Meeting Minutes

March 29, 2022 @ 10:00 a.m.
353 Water Street, 4th floor conference room, Augusta, ME
(and virtually via Microsoft Teams)


Judy Camuso, Commissioner
Timothy Peabody, Deputy Commissioner
Christl Theriault, Assistant to the Commissioner
Dan Scott, Colonel, Maine Warden Service
Nate Webb, Wildlife Division Director
Craig McLaughlin, DWRAS Supervisor
Kelsey Sullivan, Game bird biologist
Lee Kantar , Moose Biologist
Nathan Bieber, Deer Biologist.
Joe Overlock, Fisheries Management Supervisor
Bill Swan, Director of Licensing and Registration
Nick Bragg, Licensing & Registration
Becky Orff, Secretary/Recorder

Jerry Scribner (Chair)
Bob Duchesne
Eric Ward
Tony Liguori
Shelby Rousseau - attending via Teams
Lindsay Ware - attending via Teams

Gary Lamb
9 citizens and additional staff

I. Call to Order

Council Chair, Jerry Scribner called the meeting to order.

II. Introductions

Introductions were made.

III. Acceptance of Minutes of Previous Meeting
A motion was made by Mr. Duchesne to approve the minutes of the previous meeting and that was seconded by Mr. Liguori.

Vote: unanimous in favor - minutes approved.

IV. Rulemaking

A. Step 3

1. Bear Hunting Rules

Mr. Webb stated this covered Chapters 16 and 17. Due to a bill that passed during the last legislative session there was a need to put the bear bag limits and season dates into rule because they were removed from statute. There were no changes to the hunting framework for black bears, just the necessary change due to the bill which gave us more flexibility in rule to make adjustments to the seasons and bag limits. At this point, we felt that harvest levels were appropriate. Comments were minimal, there was one comment in support and one comment that was opposed in general to trapping. We were not recommending any changes to the original proposal.

A Motion was made by Mr. Liguori to accept the proposal as presented and that was seconded by Mr. Duchesne.

Vote: unanimous in favor to accept the proposals as presented - motion passed.

B. Step 2

1. Fall 2022 Wild Turkey season

Mr. Sullivan stated we had received a few public comments, all in support of the proposal. This was to add WMDs 7, 8 and 14 to the fall turkey season for one bird. There had been a few interactions from a couple of folks expressing a desire for review to see if populations were affected by the rule change, or a way to continue to monitor spring harvest.

There were no further comments or questions.

2. Migratory Bird Season 2022-2023

Mr. Sullivan stated a public hearing was held on March 2, 2022 with 15-20 people in attendance. There was one formal comment at the hearing in support. A waterfowl council member from York County expressed support via guide input informally, but that the guides in southern Maine were supportive of the season, especially the sea duck season. With the elimination of the sea duck season the coastal zone where sea ducks are hunted would be one week shy of when it had been in the past. It was still 60 days but would be closing earlier. Written comments were also received in support in general. There appeared to be overall support of the proposal even with the change from removing the sea duck season and incorporating it into the regular duck season. One thing pointed out at the hearing, which had been an oversite was under the Federal regulations there was now a one hen eider limit which was not indicated in the proposal. Page 6 of the proposal would need to be updated to include one hen eider as we did for hen mallard.

Council Member Comments and Questions

Mr. Liguori stated he was under the impression that all the migratory bird regulations were set by the Federal, could he explain that interaction.

Mr. Sullivan stated there was a Federal framework which we could operate under. We couldn't liberalize, but we could be more restrictive. We had to be within the confines of the Federal framework and then within that we had the option of the timing of our seasons.

Mr. Duchesne stated he had been at the coast over the winter and the population of scoters and eiders was the smallest he had ever seen it. He didnt know if there was a trend?

Mr. Sullivan stated there had been a distribution shift, more so this year. Scoters and eiders were turning up in more southern waters. Birds were found in Long Island and off the Massachusetts coast. The Waterfowl Council did endorse the proposal after the end of the public comment period.

There were no further comments or questions.

C. Step 1

1. Moose Permit Allocations 2022

Mr. Kantar gave a PowerPoint presentation on the 2022 moose permit allocations (for a copy of the presentation please contact

Council Member Comments and Questions

Mr. Kantar stated spruce budworm came into play and changed the forest through the 70s and 80s and created a bonanza for moose, and then they are recolonizing the state. Not only were they increasing where they already were, theyre expanding out helping NH, VT, MA and CT. When we look at available browse the difficulty with looking at that data is that has changed over time, but there is still so much browse out there that we dont have any physical indications of moose changing.

Mr. Ward asked if there was a difference with the type of woods as far as ticks go. If youre in more heavily forested areas would they be less likely than going through the raspberry bushes as far as where the ticks are hanging out?

Mr. Kantar stated we were working with at least four different Universities on that question. The new grad student would be doing an analysis as best we could given forest inventory data on that scale of where the moose feeds and where he goes with the idea of from a management perspective was there a way we could advocate the forest be cut differently to disperse moose in a different way.

Mr. Scribner asked about tick loads found on harvested animals during the moose season.

Mr. Kantar stated there was a balance with the weight of the animal going into winter, but when we did the tick counts and added up the transects (10cm lines; 4 lines on the neck; 4 lines on the shoulder; 4 on the rib; 4 on the rump) essentially more than 35 larval ticks it was looking bad. Putting that together with the variation of weights was how we predicted mortality.

Mr. Liguori asked if during the adaptive hunt if we encouraged the harvesting of calves.

Mr. Kantar stated yes, it was part of the presentation that we did and answered questions at the end. It had been a big part of it. He discussed hunter survey results from the adaptive hunt. Ovary removal and access to the North Maine Woods were topics they indicated they would like more information about.
Mr. Kantar discussed the rule proposal for 2022 permit allocations. There was only one change from the previous year which was an increase in permits from 50 to 100 in WMD 8.

Mr. Ward asked about a December cow hunt. He thought we should have one after the muzzle load season. Some people may not be able to access places, but you wouldnt have to worry about the meat spoiling. He also thought we should push "leave no trace." Some of the areas that saw a lot of traffic it was pretty disgusting what people left behind. He had someone ask about drones being used for hunting and the 24-hour rule like they did in Alaska. There was concern with them interfering with aircraft. Also, multiple moose permits within a household, was there a way to manage that.

Commissioner Camuso stated it was pretty unusual for a household to get more than two permits. We could look into how often it was happening and if it was an issue or more of a perception of an issue.

Mr. Webb stated regarding a December moose hunt, the biggest concern was larger moose started losing their antlers the last week of November, first week of December. The challenge would be with an antlerless season in December there would be a percentage of bulls that would drop their antlers by that point. It would be difficult for moose hunters to be able to distinguish those from cows at that point.

Ms. Ware asked what was the overall impression of the adaptive hunt?

Mr. Kantar stated before we implemented the adaptive hunt there were a lot of internal discussions about how it might go. One of the potential problems we were going to see was that we slated this for five years and the idea is were trying to bring the population down. We were also dealing with the perception from almost everybody that theres way less moose out there, and yet were saying theres a lot of moose there. Its how much people believed the amount of moose, especially in WMD 4 and 4-A itself. Were we going to be able to work backwards, drop down the population of moose and somehow deal with ticks? Thats what we were going to see over the next four years.

Mrs. Rousseau stated she had a couple of comments related to what Mr. Ward was saying about drone usage. She had some people talk to her about that working for the land trust. The land trust had a policy that drones were not allowed to be operated on the ground from their lands. She thought it was something that would need to be taken up with the landowner in WMD 4-A. You couldnt regulate ethics. She had heard them compared to using game cameras.

Colonel Scott stated nationwide there was a move towards being critical of any kind of technology around hunting. Long-range shooting had become very popular, and it was not uncommon in Western states for people to be shooting 800 or 1,000 yards to kill big game animals. That was very controversial whether that was fair chase. There were always different perspectives. In the North Maine Woods a game camera really wasnt going to do you any good if you couldnt get to it. In this part of the state where they had cellular coverage it could be looked at as a huge advantage. The drone issue, we were seeing a lot more of that. There was a law in place that said you cant use any aircraft, and a drone is an aircraft, to assist you with hunting. What did assist mean? It meant basically you cant gain the advantage on the animal. There was potential through the legislative process to further define the use of aircraft.

Colonel Scott continued the PowerPoint presentation with a summary from Maine Warden Service on the adaptive moose hunt.

There were no further questions or comments.

2. Antlerless Deer Permit Framework

Mr. Bieber gave a PowerPoint presentation on the proposed changes to the antlerless deer permit system (for a copy of the presentation please contact ).

Council Member Comments and Questions

There was some procedural discussion regarding the timing of the legislation being in effect and the adoption of the rule. The rule would need to be adopted within 120 days of the comment period deadline.

Mr. Webb stated he was pretty sure there was nothing in the rule that was dependent on the statute changing. As long as the bill was signed into law regardless of what the effective date would be, we could go through the rulemaking process. They were linked in the sense it was all one package, but he didnt believe there were any changes to rule that required a change to the statute to come first.

Mr. Scribner stated he thought the goals associated with it were right on. He had some concerns about whether the lottery fee would end up being counterproductive in terms of getting us to a better place in terms of matching the doe harvest goals. He hoped we were right in the fact that attaching a fee to the doe permit during the lottery process didnt negatively impact the doe harvest.

There were no further questions or comments.

V. Other Business

Commissioner Camuso gave a legislative update, informed Council members of upcoming events the Department would be participating in and discussed the statutory requirement for a tribal member to be placed on the Advisory Council that was adopted during the last session. The chiefs had to bring forth the recommendation, we were hoping by the summer they would bring someone forward.

Mr. Webb stated we collected samples (PFAS) from a small number of turkeys in the Fairfield area. The results had come back, but we had not yet met with CDC to discuss the implications of the results. We didnt know if there would be an advisory for turkeys or what that might look like. We were working on developing a plan for more intensive sampling for deer, turkey and other wildlife in the Fairfield area as well as other locations where DEP has tested soil and water over the summer months with a goal of hopefully being able to refine the size and the boundaries of the advisory in Fairfield.

Commissioner Camuso asked Mr. Sullivan for an update on the high path avian influenza.

Mr. Sullivan stated there had been several domestic cases of high path avian influenza in Knox, Lincoln and York Counties. The Department of Agriculture had been working on dealing with those and doing depopulations on site and best practices and checking and surveillance within a 10km radius around each site. This was spurred on from an epidemic of high path avian influenza spread through mostly wild ducks which tend to be less susceptible, theyre more carriers. Theyre interacting with domestic livestock/poultry and ducks in farm ponds and spreading it that way. Its pretty much up and down the Atlantic seaboard into the Midwest. There were several cases much greater than in Maine. We had detected it in wild ducks, black ducks in Washington County and also in a Canada goose in Kittery. There had been a die out between 40 and 50 Canada geese just north of Great Bay. We continued to respond to calls, especially for top predators such as eagles and hawks that were dying of suspicious behavior. We expected it would decrease in the summertime based on previous epidemics. It seemed to quiet down after migration. Messaging was just to be diligent about interacting with backyard poultry or ducks and chickens. Try to minimize interactions with wild birds and segregate them as much as possible from the domestic animals that you have.

Joe Overlock stated we had met with CDC and DEP to talk about waters that would likely have a fish consumption advisory added to them. The exact location of the final waters was still being ironed out and how the advisory would look. Fish consumption advisories were not unheard of, we already had statewide advisories for mercury consumption. There would likely be a couple of do not eat any fish from a particular water. We would be doing outreach and press releases regarding the advisories.

VI. Councilor Reports Councilors gave reports.

VII. Public Comments & Questions

VIII. Agenda Items & Schedule Date for Next Meeting

The Adivsory Council would be notified at a later time of the next meeting date.

IX. Adjournment A motion was made by MR. Scribner and that was seconded by Mr. Duchesne to adjourn the meeting. The meeting was adjourned at 12:30 p.m.