Outdoor News

April 2015
Edited by V. Paul Reynolds

April is – depending upon whether you are an optimist or a pessimist – the month of the Seasonal Awakening or the month of the Big Mud. After this winter, even the pessimist can take heart that at least there is light at the end of the tunnel. For our hard-pressed deer population and other wild critters, April can be a make or break month. An early greenup can make the difference for them between survival or death. Most outdoor folks take enjoyment in the slow but inexorable coming of spring – the budding, the smell of damp earth, and the formations of geese winging north.

Fishing can be slow, especially when winter ice still hugs the stream banks and the biting north wind discourages all but the heartiest boat anglers. There are some good things in Maine in April, though: turkey season is near and camps can be opened without bugs to deal with.

So bring on April, and then we can embrace May with all of the real blessings of spring in Maine.

CAPTION FOR PHOTO ABOVE: Nathan Paradis of Biddeford with his 20 pound togue (lake trout).

Club News

If your club or outdoor organization has news or photos that warrant publication in the Northwoods Sporting Journal, send them to: Club News, NWSJ, P.O. Box 195, W. Enfield, ME 04493, or e-mail news to: paul@sportingjournal.com

Maine - Moose Permit Lottery

Hunters who dream about the hunt of a lifetime will be happy to know that Maine moose permit online application process is now open, as the 2015 Moose Permit Lottery is accepting applications.

The online application process is fast and simple and you receive instant confirmation that you have successfully entered the lottery. To apply, please visit www.mefishwildlife.com. The deadline for online applications is May 14, 2015.

Paper applications are available by contacting the Department at (207) 287-8000 or from our website at www.mefishwildlife.com. Completed paper applications must be postmarked by April 1, 2015 or delivered to 284 State St., Augusta, Maine by 5:00 p.m. on April 1, 2015.

Bonus points are awarded for each consecutive year the applicant has applied for the lottery since 1998 without being selected and each bonus point gives the applicant an additional chance in the drawing. Bonus points are earned at the rate of one per year for years one to five, two per year for years six to 10, three per year for years 11 to 15 and 10 per year for years 16 and beyond. Since 2011, applicants can skip a year and not lose their bonus points. So if they applied in 2013 but not in 2014, they still have their points available if they apply in 2015.

The moose permit drawing drawing will take place on June 13, 2015 at the Moose Festival in Bethel, Maine. To learn more about the three-day festival, please visit www.bethelmainemoosefest.com

Maine - Shooting Range Grants

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is accepting applications for its 2015 Maine Range Access Improvement Grant Program.

Last year, 12 different organizations were awarded grants totaling over $335,000.

The Department will be awarding small grants to private non-profits and municipalities to fund firearm and archery range access improvement projects.

In order to be considered for an award, applicants must agree to provide public access to shooting facilities.

The Department is accepting applications for projects that do any of the following:

· Improve public recreational firearm and archery shooting opportunities.

· Accomplish improvements at existing firearm and archery range facilities.

· Develop new firearm and archery range facilities.

· Provide range facilities accessible by persons with disabilities.

· Integrate Best Management Practices into physical facilities and management of ranges.

· Support firearm and archery education to learn safe and responsible practices.

Applications may be for a single project or a portion of staged projects.

Requestors can ask for a maximum of $50,000 in grant money, which will serve as 70 percent of allowable costs. Projects must include a minimum of 30 percent match, cash or in-kind donations.

Applications must be submitted by 2 p.m. on April 22 to the State of Maine Division of Purchases, located at the Burton M. Cross Building, 111 Sewall Street, 4th Floor, 9 State House Station, Augusta. The Maine Range Access Improvement Grant Program is funded by grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund. For more information or questions about the application process, please contact Bob Annese at rannese@gmail.com.To see a copy of the application, please visit: http://www.maine.gov/ifw/hunting_trapping/Shooting_Ranges/index.html

Maine - Bear Hunting Targeted, Again!

Just months after a resounding defeat by Maine voters, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has announced plans to bring yet another ballot issue on bear hunting back to Maine.

On Tuesday, Feb. 24, lawyers for HSUS and the state of Maine were in court to debate the lawsuit brought by HSUS against the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

That suit sought to stop the state’s wildlife experts from explaining to voters the true dangers of HSUS’s bear hunting ban.

Despite an overwhelming decision by Maine Superior Court Justice Joyce Wheeler that sided with the state’s right to provide comments, HSUS continues to pursue a legal challenge.

As part of the discussions about the pending litigation, an attorney for HSUS, Rachel Wertheimer, advised the court that they will again put the question on the 2016 ballot, and will be filing the initial paperwork soon.

“I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that these guys will stop at nothing to pursue their radical, anti-hunting agenda,” said Nick Pinizzotto, USSA president and CEO.

“They spent more than $2.5 million dollars trying to buy an election.

When it was clear they were about to lose, they sued the state to prevent the true experts from explaining the dangers of the issue to voters.

And now they are making it crystal clear that they do not respect the will of the voters – who have twice sent HSUS and their allies packing.”

In November, voters rejected the bear hunting ban (Question 1) by a 53.6 to 46.3 percent margin, just as they did in 2004 – the last time HSUS brought the issue to Maine.

“How many times are we going to have to debate this? They’ve lost before the legislature, they’ve lost at the ballot box, and they’ve lost in the courts,” Pinizzotto continued.

“This is nothing more than a direct look straight into the heart of the anti-hunting movement, a movement that will obviously stop at nothing to accomplish their agenda.”

Vermont Shooting Ranges

A Vermont Fish & Wildlife grant program creating more access to safe places to shoot is continuing in 2015.

Shooting clubs, sportsmen’s groups and government agencies operating shooting ranges, including archery ranges, have until 4:30 p.m. on May 15, 2015 to submit applications for grants from the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. The Shooting Range Improvement Grant Program was developed last year to encourage the improvement of shooting ranges and to enhance their safety and operation. This year’s grant period begins July 1, 2015.

“This new program is a great help to fish and game clubs looking to improve their facilities, and to hunters and shooters looking for places to sight in their rifles and hone their skills,” said Commissioner Louis Porter. “Increased range opportunities encourage hunters to become more proficient with firearms while promoting safe gun handling.”

Examples of projects that could be eligible for funding include shooting range re-development, noise abatement structures, safety berms, shooting pads and stations, and the construction or improvement of access roads and parking lots. Grant money can be also used for lead mitigation. This could include recycling, reducing range floor surface drainage or liming range property.

The Fish & Wildlife Department anticipates making a total of $30,000 available this year. These funds are derived from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wildlife & Sport Fish Restoration Program and Federal excise taxes on hunting and shooting equipment. This is a 75 percent reimbursement grant program and requires a 25 percent non-federal match from the grant recipient. This can come through ‘in-kind’ match, such as volunteer labor and donated equipment or cash.

Federal rules on the funding include a requirement that a range receiving one of these grants provide at least 20 hours of public use per month when in operation, and that the facility is open and made available at reasonable times to hunter education courses. Vermont nonprofit organizations, municipalities and clubs are eligible.

The deadline for application submittal is May 15, 2015. For further information or to download an application packet, visit the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department website at www.vtfishandwildlife.com. Click on “Hunting and Trapping,” and then on “Shooting Ranges in Vermont.” Or contact Daneil Pieterse at (802) 786-0055.

Vermont - Special Snow Goose Hunt

Vermont’s spring snow goose hunt will be held from March 11 through April 24.

Since 2009, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has annually issued a “Conservation Order” to allow the reduction of the population of migrating greater and lesser snow geese as well as Ross’ geese. The numbers of these geese have grown so high that they are destroying habitat for themselves and other species.

Eight states in the Atlantic Flyway (Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Vermont) will hold a similar Spring Snow Goose Conservation Order in 2015.

The Vermont 2015 Spring Snow Goose Conservation Order will occur statewide. The daily bag limit is 15 snow geese, and there is no possession limit. Waterfowl hunting regulations in effect last fall will apply during the 2015 Spring Snow Goose Conservation Order with the exception that unplugged shotguns and electronic calls may be used, and shooting hours will be extended until one half hour after sunset.

A 2015 Spring Snow Goose Harvest Permit is required and is available at no charge on the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department’s website (www.vtfishandwildlife.com) under “Items of Special Interest.” Hunters may also call the Essex Junction Office (802-878-1564) to request a permit.

Hunters will also need a 2015 Vermont hunting license (residents $25, nonresidents $50), a 2015 Harvest Information Program (HIP) number, a 2014 federal migratory hunting stamp ($15), and a 2015 Vermont migratory waterfowl stamp ($7.50).

Hunters can register with the Harvest Information Program by going to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department website or by calling toll free 1-877-306-709.

Hunters who obtain a permit will be required to complete an online survey after April 24 and prior to May 16, 2015, whether they hunted or not. Hunters without access to the internet may obtain a copy of the survey by calling 802-878-1564.

“The breeding population of greater snow geese has grown from approximately 50,000 birds in the mid-1960s to 900,000 birds today,” said David Sausville, Vermont’s waterfowl project biologist. “This increase has resulted in damage to agricultural crops and marsh vegetation in staging and wintering areas from Quebec to North Carolina. The Atlantic Flyway has established a goal of 500,000 greater snow geese to bring populations in balance with their habitat and reduce crop depredation.”

During spring migration, snow geese typically move through the Champlain Valley in late March and early April. They usually pass through Vermont fairly quickly in route to their spring staging areas along the St. Lawrence River Valley. They remain there for about a month before moving on to their nesting areas in the Eastern Canadian Arctic.

Waterfowl hunters, since 1986, through the purchase of their Vermont migratory waterfowl stamp have raised $4.3 million in sales of stamps and the interested earned on the funds for conservation projects across Vermont. To date 79 wetland projects totaling 10,185 acres have been conserved, acquired, or enhanced for wildlife and the citizens of Vermont.

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