pertained to the exhaust system. Florida law required airboats to have an exhaust system with a motor vehicle type muffler and they did not differentiate noise levels of airboats. Noise limits for all vessels was 90db at 50 feet.
Colonel Scott stated to further gather information regarding noise levels of airboats Warden Service and Marine Patrol began testing a number of airboats in order to measure noise limits at a variety of RPMs. Staff tested 13 airboats belonging to municipalities, government agencies and commercial fishermen. The boats ranged in age from 1984 to 2019. Noise levels emitted from 13 airboats were measured using a calibrated quest sound detector. Two separate tests were performed on each boat, a stationary test and a modified version of the moving test. While performing the stationary test on each boat it was determined that the average noise emitted was 86db. The actual test ranged from 80db to 96db, the average being 86db. The stationary test was performed from approximately 3 feet from the rear corner of the boat while the engine was idling. The second test, the modified moving test was tested at three different RPMs - 2,000, 3,000 and 4,000. At 2,000 RPMs the average decibel reading was 84db with a range from 72-99. At 3,000 RPMs the average decibel reading was 92db with a range from 83-106. At 4,000 RPMs the average decibel reading was 98db with a range of 91-106. The modified moving test was performed 50 feet from the boat at an angle of 70 degrees. The boat was stationary during the test which was how the test was modified from the procedure currently in rule due to the fact the tests occurred in the winter and the procedure required two boats with a series of buoy systems and measurements. The airboat was placed on a trailer and the operator ran the boat at various RPMs. On an airboat you couldnt disengage the prop. As the throttle was engaged the prop would spin and the boat would move. It was tested on the trailers at various RPMs measured at 50 feet. If they were on the water and passing by this was the rule required of conventional motorboats.
Colonel Scott stated the test reports supported there were two factors that intensified the noise limits of an airboat. One was poor engine maintenance, specifically the exhaust system similar to a regular motorboat or a motor vehicle, and the pitch of the prop. The number of blades did not appear to be a factor. The higher the pitch of the prop, the more noise generated by the airboat. The greater the degree of the pitch, the more noise was emitted. The prop pitch was not able to be determined for all the boats tested, however, the boats that had a 12-degree pitch were easily recognized as the blades had a noticeable aggressive angle. During the stationary test, four of the boats that tested over 90db had either an inadequate muffler or 12-degree pitch prop. The other nine boats that tested below the 90db level had well maintained exhaust systems and a lower degree pitch prop.
Colonel Scott stated there was a seasonal residence near the Mere Point boat launch and the resident had filed noise complaints in the past with DMR regarding the noise of passing airboats. On February 2, 2020 Warden Service and DMR staff performed a noise test to determine the noise levels which were being reported. A test was conducted by measuring the sound emitted from two airboats as they independently of each other operated past the seasonal residence. The two airboats tested were ones that had generated noise complaints in the past. During the test both airboats operated in the manner in which they would be operating when harvesting. Sound measurements were recorded while in the complaintants front yard. The boats operated to and from the boat launch at RPMs of 4,200, the distance from the residence was unknown as the levels were recorded but was the actual distance which the boats typically traveled when harvesting. One of the boats had a maximum decibel reading of 73db, the second boat had a maximum decibel reading of 77db. The decibel reading from both boats was consistently in the 60db range. After each boat reached the maximum decibel reading the noise level emitted decreased rapidly. The current rule proposed procedures for measuring decibels of stationary airboats as well as airboats under operation. Procedures for testing each of the circumstance were the same procedure currently used to measure decibel levels of conventional motorboats. The rule proposed noise level limits specific to airboats including a maximum noise level of 90db when subject to a stationary test or a maximum noise level of 100db when subject to an operational test.
Council Member Comments and Questions
Mr. Sage asked if in the proposal, if a person continued to complain about the noise after testing showed the sound was within the limits of the proposal was there something there to stop the harassment to the law enforcement and the clammers.
Colonel Scott stated there was nothing in the rule. It would be a situation where they would explain to the citizens that it was not a violation and there may be nothing they could do. There were harassment laws in place if it rose to that level.
Mr. Scribner stated FL had a 90db level at 50 feet, how did that compare with what Maine was proposing.
Colonel Scott stated the proposed moving test was at 50 feet for conventional motorboats and 75db. For the airboats, because of the increased noise with the fan and motor we were proposing the moving 50 foot test to be 100db. In Maine we had a difference between a conventional motorboat and an airboat. Florida treated them all the same.
Mr. Scribner asked why we would have different levels for motorboats in comparison to airboats? It seemed to him the driving factor would be any health issues associated with high noises as well as the distraction related to it. What drove the difference between a higher level excepted for airboats vs. motorboats?
Colonel Scott stated that was one of the driving forces, there were complaints about the noise level with airboats and it went to the Legislature. The Legislature asked what an acceptable level was, and we had to conduct testing to find a baseline. There was an average discovered after testing the 13 boats, along with outliers with aggressive prop pitches which were much louder airboats. We selected numbers that wouldnt prohibit boats that were operating as they were designed and manufactured.
Mr. Scribner stated the level we were proposing was based on current observations on what was out there available for airboats today.
Colonel Scott stated we found nationwide there was no consistency. We looked at what a typical airboat produced for noise and tried to write the rule so it would prohibit those that were outliers from that typical noise.
Mr. Scribner asked Mr. Thurston given that he had been there and observed some of the boats in operation, would he want to live on the shoreline there?
Mr. Thurston stated he understood their concerns. He thought what set up that area to be challenging was that it was a narrow neck of water or big cove so there was a lot of reverberation. He did witness the sound and toured the bay. It was loud, but they were able to have a conversation. He would like to see what the levels were when they were trying to break the mud suction on the clam flats. Was the airboat utilized because it was more efficient for the clammer or were they having more difficulty getting access to where they clammed? The Department of Marine Resources did not seem to be very involved in the process and he felt they were probably a stakeholder in the process. He was also intrigued that they didnt get any response from the clammers to get some sort of input from them. He felt that would be helpful.
Commissioner Camuso stated a meeting had been scheduled with DMR to work through some of the issues. It was within our statute so that was why the proposal was with IFW, although it was by and large DMR constituents that were using the airboats. The comment period was still open, and the proposal had been sent to DMR staff to make sure their constituents were aware of the proposal. She suspected we would hear from them.
There were no further questions or comments.
V. Other Business
Commissioner Camuso stated she would like to update the Council that we had moved to an online hunter education option. This was a fully online option. We still continued to offer the in-person field day and a hybrid approach. Since we started offering the full online courses in September, we had processed about 4,300 people which was about 30% higher than we did for all of 2019. Of those that had gone through the online portion, the majority were between the ages of 18 35 and 36% of them were women. This was part of a national trend. We would continue to offer firearms safety instruction for anyone that wanted it. We were also working to develop more mentor type programs as well. Overall, hunting license sales were up by 9%.
Mr. Sage stated the online with the field day was no longer available because when they took the online course, they completed the course in its entirety and were issued their card.
Commissioner Camuso stated it was still required for anybody 16 and under, they would need to do the skills day in person. It did seem that most who took the online course completed it, but we would still continue to offer instruction for anyone that wanted it on firearms handling.
VI. Councilor Reports Councilors gave reports.
VII. Public Comments & Questions
John Glowa stated the petitions were submitted primarily to protect wolves and to address Maines laws and rules that encouraged the killing of wolves. IFW had no response to the impact of coyote hunting and trapping on wolves and did not deny there was an impact. Therefore, based on IFWs silence on the issue he assumed IFW did not disagree that wolves were in Maine and being killed by hunters and trappers. The Maine Wolf Coalition had documented the presence of at least one wolf in Maine and science told them there were more. The statute referred to coyote and the rules referred to coyote, there were no coyotes in Maine. There was no statutory definition and no definition in rule of what a coyote was. Mrs. Webb mentioned Eastern coyote, there was no such thing in either statute or rule that defined what an Eastern coyote was. The animals were in fact hybrid animals. The use of bait, the Department was silent on the issue of lead poisoning of eagles. The Department and state refused to place limits on the use of lead ammunition, prohibiting bait for coyote hunting was basically intended not to restrict coyote hunting but to save eagles. As far as the predator hunting contests, the state provided no evidence of any benefit to the deer herd or to the ecosystem of the hunting contests. There was no such thing as coyote "control and there was no evidence that Maines coyote control program had any beneficial impacts on the deer herd.
John Glowa stated the Department did not respond to the issue of tagging all coyotes including those that were hunted. The purpose for that was to try to determine if any of the animals were wolves. The 40-pound limit was intended to discourage hunters from shooting wolves and larger canids. As Mr. Scribner pointed out, they often appeared in pairs and it was his understanding that generally the hunter would try to kill the largest animal. There was a lack of recognition he believed on the states part that deer needed natural predators and he believed the state was trying to vilify coyotes. There was a lack of understanding of the role of predators and prey and certainly a lack of appreciation and importance the predators play in the ecosystem. As far as the petition and Mr. Scribners comments about the broadness of the hunting petition, the state could modify and suggest proposed changes to any petition. The state did not have to accept or reject it as it was written. As far as the trapping rule was concerned, trapping was inhumane and cruel, it was not selective and he believed there were wolves that were being killed by trappers and therefore, opposed to trapping of those canids.
Ric Quesada stated he was from South Freeport and lived near the water. He wanted to comment on the airboat issue. They were concerned about the airboat noise. They were supportive of the working waterfront and the comings and goings of the harbor. The new technology of the airboat came along a couple of years ago and if they hadnt heard it, he recommended they go down to the South Freeport estuary and listen when they went by. It was incredible. He could only say it was similar to having a Harley Davidson hog in the driveway revving up 30 minutes at a time. It was something you had to experience before trying to make a rule. His suggestion was that the Department step back from the current rulemaking process which seemed to be getting bogged down in SAE testing limits and stationary, moving, and all that and trying to get all the airboats that exist into the criteria, throw out the outliers, and create a rule focused on the main body of existing airboats. He thought if the Department stepped back and looked at it and took testimony from a broader constituency including the DEP or DHHS or Commerce there were impacts on each one of those angles that we might want to consider. In the case of the Harraseeket River, the end story might be that the new technology of airboat was so disruptive that there was no place for it in the Harraseeket River. Was there a safe limit for airboats in the Harraseeket River? He encouraged the Department to go to the river and hear it and consider whether it was something we would want in our neighborhood.
Commissioner Camuso stated during the public hearing comments would be limited to 3 minutes to keep it manageable. She would encourage people that wanted to provide testimony on the airboat rule to hold those comments to the public hearing. If they had questions on the proposal that was fine, but the Advisory Council meeting was not a public hearing.
Deanna Arute stated she was a resident of Rockwood and through her days she had seen the unregulated hunting and killing of coyotes. She had been so disturbed. She had contacted legislators and talked to biologists and educated herself, and the bottom line was she saw what was going on and it was a hidden suffering. They had people around them that baited coyotes and killed them for the sheer thrill. Most of those animals ate small rodents, that was their main prey through her research and talking to legitimate biologists with degrees. The hunters were trying to preserve the deer for their own purposes and coyotes regulated their own populations. They did not let other coyotes into an area. By hunting and killing them they were creating a situation where the young puppies were breeding more coyotes. The horrific suffering was hidden and people like herself were coming to the table to say they didnt want this. She thought the time had come for them to step up for those animals and say the year round killing was really hurting the ecosystem on many different levels. Coyotes only took what they needed to thrive and live. The killing contests and unregulated trapping and bragging on social media was beyond what people even realized was going on. Her family was reaching out as a voice for that animal because there was a lot of unregulated hunting and killing going on. It was unacceptable.
Aaron Smith stated they ran a contest in Penobscot County and when it started, they were tagging 50 to 55 deer. Since they ran the contest, they were well over 100 to 140 deer. That was since 2009. The wolfs size and largeness of coyotes, over the years they had only one animal that weighed over 50 pounds. The average animal taken was in the 30s.
Claire Perry stated she had seen the coyotes being killed mercilessly. Where she lived in Liberty, they used to have a stable family. She was angry they no longer even heard them because of unregulated hound dogs running on her posted land. She would keep saying it until something was done. As a landowner she could not keep the dogs off her own property, and they had killed every coyote around them. They were upset. She was concerned there was no mention of the benefit of coyotes in any of the reports given by the furbearer biologist and she wanted to know why. It was a keystone species. She had done a lot of studying about them and she had lived with them for 10 years around sheep and cows and chickens and they never had a problem with their coyotes because they knew how to live with them successfully.
Commissioner Camuso stated the comment period on the rule proposal was closed and we had received her comments and they were on the record.
Claire Perry stated she had a question, why was there no mention of the benefit of the coyote being a keystone species in Maine, and why was everything painted in a negative light?
Commissioner Camuso stated Mrs. Webb was asked to present a summary of the findings, she wasnt particularly giving an overview of the natural history and some of the life history of coyotes. The Department and wildlife biologists and warden service appreciated the many benefits that coyotes had. The intention wasnt to frame it in any one way or the other but be a presentation of the proposal and the comments we received and the Departments response.
Claire Perry stated she felt it was significant to include that it was a small predator, it was a keystone species now in Maine that brought much benefit to the ecological systems and she thought that was significant when talking about regulations for coyote killing.
Commissioner Camuso stated she just wanted to clarify that she received a message from the furbearer biologist and both Deanna and Claire provided comments during the public comment period for the proposals and their comments were included in the summary that was provided.
Peter Casada stated he lived in South Freeport. It seemed to him there was a pretty serious adverse impact on marine mammals and seabirds from the airboats. He wanted to know the degree to which the Department intended to consider the impact of the noise on mammals and seabirds.
Commissioner Camuso stated noise and wildlife was something that we considered as well as harassment of wildlife. We would work with biologists to get an assessment of potential impacts, although we would work with DMR biologists on that as well.
Peter Casada asked if there would be any effort to bring in other regulatory agencies within the state?
Commissioner Camuso stated the proposal was what was within the purview of the Departments rulemaking authority. From some of the comments being received it appeared that some of the requests or suggestions were not what the Legislature would consider to be routine changes. Much of what was being asked was something she thought would need to go to the Legislature. In general, we were in consultation with DMR, but the rule for watercraft was within IFWs purview. We worked with colleagues at DEP and DHHS very regularly and we would continue to work with them but in general IFW would run the meetings and collect the information. They were probably not going to show up to provide testimony.
Thomas Haible stated he was a resident of Harpswell and lived about a mile from the mudflats of Middle Bay. Unless you lived along the shore of the intertidal areas you had no idea how noisy the boats were. He did not care about 100db it was pretty annoying especially at 4:00 a.m. when the sun had just come up and they decided to go because the tide was right. He appreciated they had to fish but the noise had been going for within the past 10 years there had been a slow increase in airboats. He asked Colonel Scott what the relationship was with DMR relative to enforcing rules.
Colonel Scott stated they had been involved in the testing process all along. Marine Patrol were the ones having primary jurisdiction in tidal waters. IFW was tasked through statute to develop the rule, but Marine Patrol could enforce our rules in full force. If it was an airboat being operated on coastal waters, they would more than likely deal with Marine Patrol officers.
Dan Walker stated they had sent in materials and planned on participating in the public comment period. He was representing some of the property owners in the Freeport area. He was an attorney of Preti Flaherty. In Section 3 of the legislation that was passed last session, LD 2065 that was directing the rulemaking, in Section 3 it talked about the Department along with DMR would collect information and stated, based on the suggestions of the Commissioner of IFW and the Commissioner of DMR may jointly submit recommended legislation to the Joint Standing Committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over IFW matters by February 1, 2021. Was that likely going to happen and what was the best method for them to work with the Departments to help with what was submitted to the Committee, if anything.
Commissioner Camuso stated she could not answer that without going through the process and getting all the feedback. If they came up with recommendations, the Governor could put forward a bill at any time. If the two agencies had a recommendation they wanted to submit legislation on, they could do that. There was no draft legislation or anything currently prepared. We would need to work through the rulemaking process first.
Dan Walker stated it seemed there was going to be a separate process to solicit information regarding airboats beyond the public comment period around the rule.
Commissioner Camuso stated for example, when someone requested to not allow airboats in the Harraseeket River, that would be something that would need to go before the Legislature. Those were not routine technical rule changes that the Department would feel comfortable with and required a statewide process at the Legislature. Some of the recommendations that had come in would not be appropriate for the Advisory Council to enact. We would be reporting back to the Legislature.
Dan Walker stated that would give the authority for the Committee to go forward with Legislation if they felt it was necessary.
Commissioner Camuso stated that was correct.
There were no further questions or comments.
VIII. Agenda Items & Schedule Date of Next Meeting
The next meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, December 16, 2020 at 9:30 a.m. via Microsoft Teams.
IX. Adjournment A motion was made by Mr. Sage and that was seconded by Mr. Smith to adjourn the meeting. The meeting was adjourned at 11:45 a.m.