Meeting Minutes

June 29, 2022 @ 9:30 a.m.
353 Water Street, 4th floor conference room, Augusta, ME
(and virtually via Microsoft Teams)


Judy Camuso, Commissioner
Timothy Peabody, Deputy Commissioner
Dan Scott, Colonel, Maine Warden Service
Nate Webb, Wildlife Division Director
Shevenell Webb, Furbearer Biologist
Nathan Bieber, Deer Biologist.
Bill Swan, Director of Licensing and Registration
Becky Orff, Secretary/Recorder

Kristin Peet (chair)
Shelby Rousseau (Vice-Chair)
Ed Pineau
Bob Duchesne
Tony Liguori
Mike Gawtry - via Teams
Lindsay Ware - via Teams
Eric Ward - via Teams
Jennifer Geel - via Teams

Jerry Scribner

I. Call to Order

Council Chair, Kristin Peet called the meeting to order.

I-A. Pledge of Allegiance

II. Moment of Silence

III. Introductions

Introductions were made.

IV. Acceptance of Minutes of Previous Meeting

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

Vote: unanimouus in favor - minutes approved.

V. Rulemaing

A. Step 3

Thre were no items under Step 3.

B. Step 2

1. 2022 Antlerless deer permit allocations & expanded archery areas

Mr. Bieber stated these were now antlerless permits rather than any-deer permits and would allow hunters to take an additional deer that had to be antlerless rather than an either sex permit that was issued in the past. We were recommending just over 96,000 permits down from 153,910 permits last year. The doe harvest objective we were shooting for was just over 13,000. This was similar to last year but a lot fewer permits given the different type of permit. We also had some changes to the expanded archery program. We wanted to define some aspects of the program that were not previously in rule. They didn't change how the program worked but made things more clear in rule. We also had two additional areas we were proposing. One impacted the Portland expanded archery area and would add some land area in the towns of North Yarmouth and Yarmouth. We were also proposing an addition that would encompass the coastal islands of WMD 27. It was kind of an extension of WMD 29 expanded archery area which were coastal islands that were always difficult to control deer numbers on. We had a public hearing with no members of the public in attendance. We received one written comment that was submitted during the previous proposal for deer permit framework, but the contents of the comment made more sense to attach to this proposal. The comment requested adding some land area to the southern end of the Portland expanded archery area. It was discussed with regional staff and warden service and determined not to move it forward. It was a very minute change which would have bumped the boundary over by one road and into a town where the land was under a discharge ordinance and already covered by expanded archery.

Council Member Comments and Questions

Mr. Liguori stated there were a lot of comments on the Maine hunting website, he was surprised the Department hadnt received more comments.

Mr. Bieber stated we had been doing a lot of messaging and now that the changes were more or less official, we could put out more material and hopefully it would become clearer to people. Mr. Bieber stated there was also a small amendment being proposed that changed a road reference. The map that was used for the original boundaries did not show the road names. The road name had been added but did not change the boundary.

Mr. Pineau asked how the overall permit numbers were determined as this was a new process.

Mr. Bieber stated the only change for developing recommendations was the expansion factor. We tried to take into account how many permits would actually be used to take a doe. For example, in a lot of WMDs we would have to issue 10-15 permits to take one doe. We anticipated the with new type of permit the kill rate would be higher because people would be more willing to take a doe because the permit let them take an additional deer rather than a buck or a doe. The kill rate would be higher so the expansion factor would be lower. To estimate the expansion factor we looked at the bonus permits that were issued in the past and how many people used those. There would be more calibration over the next couple of years.

Ms. Ware stated she had received comments regarding the messaging so far and the graphics and it had been very helpful.

There were no further questions or comments.

A motion was made by Mr. Duchesne to move the agenda item to Step 3 and the motion was seconded by Mr. Liguori. The vote was unanimous to move to Step 3.

A motion was made by Mr. Duchesne to accept the proposal as amended, and that was seconded by Mr. Liguori.

Vote: unanimous: motion passed.

2. Ch. 16 & 17 Furbearer rules

Mrs. Webb stated for Chapter 16 hunting rules the only change was a revision of our biological data labeling requirements for bobcat. For Chapter 17 that was similar for the trapping rules in terms of the biological data labeling requirements adding a seal number for bobcat that provided additional information/data. We were also making some changes to the beaver closures and we had proposed to standardize setback distances for beaver and muskrat traps. We held a public hearing with no on in attendance and received one written comment. The comment was a little bit in confusion with what we were striking and adding to the language. The person followed up stating they realized we were actually getting more data with the proposed changes, and that was a good thing.

There were no questions or comments.

A motion was made by Mr. Duchesne to move the agenda items to Step 3 and the motion was seconded by Mrs. Rousseau. The vote was unanimous to move to Step 3.

A motion was made by Mrs. Rousseau to accept the proposals as presented, and that was seconded by Mr. Pineau.

Vote: unanimous: motion passed.

C. Step 1 There were no items under Step 1.

VI. Other Business

Commissioner Camuso stated she had a few items she would like to discuss. We held the moose lottery earlier that month in Jackman and it was an overwhelming success. The 2023 lottery would be held in Augusta. SAM had asked if we could bring the lottery back to Augusta. We also had requests from Presque Isle, Fort Kent and one additional town with requests for the 2024 lottery to be held there. Commissioner Camuso stated we had advertised for positions that were approved in the supplemental budget. The Recovering Americas Wildlife Act (RAWA) had passed out of the House and was heading back to the Senate for final approval and then would go to the President. This would provide an additional $10 to $11 million annually for the Department to work on species of greatest conservation need. Before we made any significant structural changes to the agency, she wanted to figure out what the funding sources would look like moving forward. This would be a permanent allocation of dedicated revenue with the goal of keeping species from being listed. In Maine, the law allowed the Department to use Pittman Robertson (PR) money for nongame species for birds and mammals. We had been able to fund a lot of our nongame programs with PR money. Not all states had that ability. Many states did not even recognize invertebrates as wildlife and were not authorized to work on those species. Maine did, and we knew invertebrates were basically the basis for the entire food chain, so they were critical to all of our fisheries and wildlife populations. We were one of two states that the Congressional delegation had signed on as cosponsor and supporter.

Mr. Webb stated we had been receiving calls, particularly from southern Maine about dead, diseased or sick birds mostly along the beaches. We believed that was likely due to high path avian flu that we had been dealing with since the spring. We had put out some guidance to the public on precautions and we were monitoring it closely. The bird group was spending an enormous amount of time on the issue and maintaining situational awareness.

Commissioner Camuso stated the guidance was, in general, we did not want the public touching any of the sick birds as it was highly pathogenic.

Mrs. Peet asked if the public called and had a couple of dead birds in their yard and wanted to remove them, was there any sort of guidance that we gave the public?

Mr. Webb stated there was information on our website. Guidance was not to handle the birds, if there was a need to remove it we asked they use gloves, wear a mask and double bag it before disposing in the trash.

Commissioner Camuso stated she also wanted to mention the Sunday hunting lawsuit. We had been sued under the constitutional right to food saying we were denying people the ability to procure food for themselves on Sunday. Our Attorney Generals office filed a motion to dismiss. Depending how the court ruled it would likely be appealed by either the plaintiffs or the Department. This was likely to take a year or more to work its way through the process.

Councilor Reports

Councilors gave reports

VIII. Public Comments & Questions

There were no comments or questions from the public.

IX. Agenda Items & Schedule Date for Next Meeting

The next Advisory Council meeting was scheduled for Thursday, August 4, 2022 at 9:30 a.m. at IFW, 353 Water Street, Augusta.

X. Adjournment

A motion was made by Mr. Liguori and that was seconded by Mrs. Rousseau to adjourn the meeting. The meeting was adjourned at 10:30 a.m.