Environment and Outdoors

Environmental news

By Patrick Whittle, The Associated Press

PORTLAND, Maine — With summer whale watching season fast approaching, conservation advocates and government agencies who want to protect whales say a mobile app designed to help mariners steer clear of the animals is helping keep them alive.

The Whale Alert app provides a real-time display of the ocean and the position of the mariner’s ship, along with information about where whales have been seen or heard recently. It also provides information on speed restrictions and restricted areas.

ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine is creating a team to collect and evaluate sick lobsters that are harvested in state waters.

The team will be assembled this spring as part of a study on the impacts of rising water temperatures and ocean acidification on the lobster population.

The Portland Press Herald reports that the work will focus on shell disease. The disease has hit southern New England’s lobster population hard. As many as one in every three lobsters trapped in the area has some degree of shell disease.

A consortium of New England states, tribes, federal agencies and fisheries regulators today released a draft “Northeast Ocean Plan” that aims to give the public more leverage on federal planning for ocean uses.

It’s been four years in the works, and some are describing it as a radical new approach to ocean resource planning. To help us understand just what it all means Nora was joined on the phone by Anne Merwin, she’s the ocean planning director of the Ocean Conservancy, a national conservation group.

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The legislative committee that oversees the Maine Warden Service has scheduled a meeting next week about a poaching sting in Allagash that triggered complaints from residents and raised questions about the conduct of an undercover agent.

According to a notice from the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee, the committee will meet Wednesday, June 1, and interview Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Chandler Woodcock; Col. Joel Wilkinson of the Maine Warden Service; and Maine Public Access Ombudsman Brenda Kielty.

Rick Gray / BRI

For years, researchers have been studying the pressures on one of Maine’s most-loved birds, the common loon. They’ve looked at shoreline development, mercury and fishing fear. And now a potential new threat has emerged: malaria.

The tropical parasite started showing up in healthy loons about a decade ago. But it had never been known to kill a bird, until recently.

With some forecasters predicting an active Atlantic hurricane season, state officials are highlighting actions Mainers can take to protect their property and stay safe.

State insurance bureau spokesman Doug Dunbar says it’s important that people know what’s covered by their homeowners or renters policies and evaluate the benefits of purchasing flood insurance.

“And a lot of people don’t realize that flooding, whether it’s associated with hurricanes or otherwise, is typically not covered by a standard homeowners policy,” he says.

PORTLAND, Maine — Portland officials are investigating two city employees who were caught on camera throwing trash and recyclables into the same truck while making pickups downtown.

In the footage shot by a West End resident, two men are shown throwing large purple bags of trash into the back of a garbage truck along with recyclables residents placed in blue containers and paper bags.

It’s Thursday and time for Across the Aisle, our weekly round table on Maine politics.

This week, Cynthia Dill, an attorney with the Portland firm of Troubh Heisler and former Democratic state senator, Meredith Strang Burgess of Burgess Advertising and Marketing and former Republican lawmaker and Dick Woodbury, an economist who served in the Maine Senate as an independent.


BANGOR, Maine - Representatives of the Chevron Corporation and several state and federal agencies have resolved issues stemming from the oil leaks into the Penobscot River more than 60 years ago at a Hampden oil terminal.

Scott Whittier, a division director for the state Department of Environmental Protection, said the consent decree filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court will assist in efforts to clean up the Penobscot.

C. Schmitt via the Natural Resources Council of Maine

The Republican chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources announced Wednesday that he will hold a congressional field hearing on the national monument proposed for the Katahdin region.

The hearing will be held at the East Millinocket Town Office on June 1 at the request of 2nd District U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, and its announcement comes just two days after lengthy public meetings were held in East Millinocket and Orono on the plan.

A $20,000 reward is being offered to anyone who recovers a 1 kilogram chunk of the meteor seen Tuesday.

The meteor was captured on police video streaking across the sky early Tuesday. The fireball reportedly was visible across New England and into New York state, although primarily in Maine. Experts say that evidence suggests the meteorite fell to Earth about 18 miles west of Rangeley in Franklin County.

PORTLAND, Maine - A Maine police sergeant looking for speeders has captured a fireball streaking across the sky on his dashboard camera.
The bright flash visible from several states early Tuesday was apparently left by a meteor burning up as it passed through the earth's atmosphere.
The American Meteor Society reported sightings in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania and parts of Canada.

Susan Sharon / MPBN

More than 1,000 people packed an Orono meeting Monday evening to offer their opinions on the possible creation of a North Woods national monument.

U.S. Sen. Angus King, who served as moderator, said the event at the University of Maine and a smaller one earlier in the day in East Millinocket were set up as a chance for National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis to hear how Maine people feel about a 90,000-acre national park in the shadow of Mount Katahdin. He heard plenty from both sides.

Preliminary numbers in New Hampshire indicate winter ticks have taken a huge toll on calves being tracked in the Granite State. Nearly three-quarters of the 36 calves wearing tracking collars have died from the blood-sucking insects.

State of Maine Moose Biologist Lee Kantar says, while Maine hasn't released it's figures yet, in western Maine it was a pretty rough year for calves. But he says calf mortality was quite a bit lower in northern Maine. Kantar says moose aren't as good at grooming ticks off themselves in the fall as are, for example, white tail deer.

Susan Sharon / MPBN

It’s a question that has divided residents of Millinocket, East Millinocket and surrounding towns for years: how to breathe new life into an economy dependent on papermaking after the paper mills are gone. One possible answer is the creation of a national park.