Outdoors in Maine: In the short run

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Some Short Casts

The long, invasive arm of our Federal government is reaching, not only more and more into our wallets but into every facet of our private lives. The sport fishing community is abuzz over a recent federal proposal that will ban recreational fishing in our oceans and waters of the Great Lakes. A sport angler’s nightmare! Some states — Maine is not one of them — are fighting back.

Similar states rights’ initiatives are taking place in the area of gun rights. New Hampshire outdoor writer Robert Washburn wrote this recently in a Concord New Hampshire newspaper: “There is an interesting legislative phenomenon asserting state sovereignty and the 10th amendment in the U.S. constitution as it relates to firearms. In April 2009, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer signed into law the Firearms Freedom Act. Montana’s Act declares that firearms and ammunition manufactured in Montana, sold there and remaining there “is not subject to federal law or federal regulation, including registration, under the authority of Congress to regulate interstate commerce. It is declared by the legislature that those items have not traveled in interstate commerce. Not to be out done, in June 2009, Tennessee, by a senate vote of 22-7 and a house vote of 87-1 passed similar legislation. Other states considering similar legislation include Texas, Alaska, South Carolina and Minnesota.”

Sadly, Maine has never been one to stand on its own two feet when it comes to asserting states rights. We discontinued a longstanding coyote control program in deer wintering areas because of threatened Federal action. That was 6 years ago, and we are still cowing to the Feds, and coyotes are decimating our deer with impunity. Maine is long overdue for some bold, independent leadership in Augusta.

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Call of the wild

Speaking of coyotes run amok, one of my readers, Doug Hummel from New Hampshire, has an interesting idea. His words: “The idea is to have a $5 permit (resident and non-resident) for the January through March period. (When coyotes take a lot of weakened deer). No regular hunting license is required during this three-month period. This $5 can be applied toward the purchase of a hunting license at any time after. I would think this will help get more hunters in the woods that time of year to reduce the number of coyotes. This I believe will result in a faster recovery for the deer and more hunters buying licenses as they hear that more deer are available to hunt. Hunters won’t buy a license, especially non-residents, if they feel that they won’t get a chance of seeing deer. I feel this option is both good for the deer and hunters as well.”

Not bad, Doug. While your idea may be a little to innovative or out-of-the-box for the stuck whistles in Augusta, it has merit. The folks at Fish and Wildlife say that they are on board with promoting recreational coyote hunts. Here is their chance to show good faith.

Staying clean

Another reader, Dick Flewelling, from the Bangor area had this thought:

” After looking at all of the debris left on the lakes after ice shacks are removed, it looks as if something ought to be done. Why not have the wardens use their GPS to mark the ice shack location along with the owner’s name,which has to be printed on the out side (of the ice shack). If debris is left, the warden would have an actual location on the ice and could then issue a summons for the violation.This was brought to my attention by a friend who has a camp on Schoodic Lake and was appalled at the mess left by many of the folks that removed their shacks early due to the poor ice conditions.”

Take your best shot

Remember, the Fish and Wildlife Department no longer mails moose lottery applications. You have to take the initiative by applying online at www.mefishwildlife.com. The deadline for submitting this year is midnight, May 14. The resident application fee is $7 for one, or $22 for six chances in the annual drawing. Not sure how long has this been “on the books,” but I gathered from reading IF&W’s website that an applicant now does not need to hold a valid big-game license to apply and submit one chance in the lottery. You simply have to be “eligible” to purchase a Maine big game hunting license if you draw a moose permit.

Happy trails

The Maine Department of Conservation (DOC) has just come out with a new statewide ATV trail map. Maine has 6,000 miles of ATV trails and 2,300 miles of interconnected trails. According to DOC, an ATVer can now ride from Machias to Fort Kent on the state’s ATV trail system! These new trail maps are available from ATV clubs, ATV dealers, and will soon be available as a PDF online at the DOC’s Web site.

The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal and has written his first book, A Maine Deer Hunter’s Logbook. He is also a Maine Guide, co-host of a weekly radio program “Maine Outdoors” heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network (WVOM-FM 103.9, WCME-FM 96.7) and former information officer for the Maine Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. His e-mail address is paul@sportingjournal.com.

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