Hunters, Anglers Advised of Changes, Maine IF&W Initiatives

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Augusta – Hunting and fall fishing seasons are underway in Maine, and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife wants hunters and anglers to be aware of rules and agency initiatives in order to have a safe season.

Hunters and anglers are reminded to read and carry with them their appropriate law books. The law books are available at any licensing agent and at the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. For more information, call 287-8000.

IMPORTANT: Hunters Must Write Down Their Any-Deer Permit Number

IF&W will no longer be mailing Any-Deer permits to permit winners, as part of a cost saving initiative. Instead, permit winners will need to record their permit number and report the permit number to the registration station when tagging their deer. The Department suggests that permit winners write down their permit number and keep the number with their hunting license so it is readily available when needed at the registration station. Hunters can find their Any-Deer permit number by visiting our web site at http://deer.informe.org/index.htm.

This year the Department granted 51,850 permits to current hunting license holders. The permit allocation is as follows: Resident: 39,578; Non-Resident: 3,579; Landowner: 8,421; Superpack: 272.

Also, IF&W will not be distributing paper applications for the moose and any-deer lotteries next year, but will be accepting online applications on our web site, www.mefishwildlife.com, during the respective lottery dates.

Any-Deer Permit Swap Available

An Any-Deer, Landowner or Superpack deer permit winner may swap their permit with another same-type permit winner in order to switch hunting districts.

The permits must be the same type, and residents can swap only with residents and non-residents can swap only with non-residents.

IF&W does not maintain a list of individuals wishing to swap permits. Permit winners who wish to swap will need to locate and contact other permit winners on their own.

One sportsman, Jeff W. Zimba, is maintaining a non-IF&W-affiliated swap site – www.DoeTagSwap.com. For a small fee, permit winners can locate and potentially swap with other same-type permit winners. However, IF&W still needs to be notified of the swap, and the proper Department paperwork still must be completed.

The site also allows permit winners to download for free and print a business card-sized Any Deer Permit/Transportation Tag on their home computer. IF&W is not mailing Any Deer Permits this year, and winners are responsible for bringing their permit number to the registration station.

The IF&W permit swap fee is $7 (one fee covers both winners.) The swap can be done in person at our main office in Augusta or by mail with the required “swap request form” that’s available on our web site. The Department will assign a new permit number and mail back the form.

The swap can be done online until 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 31, 2008. Mail-in requests must be received by Oct. 31. Please allow at least one week for processing.

Hunters: Keep Chronic Wasting Disease Out of Maine

The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, along with other state agencies, is working to keep Chronic Wasting Disease out of Maine.

To prevent the introduction of CWD into Maine, recently passed laws now make it illegal for hunters who hunt and kill a deer, caribou, elk or moose in another state or province to transport any carcass parts that pose a risk of containing CWD prions back into Maine. Hunters may return to Maine only with boned-out meat, hardened antlers (with or without skull caps), hides without the head portion, and finished taxidermy mounts. If still attached, skull caps must be cleaned free of brain and other tissues.

It is legal for individuals to transport cervid carcasses or parts through the State of Maine if they are destined for other states, provinces, and countries. Transportation is to occur without undue delay and must use the most reasonably direct route through Maine to the final destination. Cervid carcasses or parts must be transported in a manner that is both leak-proof and that prevents their exposure to the environment.

The laws are a result of the fact that no state or province can claim to be free of CWD.

If it emerges in Maine, CWD could seriously reduce infected deer populations by lowering adult survival and de-stabilizing populations. Monitoring and control of CWD is extremely costly and would divert already scarce funding and staff resources away from other much-needed programs.

If you plan to hunt deer, caribou, moose or elk in a state/province known or suspected to harbor CWD, there are some commonsense precautions you should take to avoid handling, transporting, or consuming potentially CWD-infected specimens.  You can go to our website at www.mefishwildlife.com to view these precautions.

CWD causes irreversible damage to brain tissues in affected animals and ultimately leads to death. CWD is one of a group of diseases known as Transmissable Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs). Other TSEs include Scrapie in sheep, Mad Cow Disease in cattle, and Creuzfeldt Jacob Disease in humans. CWD had been found several western and midwestern states, as well as parts of Canada.

Chronic Wasting Disease is known to occur in mule deer, elk, and white-tailed deer, although other cervids such as red deer, fallow deer, sika deer as well as moose, and caribou may also be susceptible. CWD is thought to be caused by an infectious protein called a prion that upon entering the body; causes the host’s normal proteins to take on a diseased form. These prions accumulate in the brain and spinal cords, as well as lymph nodes, spleen, eye tissues, bone marrow, saliva, feces and urine in diseased deer.

Hunting In Maine Is Big Business

Approximately 204,000 people hunt in Maine each year, and those hunters generate more than $241 million in economic activity in Maine. Approximately 83 percent of the hunters are Maine residents.

Each hunter spends an average of $1,359 in equipment, licenses, memberships and trip-related expenses, and spends approximately 13 days engaging in the sport, according to the 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, the most recent information from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The economic impact from hunting season is tremendous, supporting thousands of jobs and bringing millions in state sales and income tax revenue.

Make Sure Your Deer Hunt Is A Safe Hunt

The Department offers the following safety tips:

  • Be sure that someone knows where you are headed, and when you plan to return.
  • Carry emergency survival gear, a flashlight, map and compass, matches and water.
  • Stop periodically to eat and re-hydrate yourself.
  • Wear two pieces of hunter orange that are in good condition.
  • Be sure of your target, and what is beyond it.
  • Always keep the muzzle of your firearm pointed in a safe direction.
  • Unload your firearm before entering a dwelling, before entering a vehicle, or before storing it.

Know the Difference Between Common and Barrow’s Goldeneye

IF&W would like to remind Maine waterfowl hunters about the need to differentiate between a Common and Barrow’s Goldeneye during waterfowl season, which opens today (Oct. 1).

In May 2007, the Maine Legislature listed the Barrow’s Goldeneye as a Threatened Species because they are potentially vulnerable to extirpation from the state due to their very small wintering population (believed to be less than 250 birds.) Because it is a Threatened Species, the law prohibits their “take.”

Common Goldeneyes Barrow’s Goldeneyes are found in low numbers on certain large lakes, rivers and coastal areas throughout Maine, normally from November to March. Among those areas are the Kennebec River, from Skowhegan to Richmond; the Penobscot River, from Old Town to Bucksport; Englishman Bay; Belfast Bay; Mount Desert Narrows, from Trenton to Lamoine Beach; Carver’s Harbor in Vinalhaven; the St. George River below Thomaston; the Harraseeket River in Freeport.

Barrow’s and Common Goldeneyes look very similar, with a white body, black back and black-appearing head. The Barrow’s, however, has a crescent-shaped spot in front of its eye (while the Common has a round white spot). A Barrow’s head is more black on its side and has a stubbier bill. A Barrow’s female has most of the same characteristics as the male, but she has an orange-yellow bill.

Barrow's Goldeneyes Because the two look so similar, the harvest of Common Goldeneyes may result in the unintentional taking of Barrow’s Goldeneyes, according to Wildlife Biologist Sandy Ritchie, who manages habitat conservation and special projects at IF&W. By improving the duck hunter’s ability to distinguish Barrow’s from Common Goldeneyes and by alerting hunters that Barrow’s Goldeneyes are known to congregate in certain areas, IF&W and hunter will minimize the unintentional take of Barrow’s Goldeneyes.

Despite our efforts, a few Barrow’s Goldeneyes may be unintentionally shot. In these cases, hunters are required to surrender any Barrow’s Goldeneye taken incidentally to legal waterfowl hunting activities. The bird must be surrendered to the Department within one month of when it was shot by contacting a local game warden or calling the Wildlife Division in Bangor to coordinate a pick-up. There will be no penalty for killing a Barrow’s and reporting it to the Department.

Moose Hunting Moves to Southern Maine

This November, four Wildlife Management Districts will be opened to moose hunting for the first time – an area of the state that has not experienced moose hunting since 1935.

The southern Maine moose hunt will occur during the regular firearms deer season, from Nov. 3 to Nov. 29 with a resident’s only day on Nov. 1 in WMD 15, 16, 23 and 26.

Sufficient permits will be allocated to allow a slow to moderate decrease in moose number to address highway safety concerns while eliminating or greatly reducing conflicts between moose hunters, landowners and the general public.
             
Moose hunting in southern Maine will be very different from moose hunting that occurs in western, northern, and eastern areas of the State because hunters participating in a southern Maine moose hunt will be hunting largely on small, private landholdings, according to Wildlife Biologist Sandy Ritchie, who manages habitat conservation and special projects at IF&W. Success will likely be low, especially for hunters not from the immediate area who do not use a guide. It may also be more difficult to remove moose from private land in southern Maine, and the means required to remove a harvested moose from private land could be of concern to some landowners.

IF&W staff is working with the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine to ensure that landowners are aware of the hunt. Also, staff is working with hunters who drew permits to hunt in the southern districts to draw attention to a number of things they can do to help ensure a quality hunting experience while maintaining good landowner relations and future public access, according to Ritchie.

Fall Fishing on Sebago Lake

As the fall fishing season approaches, anglers are reminded of the new fall fishing regulations in effect this year on Sebago Lake.  In the past the open water fishing season on most of the lake closed on Sept. 30.  The single exception was a small area near Sebago Station that permitted fishing from Oct. 1 through Nov. 30.

The new regulations allow anglers to fish the entire lake from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31.  From Oct. 1 through Dec. 31 togue (lake trout) may be harvested under the same size and bag limits in place for the rest of the year, but all salmon and trout must be released. 

These new changes are not printed in the current open water fishing law book because the changes were advanced after the current law book was printed. Also, since the changes represented a liberalization of the existing regulation, providing expanded opportunity, anglers could not be penalized (fined) if they weren’t aware of the change, according to Francis Brautigam, an IF&W Regional Fisheries Biologist based in Gray.

The regulation change was proposed by Sebago Lake Anglers Association and as adopted is consistent with the new salmon management plan recently adopted for Sebago.  The change also is consistent with the Classic Salmon Initiative.

The purpose of the regulation change is to increase lake trout harvest opportunity and further reduce lake trout abundance.  Lake trout are a strong competitor with landlocked salmon. The intent of the regulation change is not to allow additional salmon fishing opportunity!

Unfortunately there is no enforceable language that could be adopted making it illegal to fish for salmon. Although the current regulation prevents salmon from being taken from October through December, even catch and release fishing for salmon is expected to increase handling stress and associated salmon mortality, particularly for ripe adult fish. 

We request that anglers not target salmon after Sept. 30, but take advantage of the opportunity to catch and harvest lake trout during a time of the year when most of the pleasure boat crowd have put their toys to rest, little fishing pressure exists, and the spectacular early fall foliage provides a great back drop to any open water fishing experience.