Old News Archive

October 3, 2006 - Outdoor Report

October 04, 2006 - TRC

Region A- Southwestern Maine

Shortly after 6:00 a.m. on Monday, the migratory waterfowl season opened statewide. For Region A staff, this is a welcome day in the field conversing with hunters and collecting data on the waterfowl harvest at Brownfield Bog Wildlife Management Area in Brownfield. On this day, we were joined by USDA staff for both agencies continued efforts of surveillance for the H5NI strain of Avian Influenza.

Brownfield Bog WMA is a 5,700 acre complex of wetlands uplands associated with the Saco River near the Maine/New Hampshire border. The wetlands are extensive and diverse in type; providing both nesting habitat for resident ducks and resting habitat for migratory waterfowl. The uplands surrounding the wetland are of exceptional quality, providing both mast for wooducks and other mammals and important wintering habitat for deer. These forests are currently in the second year of a managed harvest under the direction of the department’s forester and regional wildlife staff.

For many hunters, opening day of waterfowl season becomes a ritual of many decades tied to a particular location. Hunters become familiar with the activity patterns of the birds over the years such as what point they fly over and what cove they settle in. In many of the popular waterfowl hunting sites, old blinds occupy these locations that have consistently produced birds and can be busy places during parts of the season. I met several of these hunters at Brownfield this week. It is encouraging to see these veterans take the next generation of waterfowl hunters “under their wing.” Several young boys and girls proudly presented their first bird to me this year with a big smile. Despite declining participation in waterfowl hunting since the 1980’s, new people of all ages are coming to appreciate the positive attributes of this hunt, including an appreciation for bird identification, the minimal initial costs of equipment, the quality of the meat, the extensive and diverse locations open to hunting and the camaraderie.

Opening day at Brownfield yielded a harvest of 80 ducks with an effort of 36 hunter- days. The dominant species was the wood duck, followed by a tie between black ducks and mallards. Several ring-necked ducks, blue-winged teal and a pintail were also represented.

-Scott Lindsay, Assistant Regional Wildlife Biologist

Region B - Central Maine

This past summer, Region B staff spent a large part of our time updating the Wildlife Management Area Plans for all of the properties we have in the central part of the state. The Wildlife Management Section will eventually place all of these plans on the Department’s web site to enable easy access to maps and background information on all of our properties statewide. Keep on checking the IFW web site www.maine.gov/ifw for updated information.

The other major project we have had going on this summer and fall has been improvements to the access road at Jamies Pond Wildlife Management Area. This has been a cooperative effort of the Town of Manchester, City of Hallowell and Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The end result was the entire portion of the Jamies Pond Road or Meadow Hill Road within the Wildlife Management Area (WMA) has been discontinued as a public road. Ownership of the road within the Jamies Pond WMA now rests with Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The road outside of the WMA will continue to be a public road and maintained by the appropriate community. The town of Manchester has improved the end of the Meadow Hill Road providing a school bus turnaround within the public right of way. IFW will create a parking area beyond that spot to provide access to the nearby hiking trails. The road will be discontinued and closed from this point down the hill and up to IFW’s old access road to the pond. The main access to the pond by vehicle will be from the Hallowell side coming off from the Outlet Road to the Jamies Pond Road and on to the pond. IFW will maintain this road to the parking area near the shore, as a seasonal or “summer” road.

The City of Hallowell has worked closely with the Department to ditch the road and create a winter parking area within the IFW lands. The Hallowell public works crew did a great job of assisting in the improvements to the road. The road within the WMA will still be closed during winter months to protect it from damage and help prevent erosion problems in this area. However, the road surface will serve as a great place to hike or ski depending on the winter conditions. Eventually IFW will remove the old road crossing over the inlet stream to Jamies Pond. This will eliminate the problem of the deteriorating stone culvert and eliminate a major erosion problem. Our mutual goal from the start was to eliminate a serious erosion problem that was affecting this special area while maintaining appropriate public access. In the end I believe we will have accomplished both things. Thanks to everyone in Manchester and Hallowell who worked to resolve this.

-Jim Connolly, Regional Wildlife Biologist

Region C - Downeast

Just as forestry techniques have led to changing land ownership patterns and thus created different challenges and utilization options, the general public’s interests are also changing. Who would have thought twenty years ago that on a Friday afternoon in the summer, that ATVs heading east on Rte.#9 would outnumber boats by at least 6:1. Also, along Route 1, kayaks would outnumber boats and canoes. These are just indicators that many members of the public have shifted from consumptive users of fish and wildlife to non-consumptive users. There are some very positive aspects to this. The same animal can satisfy many non-consumptive users as compared to one consumptive user. However, we may soon learn what it is like to have a tug of war over wildlife.

Everyone has their own standards of what is ethical and what constitues sporting behavior when it comes to harvesting wildlife. By human nature, everyone thinks their views are best and they offer various amounts of tolerance for other people’s views. The meshing of biology, personal views, and their implementation have given rise to the term biopolitics. Like most issues, there are diverse opinions on all issues, and usually a middle ground type of position is adopted. We all hear the hunters vs. nonhunters claims vs. each other, and their justification that their claims are the correct one for the other’s position.

You can even hear about conflicts within groups who are otherwise in agreement. Some examples I am familiar with are hunters who hunt bear over bait defend their practice as sporting and ethical, but claim grouse hunters who shoot grouse on the ground or out of trees or a duck sitting on a log are unethical and unsportsmanlike. Both are legal means, and assuming the allowable harvest of any species isn't being exceeded, is it right to try to force personal hunting preferences on someone else? I have seen a hunter thrilled with the fact that he crawled on his belly and got two ducks lined up and got them with one shot. Also, I have seen a hunter thrilled with a retriever after the hunter dropped a pair of greenheads and the dog making a great retrieve. Both hunters are happy and legal, is one more a sportsman and ethical hunter than the other? Each is convinced in his own mind that he gave fair chase, a clean kill and gave the animal a sporting chance.

Everyone has their own opinion, I am reminded of a quote by Dear Abby, "If it is legal, it is moral".

-Jim Hall, Assistant Regional Wildlife Biologist

Region D - Western Mountains

Wildlife biologists working in the regional offices are charged with a variety of tasks throughout the year. During the fall, we spend a considerable amount of time collecting biological data from hunter-harvested moose and deer. During the spring and summer we conduct surveys for breeding woodcock, mourning dove, and waterfowl. One of our year-round tasks are to review proposals for development projects to identify potential impacts to wildlife and special habitats. Some of these wildlife and special habitats include, Deer Wintering Areas, Waterfowl and Wading Bird Habitats, Bald Eagle nest sites, and occurrences of rare, threatened or endangered species. The projects we review range in complexity from forest management plans to multi-phased subdivisions.

One of the more complex projects we have been involved with in Region D is the proposed construction of 2 separate wind farms. These projects have been controversial and have received plenty of coverage in the recent press. Involvement in the review process has been both challenging and rewarding. I have had the opportunity to spend a considerable amount of time on remote mountaintops in our region assisting consultants with the various wildlife species and habitat surveys that we request that the applicant complete during the project review phase. These surveys range from on the ground wetland inventories to remotely sensed radar surveys for bird and bat migration patterns. There is a tricky balance between the benefits to wildlife from using renewable energy created by a wind farm, and the potential impacts to both wildlife and habitats.

- Bob Cordes, Assistant Regional Wildlife Biologist

Region E - Moosehead Region

One of the locals here happened to chance onto a cat in or next to the road while driving home one evening last December and I thought it looked a little extra big for a bobcat. He e-mailed me about this, and I later stopped to look at the track the next morning because it was enroute to my destination for the day.

To me it was obvious that it was made by a bobcat; each imprint with 4 toes, no claw marks, ~ 2 inches wide, with three lobes on the back of the heel in a clear track, i.e., like the track of a very big housecat. Beyond that, when it fled, it did what cats characteristically do, it jumped away (only 2 or 3 bounds), then resumed a walk. Walking is what they do most of the time. They aren’t built for running. Even when pursuing prey they don’t ordinarily jump more than 6 to 8 times in succession.

This friend mentioned to me that he has lived in that location for 6 or 7 years and this was the first cat he had seen. That didn’t seem unusual to me, because altogether I have seen only 10 or so, and I have much more mileage in the woods on than he.

Though they aren’t seen, it doesn’t mean bobcats are scarce. I see their tracks pretty frequently in winter and sometimes in other seasons. Telemetry studies have shown that all the wanderings of an individual cat would probably not go outside more than a few square miles in a few months. Therefore, the tracks I see must be from many different cats.

Winters with prolonged deep snow make it difficult for some bobcats to get prey; they hang around bird feeders & houses. After one such winter, I helped evict a bobcat from

a leanto next a house on the East Road. During another difficult winter, a dead bobcat that had a mouthful of porcupine quills was found in a woodshed near the East Outlet. A few years ago I opened a garage door here at our Greenville Regional Headquarters to find a bobcat standing in the window over a freezer in the back.

- Bill Noble, Assistant Regional Wildlife Biologist

Region F, Penobscot Region

The September moose season dominated last week’s hunting activity throughout the northern portion of Region F with WMDs 4, 5, 6, 11, and 19 keeping some of our 10 moose check stations busy. I called our 10 stations Sunday morning. A total of 232 moose were registered at the 10 stations, up only slightly from last year’s first week numbers (226). Of note, the Abol Bridge Campground Store registered 57, Island Falls with 40, and Delaite’s Store in Macwahoc was up significantly from last year with 36 moose registered. In talking to hunters, the moose were responding well to calling and several 900 (+) pounders were reported, as is often the case during the September hunt.

Hunting really kicks into high gear beginning October 2. Partridge, gray squirrel, snowshoe hare, raccoon, woodcock, and duck hunting all began with the regular statewide bow season for deer having begun last Thursday September 28. Reports from the field suggest that partridge are once again very spotty this year. A cold, wet, rainy spring most certainly negatively impacted our ground nesters, which also include woodcock and turkey. Grouse and turkey broods reported show a mix of body size on this year's young, with many brood's body size smaller than they should be come August and September. Keep in mind that there is an abundance of natural food available this year combined with leaf cover, at least for the next few weeks, so birds will become more visible in the days ahead. The regular duck season begins today. I have heard several flocks of geese migrating through along the Penobscot River and by moonlight as well. Water levels are not as high as they were last fall, which hopefully will keep ducks from spreading out as much as they were able to last fall.

It’s also just a great time to be out of doors, no gun needed. Days are still warm and comfortable, and with the foliage hitting its peak in the northern half of the state, it’s a great time to get out for a walk or a late season paddle. Consider visiting any of our wildlife management areas (WMA’s) throughout the state. In Region F, enjoyable paddling can be had on several of the management areas including the Francis Dunn WMA located up in T6 R7 WELS and includes Sawtelle Deadwater, or perhaps the Dwinal Pond WMA located in Winn and Lee, or along Madagodus Stream, part of which is included in the Madagodus Stream WMA. The “Godus”, empties into the Mattawamkeag River just upriver from Kingman. This stretch of the “Keag” is largely slow, quiet waters perfect for a relaxing day of paddling. Get out and enjoy.

-Mark Caron, Regional Wildlife Biologist

Region G - Aroostook County

For wildlife biologists in northern Maine, the fall hunting season really begins with our first week of moose hunting. We spend a lot of time setting-up and visiting the different moose registration stations in Region G. All moose registration stations have now taken on the additional responsibility of collecting biological information from harvested moose. We appreciate the stations taking on this extra work. We still make periodic visits during moose season to review both moose registration protocol and the collection of biological data.

My roving around to different moose registration stations last week did allow me an opportunity to check for moose tick loads or infestations. I got many questions from hunters during the process of collecting this information. Since there’s obviously great interest, I’ll briefly explain the rationale behind this project. Moose ticks ( Dermacentor albipictus ) are often referred to as the winter tick because the adult tick reaches maturity and is often most visible in the late winter. Generally, moose acquire tick larvae from vegetation in late summer to mid-fall. The ticks will attach to the moose hide and feed until they reach maturity by March –April. At this stage these ticks are very large (dime size) and engorged with blood. By late spring or early summer the mature ticks will drop off the moose to lay eggs in damp soils, and these eggs hatch in late summer allowing time for the small seed ticks to climb vegetation hoping to attach to passing moose.

This completes the moose tick cycle and by late winter tick loads on Maine moose can reach staggering numbers. Research in Canada has shown that under ideal environmental conditions for ticks (warm, moist weather in late winter or early spring) and at high moose densities, tick loads of 20,000-30,000 ticks per moose are not uncommon, and occasionally moose have tick levels 2-3x that amount. We often get calls or reports at the Regional Office in late winter or early spring about sick moose or moose just standing or hanging around the same spot for several days acting very lethargic. Often these moose are missing large patches of hair due to continuous rubbing of the hide against trees and brush. This behavior is usually the result of very heavy tick infestations and the moose are in very poor physical condition. Most moose survive; however, occasionally a moose will die as an indirect result of hypothermia or pneumonia.

The good news is very cold weather in late spring or early summer does reduce tick numbers and not all years result in major tick infestations on moose. The other really good news is humans are not a host for this tick and only very rarely will ticks attach to hikers. Also, fortunately for moose hunters, the meat is not affected by moose ticks.

In visiting the moose registration stations, I hear a lot of questions and comments about Maine’s moose herd and the moose hunt. Talking to both the moose hunters and the non-hunting spectators two major points or themes always seem to be present. One is, even though we sometimes loathe these big animals because of the vehicle accidents and property damage they sometimes cause, both the general public and Maine’s hunters consider this animal to be very special. They are without question the “monarch of the North Maine Woods.” The second observation is moose hunting really brings people together. It’s a much more social or family event. A lot of hunting is a solitary affair but a moose hunt generally brings father and sons, family relatives, and close friends together in the hunt. There is a lot of camaraderie and this often extends not only to other moose hunters but to non-hunters and spectators at the moose registration stations as well.

-Arlen Lovewell, Assistant Regional Wildlife Biologist

Submitted by : Mark Latti, DIFW
Division of Public Information and Education
284 State Street, State House Station #41, Augusta, ME 04333


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NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.