Meeting Minutes

Advisory Council Meeting
February 24, 2016 at 9:30 a.m.
Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
284 State Street, 2nd Floor Conference Room
Augusta, Maine

Attending:

Chandler Woodcock, Commissioner
Timothy Peabody, Deputy Commissioner
Christl Theriault, Assistant to the Commissioner
Bonnie Holding, Director of Information and Education
Jim Connolly, Director, Bureau Resource Management
Judy Camuso, Wildlife Division Director
Nate Webb, Special Projects Coordinator
Chris Cloutier, Major, Warden Service
Becky Orff, Secretary/Recorder

Council Members:

Jeff Lewis (Chair) – by phone
Don Dudley (Vice-Chair)
Dick Fortier
Sheridam Oldham
Gunnar Gundersen – by phone
Matt Thurston
Larry Farrington
Jerry Scribner
Jenny Starbird – by phone

Guests:

John Glowa, China
Deidre Fleming – Portland Press Herald

I. Call to Order

Council Vice -Chair Don Dudley called the meeting to order.

II. Introductions

Introductions were made.

III. Acceptance of Minutes of Previous Meeting

A motion was made by Mrs. Oldham to approve the minutes of the previous meeting and that was seconded by Mr. Fortier.

Vote: unanimous – minutes approved.

IV. Rulemaking

A. Step 3

There were no items under Step 3.

B. Step 2

1. Leashed Dog Tracking Rule

Mrs. Theriault stated since the last meeting we had a couple of thoughts from staff that administered the program. Under paragraph 11 we were removing the 30 day period at the end of the license for them to renew. At Step 1 the Department proposed to require the permittee to take the test if they didn’t renew before the permit expired and there was really no reason for that. The person could renew when and if they chose to do so. On page 2, we changed the license expiration date to be more consistent with other licenses and have the license expire at the end of the calendar year as opposed to them purchasing a license in July and then it only being valid for 2 years.

Council Member Comments and Questions

Mr. Farrington asked why it was being called a permit instead of a license.

Mrs. Theriault stated it was in addition to either having a guide license or a hunting license. A permit was generally something that was additional to your main license.

Mr. Farrington stated it was his understanding the guides would not need a permit anyway.

Major Cloutier stated the guides were separate from this. The guides could do it without having a separate permit as long as they contacted Warden Service. If they had a good relationship with their local warden they probably wouldn’t have to contact us right at dusk. Some outfitters had issues with cell service, etc. so instead of calling us every time they had a wounded bear they would contact the warden prior to and get the go ahead. The issue we had initially with the bill that came forward in statute last year was at that time all the guides were required to get the permit and they only wanted to do the leashed tracking portion for their own clients, they didn’t want phone calls from everybody else to track a deer or moose, they just wanted to take care of their own clients. As part of the permitting/licensing process their name was added to the list so they would get those calls. The statute that came forward last year took them out of the requirement so they could do it as part of their guide license without an additional permit.

Mr. Farrington asked if the criteria to get the permit was the same as somebody wanting to become a guide?

Major Cloutier stated it was a simple written exam, totally separate and nowhere near as extensive as a guide license.

Mr. Farrington stated another question that was asked of him, why was a hunting guide able to use a dog that required a license for everybody else. How did we know they knew anything about dogs, there was nothing on the guides test about dogs.

Major Cloutier stated to his knowledge it was 99.9% the bear guides that were doing it who already had hounds as part of their business. Those were the ones that came forward, not deer, moose and turkey hunting guides.

Mr. Farrington asked if there were any certification requirements for the dogs saying they had been trained to track wounded animals.

Major Cloutier stated no, the only thing we certified in Maine as far as dogs were search and rescue dogs.

Mr. Thurston asked about a private citizen doing their own bear hunt, but had a friend that was a guide that had hounds and they wanted to use him to track a wounded bear?

Major Cloutier stated he believed the person would have to be his client. If he wanted to do it for someone other than a client technically he would need the permit.

Mr. Farrington asked how the dog would differentiate between the deer he was supposed to be following and the one that crossed their path and he decided to follow that one.

Major Cloutier stated the handler was controlling the dogs; there was a human factor as well. It’s a single dog on a leash and they should be in control of that.

Mr. Farrington asked about the language, and night hunting and Sunday hunting could be allowed if they got permission.

Major Cloutier stated yes, but they had to contact Warden Service first. They did not receive many requests.

Mr. Lewis stated he did not feel it was a problem and we didn’t need a lot of restrictions to allow someone to try to find a wounded deer.

2. Taxidermy Rules

Major Cloutier stated there were no changes from Step 1. We were making language consistent between statute and rule. A new addition, if we had a taxidermist whose work became “less than stellar” we hadn’t had a way to address that in the past and there had been complaints that came to the taxidermy board.

Commissioner Woodcock stated the taxidermy board endorsed the changes in the proposal. We were trying to add to the accountability for the taxidermy profession and elevate the standards a bit.

3. 2016-17 Migratory Bird Seasons

Mr. Connolly stated the proposal was based on the same framework as last year. There was a slight change in the brant season from the original proposal, an expansion of opportunity. They just did the winter surveys and there were more brant available so we had a little bit longer season suggested.

Council Member Comments and Questions

Mrs. Oldham stated there was a public comment regarding the goose season.

Mr. Thurston stated he believed it was that we were interrupting the local goose population and the young may not come back and make that home.

Commissioner Woodcock stated the Waterfowl Council discussed the comment and the conclusion they drew was the season itself, the weather, also had an impact on the zone. They were in agreement that the zones ought not to change in terms of time because if you took a 10-year average you would be close. The feds had asked for a shorter sea duck season because of the surveys that had been conducted up and down the eastern seaboard and maritime Canada. When sea duck hunting was instigated there really weren’t many bag limits because there were not many people hunting sea ducks at that time. That had changed and we had more people participating. The eiders in particular were a population concern. The feds had shortened the season from 107 to 60 days, and we couldn’t debate the number of days we just set the season.

4. 2016 Spring/Fall Turkey Seasons

Mr. Connolly stated the turkey season followed the same guidelines except the fall season had changed to add the first week of November. On our surveys that had come back from Mark Duda pretty much everybody would like to see fewer wild turkeys.

Council Member Comments and Questions

Mr. Thurston asked about the disease in turkeys that had been mentioned.

Mr. Connolly stated there had been a decline in the population, but it was not enough of a decline for people it appeared. It was pretty uniform across the state, if you were a hunter, farmer or a bird watcher you would like to see fewer turkeys and the opportunity for someone to take one.

Commissioner Woodcock stated the National Wild Turkey Federation would like to see more turkeys because they have put them in a different class from other groups. The vast majority of people that had been contacting us had uniformly stated they would like to see fewer turkeys. We liberalized the availability last year and it continued to be the case.

Mr. Scribner stated last spring there was a dramatic decrease in the number of birds. He was an avid turkey hunter and had emailed Brad Allen and he was seeing the same thing that the turkey population after the last couple of winters was down significantly but the thought was at that point in time that it would only take one or two good breeding seasons for it to bounce back.

Mr. Fortier stated he had not heard any complaints up north about there being too many turkeys or not enough. Had Mr. Connolly heard anything?

Mr. Connolly stated we hadn’t heard anything specifically that would cause us to change what we were proposing for northern Maine.

C. Step 1

1. Wildlife in Captivity

Mr. Connolly stated this had become a very timely topic. The show “Yankee Jungle” had aired and had raised a lot of interest in the issue. The Department was in charge of importation, possession and exhibition of all animals native and non-native. We were permitting those animals and had for a number of years. There was some cross jurisdiction with Agriculture on cervids. You could not raise whitetails but you could other cervids and would be licensed through Agriculture. Agriculture regulated farming of animals so water buffalos, bison and other cervids that could be farmed were regulated through Agriculture. If you had just a couple of them and weren’t farming them, ie. red deer, they would be regulated through IF&W.

Mr. Connolly stated IF&W had this responsibility, permit fees had been very low. We entered a study as a result of interest by the Legislature to have us examine the topic and come back with regulations. In 2013 we assembled a group and studied the issues. It was found the fees were low and people wanted more clarity in terms of what they could and couldn’t have. There were a large number of people that actually lobbied to have additional animals available to them.

Mr. Connolly stated we went to the Legislature in 2014 with a bill and proposed raising fees putting in “after the fact” permit fees because there was no provision for that. The Legislature was concerned about the time and effort the Department was putting into it but also the risk that the animals pose to the native population as well as the people of Maine. There were some high profile events back then involving snakes, the aftermath from Ohio of someone releasing wild animals into the public, so they were very concerned and that anything we did be more restrictive. The Legislature asked us to go back and engage in rulemaking to address the issue and they raised permit fees for the importation, possession and exhibition of the animals. They also clarified that the Department could confiscate animals that were here illegally and that the individual that was responsible for them could be charged with the cost of taking care of resolving the presence of those animals in Maine.

Mr. Connolly stated when the rule was developed we would hold a public hearing. Some of the things we wanted to cover were reformatting the chapter to be more in line with the guidelines that the state had for the language, and we were going to have restricted, unrestricted and prohibited species lists. Currently, we had an unrestricted list that was on our website. If the animal was on that list it could be sold in pet shops and owned by anybody in the state. Pet shops were regulated by Agriculture, but the animals that they sold in relation to exotic animals had to be on our list. We wanted to continue with that list, we would have an unrestricted list that would provide clear guidance to the public about what they could have.

Mr. Connolly stated we also wanted to establish a prohibited list. There were certain species we felt were inappropriate because of their potential to spread throughout the state and pose a risk to native wildlife or they were just dangerous. On any of these changes when we had people that had things already they were usually grandfathered when a rule was implemented and when that animal passed away they would no longer be able to have one if it was no longer legal to possess that. We would create a framework from this point forward that we would not permit new animals to come into possession if they were on the prohibited list. On the restricted list we wanted to clarify for the public the categories that were acceptable in terms of danger for different types of permits. A possession permit was usually held by an individual and those were animals we deemed safe but did not want to lose control of it. They could not treat them the same as cats and dogs so you could not take them out to public places. We would have two categories of animals that would be for exhibitors.

Mr. Connolly stated for exhibitors we were going to enact a definition that created a higher standard for someone to become an exhibitor that would relate to their showing animals and having more established background in terms of the education and training they had in order to possess those animals. There would be two classifications of animals, we had some animals that were fairly easy to care for and then ones that were more difficult, for example Bengal tigers or big cats that posed a high risk if they got out. The other thing was elephants; they needed to be examined carefully in terms of the environment provided for them. Apes and monkeys could go in that same category because they required special situations. The actual animals on the restricted list would not be done in rule, but the categories would be established in rule. We wanted the Commissioner to be able to add animals to that list and make adjustments. We would have a provision for him to consult with experts but the decision would lie with the Commissioner. The IF&W legislative committee was very clear when they discussed the perspective for the Commissioner in making all of these decisions and the Department entering into rulemaking was the safety and welfare of the people of Maine and the native wildlife. The focus was not on providing pets to the public or any other kind of need that the public might put forth.

Mr. Connolly stated the biggest thing going forward was to have communication with people about what they could have and not have. Also to establish clearer standards in terms of the qualifications for people when they had things as well. We continued to limit monkeys to trained service animals so that they were not available as general pets to the public. There was one organization that was meeting that need and we were going to clarify in statute that was the focus. There was an organization called “Helping Hands” that trained capuchin monkeys for paraplegics and quadriplegics to help them access things. We were looking to clarify in our actions the difference between companionship and service animals. Service animals currently were limited to dogs and miniature horses, and that would be a use that would allow an individual to have one as long as it was provided for by an organization such as “Helping Hands.”

Mr. Connolly stated there were some strong feelings and were being lobbied about a particular local organization and he suspected they would push to have more animals prohibited. There were others that had pet snakes that were experts in their area. Many had worked in facilities that would like to have access to more animals, even some of the more dangerous snakes such as vipers because they felt their skills were up to that. That would all come out during the rulemaking process and public hearing and then would be up to Council to sort out with the proposed rule.

Council Member Comments and Questions

Mrs. Oldham stated Mr. Connolly mentioned we were going to raise the bar for training, what training was available for someone who wanted to engage in that kind of activity.

Mr. Connolly stated some of it was going to be apprenticeship. We were not offering any training but there were places where you could work and become familiar with things. Avian Haven had a program when you were working with birds in the rehab field, they didn’t exhibit at all but they allowed people to intern there. Unity College had an animal care program and people worked to become vets or vet assistants and if they didn’t make it in that field quite often they became people that were interested in possessing animals. Some people worked at zoos or other facilities. Maine Reptiles and Amphibians Association had offered to provide some education and outreach through their website to folks that wanted to have them so they would be more aware. The other thing that we advocated for was trying to clean up the inspection responsibility. Currently, we took biologists and wardens out of the field to do inspections for the animals that were being kept. That was a disservice to the public as well as staff; we had limited time and were taking them to go inspect for a private individual to possess an exotic animal. We were authorized in statute to set up a private inspection program where we would authorize inspectors and ensure they met standards, but they would be able to perform the inspection. The individual having the animal would hire that person to fill out the form, much the same way if you had an elevator in your office the inspectors were not state employees they were private companies. We would be able to have inspections done on a regular basis and get away from having a warden or biologist go out. That would allow us to then just respond to complaints of abuse or neglect. We would probably reserve the right on the highest classification animals that we would interact and probably call in experts when we were going to license a facility for those extremely high risk or special need animals. We would also identify some animals that did not need inspection, ie. hedge hogs.

Mr. Thurston asked about health certificates.

Mr. Connolly stated one of the requirements now for an importation permit was that they had to present a current health certificate, and we worked with the state veterinarian. In rulemaking we delegated that to the state vet. They spent a lot of time at national conferences talking about the current threats to domestic as well as wild animals. For certain species such as poultry, there were some higher standards in terms of avian influenza, others for hoof stock, etc. The state vet informed the Department of what tests they would like to see. When elephants were coming in for circuses we import them to come into the state, but they’re actually able to participate in a circus without any kind of permit from the Department. State law exempted circuses and fairs from permits from IFW. They had to get an import permit to get them into the state, but they could be at the fair just on invite. For elephants tuberculosis was a concern because that could be transferred to people. Maine was a leader in the country in asking to implement the regulations the USDA developed but then backed away from. In 2010 they put regulations in place for tuberculosis but they never put them in place to become effective; when we were dealing with Hope Elephants the State of Maine insisted that those higher standards be applied even when USDA wasn’t asking for those. That became the impetus for the USDA to implement their own guidelines. There was currently an epidemic of a virus in Europe for salamanders so we would be very concerned about something coming from Europe to the United States. That was how they assumed white nose syndrome got here, that it came to this country from people that were caving in Europe where it was present and then contaminated the caves and bats here when the equipment wasn’t sterilized.

Mr. Fortier asked if it would affect rehabbers in any way.

Mr. Connolly stated rehabilitators were a separate permitting process. We had strict guidelines for those. They were only allowed to keep animals for 6 months without coming back to the Department for additional permission. There was a movement from rehabbers; they would like to go to stronger guidelines to sort out people that were presently involved that may not have much training or be as focused on rehabbing and releasing as they should be.

Mr. Farrington asked if Agriculture was involved with circus animals at all.

Mr. Connolly stated they were getting an importation permit from the Department if it was a restricted species. If they were bringing horses and domestic stock, they did have to deal with Agriculture but that was a separate process.

Mr. Thurston asked how long the health certificate was good for.

Mr. Connolly stated he thought the domestic one varied and the state vet would have to explain. For the Department’s, we looked at it within 30 days of when they wanted to bring the animal into the state. It was called a certificate of veterinary inspection (CVI).

Mrs. Oldham stated they were not going to see any written language until Step 2. They could only discuss it at Step 2, they had been given a great broad overview but she did not consider it to be at Step 1.

Commissioner Woodcock stated they would get it to them as quickly as they could, and if they had to have a Step 3 discussion he felt there would be quite a bit of input at Step 2 in the public process.

Mr. Farrington asked about species on the restricted list such as a snake. If someone was given a permit, was there any limitation on the numbers they could possess. If someone had a male and female of something and then a lot of little ones around.

Mr. Connolly stated that was a good topic to discuss. Currently if someone had a possession permit for animals, there was no restriction on having males and females and ending up with more. That had been a part of the Department rules all along for possession permits that you could have an increase in the number of animals you had without coming back to the Department. If you went to buy it and bring it home, you would have to get a permit from the Department but if you had a male and female and they were compatible and you had young you were all set. You could not sell them. Propagation was restricted, that was a separate permit and process. Historically, the Department had not limited someone from having animals that were capable of reproducing and had a reporting form that accounted for births, deaths and transfers. We did not get a clear direction from the Legislature that every animal that was in exhibit should be kept in single sex cage or spade or neutered. We did not have export permits, some states had export permits where you couldn’t get the animal out of the state without getting their permission. There were zoos that were engaged in breeding programs, and there were some zoos that engaged in breeding to secure a species and kept logs and tracked the breeding history of the animal (pandas).

Mr. Farrington stated he thought the other big hurdle would be the service animals, the doctors writing prescriptions for snakes or other animals to “relieve stress or tension.”

Mr. Connolly stated currently those would not be recognized as service animals and we were clarifying in the rules that we would not issue them for those purposes, other than the monkeys. Technically, they did not meet the legal definition of what a service animal was. Warden Service had investigated that, animal welfare, etc. It was dogs and miniature horses that were covered under service animals and nothing else. We were going to make it clear in our rules that we were not giving permits out to people to have exotic animals as companion animals and the only service function that we would take into account was for those primates that were trained specifically to perform those functions like the “Helping Hands” situation.

2. 2016 Moose Permit Allocations

Ms. Camuso stated there were a number of factors that went into our recommendations for permit allocations. A lot of things were included such as the harvest, biological data we collect at the time of harvest, the teeth that we analyzed, as well as the aerial surveys that were done by staff. The data was not always in agreement so we made our decisions based on the best data that we had available. We were managing the moose population based on the goals and objectives that were set at the last planning process. We were now in the middle of updating our planning process. Next year we would very likely have different goals and objectives, although they may not change.

Ms. Camuso stated the season framework was mostly the same as last year, the permit recommendations were pretty much the same with a few reductions. Overall the moose population was at objective in most places. Once we reached objective was when we started to pull back on permits. Ms. Camuso referred to the handout in the Council packet and discussed recommendations by WMD. The first chunk of recommendations were all in the recreational management zones and they were managed differently than the compromise zones. WMD 1 was at objective so we were maintaining the bull permits and since we were at objective, reducing the cow permits because we wanted to maintain populations at current levels. WMD 4 was the only WMD where we had more of a change. This was based on recent aerial surveys where the bull/cow ratio seemed to be lower than the bulls so we were recommending reducing the bull and the cow permits. The population seemed to be below objective based on aerial surveys. The goal for many of the WMDs was to have about 60 bulls for every 100 cows. WMD 4 was currently below that threshold so we would recommend to pull back on both the bull and cow permits.

Ms. Camuso stated the next chunk of WMDs were pretty much at objective so we were recommending really no change for WMDs 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12 to 14 and 18. We had some information that the population in WMD 19 was declining a little bit so we were recommending a decrease in the bull only and the antlerless only permits. WMDs 27 and 28 we were recommending no change. That was it for the recreational zones. In the compromise management areas we purposely managed at a little bit lower moose population because of concerns with roads and the number of vehicle collisions. In WMD 2 we were recommending a decrease in antlerless permits and in WMD 3 we were recommending a decrease in both the bull and the antlerless only permits. Most of these decreases were relatively small in scale. WMD 6 right through the end of the category the recommendation was the same as it was last year. The road safety management areas were really what we considered southern Maine moose hunt which was mostly to minimize vehicle collisions it wasn’t what most would consider prime moose habitat. We had very low success rates in those WMDs. For WMD 22 we were recommending no permits; WMDs 23 and 25 was still a small number of permits and the same in WMD 26. The total permits being proposed were 600 less than last year for a total of 2,140.

Council Member Comments and Questions

Mr. Fortier asked about the study that was done in WMD 8, or the problem that was happening on the NH border with disease of moose. Had any finalization come to that.

Ms. Camuso stated the survivorship study was a 5-year study and we were in year 3. This year we also initiated an additional study area in WMD 2. With the NH study we now had 3 distinct study areas looking at what was going on. There were a lot of variables we were looking at, underlying disease potential, ticks, climate, low reproduction, not enough food, etc. The winter tick was consistently appearing to be problematic for moose.

Mr. Fortier stated in WMD 2, had we had any deaths.

Ms. Camuso said we had 2 mortalities so far in WMD 2, one cow and one calf. The calf had a compound fracture in the leg. Although we had 2 mortalities neither of them had a heavy tick load. The cow was a crippling loss from the hunting season. She did not think we had any mortalities in WMD 8 as of yet. April was the most vulnerable month for animals and in the past we’d had the majority of the mortality losses in April.

Mrs. Oldham stated we had 105 permits in the November season and the majority were in the road safety management areas and the harvest rate was low. Was there any departmental thought of getting rid of the November season and putting everything into October.

Ms. Camuso stated the southern Maine moose hunt was a significant challenge for them to figure out the best way to manage that. It seemed to be a source of frustration for some of the folks that applied for a permit. We would like to be able to address that and through the species planning process we were hopeful the committee would look at that and make recommendations for how can we best minimize moose road vehicle collisions in the part of the state where there were so many people traveling but make sure that people participating in the hunt didn’t come away frustrated and dissatisfied.

Mr. Thurston asked what was the estimated moose population? The permits were a small percentage of the overall body of moose, less than 3% of the population?

Ms. Camuso stated yes, but to keep in mind that because we were at objective for a WMD it didn’t mean that people were not seeing fewer moose. People could be seeing fewer moose and we were still at the objectives that were given to the Department to manage for. The two could both be accurate that people were seeing fewer moose for a number of reasons and one of them may be that there were fewer moose on the landscape, the other may be that after 35 years of hunting moose were now staying further off the road and much less visible. Forest harvest regimes had changed so there were fewer big clear cuts which made them more visible. People were seeing fewer moose, but that didn’t mean we weren’t still at the objectives. The objectives might just be less than what people wanted. Through the species planning process we needed to figure out what the public wanted.

Commissioner Woodcock stated two years ago he couldn’t go many places without somebody saying something about the ticks on moose. He did not remember a discussion this year where anybody mentioned the ticks were bad. He was asking at the tagging stations also and the reports were the moose were very healthy this year. We had very cold February last year, the snow load was heavy for a couple winters but not much this year so there were a lot of variables. He was confident we had a healthy moose herd and we were very conservative about the numbers we gave the public.

Mr. Farrington stated looking at WMD 8 it said that the population was at objective and that the mature bulls might be slightly below objective, but then through the big game species planning process they wanted to put in a September hunt which to him meant they would get more bulls.

Ms. Camuso stated they would split them.

Mr. Farrington stated the ability to call them in September was better than it was the end of October generally speaking. It was easier to call them in that time of year which meant an increase in the harvest of bulls and if we were at objective or a little bit below why would you want to increase the harvest.

Mr. Connolly stated that would be determined by the permits. We would adjust the number of permits to get the kill we wanted and if we wanted fewer bulls taken we would issue fewer bull permits. The success was built into the allocation of the permits.

Mr. Farrington stated the recommendation on permits was no change.

Ms. Camuso stated if we were to open a September season we could very likely, if we calculated that the September season would have a slightly higher success rate then we could recommend fewer total permits.

Ms. Camuso stated we were in the midst of updating our big game species planning process and we had completed our survey of the general public, landowners and hunters. There had been some surprising results that we did not anticipate and we had a series of public meetings coming up that they were encouraged to attend. Fisheries would have concurrent meetings happening around March 14-18 in Portland, Orono and Presque Isle. There would be a separate series of public meetings for bear, moose, deer and turkey. We would also be conducting focus groups at the same time. At the focus groups we would delve in deeper on some of the issues that we had questions on. On the initial pass it appeared most people would like to see fewer turkeys so we would probably ask the focus group why, and what were the issues behind the response.

Mr. Connolly stated the biology in terms of setting the permits was separate from the management system. The management system, the public input that we got was to help up drive goals and objectives in terms of what we were going to manage for. How many moose were going to occur would still be a biological decision and the working group and the input that we got we’ll make that aware to what measures we need to use and how we come up with those numbers. That process is going to be a separate process and biologically driven. Whatever changes that required rulemaking would still have to go through that process.

Ms. Camuso stated the other component was that we recognized there were some that wanted to view moose and they might not want to have people hunting in that area. Some of the zones we were looking at, should we be managing these just for viewing and not for hunting opportunities. In addition to all of the public meetings and surveys, we would be reaching out to those communities and trying to meet with the town managers and folks in that area to hear from them directly. Before we would make any major changes to the framework in those Greenville, Rangeley areas we would be reaching out to the towns directly.

3. Moving of November moose season to October, WMDs 1-4 & 19

Commissioner Woodcock stated the November season was instituted in part because the outfitters wanted to be able to spread the wealth of October into November so they could book people for that part of the year. Biologically it did not make much difference, we were proposing to change it to the Monday preceding the resident only day for deer. We were criticized for moving the November week to the second week of November, which happened to be because November 7th was a Monday and it was a leap year. It was a calendar function, so we had talked about the November season being the week ending with the resident deer hunting day. We were proposing to move it to that last week of October from November. He had checked with interested parties and no one seemed to have any concerns. This would separate the October seasons by a week.

Council Member Questions and Comments

Mr. Fortier stated he would welcome that change. In his area, when you had the moose hunt and the deer hunting and bird hunting he always thought there was too much to try to manage all the pressure in the woods at that time of year.

Commissioner Woodcock stated there were only 5 zones affected, 1-4 and 19.

4. Youth bear hunt

Mr. Connolly stated this was in response to a change that occurred in the Legislature, but we were going to enact it in rule. We would like to be consistent and have all the youth hunting days in rule. We spoke with the sponsor of the bill and he was agreeable. It was going to be the Saturday preceding the opening day of bear hunting season.

V. Other Business

There were no items under Other Business.

VI. Councilor Reports

Councilors gave reports.

VII. Public Comments & Questions

John Glowa stated for those that did not know him, he had been a wildlife advocator in Maine for several decades. He had just retired from state service and could now attend as many Council meetings as he could make. He had three issues of concern that he would like to bring up. The first involved lead poisoning of bald eagles in Maine. He had a portion of a copy of a special project report put together by USFWS and quoted “In greater frequency wildlife rehabilitators have been finding elevated lead levels in bald eagles brought in for treatment. Lead ammunition and bullet fragments in hunter killed but unrecovered game animals and bullets in carcasses of wildlife or other animals used as bait by trappers are suspected lead sources of scavenging eagles.” For their study they looked at 127 New England bald eagle livers and most of those were collected in Maine; of those 14% had lead concentrations indicative of poisoning. He understood last spring there was a stakeholders group in Maine and he was wondering what the outcome of that stakeholders group was and what, if anything, IFW intended to do to resolve the issue of lead poisoning from ammunition in bald eagles.

Commissioner Woodcock stated he was not aware of the stakeholder group conclusions, but he would get them to Mr. Glowa. They had discussed the bald eagle, lead situation internally and were aware of it.

John Glowa stated the big game working group steering committee, he wanted to express his concerns with regard to how the members were selected. To his knowledge there were no policies or procedures that defined who was chosen for the group. He would note that based on the information he had, at least 75% of the members hunted, and just over 10% of Mainers hunted. He thought the representation of consumptive users in that group was totally skewed towards the consumptive user. The non-consumptive users were not adequately represented. He wanted to point out there was no representation of the $800 million wildlife watching industry and no representative of a wildlife advocacy organization on the group. It seemed to have been a closed process and there was no explanation how or why these individuals were chosen.

John Glowa stated his last issue involved wolves. He founded the Maine Wolf Coalition in 1994. This past year IFW put together its 2015 State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) and in that plan IFW proposed to exclude wolves from the plan. They were included in the previous plan. His organization submitted lengthy comments during the public comment period. Those comments included the growing evidence that wolves were present in the northeast U.S. based on dead wolves that had been killed from MA to NY and northeast through New Brunswick. They received no response to their comments. They did not know if the plan was finalized, they did not find a final plan on the website. They were wondering what happened and if any consideration was given to their comments.

Commissioner Woodcock stated he would get an answer for Mr. Glowa.

VIII. Agenda Items & Schedule Date for Next Meeting

The next meeting was scheduled for April 1, 2016 at 9:30 a.m. at IFW, 284 State Street, Augusta.

IX. Adjournment

A motion was made by Mr. Dudley and that was seconded by Mr. Fortier to adjourn the meeting. The meeting was adjourned at 12:00 p.m.