News & Notes: Conservation Issues


MEDIA RELEASE: Maine Audubon and Partners Launch Fish Lead-Free Campaign

Posted on: Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

PrintMEDIA RELEASE 

For Immediate Release

July 23, 2014

Contact: Michelle Smith, Communications & Marketing Manager
msmith@maineaudubon.org
(207) 781-2330 x209
Mobile: (207) 838-0511

 

Maine Audubon and Partners Launch Fish Lead-Free Campaign
Passage of 2013 Loon Protection Bill spurs two-year educational initiative

Falmouth – Maine Audubon and its partners announced today the launch of the Fish Lead Free campaign. The goal of the campaign is to increase the use of lead-free tackle on Maine’s lakes and ponds by providing lead-free products and lead-tackle recycling assistance for anglers, as well as building awareness of Maine’s current lead tackle laws. Fish Lead Free is a cooperative partnership among Maine Audubon, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Maine BASS Nation, Maine Lakes Society and the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine. Generous funding for the Fish Lead-Free campaign has been provided by the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, Margaret E. Burnham Charitable Trust and Morton-Kelly Charitable Trust.

The campaign will offer lead tackle exchange kits for organizations and individuals, access to a loon multi-media presentation and other resources to help anglers transition to lead-free tackle. The campaign also funds a Tufts Veterinary student to help with the collection and necropsy of dead loons found on Maine’s lakes and ponds. To sign up for more information and to see a schedule of presentations, please visit fishleadfree.org. If you find a dead loon in Maine, please call the Loon Hotline at (207) 781-6180 x275 to report the location and to receive more information about the necropsy process.

Can you spot the lead sinkers on a lake bottom?

Can you spot the lead sinkers on a lake bottom?

2013 Lead Tackle Legislation

In 2013, the Maine State Legislature banned the sale and use of lead fishing sinkers one ounce or less, with phase-in of a ban on the sale of bare lead-headed jigs 2.5” long or less in September 2016, and the use of those jigs in September 2017.

The passage of the law was prompted by findings that lead poisoning is the leading cause of death of adult loons in Maine. Almost one third of dead adult loons recovered from Maine’s lakes and ponds over the last 25 years had died from lead poisoning. For every two loons that die in Maine from natural causes like illness or disease, one loon dies from ingesting a small lead sinker or jig-head. Adult loons catch fish with lead sinkers and jigs attached or they pick up lead objects while eating gravel they need for digestion from lake bottoms.

Lead is highly toxic and just one lead object can lead to lead poisoning in a loon. Loons can die within two to four weeks post-ingestion. Early signs of lead poisoning include abnormal behavior like beaching themselves and not swimming away from people or predators. Over time, symptoms progress to general organ failure, including tremors and muscle paralysis. Loons become easy targets for their predators and are unable to take care of their chicks once the onset of lead poisoning has begun.

How can you help?

  • Switch to lead-free tackle made from nontoxic materials like tin, bismuth and steel
  • Sign up your community group for a free “Loons and Lead” presentation
  • Attend a local tackle exchange or work with Maine Audubon to organize one in your community
  • Report dead loons to Maine Audubon’s Dead Loon Hotline at (207) 781-6180 x275.

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About Maine Audubon
Maine Audubon’s science-based approach to conservation, education and advocacy advances wildlife and wildlife habitat conservation in Maine. Our citizen science programs connect Maine people to engaging volunteer opportunities that make meaningful contributions to conservation research. The largest Maine-based wildlife conservation organization in the state, Maine Audubon has eight centers and wildlife sanctuaries and serves over 50,000 people annually, with 15,000 members and 2,000 volunteers.

Conserving Maine’s wildlife. For everyone.

Please visit www.maineaudubon.org for more information.
Facebook: & Twitter ID: Maine Audubon

 

MEDIA RELEASE: Maine Audubon’s Annual Loon Count Takes Place this Saturday, July 19

Posted on: Monday, July 14th, 2014

SmithG_Strikingly BeautifulNEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release

July 14, 2013

Contact: Michelle Smith, Communications & Marketing Manager
msmith@maineaudubon.org
(207) 781-2330 x209
Mobile: (207) 838-0511

 

Maine Audubon’s Annual Loon Count Takes Place this Saturday, July 19 

Statewide – Since 1983, volunteers across the state have visited their local lakes and ponds the third Saturday in July with a pair of binoculars and a shared passion – protecting the Maine loon and its habitat. The annual Maine Audubon Loon Count takes place at 7 am on Saturday, July 19. Over 900 loon counters will participate in the annual project that gathers valuable data for Maine Audubon about the status of loons in the state. Volunteers interested in participating in this year’s loon count can contact Susan Gallo at sgallo@maineaudubon.org or call (207) 781-6180 x216. The deadline to join this year’s count is Thursday, July 17.

The Maine Loon Project was launched 31 years ago as a joint effort with Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to assess the status of loons in Maine. At that time, very little was known about the iconic bird, but repeated reports of fewer and fewer birds on Maine’s lakes and ponds spurred the development of a state-wide protocol to conduct a standardized count using “citizen scientist” volunteers. Over the past thirty-one years, that count, along with projects like habitat assessment and loon mortality studies, have given Maine Audubon much needed insight into the loon population and the many challenges loons face, including habitat degradation and disturbance, boats, predators and lead poisoning from lead-based fishing tackle.

Over the past 31 years, the estimate of the adult loon population in the southern half of Maine has seen a relatively steady increase, though the estimate has dipped several times over those three decades, most notably almost 10% in 2012. The 2013 estimate was just over 3,700 adults, moving the count back in the direction of a steady increase. There is, however, no apparent 30 year trend for the number of chicks estimated from the annual Loon Count. Numbers typically go up and down dramatically from year to year, never with any evidence of significant increases since the count began in 1983.

The 2013 count for chicks continued that trend, with an estimate of 324 chicks for the southern half of Maine, more than in 2012, but fewer than in 2011. Susan Gallo, Director of the Maine Loon Project, noted there are a number of factors contributing to stagnant chick production. “We know that lead poisoning is the leading cause of death for adult loons in Maine, and although not a direct cause of death for chicks, chicks who lose a parent to lead poisoning are probably less likely to survive with only one parent left behind to care for them.” There also a number of other threats on Maine’s lakes and ponds, from extreme rain events that flood nests to abundant predators to disturbance from boaters. New emerging diseases are increasingly a concern, as are changes in water quality that may result from climate change.

In 2013, loon counters answered additional questions on their survey forms about how many loons might be breeding on their lakes. Breeding loons will typically be in pairs or on their own, while non-breeders form large social groups. By differentiating these social groups from isolated pairs and individuals, Maine Audubon hopes to shed more light on the apparent disconnect between the adult and chick estimates. Since loons don’t typically breed until they are seven years old, they spend many years as “bachelors” (and bachelorettes) on Maine’s lakes and ponds. The additional questions will be on the survey forms in 2014 and over time, will help Maine Audubon better understand loon productivity and the size of the breeding population.

Tips for Protecting Loons 

  • Obey no-wake law within 200 feet of shore
  • Use lead-free tackle; alternatives are made of steel, tin and bismuth
  • Dispose of fishing line so it does not get tangled in a loons’ feet or bill
  • If you live on a lake, use phosphorus-free fertilizer and plant shrubs as a buffer along the shoreline to reduce run-off
  • If you see a loon on a nest, keep your distance and watch with binoculars
  • Keep garbage out of reach of loon egg predators like skunks and raccoons.

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About Maine Audubon
Maine Audubon’s science-based approach to conservation, education and advocacy advances wildlife and wildlife habitat conservation in Maine. Our citizen science programs connect Maine people to engaging volunteer opportunities that make meaningful contributions to conservation research. The largest Maine-based wildlife conservation organization in the state, Maine Audubon has eight centers and wildlife sanctuaries and serves over 50,000 people annually, with 15,000 members and 2,000 volunteers.

Conserving Maine’s wildlife. For everyone.

Please visit www.maineaudubon.org for more information.
Facebook: & Twitter ID: Maine Audubon

 

MEDIA RELEASE: Maine Audubon Celebrates Members at Peony Bloom & Ice Cream Social

Posted on: Monday, June 2nd, 2014

NEWS RELEASE Peony and Boy

For Immediate Release

June 2, 2014

Contact: Michelle Smith, Communications & Marketing Manager
msmith@maineaudubon.org
(207) 781-2330 x209
Mobile: (207) 838-0511

Maine Audubon Celebrates Members at Peony Bloom & Ice Cream Social

Falmouth – Maine Audubon will hold their annual Peony Bloom & Ice Cream Social on Wednesday, June 18, from 6 to 8 pm. The annual celebration recognizes the organization’s Peony Circle of Friends, dedicated members, donors and volunteers who have supported Maine Audubon with their time, energy and contributions for over twenty years. The event will take place at Gilsland Farm Audubon Center in Falmouth (20 Gilsland Farm Road).

Enjoy homemade ice cream donated by Toots Ice Cream (North Yarmouth) and live music from the students of 317 Main (Yarmouth). Become a Maine Audubon member that evening and receive special discounts and a free peony flower. The event also features a children’s peony craft workshop – bring the whole family!  To learn more, please visit www.maineaudubon.org or contact Agata Ketterick, Membership Manager, at aketterick@maineaudubon.org or call (207) 781-2330 x232.

Why are the peonies at Gilsland Farm so special?

David Edward Moulton (1871-1951), a prominent attorney and founder of the Portland Water District, acquired the property that was to become Gilsland Farm in 1911. His love of horticulture led him to plant many varieties of trees, shrubs and flowers on the property, but it was the peony that truly fascinated him.

By 1928, he had collected more than 200 varieties planted over four acres – reputedly one of the most complete peony collections in the country. So famous were Moulton’s flowers that individual peony roots sold for as much as $250. The Portland paper called Gilsland Farm “a show garden of peonies – wonder place of Portland.”

Though David Moulton’s fields of cultivated peonies no long exist, visitors to Gilsland Farm will find remnants of his collection blooming in the meadows and along the woodland edges every June. A cultivated formal peony garden next to the Education Center showcases the beautiful blooms that most likely bloomed during his time at the farm.

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About Maine Audubon

Maine Audubon’s science-based approach to conservation, education and advocacy advances wildlife and wildlife habitat conservation in Maine. Our citizen science programs connect Maine people to engaging volunteer opportunities that make meaningful contributions to conservation research. The largest Maine-based wildlife conservation organization in the state, Maine Audubon has eight centers and wildlife sanctuaries and serves over 50,000 people annually, with 15,000 members and 2,000 volunteers.


Conserving
Maine’s wildlife. For everyone.

Please visit www.maineaudubon.org for more information.
Facebook: & Twitter ID: Maine Audubon

 

 

MEDIA RELEASE: Maine Audubon Seeks Anglers for Brook Trout Survey Project

Posted on: Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release

May 14, 2014

Contact: Michelle Smith, Communications & Marketing Manager
msmith@maineaudubon.org
(207) 781-6180 x209
Mobile: (207) 838-0511

 Maine Audubon Seeks Anglers for Brook Trout Survey Project
Volunteers will help fisheries conservation goals in the state

Native trout - Bastian photo

Falmouth – Maine Audubon, Trout Unlimited and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW) are seeking volunteer anglers to survey remote Maine ponds and coastal streams for brook trout this fishing season. Survey information collected by anglers will be used by the nonprofit organizations and IFW to help identify populations of brook trout to be eligible for conservation management practices.

2014 is the fourth year of the Brook Trout Survey Project. Maine is home to 97% of the intact wild brook trout pond habitat in the eastern United States. Brook trout require clean, cold water and pristine habitat to survive – the population health of brook trout is a key indicator of a healthy ecosystem that also indicates the health of other species, including moose, deer, otters, kingfishers, herons and osprey. The quality and abundance of Maine brook trout has declined in recent years because of the introduction of competing species. Brook trout are important to Maine and the nation’s ecological and sporting heritage and are also a valuable recreational and economic state resource.

Hundreds of remote ponds and coastal streams have never been surveyed by fisheries biologists nor have any record of being stocked with fish. “Identifying the ponds with native brook trout will greatly assist IFW in planning our conservation management strategies over the next several decades,” noted Merry Gallagher of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. “The success of this project is entirely dependent on the data collected by volunteer anglers.” The project’s focus on remote ponds and coastal streams offers anglers a chance to explore new areas of the state. “Volunteers should be enthusiastic about fishing for brook trout, be comfortable in remote settings and have a sense of adventure!” noted Jeff Reardon of Trout Unlimited.

To date, 197 volunteer anglers have successfully surveyed 258 remote Maine ponds for which no data was previously available. IFW biologists have also conducted official surveys on 45 ponds that volunteers identified as brook trout ponds, and confirmed brook trout presence in 34 of these ponds. This number is expected to increase after IFW survey crews complete follow-up surveys on additional ponds this summer.

In 2014, the project is expanding to include coastal stream surveys along the Maine coast. Little is known about the distribution and life history of sea-run brook trout in Maine, so volunteers are needed to help identify watersheds containing this special and elusive fish. “Enthusiasm is already running high this year,” noted Amanda Moeser, the project’s coordinator at Maine Audubon. “The project’s success will depend on renewed participation from past volunteers and new participants. This is an exciting opportunity for people who enjoy fishing and exploring Maine’s outdoors to contribute to the conservation of native brook trout, a significant and unique resource for Maine.”

Volunteer anglers are needed to survey coastal streams ranging from Kennebunk to Lubec, along with 300-plus ponds in western and northern Maine. Surveys can be completed any time before September 30, 2014. Project partners will provide maps, data sheets and instructions on how to survey ponds and streams. To sign up to volunteer, please contact Amanda Moeser at (207) 781-6180 x207 or amoeser@maineaudubon.org. For more information about the Brook Trout Survey project, visit maineaudubon.org/brooktrout.

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About Maine Audubon

Maine Audubon’s science-based approach to conservation, education and advocacy advances wildlife and wildlife habitat conservation in Maine. Our citizen science programs connect Maine people to engaging volunteer opportunities that make meaningful contributions to conservation research. The largest Maine-based wildlife conservation organization in the state, Maine Audubon has eight centers and wildlife sanctuaries and serves over 50,000 people annually, with 15,000 members and 2,000 volunteers.


Conserving
Maine’s wildlife. For everyone.

Please visit www.maineaudubon.org for more information.
Facebook: & Twitter ID: Maine Audubon

 

 

 

 

Community Announcement: Maine Audubon’s Birdathon to Take Place May 17

Posted on: Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

COMMUNITY ANNOUNCEMENT

For Immediate Release

May 7, 2014

Contact: Michelle Smith, Communications & Marketing Manager
msmith@maineaudubon.org
(207) 781-6180 x209
Mobile: (207) 838-0511 

Maine Audubon’s Birdathon to Take Place May 17

FALMOUTH – Maine Audubon’s annual statewide Birdathon will take place on Saturday, May 17. The Birdathon is a bird-watching event during spring migration in which participants try to identify as many bird species as possible in one day. The Birdathon is an annual fundraiser for Maine Audubon that supports our mission to conserve Maine’s wildlife and wildlife habitat. Whether you are a beginning or serious birder, you can join the fun!

Maine Audubon kicked off the Birdathon in 1999 as a friendly competition to encourage birders and nature enthusiasts to get outside and document how many bird species they can see in one day. Supporters make pledges per bird spotted or a one-time donation. 143 species were identified in the first year. “The Birdathon is a great way to get outside, support Maine Audubon and engage in some friendly competition,” said Maine Audubon staff naturalist, Doug Hitchcox. “We encourage everyone in the community to get involved, whether you want to form a team or pledge your support.”

Join the fun!

You can participate in three ways:

  1. Register your own team
  2. Pledge to support a team
  3. Submit a one-time donation to support a team

For more information, contact Doug Hitchcox, Maine Audubon Staff Naturalist, at (207) 781-2330 x237 or dhitchcox@maineaudubon.org.

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About Maine Audubon

Maine Audubon’s science-based approach to conservation, education and advocacy advances wildlife and wildlife habitat conservation in Maine. Our citizen science programs connect Maine people to engaging volunteer opportunities that make meaningful contributions to conservation research. The largest Maine-based wildlife conservation organization in the state, Maine Audubon has eight centers and wildlife sanctuaries and serves over 50,000 people annually, with 15,000 members and 2,000 volunteers.

Conserving Maine’s wildlife. For everyone.

Please visit www.maineaudubon.org for more information.
Facebook: & Twitter ID: Maine Audubon

 

 

 

Legislature Fails to Override Governor’s vetoes on LDs 1744 and 1772

Posted on: Friday, May 2nd, 2014

Unfortunately, the Legislature has failed to override the Governor’s vetoes of the mining bill, LD 1772, that rejects the bad mining rule, and LD 1744, the lakes bill.  The good news on mining is that the old rule will stay in place until the Legislature approves a new rule.  As for the lakes bill, this issue will likely come back next year.

Governor Signs the Water Bond, LD 1455!

Posted on: Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

The Governor has signed the water bond bill, LD 1455.  Now, it goes on the November ballot for voters approval.  Thank you to the many people who helped to make this happen.

Governor Vetos LD 1772

Posted on: Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

The Governor has vetoed LD 1772, the bill rejecting the bad DEP mining rules.  According to the Bangor Daily News,

LD 1772, A Resolve Regarding Legislative Review of Chapter 200: Metallic Mineral Exploration, Advanced Exploration and Mining, would force the Department of Environmental Protection and citizen-led Board of Environmental Protection to start over on the development of statewide mining rules, which with the passage of this bill were rejected by the Legislature earlier this year. LePage vetoed the bill because he said it is an attempt to outlaw mining through rulemaking when the proper course for that would be to repeal a mining bill that was passed two years ago. LePage said he supports mining because of its potential economic benefits to the state, though large-scale mining’s opponents have contested that notion.

 

Maine Bird Alert – April 19-25, 2014

Posted on: Saturday, April 26th, 2014

Reporting Period: April 19 – 25, 2014
Compilers: Doug Hitchcox

Noteworthy Species Mentioned:

  • Eurasian Wigeon
  • Tricolored Heron
  • White-faced Ibis
  • Sandhill Crane
  • Snowy Owl
  • American Three-toed Woodpecker

York County

A lingering SNOWY OWL was still being seen around the mouth of the Mousam River in Kennebunk on the 22nd.

Greater Portland

First located on the 19th, two WHITE-FACED IBISES and a third ibis that may be a hybrid/intergrade were found in the Scarborough Marsh. Throughout this week these birds have been seen with a flock of 100+ Glossy Ibis, typically around Route 1, Dunstan Landing, and the Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center. A TRICOLORED HERON has also been seen around these areas and was first reported on the 23rd.

Kennebec River Valley (Augusta-Waterville)

Two SANDHILL CRANES were seen at Messalonskee Lake in Belgrade on the 21st.

Midcoast

A drake EURASIAN WIGEON was last reported on the 20th in a flooded field across from the Bisson Farm Market on Meadow Road in Topsham.

Central Maine

On the 25th, three AMERICAN THREE-TOED WOODPECKERS were reported from the Harvester Road in Northwest Piscataquis.

Downeast

A SNOWY OWL continued to be seen at the Bar Harbor Airport through the evening of the 21st.

Two SANDHILL CRANES were photographed off County Road in Lubec, across from the Lubec Municipal Airport, on the 24th and 25th.

Western Mountains

On the morning of the 22nd, a SANDHILL CRANE was seen near Marsilus Road in Center Lovell.

MEDIA RELEASE: Endangered Piping Plovers Return to Southern Maine

Posted on: Thursday, April 24th, 2014
Amanda_Reed__PipingPlover_Chick_3

Photo: Amanda Reed

NEWS RELEASE 

For Immediate Release

April 24, 2014

Contact: Michelle Smith, Communications & Marketing Manager
msmith@maineaudubon.org
(207) 781-6180 x209
Mobile: (207) 838-0511

Endangered Piping Plovers Return to Southern Maine
Maine Audubon reminds beach-goers and landowners to be aware of nesting areas

FALMOUTH – Maine Audubon reported today that several Piping Plover nesting pairs have returned to southern Maine beaches. All beach goers and beachfront landowners along the coast should be aware of nesting plovers, from Ogunquit Beach up the coast to Reid State Park in Georgetown. As of April 1, no dogs are allowed on Ogunquit Beach and in state parks, including Crescent Beach in Cape Elizabeth, Ferry Beach in Saco, Scarborough Beach, Popham Beach State Park in Phippsburg and Reid State Park in Georgetown. Dog ordinances vary by town on local town beaches. Please check with your local town office.

Piping Plovers are listed as an endangered species in Maine and are threatened under federal law. The Piping Plover Recovery Project, a collaboration between Maine Audubon, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands and local municipalities, works to educate the public about plover nesting areas to ensure their protection and increase their population.

Historically, Maine has had more than 30 miles of suitable nesting beaches that may have supported more than 200 pairs of Piping Plovers. Today, because of encroaching development, the available shoreline habitat for nesting plovers has been reduced by 75 percent. Last year, there were only 44 nesting pairs in the state, from Ogunquit to Georgetown. Plovers nest in front of sand dunes on the upper beach and are vulnerable to natural predators, roaming pets, storms and human disturbance. Maine Audubon encourages beach goers and landowners to reduce human-caused mortality of plovers by leaving your pets at home when you go to the beach, staying away from roped off plover areas and to watch where you are walking on the beach to avoid stepping on nests.

If you find a plover nest, or would like to volunteer for the Piping Plover Recovery Project, please contact Laura Minich Zitske at lzitske@maineaudubon.org or (207) 233-6811 or the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) at (207) 657-2345.

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About Maine Audubon

Maine Audubon’s science-based approach to conservation, education and advocacy advances wildlife and wildlife habitat conservation in Maine. Our citizen science programs connect Maine people to engaging volunteer opportunities that make meaningful contributions to conservation research. The largest Maine-based wildlife conservation organization in the state, Maine Audubon has eight centers and wildlife sanctuaries and serves over 50,000 people annually, with 15,000 members and 2,000 volunteers.

Conserving Maine’s wildlife. For everyone.

Please visit www.maineaudubon.org for more information.
Facebook: & Twitter ID: Maine Audubon