Meeting Minutes

Advisory Council Meeting
December 5, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.
Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
284 State Street, Upstairs Conference Room
Augusta, Maine


Chandler Woodcock, Commissioner
Timothy Peabody, Deputy Commissioner
Christl Theriault, Assistant to the Commissioner
Judy Camuso, Wildlife Division Director
Francis Brautigam, Director of Fisheries and Hatcheries
Bonnie Holdling, Director of Information and Education
Tim Place, Game warden Lieutenant
Becky Orff, Secretary/Recorder

Council Members:

Don Dudley (Chair)
Dick Fortier - by phone
Jerry Scribner
Jeff Lewis - By phone
Larry Farrington
Sheri Oldham
Gunnar Gundersen

Don Kleiner, Maine Professional Guides Association
Dennis Smith
John Glowa
Sergeant Pepper, Hancock County
Katie Hansberry, HSUS

I. Call to order

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

II. Introductions

Introductions were made.

III. Acceptance of Minutes of Previous Meeting

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

Vote: unanimous - minutes approved.

IV. Rulemaking

A. Step 3

1. Educational and Scientific Collection Permits Chapter 6

Ms. Camuso stated the only change was in addition to education and scientific permits we would now have a category specific to research facilities. Universities and other facilities that were conducting research could apply through this permit venue. This, in conjunction with the next agenda item, had a large stakeholder group involved in the process along the way.

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

Vote: unanimous - motion passed.

2. Wildlife in Captivity Chapter 7 rules

Ms. Camuso stated we had a public hearing and there was a broad stakeholder group that participated in the process. Most of the changes were a result of some changes that were made at the Legislature in statute last year and to bring our rules into conformity. In particular, it gave the Commissioner the authority to require particular animals to be microchipped if he felt that was necessary. There had been some calls and confusion whether that would be required of every animal that?s permitted, and that was not the case. This would be for animals the Commissioner deemed potentially dangerous to the public. Currently in rule there was a requirement that any person that had a permit had to notify the Department if the animal escaped. The proposal would increase the penalty if they did not notify us. There was also an after the fact permit fee that was raised. We were trying to prevent people from getting the animals and not getting the permit and thinking they would pay minimal fees. This was a more substantial after the fact permit fee.

Ms. Camuso stated other changes were that we removed the reference to propagation permits. In the past people would have to apply to have things like pheasants or quail that they were going to propagate. We had never denied a permit or tracked where the animals were being released so felt it was an unnecessary burden on the public as we were making the same decision repeatedly. The birds were not able to survive in Maine and would not pose a threat to native species, so we removed the provision. Because we had such an engaged stakeholder process we had very little public comment during the comment period.

Council Member Comments and Questions

Mr. Farrington stated he noticed some of the species came under Agriculture also. Did their rules align with ours?

Ms. Camuso stated yes. For pheasants and other birds species, we did meet with the Department of Agriculture and tried to develop a process that was similar. They did not really track or deny permits for those also. People would be farming pheasants; there was a fine line between what IFW did and what Agriculture did because our birds were mostly being brought in and released for field trials with dogs. Some applied through Agriculture and were raising those individuals for meat. Similarly, Agriculture did not deny anyone that opportunity and we would not either.

Mr. Farrington stated there was a pheasant farm in Warren and he got holes in his fences. He was assuming his farm was licensed through Agriculture.

Ms. Camuso stated the Department of Agriculture had a number of animal inspectors that went out and when people applied for the permits they had to have their facility inspected both before they got approved as a farm to have the animals but then also annual inspections. The trouble was, and this was true for any farm, if we had a storm and there were breaches in the fence and animals escaped, she felt Agriculture had gotten better at conducting annual inspections and working with farmers to get fences upgraded.

Mr. Farrington asked if we had the technology to track the animals if we were making them put in chips.

Ms. Camuso stated there had been some confusion, the Commissioner would not require anybody to put a tracking device on those animals. It was a chip similar to what someone would put into their dog or cat so if the animal got lost, when it was recovered the vet or animal control officer had a wand to scan and discover who owned the animal. The chip was not going to locate the animal, when the animal was discovered it would allow us to track it back to the owner. If they hadn?t reported it missing we would leverage a fine and if they didn?t have a permit, an after the fact permit would be required. It was a struggle because those that had the animals that escaped most, most often did not have a permit. The Commissioner had the authority if people were doing the right thing and applied for a permit for something the Department deemed a threat to public safety the Commissioner could require that those individual animals be microchipped. They would have to show proof of that and in addition maintain a subscription service to keep the chip active. The Legislature viewed this as a step in the right direction.

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

Vote: unanimous - motion passed

3. Fishing regulations petition - Eagle Lake/Jordan Pond

Commissioner Woodcock stated we had a public petition for regulatory changes on the two bodies of water listed. We had a public hearing and open comment period. The petitioner contacted the Commissioner wanting to withdraw the petition. The Commissioner stated he would do that if it was being requested, but would need to check with the Attorney General?s office. The Attorney General?s office suggested we not do that because it was a public petition and there were others involved. The Commissioner brought the proposal to the Advisory Council so it would not jeopardize the process.

Council Member Questions and Comments

Mr. Fortier stated on withdrawing the petition, how did that work. Someone put out a petition and people signed it and then that person decided they want to withdraw it?

Commissioner Woodcock stated the Attorney General?s office stated that the bearing was for the entire process and all those who were involved in the petition process and signed the petition; it would probably not be acceptable to just have the petitioner withdraw a petition that had been signed by members of the public.

Mr. Lewis stated the petitioner had called him quite frequently. Some of the information he gave Mr. Lewis that he had support from the Department, and he had not heard that.

Commissioner Woodcock stated the Department's position had not changed

A motion was made by Mrs. Oldham to deny the petitioner's request and that was seconded by Mr. Fortier.

Vote: 6 in favor of denying the request; 1 abstained(Mr. Lewis) - motion passed, petitioner's request would not be adopted.

B. Step 2

There were no items under Step 2.

C. Step 1

There were no items under Step 1.

V. Other Business

There were no items under Other Business

VI. Councilor Reports

Councilors gave reports.

VII. Public Comments & Questions

Mr. Smith stated he was not aware he would not be able to speak before the vote. They had a public hearing and there were 3 people there and no opposition that he was aware of. The Council voted against it, why? He asked if any of them could explain why they voted against it.

Commissioner Woodcock stated he would not speak for the Council, but the comment he had made was that the proposal was not in our regulatory packet. It was a petition that came in after our regulatory proposals were made. The Department was not in favor because we had examined the issue and decided it was not something we wanted to move forward with.

Mr. Smith stated he was very confused. What would the Advisory Council go for? What would the Department go for? More big salmon, 3 or 4 pounders, they had one water out of 200 that had that regulation. Something was wrong, we did not have any diversity of fishing regulations that the Department prided itself on. He had spent 100?s of hours and thousands of dollars and to be turned down at this point was very confusing to him. Could any of them address the situation?

Commissioner Woodcock stated he and Mr. Smith had many conversations regarding the issue. It came down to the difference between did the general public want bigger fish but not as many of them, or more fish not quite as large. The Department surveys showed that the public preferred to catch fish, they were not as concerned about size. In terms of diversification of regulations, as Commissioner, he got the other opinion most of the time. Most people felt we had too many regulations. We had plenty of diversity and they were managed individually. It was not a matter of what anybody wanted, it was that we were not accepting of the proposal for those two bodies of water.

Mr. Smith stated there were 200 Salmon waters and only 1 had that regulation.

Mr. Farrington stated at the Step 2 meeting Mr. Brautigam brought the K factors and reports from the ponds on the growth of the fish and they were well above one. His goal when trying to produce fish, the key thing was to get them to grow. The fact they didn?t grow up to 5 pounds, he agreed with the Commissioner he took people fishing all summer long and 99% of them just wanted to catch fish. Healthy fish, fat fish, but they didn?t care if they were 16? long or 20? long as long as they were catching fish. He thought that was the goal of the Department to keep people happy and catching fish. When you looked at those two particular ponds when you looked at the scientific evidence on how well the fish there were growing it was hard to change anything.

Mr. Smith stated you could keep two salmon and you were done for the day. So, they caught salmon and threw them all back until they got a big one in the release slot. The little ones were never killed and that was a serious problem. The little ones did not die, no one would take them.

Sergeant Pepper stated he was a fly fisherman from Mt. Desert Island and he had been fishing those waters his whole life. None of the ponds fished like Echo and he thought that was because of the slot limit. You would catch little fish in other ponds, but if you were a fisherman after awhile you were not really after those little fish. Echo was the only spot you could go and catch a fish 18?-22? which was the release slot but it was the only spot on the island where he was catching fish that were worth keeping. He thought that was in part due to the slot limit because you were not able to kill the fish that were just getting ready to spawn and those were the 18?-22? fish. As Mr. Smith said, no one was keeping the small fish, they just wanted the big ones. He thought that was to the detriment of the local people who wanted to fish Eagle and Jordan and all they caught were small fish. If we put a slot limit on it he thought we would catch more fish and more quality fish.

Mr. Brautigam stated he thought one of the aspects of managing a great number of waters and fisheries was our inability to develop water specific management plans. It really had not been part of the planning process, but it would be moving forward. For example, if residents of Mount Desert Island really wanted Region C biologists to put in more of a concerted effort to manage for trophy size fish there would be an opportunity through the stakeholder process that would be happening. Over time we were going to try to focus on those most important waters geographically where staff would be working with local stakeholders. We would have a consensus based approach to really being able to field proposals for regulation change and they would be rooted on a plan that the local public had involvement in.

Mr. Lewis stated he did not vote in favor of the proposal; he would like something to be done. Mr. Smith, the Commissioner and himself had worked on it at length and even been to the Governor?s office. One of the issues Mr. Lewis had after the Step 2 meeting was that there were other ways to go about trying to do it, but the other issue they had in that area was the amount of people that could actually get on the bodies of water to fish. Jordan Pond was extremely hard to get to most of the summer. On Eagle Lake they were charging to launch a boat and a lot of people were not going to bother because they didn?t want to pay the fee. Mr. Lewis did not know if they could accomplish what they wanted if they couldn?t get people there to actually fish.

Katie Hansberry stated she wanted to say thank you for all the work that had gone into the wildlife in captivity rulemaking process. She asked Ms. Camuso to briefly summarize, now that the technical committee had done the species review, how would the process continue? For example, if someone was seeking a change to the species list was that something that was brought to the technical committee?s attention and then go through the rulemaking process?

Ms. Camuso stated there were different categories of animals. Some we determined as prohibited that we were never going to allow in the state because of potential to cause havoc on our environment and public threat. There were some animals we determined people did not need a permit for and could have such as a hedgehog. The two others were animals that individuals needed a possession permit for which were animals we wanted to keep track of, but did not pose such significant housing requirements or care requirements that the general public couldn?t possess them. Then there were the animals that we would only allow to go to people that were exhibiting them, they had to show a resume of experience with animals such as York Wild Kingdom. The process to add a species to the list would be to pay to have the group review the request (approximately $250) and the technical committee would meet. They had agreed to get together as needed, or a minimum of twice a year so that people did not have to wait indefinitely. The list itself she felt could be approved by the Commissioner she did not think it had to go through rulemaking. If the technical committee came together and supported or denied the request they would bring that recommendation to the Commissioner and it was his ultimate decision.

Mrs. Theriault stated she was not sure if we would need to go through rulemaking to change the list for Category 1 or Category 2 or prohibited species.

Katie Hansberry asked if there were no requests, would the technical committee continue to look at species and make changes even if there were no requests?

Ms. Camuso stated if there were concerns or requests they would meet.

Mr. Brautigam stated he would like to bring to the Council?s attention that Fisheries Division recently received a prestigious national award for the successful restoration of char to Big Reed Pond. There would be an upcoming formal presentation of the award.

Mr. Farrington stated he had a question from a guide regarding the letter that had gone out about the fingerprinting requirement. If they were already in the state bureau of identification, did they need to be re-fingerprinted?

Commissioner Woodcock stated the fingerprinting process had been closely examined. Many of the processes did not transfer from one to another and we had been told consistently that the requirement would be that they would have to be fingerprinted whether you were in the records system or not.

Deputy Commissioner Peabody stated they were not holding the fingerprints unless you had a record through the FBI. The companies that were managing the fingerprinting were not holding the records.

Mrs. Theriault stated additionally, there was a federal law that did not allow entities who had it in law to run a fingerprint check to use that for any more than that one intended purpose. We could not take, for example, a coast guard license where they had been fingerprinted and use that for our purposes. There were different standards for what was allowed for someone who had committed a criminal act for different license background checks.

VIII. Agenda Items & Schedule Date for Next Meeting

The council would be notified when the next meeting would be held.

IX. Adjournment

A motion was made by Mr. Gundersen and that was seconded by Mr. Scribner to adjourn the meeting. The meeting was adjourned at 11:00 a.m.