The enforcement of lobster trap rules far offshore is getting increased attention from state and federal regulators, who are turning to new technology to inspect gear for compliance with requirements that aim to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales from deadly entanglements.
Michael Henry is a top fisheries enforcement officer for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration here in the northeast. He says physically inspecting bulky gear out in federal waters dozens of miles off Maine can be a daunting and time-consuming task.
“It’s been a challenge for us for a long time to be able to effectively haul lobster gear offshore — just the environmental challenges, the safety challenges,” he says.
But inspectors are checking to see if lobstermen are complying with requirements to insert weak links into their traplines, to help whales break through the rope, and to use rope that sinks to the bottom, instead of floating into the water column where whales are more likely to swim.
In federal waters, NOAA inspectors traditionally winch those trap-laden ropes to the surface for examination. But last year, the agency started testing remotely-operated underwater vehicles, or ROVs, outfitted with video cameras, to dive underwater and send images back to a vessel.
Only when potential violations are found does the officer then winch the gear up for a direct inspection.
“We did have some success: we identified gear with floating ground lines, missing trap-tags and unmarked surface gear,” says Henry.
Henry says the agency is hiring a contractor to deploy the vehicles in the fisheries that lie farthest from shore more often this year, and may buy smaller versions for use by federal patrols closer in.
Some lobster industry advocates say NOAA needs to do more than just add ROVs to its toolkit.
“I don’t know why NOAA is investing in that and not actually having the same sort of enforcement across all segments of the fleet,” says Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association.
McCarron is skeptical that the addition of ROVs alone will be sufficient once new gear rules are enacted this fall. Those will likely require ropes to have specific breaking strengths and diameters, and contain more weak links.
She says a new initiative by the state’s Department of Marine Resources could help, though. As part of Governor Mills ‘budget proposal for federal recovery plan dollars, DMR is asking for $3.3 million dollars for marine patrol infrastructure, including the purchase of a large vessel equipped to routinely handle the challenges of at-sea inspections.
“And actually be able to go out, patrol, haul gear, you know, buoy-to-trap, look at everything, haul the gear on board and be able to do true enforcement,” says McCarron.
The Legislature’s Appropriations Committee could act on that request next week.
By Owen KingsleyPublished: Mar. 24, 2021 at 11:52 AM PDT|Updated: 2 hours ago
Maine (WABI) – A new bill in Augusta is looking to lower the hunting age in Maine from 16 to 14 years old.
State Representative Dustin White says the bill is aimed at allowing parents who think their kids are mature and responsible enough to be able to go hunting at an earlier age.
All the same permit and safety course requirements would still apply.
Colonel Dan Scott of the Maine Warden Service testified neither for nor against the measure but did bring up some concerns to the committee hearing the bill.ADVERTISEMENThttps://af7bd9f93b8ccfcdf7be2cc8cc7850eb.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
”I believe in parents knowing their children better than the government. Educate our children at an earlier age to teach them the proper safety protocols, possibly reducing the likelihood of accidents or hunting violations later on in their lives,” said White.
“It’s difficult to predict if there would be an increase in incidents if people 14 to 16 years of age were able to hunt on their own after having completed a safety course. This would also permit two 14-year-olds to climb into a canoe, one behind the other, with shotguns,” said Scott.
Colonel Scott, when asked directly if he would allow his 14 year old to go hunting alone, said no.
Representative White also argues this bill would encourage more family participation on Youth Hunting Day.
The bears were flooded out of their winter hibernation spots, said Jennifer Vashon, the biologist who oversees the state’s bear program within the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
Last week’s bear-human conflict was the first such weather-related encounter that Vashon can recall. But, she said, having more bears become active early in the year does not put Mainers at much of a risk of running into one of them.
The bear versus dog tangle likely occurred because the dog disturbed a young bear that had recently relocated near a busy roadway and hadn’t fallen back into a deep hibernation, Game Warden Shannon Fish said.
Vashon agreed that the scuffle was a “freak coincidence.”
“I don’t see any reason that the weather is going to cause an increase in encounters between bears and people,” she said.
Heavy flooding from rain occurred earlier than usual, Vashon said. But if early-winter flooding becomes the norm because of climate change, it’s bears that will have to adapt, not people. Bears would gradually become more likely to establish their dens on higher ground, she said.
Last week’s mauling occured when 29-year-old Dustin Gray and his puppy, Clover, unwittingly stumbled upon a bear den in the woods just off of Route 1A in Dedham. Gray said he fought the bear off. Clover is now recovering from puncture wounds.
Near the place the conflict occurred, Fish found a small cave that looked like it had briefly housed a small bear. That led him to conclude the bear had recently moved out of a flooded den.
The National Weather Service does not record rainfall totals for Dedham, but Bangor received 5.53 inches in January, nearly double the its average for the first month of the year. That rain, combined with snow melt, caused widespread flooding, according to NWS meteorologist Mark Bloomer.
Vashon’s colleague, biologist Randy Cross, checked on five dens in a research area affected by the flooding and found that the bears in four dens had already left, she said.
When their dens flood, bears don’t roam around looking for food — or people, whom they tend to shy away from. Instead, they try to find somewhere nearby to resume hibernation, she said.
But, usually, that happens in rainy March — not January. And Vashon said that early-winter flooding could endanger newborn bears.
Cubs are born in January and cannot easily withstand flooding because they are tiny, hairless and vulnerable, she said. But by March cubs are five-pound “furballs” better equipped to cope, she said.
Vashon won’t know until the spring, when the state checks its cub counts, if last month’s heavy rains cost the lives of any newborns, she said.
“But this one year, there’s probably no reason to be concerned,” she said.
Climate change has made January rains more common, a trend that is likely to continue, according to Sean Birkel, a University of Maine climatologist.
But, Vashon said, that just means mother bears will seek out higher ground.
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The final phase of Maine’s annual deer hunt is coming to an end for 2017.
Saturday is the last day of the year on which it is legal to hunt deer via muzzleloaders or archery. The deer hunting season began three months ago this year.
Hunters are limited in terms of where they can harvest deer. Muzzleloader hunters can only hunt in 14 of the state’s 29 wildlife management districts. Archery is limited to designated areas around a handful of urban locales in the state.
Maine has separate hunting seasons for firearms, archery and muzzleloaders. The state gave out thousands more firearms permits this year because wildlife managers said the deer population could withstand more hunting. Mild winters have led to high levels of deer survival in recent years.
A 34 year-old woman is dead after a hunting incident in Hebron, the first such death in Maine in four years.
Game Wardens say the woman was killed around 10:30 a.m. Saturday in the area of Greenwood Mountain Road.
Wardens say they have a lot of work to do in Hebron to figure out what happened.
According to Warden Service Corporal John MacDonald, investigators believe the woman was alone.
He says wardens aren’t sure what the woman was doing in the woods before she was shot and killed by a 38-year-old man.
They say that man was with a small group of hunters but aren’t saying what he was doing before firing his gun.
They say the group called 9-1-1 immediately once they realized what happened.
Saturday was the first day of Maine’s firearms deer hunting season but wardens also won’t say whether the victim was wearing high visibility clothing while out in the woods.
“The details behind this and what led up to it, what those circumstances were, we just don’t know for sure,” said MacDonald.
To gather that missing information, police and wardens are asking key questions, why and how did this happen.
Investigators will also spend a lot of time gathering evidence from the wooded area the woman was killed in.
“We have specialized teams of forensic mappers, people who map these scenes digitally,” said MacDonald.
The wardens say the woman lived near where she died and plan to block off the area around the incident scene for as long their search for answers goes on.
“This is as serious as it gets,” said MacDonald.
He also added investigators are up against the clock to finish their work because of an approaching rainstorm.
They expect to return to the incident scene for days, if not weeks.
As of Saturday evening, neither the woman nor the hunter’s names had been released by police yet.
Wardens say the man who killed her could eventually face charges but they will be determined by the findings of their investigation.
They add the hunters are cooperating with investigators.
Announcing the first FOREVER 24/7/365 Coyote Extermination Contest
by Brent Reece
I was more than a little disturbed to read the other day this disturbing little footnote in history.
by Associated Press
Posted on July 25, 2014 at 3:23 PM
Updated Friday, Jul 25 at 3:23 PM
PORTLAND, Ore. – An animal-rights group and the organizer of an annual coyote-killing contest in southeast Oregon have settled competing lawsuits with an agreement that there will be no more hunting contests.
Coyotes are classified as predatory animals under Oregon law, and there are no limits on killing them.
Faced with that reality, the Animal Legal Defense Fund sued on the grounds that the contest violated anti-gambling laws.
Organizer Duane Freilino said Friday he agreed to the contest-ending settlement because he ran out of money to pay attorneys.
Stephen Wells, executive director of the animal-right group, says the agreement means hundreds of coyotes can live peacefully in the wilderness.
Freilino said he started the contest almost a decade ago to increase winter tourism in the sparsely populated region and to help ranchers by reducing coyote numbers before calving season.
Well folks I was inspired to snub the “anti’s” on this one. Especially in light of the fact that HSUS is here in Maine trying to steal my Bear Hunt using lies, deception, and half-truths to get the uninformed to back them. On November 4th we are facing the loss of our bear hunting tradition in Maine under the guise of more SPORTSMAN-like euphemistic terms like fair chase/stalking/still hunting.The anti-group is trying to repeal our right to hunt over bait, use dogs , and to legsnare/trap. (Old school toothy bear traps are illegal and have not been used in decades.) They have made no bones that if they can steal the bear hunt from us they are after an end to all hunting…and the consumptive use of all animals. So first bear hunting goes , and eventually farming.
In direct response to the events in Oregon, and to HSUS interfering in hunting here. I am hosting the first of it’s kind……FOREVER 24/7/365 COYOTE EXTERMINATION CONTEST.
The rules are simple……….KILL AS MANY COYOTES AS YOU CAN …..WHEN AND WHERE YOU CAN…24/7/365!! This contest has no end date, and costs nothing to enter so it cannot violate any gambling laws.
One, the deer and small critters need a break here in Maine. Two, they are an invasive species not natural to this or any area now that they have been hybridized with dogs and wolves. THIS IS A GENETIC FACT HERE IN MAINE!!
The cute little 35 lb. coyote of the great plains and Texas has been replaced with 65+ pound coy/dog/wolves. That will kill humans and attack pets/kids and eats “anything” including it’s own kind. (Taylor Mitchell in Cape Breton was the first documented death here in the Northeast, but not the only or the last.)
How to Enter:
Kill the coyote!!!
Take it’s picture with you holding it or standing/kneeling /sitting near it. (You have to be in the picture.)
Email the picture along with a brief story about the hunt with the usual who/what /where/when…. To firstname.lastname@example.org (Subject: Coyote Exterminator) OR….Snail Mail: Mail your printed pic and a note to Brent Reece: 25 Garfield Street #2A, Madison Me 04950
I will post all pictures on my blog and on NWW’s Facebook page. I will select one picture each month for cudos and possible prizes. Once per year..like in June I will select a YEARLY WINNER from the previous MONTHLY WINNERS.
It costs nothing to enter and I will except pictures from all 48 states and Canada!!! But they must comply with the #2 rule!!
The November ballot will include a measure that would ban the use of bait, dogs or traps in bear hunting.
Photo Copyright Jim Robertson
The Associated Press
Maine officials say a November ballot question will ask Maine voters if they oppose three methods of bear hunting except under certain circumstances.
State officials released the ballot language on Thursday. It asks: “Do you want to ban the use of bait, dogs or traps in bear hunting except to protect property, public safety, or for research?”
Supporters of the restrictions passed the threshold months ago necessary to put the initiative on the fall ballot. The vote comes 10 years after Maine voters narrowly rejected a similar ballot initiative.
Opponents of restrictions say the rules would hurt Maine’s tourism and economy. Proponents say baiting bears with human food habituates them to human smells and lessens their instinctive fear of people.
Baiting accounts for 80 percent of the state bear hunt.
ALLAGASH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) – The Maine Warden Service has charged eight people with various hunting violations after executing search warrants.
As a result of an ongoing investigation into illegal hunting activity, six search warrants were executed. Five in the town of Allagash, Maine and one in Palermo, Maine.
Eight people were charged, two of whom were taken to the Aroostook County Jail. Maine Game Warden Lt. Dan Scott said the suspects are “intentional wildlife violators who display a complete disregard for fish and game laws.”
He also said the current and past poaching practices of those charged “have undoubtedly had an impact on local wildlife resources.”
The charges range from illegal possession of moose and deer to hunting with a suspended license. The following list details the charges filed:
1. Carter McBreairty of Allagash, charged with “hunting deer after having killed one.”
2. Kim Hafford of Allagash, charged with “false registration of a deer.”
3. Jess McBreairty of Allagash, charged with “hunting with a suspended license,” and arrested for a violation of bail.
4. Reid Caron of Allagash, arrested on a warrant for night hunting moose.
5. Hope Kelly of Allagash, charged with “possession of moose killed at night,” and “possession of an unregistered moose.”
6. Gregory Hughes of Allagash, charged with “possession of a firearm by a felon.”
7. Arlo Caron of Allagash, charged with “unlawful possession of gift deer.”
8. Gerald Pollard of Palermo, charged with “illegal possession of moose.”
The Warden Service is working with the Aroostook County District Attorney’s Office on the investigation. More charges are likely to be filed.