Outdoor News

February 2016
Edited by V. Paul Reynolds

February. Not a bad month for outdoor types. If you look closely, you'll notice longer days. Cabin fever sufferers take heart. There are sportsman shows and ice fishing derbies that make a relatively short winter month go even faster. On late afternoons toward the end of February, when the sun's rays begin to hold promise and the wind stays down, it can be downright pleasant near those icefishing holes.

If you're shopping for winter diversions beyond the bunny hunts or tying bench, don't forget to check out the many sportsman shows, ice fishing derbies and bait dealers whose ads appear this month in the Sportin' Journal.

As we said in this space last year at this time, the best part of the month is the perennial promise that helps Mainers endure the abbreviated days and prolonged nights: the coming of March, then the April thing, and then spring!

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 - Game Wardens Needed

The Maine Warden Service is currently hiring! Applications will be accepted until April 15, 2016

During the month of February, the warden service will be holding several informational meetings around the state. These meetings will be an opportunity for candidates to meet with game wardens and to ask questions about the current hiring process and discuss what can be expected in a career as a Maine game warden. These meetings are not mandatory, but are attendance is encouraged.

February 2, 2015 (6 - 8 PM)
Northern Penobscot Tech. Region III (Lincoln)
35 West Broadway
Lincoln, Maine 04457
(207) 794-3004

February 3, 2015 (6 - 8PM)
IF&W Ashland Headquarters
63 Station Hill
Ashland, Maine 04732
(207) 435-3231

February 5, 2015 (6 - 8 PM)
IF&W Bangor Headquarters
650 State Street
Bangor, Maine 04401
(207) 941-4470

February 6, 2015 (11AM - 4PM)
Cabela’s (Scarborough)
100 Cabela’s Blvd.
Scarborough, Maine 04074
(207) 883-7400

February 8, 2015 (6 - 8 PM)
IF&W Sidney Headquarters
270 Lyons Road
Sidney, Maine 04330
(207) 547-5305

For more information about the hiring process and to view the current job posting, please visit http://www.maine.gov/ifw/warden_service/career.html

Vermont - F&W Suggests Waiting to Feed Birds

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is urging people to wait for colder weather and snow before putting up their bird feeders in order to avoid attracting bears.

The department is hearing from people who want to know if they should put out their bird feeders. Normally, December 1 is the recommended start date for feeding birds in Vermont, but this year’s lack of snow is keeping some bears from going into their winter dens.

“An abundance of beechnuts and apples coupled with our lack of snow cover this year have resulted in male bears staying active, rather than denning for the winter,” said Forrest Hammond, Vermont Fish & Wildlife’s bear biologist.

“Female bears normally go into their dens before males,” he added. “Males tend to enter their dens in response to most of their foods being unavailable to them rather than to cold temperatures. Without snow covering the ground some males are still foraging for nuts and apples.”

“We suggest waiting for six or more inches of snow that lasts before putting out your bird feeders, especially if you have been visited in the past by bears or if there are sightings of bears in your neighborhood,” said Hammond. “Due to lack of snow and frozen ground, birds are able to forage in fields and forests for their natural foods.” surveys have shown that feeding birds and watching wildlife are popular with Vermonters. A 2011federal survey revealed that people spend more than $280 million annually to watch wildlife in the state. Feeding birds at home is considered the primary wildlife watching activity.

Vermont - Habitat Management Leads to Hunting Success

When David Boocock of Montgomery enrolled in a program with the state to improve his land for wildlife, he was hoping the enhancements would boost his odds during the fall deer hunting season. But he never realized that the payoff would come so quickly, or be so impressive.

Three years after he completed a habitat management program with Vermont Fish & Wildlife biologist Dave Adams, Boocock got a 10-point, 181-pound buck on his land. The buck was taken under the same wild apple trees that Boocock and Adams had worked to recover as part of the larger habitat improvement plan for his property.

The deer was the largest Boocock has ever harvested, and he attributes his success directly to the habitat improvements.

“The work they did on my land certainly made a huge difference,” said Boocock. “Not only did I get this nice buck, but there’s another 10-pointer that I’m chasing right now. There were six rack-bucks that were taken within a half mile of my land last year. I don’t believe they’d be there if it wasn’t for these habitat improvements. I’ve seen more partridge since then too.”

Adams says that landowners interested in doing similar habitat management work on their land should contact him about signing up for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. The program covers a wide range of habitat work, from managing forests for game populations to restoring fields and wetlands for songbirds. It is funded through the U.S.D.A.’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“This habitat improvement plan is a success story because not only was Mr. Boocock able to feed his family from the meat, but many other species are also thriving as a result of the habitat improvements he made,” said Adams. “I’d encourage other landowners to get in touch with us to see how we can help you manage your land for wildlife or forestry. We’ll work with you to develop goals and then provide the planning, funding, assistance, and expertise.”

Depending on the goals of the landowner, biologists may suggest cutting sections of forest to promote habitat for game species like grouse, woodcock, and deer. They can develop a plan to improve old forest roads to reduce erosion and water pollution, or create habitat for songbirds such as warblers. Interested landowners can contact Adams directly at dave.adams@vermont.gov or at (802)-324-6529.

“This program is a great chance for landowners to manage their lands for wildlife. We can help you create a legacy of conservation on your property that will live on for generations,” said Adams.

Maine - New Maine Laws

No Hunting Age Minimum. As of January 1, 2016, any hunter under the age of 16 may purchase a junior hunting license and hunt. Hunters under the age of 10 must be in the presence of, and under the effective control of, an adult supervisor who remains at all times within 20 feet of the hunter. Hunters from 10-15 years of age must be in the presence of and under the effective control of an adult supervisor. The adult supervisor of the junior hunter must hold, or have held, a valid adult hunting license or have successfully completed a hunter safety course.

Increased opportunity for apprentice hunters. Additionally, this law increases the number of times a person may hold an apprentice hunter license from twice to 5 times before becoming ineligible to purchase the license.

P.L.C. 136, An Act To Eliminate the Minimum Age Requirement for a Junior Hunting License and Increase the Number of Times a Person May Hold an Apprentice Hunter License.

Species Management Education Fund – License Fee Increase. This law increases hunting and trapping license fees by $1 and directs IFW to use that revenue to educate the public on the management of game species. The hunting license fees will increase January 1, 2016 and the trapping license fees will increase July 1, 2016 to coincide with the annual license expiration dates. This new law also requires that the IFW Commissioner convenes a stakeholder group to develop recommendations for a 5 year public outreach campaign on IFW’s efforts to manage game species, including a plan for how money in the Species Management Education Fund is to be used. The Commissioner shall report on the recommendations of the stakeholder group, including any suggested legislation to the IFW Committee by February 1, 2016. The IFW Committee may report out a bill in the 2nd Regular Session of the 127th in 2016.

P.L.C. 245, An Act To Expand Public Opportunities for Wildlife Management Education.

Additional Opportunity for Junior Hunters Who Turn 16. A junior license holder who turns 16 may hunt with that junior license for the remainder of the year, but must complete a hunter safety course prior to hunting without adult supervision. BeginningJanuary 1, 2016, the law will allow holders of junior hunting licenses, after they turn 16 years of age, to also hunt pheasants and migratory waterfowl, and to hunt with a bow and arrow for the remainder of the calendar year for which their licenses are issued without having to purchase pheasant permits, migratory waterfowl permits or archery hunting licenses. Reminder: Anyone 16 and older must purchase a Federal migratory bird hunting stamp even if they are continuing to hunt with a junior hunting license.

P.L.C. 281, An Act To Clarify and Simplify the Licensing and Registration Provisions of the Inland Fisheries & Wildlife Laws.

Maine’s hunting laws are available online at www.eregulations.com/maine/hunting/

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