Environment and Outdoors

Environmental news

PORTLAND, Maine - Last year's drought is officially over in Maine.

Suzanne Thurman / MERR Institute, Inc./via Associated Press

PORTLAND, Maine - Government scientists are launching an investigation into an unusually large number of humpback whale deaths from North Carolina to Maine.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Fisheries says 41 whales have been stranded in the region in 2016 and so far in 2017.
Officials say 10 of the 20 whales that have been examined so far were killed by collisions with boats. That's far above the average of fewer than two per year, and officials say there's been no spike in boat traffic to explain it.

Mysterious Drop in Prized Bait Worms Threatens a Way of Life

Apr 27, 2017
Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

WOOLWICH, Maine - A mysterious drop in the harvest of two of the most popular worms for sport fishermen is proving expensive for anglers and threatening a way of life in Maine.

Maine harvesters are by far the largest suppliers of bloodworms and sandworms in the U.S. Harvesters called wormers dig the wriggling creatures out of coastal muck so they can be sold to fishermen all over the world.

MYSTIC, Conn. - Federal fishing regulators are considering a host of alternatives about new ways to manage the herring fishery.
Atlantic herring is a major industrial fishery on the East Coast, with fishermen frequently bringing more than 200 million pounds of the little fish to shore every year.
Herring are used as human food and bait for other fisheries, such as lobsters. The catch of herring off of New England has been inconsistent in recent years, leading to volatility in the lobster bait market.

s_p_e_x / Flickr/Creative Commons

A serious tick-borne disease — other than Lyme — has established itself in southern Maine. Researchers from the Maine Medical Research Institute in Scarborough have found the Powassan virus in deer ticks across southern areas of the state.

The research was conducted after a midcoast woman died from the disease in 2013. In November of that year, 73-year-old Marilyn Ruth Snow was bitten by a deer tick infected with the Powassan virus. She fell ill almost immediately and died about a month later.

Doug Hitchcox / Maine Audubon

Maine’s birdwatching community is aflutter over the sighting this week of two species never before seen in Maine — one that usually hangs out in Mexico and the other in Europe.

A new report from the Natural Resources Council of Maine paints a bleak picture of what could happen in Maine if the Trump administration’s proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency are adopted.

The proposal calls for cutting the agency’s budget 31 percent, slashing 3,200 jobs and eliminating more than 50 EPA programs. And Pete Didisheim of the NRCM says Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection would also take a big hit.

Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine says the Trump administration has yet to propose a final budget for the Environmental Protection Agency, and while he says he is concerned about what the Trump administration has in mind for the EPA, he says any major cuts will face strong opposition.

“Many of these cuts flow right back to the states. So what you’re really doing —it’s really neat work if you can get it, of balancing the federal budget by just shifting to the states,” King says.

BREMEN, Maine - The National Audubon Society says a web camera has captured the first confirmed sighting in Maine of a colorful species of bird typically seen in the southwestern part of the country.
Audubon and Explore.org use a web camera on Hog Island to monitor nesting ospreys. Audubon posted on its website Monday that the camera picked up a vermilion flycatcher, which it called "an incredible rarity.''

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine  House has approved a bill aimed at reducing the number of single-use plastic shopping bags in the waste stream.

But the measure is a watered-down version of the original, which would have banned single-use plastic bags.  Nonetheless, Brunswick Rep. Ralph Tucker, a Democrat, says it’s an important step.

“This bill declares as a matter of state policy that we should try to use reusable bags to avoid getting the plastics into our waste stream.” 

The National Weather Service says the rapid snowmelt is going to cause minor flooding on the Kennebec River in Maine and on the Connecticut River that separates New Hampshire and Vermont.

The temperature has climbed high enough to set a couple of records in New England - and to cause melting snow that's contributing to minor flooding.

The National Weather Service says the temperature climbed Tuesday to 87 degrees in Concord, New Hampshire, and 78 degrees in Augusta, Maine, both records for the date. The temperature hit 75 in Portland, Maine, coming within 2 degrees of the record.

On Monday, Montpelier, Vermont, had a record high of 77 degrees.

Tate Yoder / via Blue Hill Heritage Trust

PORTLAND, Maine - A Maine land trust says it has purchased more than 2,000 acres of forested land in Surry for preservation. Blue Hill Heritage Trust bought the land for $650,000, including $400,000 in public funding.

The parcel was heavily logged last winter, and the trust's executive director, Hans Carlson, says he's looking forward to seeing how it recovers now that it's been put in conservation.

Drought Was Tough on Farmers, But Good for Moose

Apr 11, 2017

CONCORD, N.H. - Last year's drought in New Hampshire was tough on farmers and towns. But it turns out to have been good for moose.
Preliminary numbers from a project that puts tracking collars on moose show that only one of the calves - the most vulnerable group - died from winter ticks this year. A year ago, nearly 75 percent of the calves tracked died.

NOAA Fisheries / via Wikimedia Commons

PROVINCETOWN, Mass. - Coastal researchers in Massachusetts say they found more endangered right whales in Cape Cod Bay recently than on any one day in recent history.
A spokeswoman for the Center for Coastal Studies says researchers found 112 of the rare whales in the bay Sunday. The spokeswoman says the next highest number for one day was 96 in 2014.