The Outdoors Report is written by biologists at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. For more information on IF&W, visit www.mefishwildlife.com
Tips for a successful turkey season
The wild turkey harvest begins May 4 and runs through June 6, with Youth Day on Saturday, May 2. Although hunting in autumn has been a long-standing tradition for many Mainers, hunting turkeys in the spring is relatively new for many hunters and non-hunters alike.
In light of this, it's important for those of us who venture afield for spring turkeys to remember a few important points to ensure that we will return home safely following each hunt and we will have land to hunt on in the future.
Turkeys have excellent vision so full camouflage including hands and face is a must. Never wear the colors red, white or blue as they resemble the color of a tom's head and neck area (i.e. the target).
Stalking turkeys is often unproductive because of the turkey's keen vision. In addition, this method can be dangerous because you may be moving in on another hunter. Remember, a tom that continues to gobble may be responding to the call of another hunter who you haven't located yet.
Make your set up with your back against a tree that is at least as wide as your shoulders and call the tom to you. Make sure you can see at least 40-50 yards in a 180-degree arc in front of you so you can readily see an approaching tom or another hunter.
Hunt defensively. If you see another hunter, speak out loud to them until they acknowledge your presence.
If you decide to use decoys, remember that these replicas may be mistaken for live birds by another hunter. So keep this mind when you decide the distance and direction of your decoy setup.
If you decide to use a bow in pursuit of your tom, knowing proper shot placement and pinpoint accuracy are critical. Like with any hunting situation, always be absolutely sure of your target and what's beyond it within the range of your shot.
Good landowner relations are as important during the spring turkey season as they are during any time of the year. In fact, they may be more important in the spring because many Mainers aren't accustomed to thinking of May as hunting season. Therefore, it's important to always seek landowner permission before venturing onto someone else's property. Although green fields and other agriculture areas are magnets for turkeys, remember that April-May often is "mud season" in Maine, so walk rather than drive if you're going to leave a footprint behind.
For more information on turkey hunting in Maine, visit www.mefishwildlife.com and click on "hunting and trapping."
Wildlife biologist work with rockweed harvest company
Over the past several years, there has been much local controversy about the harvesting of rockweed over an array of concerns including sustainability and impacts to commercial fishing, wildlife, and ownership of intertidal resources.
Region C Wildlife staff contacted operation managers of the company during the summer of 2008 and specifically requested that harvest operations avoid intertidal habitats associated with lands and islands owned and managed by IF&W until specific concerns could be addressed. In response, Acadia Seaplants requested the meeting to inform regional biologists about their company, products, and research, as well as to discuss specifics of their operations and the sustainability of seaweed in the Cobscook Bay ecosystem.
The Department owns and manages a notable amount of land in Cobscook Bay. Ten land Units totaling almost 2,000 acres make up the Cobscook Bay Wildlife Management Area (WMA) with nearly 24 miles of shoreline, the vast majority being intertidal. Most of these parcels were acquired because of their coastal wetland habitat values, utilizing both state and federal conservation funds. Much of this funding was keyed on protecting coastal, intertidal habitats that supported wintering waterfowl, wading birds, migratory shorebirds, and nesting bald eagles.
Also in Cobscook Bay, IF&W manages eight coastal islands as part of the Coast of Maine WMA, primarily for nesting seabirds, but that also provides foraging habitat for the aforementioned species as well.
A primary obligation of IF&W is to ensure the maintenance of biological functions and values of coastal wetlands on WMA properties that provide for these wildlife resources, and which serve as the basis for significant investments of public funds. Rockweed beds represent an important habitat for fish and invertebrate communities that support foraging waterfowl, shorebirds and wading birds, and ultimately other species up the food chain including ospreys and bald eagles.
In the coming weeks, we will be reviewing data that is being provided by the company. We have identified key concerns that may require additional research to quantify site-specific impacts of harvesting. We also will be looking at research from The Rockweed Coalition, a watchdog group of individuals and non-profit organizations that supports a moratorium on rockweed harvesting until there is tighter regulation of the rockweed harvest. The coalition claims to have documented over-harvesting, short-cutting (leaving less than 16 inches of the rockweed stalk) and inaccurate reporting of the total amount of rockweed harvest.
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