Meeting Minutes

Advisory Council Meeting
April 21, 2017 at 9:30 a.m.
Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
284 State Street, Upstairs Conference Room
Augusta, Maine


Chandler Woodcock, Commissioner
Tim Peabody, Deputy Commissioner
Judy Camuso, Wildlife Division Director
Tim Place Warden Service Lieutenant
Becky Orff, Secretary/Recorder

Council Members:

Don Dudley (Chair)
Dick Fortier
Gunnar Gundersen
Matt Thurston
Jerry Scribner
Larry Farrington
Jenny Starbird
Lance Wheaton


John Glowa, South China
Deidre Fleming, Portland Press Herald

I. Call to Order

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

II. Introductions

Introductions were made.

III. Acceptance of Minutes of Previous Meeting

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

Vote: Unanimous ? minutes approved.

IV. Rulemaking

A. Step 3

1. 2017 Moose Permit Allocations

Ms. Camuso stated we were not proposing any changes from what was presented at Step 1. This was a very similar proposal to last year. Mortality had been much lower than in previous years. We had 30% mortality in the western unit which was normal and less than 5% mortality in northern Maine. New Hampshire and Vermont were seeing similar mortality rates. There were two key variables to the winter tick's ability to impact moose survival and those were moose density and climate. If the climate was unsuitable to ticks in the spring and fall then they were less likely to survive. If moose density was low enough not to encourage the spread of that parasite we would see less mortality from ticks.

A motion was made by Mr. Fortier to adopt the proposal as presented, and that was seconded by Mr. Scribner.

Vote: unanimous ? motion passed

2. 2017-18 Migratory Waterfowl Seasons

Ms. Camuso stated there were no further changes from the amendments discussed at Step 2. There had been some confusion about the youth hunting dates for the north zone. The USFWS allowed us to have 2 youth days but they had to be outside the regular season.

Council member comments and questions

Mr. Farrington asked why we were proposing to change back to the original framework for the north zone.

Commissioner Woodcock stated there was concern expressed from the public that the northern zone was not in an appropriate time period. The focus had been the southern portion of the northern zone. People were interested in hunting at a different time. We considered that, and public comments, and the waterfowl council voted to go back to the original framework not the split season we had proposed.

Mr. Wheaton stated having read the comments, in his area if the northern zone wasn't open earlier the ducks would be gone and they would not get a chance to hunt at all. He was in favor of the change back to the original framework.

A motion was made by Mr. Gundersen to adopt the proposal as amended, and that was seconded by Mr. Fortier.

Vote: unanimous ? motion passed

3. Boat Navigation Rules

Deputy Commissioner Peabody stated there were no changes from the original at Step 1. This was the rules of the road for boating and we wanted it in place for this season. We had a lot of education to do to get people to understand what the rules of the waterways were.

Commissioner Woodcock stated one of the primary reasons we were undertaking this project was so that the adjudicatory process had a basis to fall back on when it came time for prosecution.

Deputy Commissioner Peabody stated there had been serious boating accidents that had caused us to move forward with this.

A motion was made by Mr. Gundersen to adopt the proposal as presented, and that was seconded by Mr. Scribner.

Vote: unanimous ? motion passed

B. Step 2

1. Fall Turkey Season - WMD 27

Ms. Camuso stated this was a proposal to open WMD 27 to one turkey in the fall. It had been open in the spring, but not the fall. Our pullet surveys and regional staff and warden service all felt that area could support a one bird harvest in the fall. No public comments had been received.

There were no further questions or comments.

C. Step 1

1. Any-Deer Permit Allocations - 2017

Ms. Camuso stated we did not have a preliminary allocation of permits. Kyle Ravana was working with the data. There was a multi-step process. The first step was to do a quality check on all the data to make sure there was no duplication, etc. Then, for all animals harvested biological staff collected data for 15-20% of all the animals harvested. Kyle would take that data and compare it to the harvest data and run an analysis and that was the basis for starting the any-deer permit process. He would look at the age structure of all the animals harvested as well as the buck kill; buck per square mile and winter severity. Kyle would run a preliminary analysis that he sent to regional staff to review. After their review they would send their input on what was happening locally in the regions. They were planning to meet in early May to run the any-deer permit allocation process.

Council Member Comments and Questions

Mr. Scribner stated his concern was making sure the public had the appropriate time to react and to provide input. Thinking back historically in terms of permit allocations for moose and deer permits, was this the way it normally occurred in terms of not having the preliminary figures in Step 1?

Commissioner Woodcock stated the deer permit allocation process relied heavily on the books coming back from tagging agents. We had some delays in that process and we working on improving the system. Without the books, or a certain percentage we would not be able to calculate correctly. The process may be a tad behind schedule but not by much.

There were no further questions or comments.

V. Other Business

Commissioner Woodcock stated we had a couple of heritage fish water bill discussions in the Legislature that had been vibrant. Both bills focused on the state heritage fish waters law and LD 1018 put in by Representative Black of Wilton was a bill that would prohibit stocking or live bait on the tributaries to the state heritage fish waters. Tributaries were defined as direct and indirect tributaries. That had the possibility to create quite a spider web in some situations. As you could well imagine direct and indirect tributaries could go a ways into the water system, whether it did or not needed to be examined. We testified in opposition to the bill which created quite a stir with a lot of people, the notion that the Department would testify in opposition to protecting heritage fish. We were currently at 561heritage waters in Maine. The question was, did we want to throw a blanket over all of the tributaries and simply add all state heritage fish waters and tributaries. He was not a proponent of that at the current time without examining how that impacted the tributary system and the heritage water system. There was stocking involved in some of those distant places. He was not in favor of making the tributary law a blanket law. We would be proposing some heritage water additions from the survey waters that Trout Unlimited and Audubon assisted the Department with. They were concerned because not enough waters had been put on the list from their surveys. They had done a great job with the surveys, not all of the waters were in his opinion heritage fish waters and they recognized that also. To say or imply that the Department staff was not cognizant of how valuable wild brook trout were to Maine was incorrect. To have 561 waters on the heritage list and 97% of the wild lake and pond brook trout population left in the continental United States was a key indicator that we did value them highly. Not all regions held these waters.

Commissioner Woodcock stated the second law, LD 1236 would have taken away the Commissioner's ability to declare the heritage fish waters with rulemaking. The bill we testified in opposition to was the original bill, there had been some amendments to the language proposed.

VI. Councilor Reports

Councilors gave reports.

VII. Public Comments & Questions

John Glowa stated 2 years ago IFW staff met with folks at Avian Haven to discuss the problem of lead poisoning Maine's eagles. Within the last 2 weeks Maine's oldest documented eagle at 34 years of age and 2 others were found injured probably from fighting with other eagles. All 3 had elevated lead levels in their blood. His question for the Commissioner was when was the Department going to act on the lead ammunition problem?

Commissioner Woodcock stated he appreciated the question.

Mr. Glowa stated he would keep asking until he got the answer he was looking for.

Mr. Thurston asked how long the average eagle survived.

Ms. Camuso stated 34 was on the upper end of the scale for eagles nationally, it was probably one of the oldest known birds in the country. A normal lifespan would be 20-25 years. The greatest mortality occurred within their first year, as was true for most birds up to 70% of the animals did not survive their first year. We were anticipating to do another aerial survey of bald eagles which we tried to do every 5 years. We currently estimated the population at over 900 pairs of nesting eagles. We were beginning to see issues with eagles and their impact on sea bird nesting islands.

Mr. Gundersen asked if we knew what kind of ammunition the eagles were getting and how they were getting it.

Mr. Glowa stated the information he had was lead ammunition shattered into thousands of fragments in the carcass of an animal and it could be an animal that was shot and wandered off. Deer and moose processors, some of the meat they discarded which was obviously contaminated with fragments went to coyote bait and by setting out the poison bait it was a death trap for eagles and other birds of prey that might come in and feed on it. It only took one tiny fragment of lead to kill an eagle.

Mr. Thurston asked if we were also seeing raven mortality from lead.

Ms. Camuso stated corvids were typically not as impacted by lead.

Mr. Thurston asked if there were any other sources where eagles could pick up lead besides fish with lead sinkers.

Mr. Glowa stated he did not know if that was a concern, but he did know lead ammunition was a very serious issue.

Mr. Wheaton stated one morning he counted 26 different eagles on a trip in his area. He did not know how many were killed by vehicles. Mr. Glowa was talking about one eagle, Mr. Wheaton was not sure they had enough trees for them to nest in, we had more eagles than we had ever had. He was also seeing a lot less ospreys and loons. He would like to save the eagle, but not at the expense of everything else.

Mr. Glowa stated he would not claim that Maine's eagle population was in trouble. He would encourage people to go to Avian Haven to see the sick birds and talk to staff and see what they went through. Or go to Avian Haven's website to watch the video of the sick eagle dying. Eagles were protected by federal law and there was a non-toxic alternative. The non-toxic alternatives were law in California and that law would spread across the United States. There was also an issue of human public health and humans consuming wild game with lead fragments in it.

Commissioner Woodcock stated there was a lot of research being done, Mr. Glowa had sited some of it. We were working on the issue and had been for awhile.

VIII. Agenda Items & Schedule Date for Next Meeting

The next meeting would be in conjunction with the Moose Permit Lottery Drawing and was scheduled for June 17, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. at Cary Medical Center, Caribou in the Caribou Room.

IX. Adjournment

A motion was made by Mr. Farrington and that was seconded by Mr. Scribner to adjourn the meeting. The meeting was adjourned at 11:15 a.m.