Meeting Minutes

Advisory Council Meeting
May 4, 2016 at 9:30 a.m.
Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
284 State Street, 2nd Floor Conference Room
Augusta, Maine


Chandler Woodcock, Commissioner
Christl Theriault, Assistant to the Commissioner
Jim Connolly, Director, Bureau Resource Management
Judy Camuso, Wildlife Division Director
Jason Seiders, Region B Fisheries Biologist
Frank Frost, Region G Fisheries Biologist
Becky Orff, Secretary/Recorder

Council Members:

Jeff Lewis (Chair)
Don Dudley (Vice Chair)
Dick Fortier
Gunnar Gundersen
Matt Thurston
Larry Farrington
Jerry Scribner
Lance Wheaton
Jenny Starbird
Sheri Oldham


Don Kleiner, MPGA
Katie Hansberry, HSUS
Julie Miner, DEW Animal Kingdom
John Glowa, ME Wolf Coalition
Gail Mercer, York's Wild Kingdom
Michael Ralbovsky, Rainforest Reptile Shows, Boston
Ian Bricknell, UME
Bob Abbott, Kennebec Valley Fur Takers
Jim Fleming, Kennebec Valley Fur Takers
Deidre Fleming, Portland Press Herald
Jason Prillo
Rob Christian, ME Herp Society

I.  Call to Order

Council Chair Jeff Lewis 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. Wheaton.

Vote:  unanimous ? minutes approved.

III-A. Election of Chair and Vice-Chair

Council Chair

A motion was made by Mr. Wheaton to nominate Mr. Dudley for Council Chair, and that was seconded by Mrs. Oldham. There were no further nominations.

Vote: unanimous ? Don Dudley elected Council Chair

Council Vice-Chair

A motion was made by Mr. Wheaton to nominate Mr. Lewis for Vice-Chair, and that was seconded by Mr. Scribner. There were no further nominations.

Vote: unanimous ? Jeff Lewis elected Council Vice-Chair

IV.  Rulemaking

A. Step 3

1. 2016 Moose Permit Allocations/Nov. season to Oct.

Mr. Connolly stated there were no changes in the proposal from what was presented originally. There was a comment received regarding moving the September season. At this time we were not proposing to change the proposal from what was advertised originally.

Commissioner Woodcock stated we did have a request to change the September week to a week earlier so it might spread out the wealth of September hunting to some of the outfitters and guides. It did create a conflict with bear baiting and other activities. There was a condensed time from August to the middle of December where everything had to apply and we were trying to spread that out as much as possible so we were leaving the proposal as it was. Just a reminder that the November week of moose hunting was moving into October.

Mr. Fortier asked about the collared moose study and if there were changes from last year in WMD 8.

Mr. Connolly stated he had not received any recent updates. It was part of a 3 to 4 year study and we were noticing some differences. We were glad we added the second zone, but we were not prepared to make any changes in the permit allocations at this time.

A motion was made by Mr. Lewis to accept the proposal as presented and that was seconded by Mr. Gundersen.

Vote: unanimous ? motion passed

2. Youth Bear Hunt

Mr. Connolly stated the proposal was the same as what was presented and we had not received any public comments.

A motion was made by Mrs. Oldham to accept the proposal as presented and that was seconded by Mr. Wheaton.

Vote: unanimous ? motion passed

BStep 2

There were no items under Step 2.

C. Step 1

1. Wildlife in Captivity

Mr. Connolly stated we had received many comments although we had not yet published the proposed rule.  A timeline for rulemaking was provided in the Council packet.  We did meet with interested parties about the proposed rule and made some substantial modifications from the earlier draft.  We narrowed down the prohibited list to look at things that were injurious to the species in Maine.  We broadened the scope of the exhibitors permits to include things that were threatened and endangered, substantial risk to native wildlife, were capable of inflicting serious bodily injury, or had specialized care requirements or were capable of surviving in the wild in Maine's climate.  That would be a very tight category.  We would also have a category 2 which was more specialized needs for the animal or the person that was caring for it.  In the end we hoped to have a much broader unrestricted list that would allow those animals to be traded in pet stores and freely available.  It would be a smaller category 2 which was either the animal had very specialized needs or the person caring for it did.  Those animals would be allowed to have contact and the majority of the animals of concern were going to be in the category 1 which was going to be for exhibitors, laboratories and research facilities.  The category 2 would be general possession by qualified individuals.  It was a different focus and in response to many of the concerns that we got.  We were going to assemble a technical group and use that group to advise the Commissioner to create a list of species.  The Attorney General's office had advised us to take the technical committee findings through the rulemaking process.  The unrestricted list would still reside outside rulemaking because it was not something that was going to be regulated.  It would be published and available on the website and that would be the reference for the pet shops.  The species that would have some statutory limitations would go through the rulemaking process and developed through the use of the technical committee.  The framework for the system was what was being proposed.  While that was working its way through the process, we would begin to look at the species and how those should be placed.  The proposal was not going to address fish, they were not included. 

Comments and Questions

Ian Bricknell asked about the unrestricted list and how large it would be.  Currently it was around 66,000 owls and would they all be listed or would it be much smaller than that.

Mr. Connolly stated we hadn't assembled the technical committee so he could not give a definitive answer.  Mr. Bricknell would have an opportunity to contact the group and offer his opinions.

Ian Bricknell asked how the technical committee would be selected.

Mr. Connolly stated the outline for the group would be in the proposed rule.

2. Scientific Collection Permits

Mr. Connolly stated the proposal would be published at the same time as the wildlife in captivity rule and was to make clarifications that were specifically oriented towards mammals and birds for scientific research and collection and we had always administered it in relation to native wildlife. We were going to make that clear; it was science and educational projects going on in Maine that were focused on taking native wildlife either into captivity or collecting research specimens for analysis. The other thing we might do down the road, it was not clear dealing with amphibians and reptiles for scientific collection permits. That would require a change in law and we would have to go back to the Legislature for that.

3. Shooting Areas

Mr. Connolly stated this was in relation to the ranges the Department had at Brownfield and Summerhaven. We were waiting for confirmation from the Governor's office that we could move forward. Before any rule was proposed we prepared a summary and notified the Governor's office for approval. The rule would provide some regulation, the ranges had been open unsupervised and this would create some structure in order to make sure they were used safely. The rules would be consistent with what was currently used at most clubs.

4.  Any-deer Permits 2016

Mr. Connolly stated there was a 59% increase in any-deer permits associated with some districts in the southern part of the state. 

Comments and Questions

Mrs. Oldham asked just for clarification, when permits were allowed doe could be harvested during the archery season?

Mr. Connolly stated yes and by youth as well.

Mr. Scribner stated he had a question regarding the WMD 7 permit increase.  Even though he did not represent that district that was where he did his deer hunting.  He wanted to make sure from a biological perspective that the Department was feeling that the herd up in the western mountains had recovered sufficiently to support the 500 permits. 

Mr. Connolly stated the proposal was based on the meeting that the biologists had.  It was the recommendation that came out of the meeting between the deer biologist and the regional biologists. 

Mrs. Oldham stated from a non-scientific perspective from observers the deer didn't even yard up that winter it was so mild.  They were seeing lots of deer.

Mr. Scribner stated given that we'd had one mild winter and two very severe ones prior to that he just wanted to make sure that we were confident the herd had bounced back sufficiently to support the permits.

Commissioner Woodcock stated the process we undertook to recommend permits for both deer and moose was a very scientific process.  In general we were rather enthused about most parts of the state in terms of last winter, they were showing good recovery around the state for deer.  It was reflected in the significant increase in permits. 

Mr. Farrington stated he still was asked the question, the Moosehead area was still at zero, and the hunters were telling him that they were seeing does and not bucks.  What were the figures they had to meet before they would be allowed to shoot them; particularly the youth.

Mr. Connolly stated we could have Kyle Ravana come down and talk about that.  The other piece was that we hadn't developed new goals because we had not gone through the working group process.  The allocations could be in relation to the previous goals which could be trying to build the herd.  As we moved through the new species planning process we would be looking at those goals and trying to balance them with where we were at now with the population.

V. Other Business

1. Trapping Regulations

Mr. Connolly stated we were moving forward with analyzing the furbearer harvest. There were some preliminary numbers that were shared with the trapper group. Every spring at the Augusta Sportsman's Show we met with the trappers to give them an idea where the numbers were at, and get some feedback from the trappers. There was a decrease in the fisher and marten harvest. There were some conflicting stories; some people that did use the exclusion devices did well. Some trappers didn't and others moved forward and were successful. Some of the trappers that used the exclusion devices had a better effort to catch ratio than they had in the past. If they were going to set the device they were more selective about where they put it and could do more in a limited period of time. There was some interest in extending the marten and fisher season into January so we were looking into that. There was also an interest in looking into the age structure. If we knew what the age and sex structure was of the harvest we might look at things differently. If it was surplus males that were being taken maybe we could be more liberal in our seasons. There would be a proposal to go for a mandatory submission of jaws to be able to tell the age of the animals harvested for 4 species. That was something the trappers put forward, they didn't mind doing it, but they wanted to know why. The furbearer regulations normally moved forward later in the summer for beaver closures.

Comments and Questions

Mrs. Oldham stated she was not surprised the take was down.  She thought perhaps some of the senior trappers weren't willing to invest in what they considered an unproved device.  As word got out that people that did make the investment and tried to harvest in that manner hopefully some of them would come back.  We may have lost a large group of people who were actively engaged in trapping.

Mr. Connolly stated it did seem that those that took the time making the devices and worked with them did very well.  They did focus more on the areas that would be more productive.

Commissioner Woodcock stated in addition to that, the price of fur was also a portion of it.  Those who were considering probably were tipped in a direction because the fur prices were down.

Mr. Dudley stated the devices were a little complicated to build.  A trapper would not run as many traps using the devices as he would if he didn't have to use them.  Did we have any information on how many people caught their limit?

Mr. Connolly stated he didn't think anybody caught their limit.  We could have a presentation later on.

Mr. Lewis stated they were going to have a major problem with beaver down his way.  Nobody trapped with the fur prices. 

Ms. Camuso stated she knew folks were suggesting that perhaps the Commissioner would consider extending the season.

Mr. Farrington stated they had people around the lake that checked the brooks and they had twice as many reports of beaver plugging up the brooks as they had last year.

Mr. Dudley stated the prices were significantly lower.  He had been doing this a long time and it was probably the lowest prices quoted that he had ever seen.  He was not surprised the catch was off.  There were a lot of beaver.  He personally took care of all the nuisance beaver that he could in his area for landowners.  When they dispersed in the spring the young beaver would end up in other places.  It would probably be a problem year.

VI. Councilor Reports

Councilors gave reports.

VII. Public Comments & Questions

Deirdre Fleming stated the reason she got her deer last year was because of the Major Sanborn firing range. She went there and the people were very helpful and respectful and it was a good experience.

Michael Ralbovsky stated he sat on advisory boards for MA and CT for rule changes and if someone from out of state could sit on the expert technical committee he would like to be considered for that. He had extensive experience in alligators, crocodiles, and amphibians and reptiles. He spent 20 years at the St. Augustine alligator farm as a herp and operations manager. They also had a huge collection of venomous and nonvenomous animals (approx. 438) they took care of that were from seizures and confiscations. They came to the state quite often. He had also trained wardens and conservation officers in 17 states, including Maine at the Criminal Justice Academy.

Rob Christian stated he would also like to put in a word for Mr. Ralbovsky. When he was about 5 years old, Mr. Ralbovsky did a presentation at his birthday party which was his first experience with reptiles. He was a real good person.

Jim Fleming stated he was there with Bob Abbott to introduce themselves, they were the representatives of the newly formed Kennebec Valley Furtakers. They were affiliated with furtakers of America, the other trapping association in Maine. They looked forward to having a seat at the table along with the MTA and working with the Commissioner, Advisory Council and Commissioner. Their members had taken a different path than other associations which they felt was necessary.

Ian Bricknell stated with regards to the expert group he would also like to put his name in the arena for that. He was in with the University of Maine and would like to represent the research community on lower vertebrates.

John Glowa stated he had three issues. The first, he was representing the Maine Wolf Coalition and in 2005 IFW developed a wildlife action plan which included gray wolves and the 2015 action plan excluded gray wolves. The only thing that occurred differently in the 10 year period was in fact more wolves were killed in the NE U.S. He had asked the Advisory Council to recommend to the Department that the Department amend the proposed wildlife action plan to include gray wolves and he was wondering if the Advisory Council had taken action in that regard and if not, did they intend to. The question was to both the Advisory Council and the Commissioner.

Commissioner Woodcock stated the Department hadn't taken any action yet, he did not know what the Council's intent was.

Mr. Lewis and Mr. Dudley both stated the Council had not taken any action.

Mr. Glowa asked if they intended to.

Ms. Camuso stated the action plan had been submitted to the USFWS so until they commented on it we could not make any additional changes. We did not anticipate hearing back from them until late summer.

Mr. Glowa asked if the Advisory Council intended to recommend that the gray wolf be included in the action plan.

Mr. Lewis stated he did not believe the Advisory Council had spoken; it would be on an individual basis if they wanted. Mr. Lewis stated he had no intention of doing it.

Mr. Glowa asked if they intended to discuss it. He had made a request and was asking for some consideration. His second issue, the last couple of meetings he had raised the issue of lead ammunition causing lead poisoning and deaths of eagles in Maine and also concern about effects on other aging scavengers and potential effects of lead ammunition ingestion by humans. Had IFW taken any action since they last spoke and did we intend to.

Commissioner Woodcock stated we had discussed it and focused on the national discussion which was taking place.

Mr. Glowa asked if we intended to continue those discussions.

Commissioner Woodcock stated he was sure that discussion would continue nationally.

Mr. Glowa stated recently the Legislature passed LD 1593, An Act to Make Hunting, Fishing and Trapping the basis of managing inland fisheries and wildlife resources. The statute contained no definition of the word feasible and made hunting, fishing and trapping the basis of fish and wildlife management. How did the Department intend to interpret this new mission change and how did the Department intend to implement it.

Commissioner Woodcock asked if that was emergency legislation. It was not and had not become law as of yet. When the new laws came out, we would discuss the new portion of the laws that pertained to us.

Jason Prillo stated he would like to put his name in the ring for being on the technical committee for wildlife in captivity. He just came back from the AZA (American Zoolocial and Aquarium Association) herp tags meeting where all the curators in America came together to discuss how they were going to manage their reptile and amphibian collections. Surprisingly he got a different perspective from them that he did not anticipate. Mainly, they needed the public's help in managing some of the lower level species that were CITES 1 or ESA listed. With that, also caging requirements; next year they would be giving a lecture on caging reptiles and amphibians in captivity with the AZA so he would like to include that in addition to what we had been talking about.

VIII.  Agenda Items & Schedule Date for Next Meeting

The next meeting was scheduled for June 11th at Kittery Trading Post beginning at 10:00 a.m.

IX.  Adjournment

A motion was made by Mrs. Oldham and that was seconded by Mr. Fortier to adjourn the meeting. The meeting was adjourned at 10:45 a.m.