Outdoor News

January 2015
Edited by V. Paul Reynolds

January. For ice fishermen, this is the best month to fish landlocked salmon. Early March is nicer, but the action is generally slower then. Liberalized the togue limits on many waters make for extra opportunity. As you make your plans to fish, don't forget to check out the names and locations of the many statewide bait dealers listed this month in the Journal. Maine in January can be harsh, but for those willing to be bold with the cold there is much to do in the outdoors. Snowsledders and cross country skiers will be busy enjoying some of the best trails in the country. Our snowmobile trail system stretches from Kittery to Fort Kent and provides incomparable snowsled opportunities. The toughest among us will keep on hunting: rabbits, coyotes and sea ducks. Meanwhile, some of us will hunker down near a warm stove, dream of spring and tie up some dry flies with an eye to warmer days. However you get through Maine in January, all of us at the Northwoods Sporting Journal wish you a peaceful and prosperous New Year!

CAPTION FOR PHOTO ABOVE: The Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) is pleased to announce that Ralph C. Keef of Hermon, Maine has been chosen as the 2014 recipient of the Lee Wulff Atlantic Salmon Conservation Award.

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 - Feds Grant ITP for Lynx

Maine to provide habitat in 22,000-acre lynx management area

With measures in place to minimize and offset the effects to federally protected Canada lynx, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has permitted the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife for incidental captures of the threatened species associated with state-regulated trapping programs.

“People can continue to enjoy one of Maine’s long traditions, furbearer trapping, while taking steps to avoid harming Canada lynx and supporting a larger effort to provide habitat that helps us recover the species,” said Assistant Regional Director Paul Phifer of the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region. “This illustrates how the Endangered Species Act allows for some flexibility when applicants have demonstrated that they have minimized and mitigated the effects on protected wildlife.”

Maine is the first state to have an incidental take plan for Canada lynx. The MDIFW’s final incidental take plan, required for the incidental take permit, outlines the minimization measures, such as using certain trap sets and increasing trapper outreach, compliance monitoring by wardens, and veterinary oversight. The take of lynx will be offset by providing lynx habitat in a 22,046-acre lynx management area on the state’s Bureau of Parks and Lands Seboomook Unit in northern Maine.

“Working together, we have reached an agreement that continues to safeguard Maine’s lynx population, while allowing the State of Maine to move forward with our wildlife management programs,” said Director James Connolly of the Bureau of Resource Management, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. “This plan is an excellent example of how agencies can work together to achieve shared goals.”

The Service previously released versions of the MDIFW’s incidental take plan and the Service’s environmental assessments for public comment in November 2011 and August 2014. The Service conducted three information sessions and received over 12,900 individual comments, which can be viewed at regulations.gov (docket FWS-R5-ES-2014-0020). Responses to the many issues raised in public comments are contained in an appendix to the final environmental assessment, which is available at http://www.fws.gov/mainefieldoffice/.

“Our analysis through the permitting process confirmed that trapping does not pose a significant threat to Maine’s lynx population,” Phifer said. “The most important factor to maintaining a healthy population of lynx in Maine is having sufficient habitat, which is why the plan focuses on managing habitat for mitigation.”

The Endangered Species Act makes it illegal to “take”—meaning trap, capture, collect, harass, harm, wound or kill—federally threatened or endangered wildlife, such as the threatened Canada lynx. Trapping for common species like coyote, fox, pine marten or fisher, have the risk of incidentally taking Canada lynx. An incidental take permit allows trapping to continue in compliance with the ESA as part of the recreational fur trapping program, predator management program (coyote control) and animal damage control program, as the MDIFW undertakes practicable measures to minimize and mitigate take of lynx.

Incidental take plans, known also as habitat conservation plans, identify the impacts to listed species from a project or program; the steps the applicant will take to minimize and mitigate for such impacts; what alternative actions were considered; and how conservation efforts will be funded.

Maine - Man Honored by ASF(Pictured Above)

The Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) is pleased to announce that Ralph C. Keef of Hermon, Maine has been chosen as the 2014 recipient of the Lee Wulff Atlantic Salmon Conservation Award. Christopher H. Buckley Jr., Chairman of ASF’s U.S Board of Directors made the announcement today at an ASF board meeting in New York City.

In 1998, Keef was elected President of the Maine Council of ASF, serving in that capacity and then as a director for many years. He has participated in countless field activities with state and federal fisheries biologists including marking and tagging juvenile salmon, electrofishing, and monitoring fish counting facilities. He has provided testimony in support of state and federal agency budgets for Atlantic salmon conservation and research programs and acted as a member/advisor to the U.S. section of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO) for 15 years.

Keef is a generous supporter of U.S. and Canadian organizations dedicated to the conservation of wild Atlantic salmon including Penobscot River Restoration Trust, Downeast Salmon Federation, ASF, and numerous Maine Atlantic salmon angling clubs. He has exhibited outstanding leadership in the ASF Live Release Program and donated thousands of hours over 15 years to the Fish Friends program enthusiastically recruiting teachers and schools to participate.

“It is an honor and pleasure to name Ralph C. Keef as this year’s recipient of the Lee Wulff Atlantic Salmon Conservation Award,” said Mr. Buckley. “For more than two decades, Ralph has been an educator, mentor, and generous supporter of numerous salmon conservation efforts both in the U.S. and Canada. His generous volunteerism is an inspiration to others, particularly fisheries scientists, teachers, children, and his fellow anglers who appreciate wild Atlantic salmon and the sport of fly fishing.”

Keef graduated from the University of Maine in Orono in 1955 with a Degree in Chemical Engineering. After serving in the U.S. Army, he returned to the University of Maine and in 1959 earned a MS Degree in Pulp and Paper Technology. Early in his career, he spent time working in the pulp and paper industry in southeastern Alaska. It was a significant time in his life, not only because of the experience he gained in two major pulp mill startups, using a more environmentally-friendly manufacturing process, but because that is where he met his Alaskan-born wife Allison.

Keef’s professional career included various management and consulting positions in paper mills located in Maine, Oregon, Nova Scotia, Quebec and New York. In his retirement, he and Allison moved to Hermon, Maine in 1994.

“From my university days, a goal was to work with pulp and paper companies that were committed to using newly developed processes, which reduce pollution of air, oceans and rivers, said Ralph C. Keef. “I am honoured to receive this award and to be counted in the company of previous recipients.”

The Lee Wulff Award is presented annually in his memory. Lee Wulff was an angler, artist, author and filmmaker, who dedicated 60 years of his life to conserving wild Atlantic salmon and advocating live-release angling to help safeguard their future.

See more at: http://www.asf.ca/ralph-keef-the-2014-winner-of-lee-wulff-conservation-award.html#sthash.2qEyArSh.dpuf

Maine - Hunting Report

Southern Lakes Region – Region A

“Hunters are seeing plenty of deer. Some hunters are being selective right now and passing on does or smaller bucks,” said IFW Wildlife Scott Lindsay. “Usually around now, we will start to see more of these hunters taking deer.”

Lindsay said that while numbers may be down a bit from last year as expected, hunters are still seeing good numbers of deer and good size ones as well.

“While there haven’t been any huge deer, we are seeing plenty of deer in the 200-210 pound range throughout our region,” said Lindsay. “We are even seeing some of these large deer in some of our more developed coastal towns.”

Central and Midcoast Maine

In central Maine, many deer hunters continue to find success after some early season struggles with heavy snow.

“I know things are going well because I haven’t heard any complaints,” said IFW wildlife biologist Keel Kemper.

Kemper said that some tagging stations and meat cutters are up from last year, and other areas are down. It has been an odd deer season, as some areas had upwards of 16 inches of snow early in the deer season.

“We had a slow start to the season, but since the snow has melted, things are coming along,” said Kemper. While most hunters enjoy a tracking snow, 16 inches of it was too much of a good thing.

Downeast Region

“Things are going well...Down along the coast, it’s like the old traditional deer season,” said IFW wildlife biologist Tom Schaeffer.

Schaeffer said there seems to be a noticeable difference this year with more people driving around dressed in orange, and the occasional deer hanging in a successful hunter’s yard.

“The effort is very noticeable this year, mostly in the central and western part of Washington county,” said Schaeffer.

Already Schaeffer said he has seen a good crop of yearling deer and younger bucks.

Rangeley Lakes and Western Mountains Region

“We’ve had good conditions as it is still cold, with snow through most of the region,” said IFW wildlife biologist Chuck Hulsey. “We’ve had some great days to hunt, with some soft snow at times.”

Hulsey has been gathering biological data from harvested deer throughout the region. This gives biologists insight into the health of the deer herd.

He’s gathered samples from private citizens with deer hanging on their property, meat cutters, taxidermists and others.

Hulsey will take note of the general condition of the deer, including fat content, and talk with hunters to find out more about what they are seeing, how hunters are faring, and other related info. In some cases, biologists will remove a gland to test for chronic wasting disease, and with freshly killed deer, may draw a blood sample to test for eastern equine encephalitis.

Moosehead Region

“Things are pretty good. We are seeing more deer in the southern part of the region, and more deer in the northern part,” said IFW wildlife biologist Doug Kane. Oddly enough, there have been fewer deer registered this year right in the Greenville area.

“I think hunters are seeing deer throughout the region, so they are traveling outside of Greenville because they are optimistic,” said Kane.

Conditions are good throughout the region, as there was snow from Monson north earlier this week. Hunters have been using it to locate where deer are already congregating, or to track a buck. Kane did mention that with the cold weather, it was a bit noisy in the woods.

Penobscot Region

“Deer season is going pretty well,” said IFW wildlife biologist Mark Caron in the Penobscot region. “We are getting a lot of good reports of hunters seeing deer, both does and bucks.”

Caron thinks that deer in his region may have fared through the past winter a little better than initially believed. “The deer got a break when we had the thaw midwinter, and even though winter hung on into April, they did not burn as much fat.”

Throughout the region, all of the tagging stations appear to be doing fairly well.

Aroostook Region

A mid-week snowfall left two to three inches of snow on the ground in most of the Aroostook region, and deer hunters in the area are doing well.

“Registration stations are having one of their better years up here,” said IFW wildlife biologist Rich Hoppe. “We may not be seeing the number of hunters that we have seen in years past, but the deer hunters up here are quite content, and the deer population still seems to be on the upswing.”

Hoppe expects the good hunting to continue, with the recent snow, and the deer beginning to move with the onset of the rut this past week.

Hoppe says he has seen quite a few crotch-horns and spike horns from hunters who have been hunting along the edges of fields and roads. He’s checked larger deer, and those are coming from hunters who are getting off the roads and deeper into the woods.

Maine - Wildlife Action Plan

Did you know that Maine has a plan for conserving its most rare and vulnerable fish and wildlife species? Maine’s Wildlife Action Plan, created in 2005, focuses on voluntary measures that can assist many of Maine’s most vulnerable species, it highlights natural area conservation efforts, and sets the course for the future of wildlife conservation in Maine.

Since 2005, Maine has received close to $8 million in federal funding and accomplished over 50 research, management, and conservation projects, benefitting brook trout, rare freshwater mussels and dragonflies, migrant birds such as Bicknell's Thrush and Black-throated blue Warbler, and globally rare endemics, such as the Tomah mayfly. Puffins, wood turtles, Atlantic sturgeon, little brown bats and bumble bees are also recognizable species that have benefitted from the Wildlife Action Plan.

Maine is home to 292 species of birds, 61 species of non-marine mammals, 20 species of reptiles, 18 species of amphibians, 56 species of inland fish and 313 species of marine fish and mammals. The state is a geographic transition area, and its abundant wildlife resources represent a blending of species that are at or approaching the northern or southern limit of their ranges. Maine’s diverse physical settings support a wide diversity of wildlife that few other states can equal.

Wildlife Action Plans are created collaboratively among state, federal, tribal, and local agencies, non-profit organizations, private landowners, and the general public to identify opportunities to conserve vulnerable species and habitats before they become more difficult to address. (http://www.maine.gov/ifw/wildlife/reports/wap.html). In 2005, Maine’s plan identified 213 of our species in greatest need of conservation, the key issues surrounding these fish, wildlife, and their habitats; and showcased conservation opportunities necessary to prevent a species from becoming endangered, or to implement recovery programs.

Wildlife Action Plans must be updated every ten years; Maine’s next revised plan is due October 1, 2015. Over the coming year, MDIFW and its partners will work together to identify Maine’s fish and wildlife needs and conservation opportunities for the next decade.

Vermont - Licenses for 2015 Available Online

Vermont hunting, fishing and trapping licenses for the new year will be available on the Fish & Wildlife Department’s website (www.vtfishandwildlife.com) on December 15.

Online license purchasers of 2015 licenses will automatically be entered to win an angler’s kayak and other prizes. The winner of the kayak will be drawn on May 14, while the winner of a rifle in the 2014 contest will be drawn at the Yankee Sportsmen’s Classic in January.

Kevin Masse of Fair Haven, VT was the lucky winner last spring of an Old Town canoe and Minn Kota electric motor for purchasing his 2014 license from the website. The contest rules are online at: http://www.vtfishandwildlife.com/buylicense_onlinerules.cfm

“Vermonters really enjoy hunting and fishing,” said Vermont Fish & Wildlife Commissioner Louis Porter, “and many people like to purchase 2015 licenses before January 1 to be ready to go icefishing. The drawing just provides one more incentive to go online and get yours early.”

According to a 2011 federal survey, Vermonters rank first among residents of the lower 48 states when it comes to participating in fish and wildlife recreation -- with 62 percent of Vermonters going fishing, hunting or wildlife watching, and they led in the New England states in hunting and fishing with 26 percent of residents participating in one or both.

New permanent and lifetime licenses will not be available online until January 1.

“Our online license sale system makes buying a year-round license as easy as purchasing a movie off Amazon.com and it’s way more rewarding. We encourage people who are new to using websites for purchases to give it a try,” said Porter.

Printed copies of the 2015 Hunting, Fishing & Trapping Laws and Guide are also available from license agents. The department’s website will soon have a link to an online version.

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