Outdoor News

February 2019
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!

CAPTION FOR PHOTO ABOVE: Contractors for Vermont Fish & Wildlife will be using helicopters to capture moose in the Northeast Kingdom in mid-January. 

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: info@sportingjournal.com

Maine - First Snow Sled Fatality of 2019

A Long Pond man died January 6th in Maine’s first fatal snowmobile crash this season. Bryan Sylvester, 57, left on snowmobile from his Long Pond Road home, near Jackman, for a snowmobile ride around 2:00 p,m.. Game wardens now know that Sylvester had driven about one-and a-half miles from his home onto Long Pond near the confluence of Parlin Stream where it appears he struck a large snow drift. Sylvester was killed when he was ejected from his snowmobile onto a very uneven ice surface.

Game wardens were notified and immediately responded at about 6:00 p.m. A search of the area resulted in game wardens locating Sylvester’s body at 7:45 PM. Sylvester had been riding alone and was operating without a helmet on his 2008 Ski Doo MXZ 600. Sylvester’s body was taken to Giberson Funeral Home in Madison. Bryan Sylvester worked for the Maine Department of Transportation. Jackman Fire and Ambulance assisted with this incident. Game wardens will be mapping the scene and will continue their investigation into Sylvester’s death.

Vermont Fish & Wildlife Dept. Using Helicopters to Collar Moose

Northeast Kingdom residents may soon see a helicopter flying low overhead as the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department begins collaring 30 moose for the third year of a three-year study. 

 The radio-collaring will be carried out primarily within Essex County by a professional contractor, Native Range, Inc.  Capture could begin as early as January 10 depending on weather conditions.  Capture efforts require flying just above tree height and are expected to take between 5 and 10 days. 

Wildlife experts with Native Range will be using nets to capture moose from the helicopter and handling it without the use of tranquilizers.  The processing of a captured moose is completed in minutes and is done using well-established wildlife handling techniques that minimize stress and harm to the animal.  Ninety-six moose have already been captured using these methods thus far in the study. 

Department staff having been tracking collared moose for the past two years using the GPS points gathered by the collars and have been visiting moose directly in the field to record observations.  Vermont is the fourth northeastern state to partake in such a study – state fish and wildlife agencies in New Hampshire, Maine, and New York are currently using the same methods to examine their moose herds. The study will be completed at the end of 2019. 

“Many local residents may have noticed these helicopters capturing moose in January of 2017 and 2018, but we felt all Essex County residents and landowners should once again be made aware of this activity,” said Cedric Alexander, Vermont Fish and Wildlife’s lead moose biologist. “Moose in the Northeast are facing a variety of threats ranging from a warming climate to increasing winter tick loads, and we appreciate the public’s support as we study how these factors are impacting Vermont’s moose population.”

Members of the public or landowners who have questions or concerns about the helicopter activities can call the St. Johnsbury district office at 802-751-0100.  For more information, go to www.vtfishandwildlife.com.

Maine - Camuso Named IF&W Commissioner

Maine’s first female governor, Janet Mills, picked Judy Camuso to replace Chandler Woodcock as our new Commissioner of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. If confirmed by the state legislature, Camuso will be IF&W’s first female commissioner.

Before her gubernatorial appointment, the 48-year old Camuso served as IF&W’s director of wildlife. By background, experience and temperament, it would seem that Camuso has the right qualifications for the job. As wildlife director she managed a staff of regional wildlife biologists, oversaw a large budget, and dealt with a mix of diverse constituents that included state politicians, as well as consumptive and non-consumptive users.

So far Camuso’s appointment is getting positive reviews from outdoor policymakers and advocates including the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and the Maine Trapper’s Association.

According to the Bangor Daily News, “David Trahan, the executive director of the Sportsmen’s Alliance of Maine, said he and Camuso have not always agreed on issues, but as the lobbyist for an organization that often is trying to convince department officials to support a particular resolution or position, that comes with the territory.”

“I’ve known Judy for quite some time and have had just a terrific relationship with her,” Trahan said. “She can be very tough and passionate about stuff, but she’s really fair. That’s the first thing I’d want to see from any commissioner: Tough but fair. We’re not always going to agree, but I think she’s going to be a terrific commissioner.”

Don Kleiner, a registered Maine guide who serves as executive director of the Maine Professional Guides Association, said that because his board of directors has not yet met to discuss Camuso’s nomination, he couldn’t speak for that organization.

But speaking for himself, Kleiner said he thinks the choice makes sense.

Vermont’s Free Ice Fishing Day is January 26

Ice Fishing Festival to be Held at Knight Point State Park in Celebration

Vermont’s sixth annual Free Ice Fishing Day is Saturday, January 26, 2019.  To celebrate, the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is holding an Ice Fishing Festival at Knight Point State Park in North Hero, Vermont.

The festival will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  The event is free and open to all ages as well as families with kids. 

Vermont Fish & Wildlife staff, as well as instructors from Vermont’s Let’s Go Fishing Program, will be on-hand to teach ice fishing skills. These include knot tying, baiting and using an ice fishing rod, and most importantly, how to stay warm on the ice. They’ll also discuss fishing regulations and go over fish identification.  Rooted in Vermont will also be there to talk about the importance of locally-caught fish as a sustainable source of food.

Department staff will operate a fish fry station to cook up participants’ catch, and there will also be other refreshments on hand including plenty of hot cocoa. There will be several warming huts available. 

 “Ice fishing is one of the most accessible forms of fishing and can be a great way to introduce people to how much fun fishing can be,” said Jud Kratzer, fisheries biologist for the Fish & Wildlife Department.  “This festival will demonstrate that ice fishing isn’t just about catching fish. It’s also a great way to spend some time outdoors with friends and family. You can skate, sled, make a snow fort and have a cookout – all while waiting for the flags on your tip-ups to signal when you’ve caught a fish.”

The Fish & Wildlife Department will lend equipment needed for this fun day on the ice, or participants may bring their own equipment.  For more information, contact Corey Hart at 802-265-2279 or corey.hart@vermont.gov.  Registration can be completed online in advance at https://www.register-ed.com/events/view/132707 or people may register when they arrive, although registering in advance will enable participants to get on the ice faster!

Free Ice Fishing Day is held annually on the last Saturday in January. The day is geared toward giving new ice anglers an opportunity to try ice fishing before purchasing equipment, but any angler may ice fish on any waterbody open to ice fishing statewide without a fishing license on Free Ice Fishing Day.

Maine Poacher Search: Reward Offered

Special attention Mount Vernon area. Game wardens are seeking information from the public to help solve a Mount Vernon case.  On October 21, 2018, game wardens responded to the Bean Road in Mount Vernon to investigate the report of a dead deer in a field. During the investigation, it was determined that the large male whitetail deer was likely killed illegally and left to waste.

Maine Operation Game Thief (OGT) has offered a reward of up to $1,000 for information that leads to a conviction of those responsible. Game wardens are asking anyone with information or knowledge of this incident to please call Maine Operation Game Thief at 1-800-ALERT-US (1-800-253-7887) or police dispatch in Augusta at (207) 624-7076. Callers can remain anonymous via the OGT call line.

For Immediate Release:  December 18, 2018

Vermont Fish & Wildlife Dept. to
Conduct Angler Survey on Lake Memphremagog

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is beginning an angler survey on Lake Memphremagog this December. The survey will extend through November 2020 and will survey anglers on both the American and Canadian sections of the lake. 

 Clerks from the department will interview anglers on the lake 2 to 4 days per week, including Saturdays and Sundays during the survey period. Survey activities will include visual counts of anglers, interviews of anglers to obtain information about fishing effort, catch and harvest rates, and biological data such as the length, weight, and age of fish kept by anglers.

The Great Lakes Fishery Commission funded the two-year survey.  Lake Memphremagog is over 30 miles long.  Three quarters of the lake is in Quebec, however three quarters of the watershed (the land area that drains into the lake) is in Vermont.

“The angler survey will provide important biological data about the fishery and angling pressure in different areas of Lake Memphremagog,” said Pete Emerson, fisheries biologist with Vermont Fish & Wildlife. “This information is extremely useful to our department in helping us manage the lake’s fish populations.”

Emerson emphasized to anglers that all information shared with the survey clerks will remain confidential. “Ultimately, anglers providing honest, accurate information will allow us to manage the resource moving forward and ensure that quality fishing opportunities remain in Lake Memphremagog for years to come,” he said.

Maine - Governor Honors MDIFW Employees

Last fall Governor Paul LePage honored two Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife employees yesterday; fisheries biologist Tim Obrey and wildlife biologist MaryEllen Wickett, recognizing them for their outstanding service to the State, its citizens and the department.

Tim has been employed with IF&W since 1988, currently serving as the regional fishery biologist for the Moosehead Lake Region.  Tim uses sound science, customer outreach and participation to conserve and create desirable sport fisheries.  Tim is highly respected by peers and the public, exemplifies integrity, is a mentor to staff and is a practicing member of “team” exhibiting leadership initiative in developing and maintaining statewide databases, data management programs, and innovative research.

MaryEllen provides critical support to the department by overseeing the game harvest and lottery databases, maintaining complex computer programs, and analyzing habitat data.  She performs her work with an exceptional level of professionalism, reliability, and customer service.  MaryEllen recently led the department’s efforts to develop a web-based system to record the harvest of big game animals, which has revolutionized the department’s ability to effectively manage these species and enforce hunting regulations.

Maine Department of Inland Fisheries of Wildlife (MDIFW) preserves, protects, and enhances the inland fisheries and wildlife resources of the state. Established in 1880 to protect big game populations, MDIFW has since evolved in scope to include protection and management of fish, non-game wildlife, and habitats, as well as restoration of endangered species like the bald eagle.

In addition to its conservation duties, MDIFW is also responsible for enabling and promoting the safe enjoyment of Maine’s outdoors — from whitewater rafting to boating, snowmobiling, hunting, fishing, and wildlife observation. The agency’s constituents include the fish, wildlife, and people who call Maine home, as well as the visiting outdoor enthusiasts and ecotourists who call Maine Vacationland and contribute hundreds of millions of dollars each year to the state’s economy.

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