Youth Deer Hunting Day

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Young deer hunters will get a day of their own, archers will get their shot at a fall turkey, and there will be 76,575 any deer permits available to the deer hunters this year. Each of these proposed rules were adopted by the Commissioner's advisory council in Augusta.

Youth Deer Day, Saturday, October 26, 2002, is a day set aside for young hunters between the ages of 10 and 16. Those hunters between the ages of 10 and 16 who possess a junior hunting license and are hunting under the supervision of a parent, guardian or qualified adult can now take one deer of either sex by firearm or bow and arrow. The accompanying adult can not possess a firearm.

Turkey hunters will now get a chance to chase their quarry during the fall in Maine. The Commissioner's Advisory Council approved a rule calling for a Fall Wild Turkey Hunting season. The season would run from October 21, 2002 through November 1, 2002 in Southern Oxford, York, Cumberland, Lincoln, Knox, Waldo, and Kennebec Counties. Anyone who possesses an archery license may purchase a permit to hunt wild turkey during this fall season. Only a bow and arrow may be used to hunt turkeys during this season.

The advisory council also approved the Any Deer Permit allocations for the 30 wildlife management districts that encompass the state. There will be 76,575 any-deer permits available to hunters. The permit numbers are in line with the 75,000 permits recommended in 2000, and it is an increase by 22,000 from the 54,406 permits issued last year.

Maine's wintering population of deer this past year was estimated at 241,500 deer in 2001. Since December 2000, the statewide herd has declined by roughly 50,000 deer (18%) due to the effects of the severe 2001 winter. Last year's winter losses of deer were greatest in the spruce-fir zone of Maine (eastern, western, and northern WMDs), while deer losses in central and southern Maine WMDs were less pronounced. While the winter of 2001 was one of the harshest in the past 30 years, the spring of 2001 was good for fawn survival, and last year's lower deer kill combined with this year's mild winter has allowed the herd to rebound. The department uses the Any-Deer permit system to manage the white-tailed deer population in the state. By controlling the harvest of female deer in 30 regional wildlife management districts throughout the state, biologists can manage population trends.

A proposal that would have amended the rules regulating the commercial harvest of snapping turtles regulations regarding the commercial harvest of snapping turtles was not presented to the council. The new rules would have shortened the season dates during which turtles may be taken, provided additional protection to female turtles, established reporting requirements and a set a fee for a permit. Department concern over the adverse impact a continued commercial harvest may have on turtle populations combined with public comment received during a comment period and public hearing prompted the commissioner to reconsider the proposed regulation. An amended proposed rule banning the commercial harvest of snapping turtles will go to through a public comment period and a public hearing during the upcoming months. If adopted, the new rule would completely ban the commercial harvest of snapping turtles. Individuals, however, would still be permitted to take and possess snapping turtles for personal use.

In other news, Matt Libby of Ashland and Aroostook County, council vice chairman, was elected council chairman, replacing Harold Brown of Bangor and Penobscot County, whose one-year term expired. Ken Bailey of Camden, representing Knox, Lincoln and Waldo Counties, was elected to the position of council vice chairman.

The Advisory Council consists of ten members representing the 16 counties of the state. Members of the Advisory Council are appointed by the governor, and then confirmed by the state senate. The Advisory Council works with the Commissioner to provide information and advice concerning the administration of the department, and to review all rules being proposed by the Commissioner and determine if the Commissioner should adopt them. Rules cannot be adopted by the Commissioner without the consent (majority vote) of the council.

In addition to regular and special meetings, council members are expected to attend public hearings on pending rules, as well as sponsoring public forums to gather input regarding timely issues relating to inland fisheries and wildlife management and the use of these resources. Council members are encouraged to attend local fish and game club meetings, conservation related events, and exhibits and events sponsored by the department.