Hunting in Maine in 2009 was about the safest thing you could have done outdoors.
Only one person was injured during the fall deer seasons. No one was killed. The injury came when a first-time hunter shot herself in the foot. She learned that the foot is not a proper place to rest the barrel of a loaded gun.
Governor John Baldacci has tried twice to consolidate the state’s natural resource agencies. The legislature soundly defeated both proposals but that apparently didn’t discourage the governor. He’s back with a third proposal now. Three strikes and he’ll be out.
The road to consolidation of natural resource agencies has been paved with broken promises.
In a few weeks the Maine legislature meets to resolve some troubling budget problems, putting every state program on the line. But the undertow carries other issues of importance for those who care about Maine’s environment and quality of place. Here’s a rundown of a few key environmental/conservation issues, starting with the most important.
The deer hunting season was a disappointment for hunters and a disaster for the outdoor industry.
Deer have disappeared from the North Woods and their numbers in central Maine are greatly diminished. The implication is severe for sporting camps, guides, butchers, taxidermists, motels, gas stations, and all others who benefit from the spending of deer hunters. I saw a look of desperation in the eye of a third-generation owner of one of Maine’s finest sporting camps who wondered if his son — the fourth generation — would be able to keep the family business going.
The snow-capped Rocky Mountains were off in the distance as I gazed out of my hotel room in Bozeman, Montana. I could just make out the mountains over the top of a shopping mall anchored by huge Target and Costco stores. Instead of the grassy meadow where I once saw fifty grazing whitetailed deer, my eyes gazed at pavement and a sprinkling of motor vehicles.
Beginning on January 1, 2010, Maine saltwater anglers must register with the feds. The National NOAA Fisheries Service will implement a registration system on that day using a toll free number and Web site.
Information is already available on the Web site, www.countmyfish.noaa.gov, but anglers won’t be able to register using either the Web site or phone until January 1. When they do register, each will be given a registration number and can fish the same day they register.
Animal rights activists have lost their latest battle to stop trapping in Maine.
On November 10, Judge John Woodcock, Jr., of the Federal District Court in Bangor, denied a request from the Animal Welfare Institute of Idaho for a permanent injunction against the state of Maine to stop trapping in order to protect Canada lynx.
The lynx was designated as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on March 24, 2000. But it has been illegal to hunt or trap lynx in Maine since 1967.
We report, you decide. Which environmental groups are right on Plum Creek’s conservation and development plan for the Moosehead Region, approved by Maine’s Land Use on September 23? Here’s what major environmental organizations had to say about the project and LURC’s decision.
Forest Society of Maine
(Forest Society of Maine is a statewide land trust working with landowners to conserve and maintain the many values of forestlands in Maine.)
Sportsmen and environmentalists are too often and too easily divided when we actually have a great deal in common. I prefer to think of all of us as conservationists.
Today, the groups that represent those two major constituencies are collaborating in an unprecedented way. And you can help.
We do have examples of collaboration that are worthy of repetition.
The long, dark, cold, snowy winter provides a wonderful opportunity to read, by firelight if you prefer, gas lights if you are nostalgic, and bright electric lights if you are my age and can’t see the pages anymore.
I’m adjusting to my first pair of progressive lenses and the small focal point for reading is tough – a good excuse to read more until I get the hang of it. I already borrow more books from Mount Vernon’s Dr. Shaw library than any other patron – partly because, as chair of the trustees, I have a key to the library!