Environment and Outdoors

Environmental news

Paul Cyr / Crown of Maine Photography

Maine wildlife officials say the recovery of the bald eagle is a true conservation success story. In the 1970's there were fewer than 40 nesting pairs in Maine, predominately Down East, but five years ago there were more than 600 nesting pairs of eagles scattered across the state.

"Back then it was extremely rare to see a bald eagle. Now if you're in certain areas of the state it can be a daily occurrence," says Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife spokesman Mark Latti.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public/file

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine is about to close the door on application submissions to this year's moose lottery.
Actually, the state is closing the web browser, as it's only taking online applications this year. The deadline to apply for the hunt is 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday night.
The moose lottery attracts thousands of applicants, and odds of getting a permit are small. But the state is considering increasing the number of permits by more than 20 percent to 2,500.

Trevor Lyons / Radio-Canada

Flooding in Northern Maine has been worse than usual this spring, thanks to late snows, a fast melt, and ice-choked rivers. And just over the national border, the flooding along the St. John River is being described as historic.

It has been days since 49-year-old Markus Harvey has been able to drive a car.

"I've been driving the last two weeks by tractor on the road between my place and up river,” he says. “From my place downriver, there is no vehicles.”

ROCKPORT, Maine - Changes could be coming to the harvest of a small fish that supports one of the largest fisheries on the East Coast.
Federal fishing managers have debated changes to the harvest of Atlantic herring in recent years, and the potential new rules are headed for public comment this month and next. Herring are small schooling fish that are harvested in the hundreds of millions of pounds annually to supply food, bait and fish oil.

Mainers participating in a newly released big game management plan say that they are largely happy with the state's current hunting regulations as long as animal populations remain healthy and robust.

Judy Camuso, wildlife director for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, said opinions from hunters and non-hunters were surveyed over the past three years to produce the report intended to guide department policy to manage the state's bear, moose, deer and turkeys.

Elizabeth Truskowski / New York Department of Environmental Conservation via AP

Maine officials are looking to hire scientists to manage and monitor endangered birds that nest along the state’s coast.

Documents say the management and monitoring of piping plovers and least terns will cost about $178,000. The two birds are listed as endangered in Maine and considered by state authorities to be at risk of localized extinction.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife says it would need four to six biologists to monitor and manage the birds on 25 beaches between Ogunquit and Georgetown.

The Maine Forest Service plans to release parasitic flies in South Portland later this week to help control the pesky winter moth population.

The invasive species kills oaks and other leafy trees and shrubs. Maine Forest Service Entomologist Colleen Teerling says cages containing fly cocoons were buried in the woods in South Portland last November to overwinter and are now emerging as adults.

The flies are expected to lay eggs on oak leaves.

Maine Wardens say they are continuing to search for a bobcat that attacked a 17-year-old boy and his father in the Oxford County town of Stow, which sits on the New Hampshire.

The Sun Journal is reporting that they are receiving rabies shots.

Maine Warden Service Corporal John MacDonald says the next day, a woman with a couple of dogs in nearby Lovell encountered an aggressive bobcat, possibly with quills in its face, which injured one of the dogs.

Flooding persists in Northern Maine, where a cold, snowy spring followed by a rapid melt and rain means higher-than-normal water levels.

In Fort Kent, the Fish River in Aroostook County was at active flood stage-12 feet Thursday and Friday, with waters expected to recede a little by Friday evening.

However, Rich Norton with the National Weather Service in Caribou says the river is expected to rise again by Saturday evening.

"We're having another round of precipitation, we're looking for around an inch. And expecting flood stage to go back up,” Norton says.

Jack Bogard / Maine Forest Rangers

State Forest Fire Rangers say a fast moving outdoor fire that burned more than 300 acres of scrub oak and pitch pine in the Kennebunk area near Sanford and Wells has been contained.

District Ranger George Harris says the fire started just after 5 p.m. yesterday. He says yesterday's warm temperatures and strong winds, along with the fact that things haven't yet greened up, contributed to the fire.

“So we're looking at dead leaves, dead grass, all conducive to contributing to spring fires.”

Wildfire In York County Has Already Burned 314 Acres In 3 Towns

May 3, 2018
Maine Forest Service / BDN

Updated 2:50 p.m.

Firefighters are working to contain a brush fire in York County that has already burned at least 314 acres across three towns, according to CBS affiliate WGME.

By early Thursday afternoon, about 80 percent of the wildfire — which has spread across a remote forested area of Wells, Kennebunk and Sanford — had been contained to an area off Route 99, after firefighters from 18 local departments and the Maine Forest Service worked overnight to battle the flames, according to local reports.

Nearly 18,000 acres of forested land in Hancock and Washington counties have been acquired by the Virginia-based Conservation Fund.

Tom Duffus, vice-president and northeast representative of the group, said Wednesday that the land will be conveyed to several Maine conservation groups once they have raised the money to purchase the parcels. The spokesperson said the acquisition will protect wildlife habitat, ensure future recreational access, and support the economies of nearby coastal communities.

Conservation Group Acquires Nearly 18,000 Acres Of Forest In Coastal Maine

May 2, 2018
Courtesy The Conservation Fund / via Bangor Daily News

A Virginia-based group has acquired three forested properties totaling nearly 17,900 acres in Hancock and Washington counties. The Conservation Fund acquired the properties on Tuesday from H.C. Haynes, Inc., a forestry company based in the Penobscot County town of Winn.

Proposal To Review Canada's Right Whale Protections Gets Chilly Reception

May 1, 2018

PORTLAND, Maine - A group of Democratic senators says the U.S. government should audit the job Canada is doing to protect endangered whales.
The senators, led by Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, cite the dire status of North Atlantic right whales as a reason to put some pressure on Canada. The right whales number only about 450 and suffered through a year of 17 deaths in 2017, and 12 of the deaths were in Canada.

Backcountry Skiing Thrives As Spring Arrives In Northeast

May 1, 2018
Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

BARTLETT, N.H. - A group of backcountry skiers is working to expand the sport in parts of northern New Hampshire and western Maine.
The Granite Backcountry Alliance recently received approval from the U.S. Forest Service to develop and maintain ski trails in the White Mountain National Forest on sections of Bartlett Mountain and Baldface Mountain.
Last summer, Granite Backcountry worked with the town of Randolph to open up about 75 acres of glades on Crescent Ridge.