Maine’s new big game plans are all about you

DIF&W LogoThe second meeting of a committee overseeing the creation of new big game management plans demonstrated how important the general public and private landowners will be to the process. For the first time, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is aggressively seeking the opinions of the public and private landowners.

In addition to public meetings where all can be heard, surveys and focus groups will be conducted by Mark Duda and his national firm, Responsive Management, which is also working on a communications project and plan for the agency, as well as a project to create new fisheries management plans (more about that in this outdoor news blog soon). Yesterday  the Big Game Steering Committee spent two hours reviewing Duda’s surveys. He’ll be surveying three groups: hunters, the general public, and private landowners.

The survey questions are comprehensive and very interesting, but Duda and DIF&W officials have asked that we not share the questions or issues, in order to not bias the responses they get from survey respondents. I will report on the survey results when they become available.

DIF&W has recruited an outstanding Steering Committee to oversee the big game planning process: Rep. Gary Hilliard, IFW legislative committee, Don Dudley, F&W Advisory Council, Dave Trahan, Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, Tom Abello, The Nature Conservancy, Tom Doak, Small Woodlot Owners Association of Maine, Barry Burgason, Maine Forest Products Council, Deb Perkins, Jerry Longcore, and Laurent Gilpatrick, Maine Chapter of the Wildlife Society, Don Kleiner, Maine Professional Guides Association, Jen Brophy, Maine Sporting Camp Association, and Alycn Smart of the Maine Farm Bureau. Judy Camuso, DIF&W’s Wildlife Division Director leads the group, while Nate Webb, DIF&W wildlife planner, also works with the committee, as does a representative of the Maine Warden Service. Yesterday that was Lt. Tim Place. And Gerry Lavigne, retired DIF&W deer biologist, represented Sam at yesterday’s  meeting.

I attended the meeting in order to write about it, and Katie Hansberry of the Humane Society of the United States was there as an observer. Survey results will be available in early to mid-February, so that’s when the Steering Committee will meet next. And I hope to be there, to share those results with you.

In addition to the Steering Committee, DIF&W has created smaller subcommittees for each of the four species, deer, bear, moose, and turkeys. Yes, turkeys are considered big game animals. The subcommittees will prepare the initial management plans, which will then go to the Steering Committee and ultimately to the Commissioner, who has final approval authority.

DIF&W staff is working on comprehensive assessments for each of the four species, and I have asked for those when they are completed.

Here is a list of members of each subcommittee.

Deer: Kyle Ravana, Chair, Phil Richter, Bob Cordes, Mark Caron, Gerry Lavigne, Fred Servello, Gary Hilliard, Peter Rand/Chuck Lubelczyk, and Alicyn Smart.

Bear: Jen Vashon and Randy Cross, co-chairs, Jim Fahey, Doug Kane, Kendall Marden, Al Cowperthwaite, Bob Parker, Erin Merrill, and Don Dudley.

Moose: Lee Kantar, chair, Tom Ward, Kevin Pelkey, Doug Kane, Kendall Marden, Dave Hentosh, Roger Lambert, Rob Kieffer, and Phil Savignano.

Turkey: Kelsey Sullivan, chair, Dave Chabot, Bob Cordes, Mark Caron, Jim Wescott, Galen Larabee, and Don Kleiner.


George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.