Once a prime destination for the nation’s sportsmen who flocked here for huge whitetail deer and wild native brook trout, Maine has lost its reputation as a sportsman’s paradise.
We still have world-class black bear hunting, a quality (but limited) moose hunt, and great coastal duck hunting, along with most of the nation’s remaining wild native brook trout, but that’s apparently not enough to turn around a declining outdoor industry or attract the notice of one of the nation’s top sporting publications.
Political leaders may need more than DeLorme’s new technologically sophisticated PN-40 GPS to follow the “Trail Map to Prosperity” provided recently by the Maine Conservation Voters Education Fund. They’ll have to carry courage, wisdom, and a very high level of persuasiveness in their political backpacks.
Governor Establishes New ATV Working Group: Governor John Baldacci signed an executive order on June 15 establishing a new ATV working group to “review standards by which state law enforcement officers may stop all-terrain vehicles.”
The governor’s order responds to a legislative decision last year to require law enforcement officers to suspect a violation of law is occurring before stopping ATV riders on public or private land.
While volunteer boat launch monitors continue to stop invasive plants from entering Maine waters, game wardens have issued only three citations for illegal transportation of these plants since 2002.
In that time, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has received almost $3.5 million dollars from sale of milfoil stickers to those who own motorized boats. Most of the money is targeted for enforcement of invasive plant laws and rules.
Each of those three citations cost boaters more than a million dollars!
You’d have to conclude that hunters are losing interest in Maine’s moose hunt, judging by the huge decline in applicants in the state’s once-popular moose lottery.
Since lottery applications peaked in 1994 at 94,532, applications from residents have declined by 50 percent and from nonresidents by 37 percent.
In the last two years alone, applications have decreased by a stunning 23 percent.
The state’s top expert on black bear and primary advocate for wildlife habitat will head south to Massachusetts on July 31. He won’t be on a summer vacation to the Cape. He’ll be taking a new job at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
When Dr. Ken Elowe leaves Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife on July 31, a huge knowledge gap will open up along with a number of great challenges at this hard-pressed agency.
The Future of Forest Conservation: Twenty years ago, my stump speech reported that the future of sportsmen on public land was challenged, due to many competing interests, but we were in good shape on private land where large landowners welcomed us with few restrictions.
Today it’s all changed.
We are blessed with lots of opportunities on public lands — including hunting on undeveloped lands in state parks. We’re in trouble on private lands.
I hope he didn’t decide to retire just because I’m retiring. Brownie Carson at the Natural Resources Council never did follow my path at the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine.
The June 3 announcement that Brownie was retiring after twenty-six years as NRCM’s executive director followed close on the heals of my own announced retirement as executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine. I only served for eighteen years, so Brownie’s got me beat.
I’m also envious of his 2005 environmental award from Down East magazine.
Sportsmen are a cantankerous lot, spending much of their time fighting amongst themselves.
Those who hunt only with primitive muzzleloaders fight those who prefer the modern in-line muzzleloaders. Compound bowhunters fiercely argue against allowing crossbows to be used in their special seasons.
Bait fishermen battle fly fishermen, bass anglers line up against brook trout aficionados, and saltwater anglers and inland anglers tangle over the introduction of alewives into Maine rivers.
Spotting a road-killed grouse while driving a few years ago on Mount Vernon’s North Road a mile from the elementary school, I hopped out and bagged it.
At least one teacher drove by while I was scooping up the bird, and as soon as she got to school, informed my first-grade teaching wife that she could expect grouse for dinner.
Too late. I ate it for lunch.
Just one more reason I am fascinated by Maine Audubon’s new Wildlife Road Watch.