The following is my article from the Northwoods Sporting Journal for January 2015. I wanted to share it with you all since I think Maine's Inland Fisheries & Wildlife is going to be busy and active this year -- and there are ways that we can be involved!
Many of us think we know Inland Fisheries & Wildlife and associate them with our favorite hunting and fishing activities. While we may think we know what they do, there are a ton of projects that are being done to better the lives of Maine’s wildlife and we hunters and fishermen have no idea.
This year marks the start of the comprehensive 15-year plans for moose, deer, bear and fur bearers like bobcat and fisher. It will be a lot of multi-organizational work and will be worth it to keep these populations healthy, but what a lot of people, including myself, don’t know about are the programs and research that is being done now and throughout 2015 that will enrich the entire Maine outdoors. There are 330 different species that need information updated on their habitat, the number of species in the overall population and geographical health across Maine. From our fisheries and birds to the reptiles and the game and fur-bearers we love to hunt, IF&W has a lot of things happening that few of us know about but will surely impact all of us as outdoorsmen to some level.
Over the next year, I will be writing updates about the following projects (and more) to help shed light on what IF&W is doing behind the scenes for the Maine outdoors. I will also be posting stories and more photos at my website, www.andastrongcupofcoffee.com. The following is a quick list of some of the interesting projects happening around the state.
Wood Turtles – This multi-State project looks at the habitat range and the turtle’s dependency on rivers.
Black Bears - Satellite receivers will be put on a handful bears to track their range.
Bald Eagles – Biologist will be studying the impact of wind turbines on the bird’s flight patterns.
Ruffled Grouse – Tracking collars will be put on a few grouse in order to study their behavior and range.
Snowshoe Hare – Another region-wide study that will look at habitat and population numbers of hares.
Brown Trout in the Kennebec – For a second year, radio-tagged brown trout will be stocked in the area around Shawmut/Fairfield. Using telemetry, fisheries biologists will track the fish to monitor their health and how they travel the river.
Landlocked Salmon – Along the entire stretch of the Crooked River, biologists will be studying and counting active nesting areas for nest health and location. The crooked is a major nursery for Sebago’s landlocked salmon fishery.
Togue – Munsungan Lake will also be using telemetry to monitor the population of togue and locate spawning shoals in order to monitor the number of togue and of salmon and keep the populations balanced and both populations healthy.
Brook Trout – Fisheries biologists at Nesowadnehunk Lake will be removing eggs and milt from native brook trout and bringing them to the hatchery where they will be raised and then released into ponds around Baxter Park.
These are just a handful of the quiet projects that are taking place across Maine in the next few months. As we spend weekends in the ice shacks and rabbit hunting, biologists will be conducting these research projects to better the quality of wildlife and habitat that we have across the state.
Maine is fortunate to have such dedicated biologists who are eager to get out in the field, study the animals, birds, fish and reptiles that they love to give us a better wildlife experience regardless of if we are taking to the woods to hunt, the lakes to fish or just enjoying the outdoors to sightsee and nature watch. As a hunter and lover of the outdoors, I can not wait to learn more and see firsthand the impact that these projects will have.