Advisory Council Meeting
June 11, 2016 at 10:00 a.m.
Kittery Trading Post
301 US Route 1, Kittery, Maine
Chandler Woodcock, Commissioner
Timothy Peabody, Deputy Commissioner
Christl Theriault, Assistant to the Commissioner
Jim Connolly, Director, Bureau Resource Management
Judy Camuso, Wildlife Division Director
Bonnie Holding, Director of Information and Education
Adam Gormely, Game Warden Lieutenant
Becky Orff, Secretary/Recorder
Don Dudley (Chair)
Katie Hansberry, HSUS
Julie Miner, DEW Animal Kingdom
Gail Mercer, York's Wild Kingdom
Michael Ralbovsky, Rainforest Reptile Shows, Boston
Jim Fleming, Kennebec Valley Fur Takers
Gary Corson, New Sharon
Scott Macreavy, Kennebec Valley Fur Takers
Brian Cogill, President, MTA
Blaine Holding, Stratton
Kurt Schatzl, President, New England Herpetological Society
I. Call to Order
Council Chair Don Dudley 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. Wheaton.
Vote: unanimous – minutes approved.
A. Step 3
There were no items under Step 3.
B. Step 2
1. Wildlife in Captivity
Mr. Connolly stated we were in the middle of the public comment period. The proposed rule was advertised and so we could make them aware of some of the comments received, but could not provide a reaction as far as the rulemaking. It was the time for the public to provide comments, not engage in a discussion about changing the proposal. A public hearing was held with good attendance at the Civic Center. We received input from all sides of the issue. After the comment period was closed, all that would be taken into consideration. Everyone was civil at the hearing and it was a very diverse group.
Mrs. Oldham asked if the proposal would come back to them for discussion.
Mr. Connolly stated the comment deadline was June 17th so we couldn't consider doing anything with the proposal until after that.
Commissioner Woodcock stated the options for him were to move it forward with revisions, move it forward as it was or pull it out of the process entirely. It was the Commissioner's provision to do something with the proposal between Steps 2 and 3.
Mr. Connolly stated there was one piece that was clarified at the hearing that had posed some confusion. We announced, and it was our intention, that we would take the actual populating of the species list, the prohibited, category 1and 2 restricted through rulemaking as a separate process. There was a provision in the proposal to establish a technical advisory committee to the Commissioner. It was our intent to create that committee and populate it, review the species and make suggestions that we would take through rulemaking to actually finalize the three lists. The unrestricted list was not going to live in rule because it was a list of species that did not require a permit. The Attorney General's office advice was to keep the unrestricted list outside of rulemaking, but the three lists that were creating restrictions on what people could have should go through rulemaking to give people a chance to comment.
Mr. Thurston asked how the technical committee would be comprised. Who would choose the members?
Mr. Connolly stated it would be established by the Commissioner. Within the proposed rule there were categories of people that would participate. It would be advisory to the Commissioner; the Commissioner was the one who would have to defend the decisions and had the authority.
Mrs. Oldham stated the public comments had been helpful in helping her understand the issue. Personally, she thought the education piece in the proposal was weak. When she was the chairman of the board of medicine it came to their attention that they had licensees that were in need of remedial education and training. So they wrote a policy and staff did a great job in writing the policy. Then they tried to compile a list of resources where those licensees could get that training. The only one in the country they could find was in Colorado and was prohibitively expensive. She was concerned about the education piece. It looked great on paper, she just didn't see where that training and experience could come from. She thought that part needed to be strengthened.
Ms. Camuso asked if Mrs. Oldham meant the education for the people possessing the permit or some other requirement that they do public education.
Mrs. Oldham stated both parts. We talked about getting the training, but she was not sure where the training was available. The intent was fine but could it actually be accomplished. The other part of the proposal was the grandfather clause. She thought that should be eliminated, a lot of times grandfather clauses were put in but if it was the right thing to do changes had to be made then everybody had to make them. She thought that was important and fair. There were no grandfather clauses for trappers when having to use the exclusion devices. It was the right thing to do, everybody had to do it. There were also some public comments on added responsibility and burden on our wildlife rehabilitators. She thought those concerns needed to be taken into consideration; the release of animals within 10 miles of where they were found. As far as she knew these folks were doing it on donations and the goodness of their heart she thought we depended on them to do that service for us. She was concerned about undue burden on them the way the proposal was written. Inspections, in terms of time frame there was a host of peer reviewed literature that if you need to do inspections for compliance it needed to be random and unannounced. She was also concerned that her hunting and fishing license money may be going to this effort. She thought in terms of the enforcement of the rule needed to be a line item in the general fund. She thought her hunting and fishing license money that funded the Department could not do this as well. If we were going to do this right it was going to require general fund money.
Mr. Connolly stated many of the points raised by Mrs. Oldham had been made to us through the comment period. The way the proposal was laid out it was a complete repeal and replace. There were parts that were direct copies from the original rule to the proposed rule without any change that some individuals were just becoming aware of. They had actually been under the rule for years and had a way to work through that that's been acceptable and now they've looked at the proposal and think they are being put upon by a new burden when in fact that was the burden they'd been operating under all along. There were some things that had been raised that we were certainly going to look at. The education piece was certainly something that was raised. The fees did go up and those would be put into place when the rule was completed. The reason for the inspection process to be changed was to shift the burden from the people that were getting the benefit receiving the animals to actually pay for the inspections rather than taking staff and sending them around doing inspections for wildlife in captivity. That was set up to do an independent process, non-Department employees where the user pays for the inspection for their opportunity. There would be mandatory inspections but still be spot inspections by Department staff to deal with issues in facilities where we had concerns about compliance or if we had complaints. The other part we kept hearing was the reason there wasn't compliance was because there was a lack of knowledge for a couple reasons. People coming in from out of state don't know what the rules are so we were hoping to increase our web presence and clarify the list of what was eligible. The other discussion was the opportunity for people to be educated about animals and their needs before they went and got them. It was a burden, but from the standpoint of a wildlife agency having these out on the landscape, even if they only survived for part of a year was problematic. To run the risk of things being out there long term and create an impact for wildlife either in bringing disease in; there's a current problem in Europe with reptiles and amphibians and if that came to the U.S. it would be devastating. We have a strong interest in protecting native wildlife and in order to do that we had to be involved in regulating exotic wildlife.
Commissioner Woodcock stated there were some exceptional professionals in this arena outside of the Department and we had been listening to them. It would be important that people appreciate that those professionals within the categories of the proposal had been, would be and would continue to be involved in the process. This was not his or most people's area of expertise. There were people that had that expertise and we were listening carefully.
There were no further comments or questions.
2. Scientific Collection Permits
Mr. Connolly stated we had not received any comments. The proposal was more in trying to address the wildlife in captivity, the scientific collection permits were in a couple different chapters and we consolidated all that information in one spot in one chapter.
There were no comments or questions.
3. Any-deer Permits 2016
Mr. Connolly stated the allocations had been advertised. The northern districts still continued to be an issue. There had been some changes in sightings of deer in response to the winter changes. WMD 15 we were cutting permits by about 52% but in WMDs 17 and 23 we were doubling the permits. The permit system was set up to continue to be able to respond to deer populations within sections of the state and it continued to do that. Long term in some parts of the state we would have to look at ways to continue to be creative about creating additional pressure from hunting to impact deer populations. In some areas of the state deer populations continued to grow and we needed to be creative about finding ways to address that.
Council Member Comments and Questions
Mr. Fortier asked if in WMD 7, were the biologists comfortable with that number.
Mrs. Oldham stated she has also gotten a lot of communication about us going from zero to 505 permits in WMD 7. We had a mild winter and were seeing more deer, but people in the Eustis, Stratton, Aziscohos area she received multiple emails and phone calls expressing concern. What they would like to see, rather than all or nothing, maybe a small number of permits every year if justifiable so that the archery and youth hunters had an opportunity to harvest a doe rather than what was seen as a very big increase.
Mr. Thurston stated he had three calls as well. He knew people from WMD 8 that wondered why they got 505 permits in WMD 7. 59% increase was dramatic.
Mr. Connolly stated he would read from an email from Kyle Ravana answering the question. "One of the main drivers affecting the deer in WMD 7 is winter weather. On average it can account for up to 70% of the variance in population abundance for the inhabiting deer from year to year. Given the ease of this past winter, IFW felt there was room to provide the increase for opportunity through a relatively limited doe harvest. In addition based on the patterns of birth and death and recruitment of fawns into older age classes the Department estimates that the state can harvest approximately 4% of the adult does in that WMD before the effects are experienced by the deer population. For the next season our goal is to harvest approximately 130 does. Given historical patterns in doe harvests in relation to the issuance of any-deer permits we need to issue approximately 4x as many permits as there are does we wish to harvest. Given that mortality is down, survival and recruitment are up and the Department has historical data to use to project harvest trends we expect that the prescribed harvest and subsequent permit allocation should have a minimal impact on the deer population within that WMD." That was looked at and discussed with Chuck Hulsey and Bob Cordes and those that covered that area. It was not a 1 for 1 on permits, it was several permits for each doe. In terms of the goal and the fluctuation we were revising the deer management system and one of the things that could come out of that if we got the feedback was the interest in maybe having a more continual harvest rather than going back to zero. One of the things we struggled with was as soon as there were any permits, then youth and archers got permits and that was one of the implications when we had low harvest, we could have low harvest and keep a harvest going but youth permits which aren't regulated came into play on youth day and also archery of which we had no control over the numbers.
Mr. Scribner stated as a continuation to comments he made at the last meeting in terms of some of his personal concerns regarding the 505 any-deer permits in WMD 7, given that he did not represent WMD 7 like Mrs. Oldham he still had a vested interest in that he had a hunting camp in that area and hunted there for years. It had been decades since they had any any-deer permits like this 505. What he did to see if he was alone in this concern was do a small survey of other serious deer hunters that hunted in WMD 7. The consensus was almost unanimous that going to 505 any-deer permits after one mild winter was way too much too soon. After the two very severe winters that we had prior to this last one, there was a lot of concern about jumping to the 500. He hunted the townships of Eustis, Coplin, Tim Pond, Lang and Redington last year and in 10 days of hunting he saw 2 deer. At the Pines Market the harvest figures were down significantly, this was one of the major tagging facilities in that region. Given the input he received he would recommend the Department seriously look at the 500 figure and reduce it if not eliminate it. During the winter time you could go off on the Kennebago Road where they were feeding deer or go to the Rangeley area and see all kinds of deer but anyone with their feet on the ground in November up there knew those pockets of deer during the fall were widespread and you could walk miles without seeing a deer track.
Commissioner Woodcock stated pockets of deer, there probably wasn't a zone in the state that didn't have pockets of deer. It made it challenging in the management practices because the general public would see deer and say we had plenty of deer in the zone. Another side of the river, someone would say they hadn't seen a deer in 2 years there are no deer in this zone. The pocket principal applied to pretty much the north portion of the state. The management for those pockets of deer had been discussed and one of the ways to manage would be smaller management districts. That could be more complicated. We were aware of the pockets of deer discussion. Another interesting thing was the number of deer permits proposed vs. the number of deer harvested. The reality of the 500 permits would be 100-150 does in the entire district. Those were taken into consideration.
Mr. Scribner stated regarding the 130 does, they were any-deer permits so a certain segment of those were going to be young male fawns. We needed to keep that in consideration. He thought we had at least one public comment from a guide in WMD 7 that also raised some serious concerns about going to 505 permits. If a deer guide in that area was concerned about the 500 figure then maybe they needed to think more about future years. If one or two years delay and seeing how that mild winter, seeing how the population bounced back he thought that would be a safer approach than going to the 505.
Mr. Fortier stated in the numbers, were deer/car accidents taken into account. He knew that had a lot to do with it in the northern area because people were feeding deer. They were trying to educate people on feeding of deer.
Mr. Connolly stated the deer management system was meant to take all of that into account. It was looking at losses for illegal kill, the car/deer accidents, etc. were all taken into account. The population they were looking at as a result of that, they're looking at the male/female sex ratio so if the males were getting hit harder they understood how to manipulate the permits that impacted the male harvest as well. They're looking to keep that in balance and monitoring that in the harvest. The other thing to keep in mind was a fawn could breed the following winter as yearlings and adult does as well. There was opportunity with mild winters where you would get super production of deer. Also the fact that bucks would breed with more than one doe. In those more severe winters in each part of the state you can't stockpile deer there's a certain mortality that's going to occur and it's the recognition that hunting is an opportunity to look at that, analyze the mortality and to harvest that surplus that's available.
Mr. Scribner stated if there was more biological data that Kyle could provide, hopefully they could have that prior to Step 3. It would definitely have an impact on his vote in terms of the proposal.
Mr. Connolly stated Kyle Ravana would be at the next meeting. The comment period ended June 3rd.
Mr. Thurston stated he thought it was important to remember when you had a high population of any species you were going to have disease. He gave an example of the disease affecting turkeys. Things had a way of self-adjusting.
Mr. Wheaton stated there were pockets and if he was the hunter he was going to find the pockets because he was going to kill a deer. His WMD was 11. This year he had seen 6 different does. That was good, but 60 years ago in the middle of the day he could show you 40 deer. If you brought the permits up to 505, he would be wild. It could be 505 does taken. Probably not, but it could be. 505 does when you had nothing was a lot of reproduction and areas where there were no deer, let them breed a little bit and get out there. There was lots of food for them. To take them all in one year, he disagreed.
There were no further comments or questions.
C. Step 1
1. Furbearer Seasons/Beaver Closures 2016/17
Mr. Connolly stated we were analyzing data and compiling information for the proposal. Cory Mosby met with MTA and we were working with them to address their concerns.
Mr. Dudley asked when the proposal would be available to view.
Ms. Camuso stated the data was in the database so it would be available soon.
There were no further questions or comments.
2. Nonresident Landowners/ME Resident Only Day
Deputy Commissioner Peabody stated this was for nonresident landowners with 25 acres or more to hunt on residents only day of deer season. This was passed in the Legislature this past session and we were going through rulemaking for the guidelines for what a person would have to show as proof of ownership of 25 acres or more. It would just be the individual landowner of record and they would carry a document with them. We would be providing a form online once it was developed that they could use saying they were the rightful owner of a parcel of land that was 25 acres or more. It must be open to hunting. It was important to the fish and wildlife committee to not create a burden for the Augusta office licensing division, town offices, the hunters themselves or wardens. If there were any questions we would follow up and investigate if necessary.
Mr. Thurston asked why the necessity of not posting your 25 acres from out of state.
Deputy Commissioner Peabody stated it was a landowner relations issue. People that had property and left it open to hunting was how the fish and wildlife committee looked at it.
Mr. Dudley asked if posted with permission would qualify.
Deputy Commissioner Peabody stated it was written open to hunting, so access by permission would count.
There were no further questions or comments.
3. Chapter 8 – Endangered Species – Broad Activity Exemption
Deputy Commissioner Peabody stated during the 2015 session there were 3 bats listed on the Maine endangered species list, the Northern long-ear, Eastern small-footed and the Little brown. There was concern amongst the forest products industry and others as to what the listing of these bats would do to forestry practices around the state and the wind energy people weighed in also. The Department worked very closely with these groups and under LD 1636 and amended the Maine endangered species act which may create an allowance for broad activity exemption. A broad activity exemption was, "it addresses specific activity that is widespread in its occurrence but may have a reasonably identified group of participants." In other words, forestry people cutting trees. Part B of that, "poses little or no risk on the taking of an endangered or threatened species" and C, "will not individually or cumulatively impair the recovery of any endangered or threatened species." The Commissioner may hold at least one public hearing and adopt rules which are routine technical to identify these activities that are widespread and can be exempted from take under the Maine endangered species act. Essentially activities that there would be negligible or little take at all. Forest products industry was one, homeowners, etc. and also looking for an exemption for the Norther long-eared on the wind power industry. We were exploring methods for the rulemaking process to engage those groups up front such as public informational meetings or considering consensus based rulemaking.
Mrs. Oldham stated that should be interesting, probably the wind power hadn't been around long enough to have any really good scientific data.
Ms. Camuso stated the wind industry had been collecting data on species occurrences in proximity to their facilities and as part of their permit requirements they had to do preimposed construction surveys of the facilities. Northern long-eared bats had not to date been documented being taken at a wind turbine. Last summer the USFWS recognized this on a national basis that the wind industry had posed less than 1/10th of 1% of all mortalities of bats or Northern long-eared bats. The wind industry, they gave them a pass under the 4d rule.
Mrs. Oldham asked if USFWS relied on that data. It was kind of like a drug company doing new research on its own medicine.
Ms. Camuso stated part of our concern was that technology to date hadn't been able to identify the species of bats it just told us there were myotis bats present. As we moved forward we would be looking to improve that, the technology was improving and now you could tell the difference between species so we would be looking for that in the preconstruction surveys.
Mr. Wheaton asked if they would let the Department go in under the turbines and look around.
Ms. Camuso stated we had been at them many times, staff did do site visits.
Mr. Wheaton stated they were losing population on woodcock and he wondered where the migrations happened at night and the turbines moving fast in the wind if there would be a lot of them on the ground. No one ever went to look.
Ms. Camuso stated we did surveys and they documented all the species they had mortality events with. We could look at what we had records of, but she did not remember woodcock being of particular concern.
Deputy Commissioner Peabody stated the process would also include protection guidelines for the bats. There were 4 hibernacular in Maine so the protection guidelines were within a proximity of those hibernaculum and also roosts or maternity trees.
Mr. Thurston asked how you would identify a roost and maternity tree if you were in there cutting wood.
Deputy Commissioner Peabody stated if they had been previously identified and none had died.
Commissioner Woodcock stated we had constructive talks with the groups connected to the issue.
There were no further comments or questions.
4. Kimball Pond Horsepower Restriction Petition
Commissioner Woodcock stated the Department had been petitioned with a valid petition to restrict the horsepower rating on Kimball Pond which was a 55 acre pond in Vienna with a maximum depth of 19 feet. It had 3 camps on it and could be a pretty nice trout pond. It was reclaimed and trout put back into it. Other fish had since come into the pond, particularly bait fish. From reading the reports and fishing there himself, boat traffic there was minimal at times and there may be a boat or 2 that had larger horsepower. They were not seeing a lot of that happening. The petition was valid and we were going to hold a public hearing on July 12th as we were required to do. We would assess the issue of whether or not the proposal of 10 horsepower or less was valid.
Mrs. Oldham asked if this was the first time they had done this; had they been turned down before?
Ms. Orff stated she thought it was in 2005 when we went through the process before.
There were no further questions or comments.
5. Fishing Regulations/State Heritage Fish Waters 2017
Deputy Commissioner Peabody stated this was going to be somewhat different, we would be doing a full repeal and replace and reorganize the law book. We would present major substantive changes to the rule in the same format people were used to. They would see the old rule and the new rule for a specific body of water. We did not know exactly how many, possibly 30 to 60 substantive changes. Of the substantive changes some of those were actually changes that were streamlining how the regulation was presented in the law book. There may be no major change of fisheries management but there was a major change to the rule itself based on the language that was currently presented. There would be a packet of those that were available for comment and review by the Council. There would be another document which contained the definitions section. The definitions section was generally in the front of the law book and some of those were statutory and some were rule. We would be highlighting the areas of rule change that they would be able to comment on. There would be another document with a summary of formatting and housekeeping issues, ie: see general law addition to those bodies of water. We would have another document that summarized all the changes we made to streamline and reorganize the law book itself, most of those would not be open for comment just directing on what the actual changes were to reorganize the law book, and then there would be the complete book. It would be open to comment, we were hoping for yes its really nice you did a great job, but not part of the rulemaking process for the public.
Commissioner Woodcock stated the Governor had been very interested in simplifying the law book. Jim Pellerin in Region A had put in countless hours on the project. The additional part of the proposal would be the heritage fish law which required that we put forth proposals for the protective heritage fish water listing. There would be proposals this year, a combination of some suggestions from regional biologists as well as the results of the remote trout pond survey from Trout Unlimited, National Audubon and the Department. The new law book would have a distinct and dramatic different look to it. He believed it was going to be an incredible improvement. There was also going to be an electronic access for devices that were hand held.
Deputy Commissioner Peabody stated there would be five public hearings held.
Ms. Orff stated they would be held in the same locations as last year, Presque Isle, Millinocket, Ellsworth, Farmington and Brunswick.
Mr. Fortier stated anything that could be done to cut down on "gray areas" or things left to interpretation to figure out would be helpful.
Commissioner Woodcock stated the ATV/snowmobile book, hunting book and the fishing book would have a very similar format.
There were no further questions or comments.
V. Other Business
1. Shooting Areas
Commissioner Woodcock stated we had rounds of proposals come in for the shooting areas and the Pitman Robinson funding and some significant improvements around the state. Nate Webb had spearheaded the process. At the beginning of the process we did not take on the state's shooting areas in Fryeburg and Augusta because it was his feeling that government should not spend the money first before the public had an opportunity. We waited, and had designs in for reconstruction of our two shooting areas in Fryeburg and Augusta and would be significant examples of shooting areas for the public to be able to use. He encouraged people to check the website or call for opportunities still available.
VI. Councilor Reports
Councilors gave reports.
Mr. Scribner stated he had received a request from a constituent, John Glowa of the Maine Wolf Coalition. He believed the same request had been sent to the Department saying he would be unable to attend the meeting, but would appreciate if Mr. Scribner raised three questions/concerns that he had. He stated they were still awaiting a response from the Department regarding the exclusion of grey wolves from the 2015 Wildlife Action Plan. The Maine Wolf Coalition had submitted the request to the USFWS that the plan not be approved until the grey wolf was included. Where were we with that?
Mr. Connolly stated we had provided some information on the wolf study that we were engaged in, the actions that we'd taken over the years with regards to wolves in the Advisory Council packet. The action plan was meant to be actions for things that existed. It was meant to be those species that were in the state and that coordinated activity that it took to help make them flourish or increase or manage. Looking at wolves, we had documented them as extirpated, not present. There had been some occurrences that we looked at and investigated and using the modern DNA available now, discovered those animals had actually been in captivity at some point. While they were not included in the plan we were not ignoring them or doing anything to discourage them from reestablishing themselves naturally.
Ms. Camuso stated when we were updating the statewide wildlife action plan as required by the USFWS to access state wildlife grant monies, the USFWS was very clear that they wanted us to prioritize the species that were listed as well as the actions associated with either the species or species habitat. That money was appropriated every year by Congress. It was not a guarantee we would get that money. They wanted actions they could bring to Congress to say this was the amount of money we spent, these were the actions and this was the result. The whole premise of the action plan was to keep common things common. The goal was to prevent listing. From the Department's perspective dedicating a portion of the plan to a species that's extirpated did not make sense. We did get Pitman Robinson money in a separate grant authority that allowed us to investigate any kind of wolf occurrence or sighting so we still did those.
Mr. Scribner stated the second question posed by Mr. Glowa was they would like an update regarding what IFW was doing about the issue of poisoning of eagles and elevated blood lead levels in humans resulting from the use of lead ammunition.
Mr. Connolly stated we were looking at what other states were doing in terms of alternative ammunitions. Other states had a great program in making hunters aware of that and had seen changes in the way hunters bought ammunition as a result. We were looking at that; it would be voluntary and educational. Looking at eagles, a few years ago we could count the number of eagles nests on two hands and now we were talking about over 800 pairs. We had to put it into perspective, it was something we were concerned about and monitoring.
Mr. Scriber stated the last question was the status of IFW's implementation of LD 1593.
Mr. Connolly stated LD 1593 was an effort by folks in the sporting community to emphasize the importance of hunting, fishing and trapping to the people of Maine in regards to IFW conducting its business. That had always been an avenue that we used to manage our fish and wildlife populations in Maine. Those tools were fundamental wildlife tools used when populations warranted it and helped us attain the population levels we would like. It was a part of the tradition of the people of Maine. The bill would not change anything that we did. We were still going to look to incorporate those tools when appropriate, we always had and would continue to do that as long as they were legal and available to the Department. We used the framework the Legislature gave us.
VII. Public Comments & Questions
Jim Fleming distributed the Kennebec Valley Furtakers request for general trapping season and beaver trapping season. It also included a brief discussion concerning the low beaver harvest and economic threshold that had hit and bottomed out. They were concerned that beaver would be delisted at some point. Last year with the lateness coupled with the equipment changes there was a lot of consternation among trappers and trying to accommodate that.
Julie Miner stated she was from DEW Haven and was going to give a brief history. She read from a prepared statement her comments on the newest proposed rules … "My history is I have always worked with one kind of animal or another – as a child I was the one who brought home all the stray and injured animals, as a teen I volunteered at a zoo in CT, cared for domestic, farm animals, and parrot type birds, as an adult. I am now Co-Founder of DEW Haven, which was established in early 1980 by Bob Miner, my husband. We are a USDA licensed zoo, not a roadside zoo (which is an option on USDA licensing) I have 21 years of practical hands on experience working with domestic, exotic and wild animals, just at DEW. It's been and continues to be a growing and learning experience – working not only with the animals and the public but also with rules and laws that are also evolving.
I study on my own all of the time, relying on educational resources of books, individuals from other facilities, such as York Wild Kingdom (here in Maine) and Franklin Park Zoo (in Boston) and a variety of Veterinarians. I would like to thank everyone who has worked on these proposed rules – I know how time consuming and challenging it must have been. Some of our concerns at our facility in the new proposed rules are 7.06 1-3 with the understanding that lists will be compiled - these sections concern us as we have no idea which animals will end up on which list – for example if tigers end up on the restricted list that would have an impact on our future revenue as they are one of the types of animals that attract visitors to facilities such as ours. 3 a (1) b one of the criteria to place an animal on the restricted list is, if it is on the state or federal endangered species list – does this mean that exhibitors will not be able to exhibit &/or breed endangered species such as; lemurs, tigers and leopards? That is a big concern. Not only for the attracting of patrons (which would affect our revenue) but we have also bred and donated endangered species to other facilities, for display and for bloodlines. 7.07 Permit types 2. Exhibitor: USDA – like the state – has propagator, breeder, exhibitor licensing = which ever you make the most income at is what you need to be licensed at = our facility started out with a breeder license moved on to propagator then exhibitor. Thus the exhibitor license covers all three activities – We would like to see the state licensing to work the same way if possible, which at this time it does not, so if we are an exhibitor in order to sell, transfer or deal with any other facility in state or out of state we would have to also have a propagation license – this interrupts the flow of revenue. We are already required to keep all records of any transportation of any kind – the USDA provides forms for these transactions and exhibitors could use these forms to show to the state as well. Thus, you would not have to come up with a form of your own. The language could be added here to include breeding, propagation, transfer, loan &/or donated. Thus the definition of Exhibitor would need to have the added activities.
Rehabilitation: This is a pure opinion on my part on this section. We feel that if a native Maine wildlife is injured or orphaned due to human error, ex: a car hitting an animal, tree cut down with babies in it, etc. euthanizing the animal if it cannot fully recover seems a shame, as long as it is not suffering, when it could be used for educating the public. 7.09 b & c, this covers inspection. I added a comment here that our inspections, we are not called before inspecting they just show up. We are confused by this wording… "completed inspection reports must be submitted to the department" Doesn't the inspector give his reports to the office and a copy to the licensed individual ? Ex: USDA does its inspection - within the next 24 to 48 hours it is emailed to the facility – the facility responds that they received the inspection and that works as our signature. Less paperwork and it is the system. Could that work for the state? We are inspected yearly by USDA without fail and then if there is a complaint put in, I believe they have 14 days to come out and follow up on that complaint.
7.10 (1) Setting special conditions for handlers concerns us – not allowing us to work directly with a specific animal is a downward slope. Any trained handler knows the risks involved when working with a wild animal – thus that ensuing risk is up to the individual handler. Any licensing department would not be responsible if injury occurred to a handler. The second part that concerns us is regulating which animals we can or cannot breed – this would be effecting not only our revenue, but possibly our ability to work with other facilities with blood lines &/or exhibit. Also the ability to replace our own exhibit animals as others get old &/or pass. 3 b General possession – We would like to see added here that any animal housed outdoors will have a sturdy protective barrier to prevent persons from approaching the animals main enclosure. Thus keeping the animal and the public safe. Most general possession owners aren't home all the time and do not require an 8 foot perimeter fence around their animals as exhibitors do.
In closing we look forward to continuing to work with all departments that license us. We want the rules to protect the animals and the public yet still allow us to be able to earn revenue, that will only help us to continue to care for the animals, to provide jobs for our employees, to keep our internship & volunteer program alive and thriving and to be able to educate the public. We also feel that listening to radical animal activists – who are pushing for no breeding, no zoos that aren't accredited, etc. is a dangerous downward spiral – the fact is their only agenda is to have no animals in captivity. There is still a place for exhibitors, researchers, rehabilitators and educated general possession owners. Thank you for taking the time to listen to our needs and concerns."
Gary Corson stated he had a question regarding the fishing regulations. He understood the rule book issue and he understood the heritage waters would be separate. Could they expect there wouldn't be regulations on individual waters with the packet. If we were doing something for the law book, it probably wasn't going to encompass a number of waters and would be more wording than anything else. Would they see the regulations proposed like they normally did?
Commissioner Woodcock stated we had been working with the Attorney General's office on how to present the changes. Most of the changes came under the simplification process. They would see a packet as they had in the past.
Gary Corson stated he understood, but it seemed like a lot of things got lost in the shuffle it had happened in the past. We put 150 regulation changes in and some of them got comments, some of them didn't and it was because of the weight that they carried as far as the public goes, or they had to comment on every single one. He just hoped the process wasn't set up so we lost the regulations that were actually trying to change.
Katie Hansberry stated she wanted to thank the Department and Advisory Council and IFW staff for all the work that had been put into the proposed rules on wildlife in captivity. They had submitted comments on the draft version and then again at the public hearing. They would be supplementing that because of the 3 minute time limit at the hearing.
Kurt Schatzl, New England Herpetological Society stated on the wildlife in captivity rules, categories, education, liability insurance he thought Mrs. Oldham touched on education. 100 hours, he was not sure where anyone would get the education or what qualified for reptiles and amphibians. A tortoise that's readily available in pet shops all across New England, it seemed voluminous, expensive and time consuming. There were better ways of doing it. His society worked with New England states and promulgated regulations. If you looked at your most dangerous type of animal and set up the system for that dangerous type of animal, if you looked at other animals that were not dangerous and ignored them you couldn't extrapolate climate wise what happened in Florida to what happened in Maine, it didn't make any sense to do that. At any point and time if we wanted to reach out to him and his society they would be happy to show us things that had already been written up that made life easier regarding reptiles and amphibians.
Mike Ralbovsky stated he had been an exhibitor in Maine for 15 or 20 years and did not want to lose their rights to do that. He would submit written comments; they were in attendance at the public hearing.
VIII. Agenda Items & Schedule Date for Next Meeting
The next meeting was scheduled for August 17, 2016 at Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Augusta beginning at 9:30 a.m.
A motion was made by Mr. Fortier and that was seconded by Mr. Wheaton to adjourn the meeting. The meeting was adjourned at 12:30 p.m.