Environment and Outdoors

Environmental news

BIDDEFORD, Maine — A 7-ton minke whale that washed up along a Biddeford beach earlier this week was dissected and removed by a nonprofit group with help from local volunteers.

Lynda Doughty, executive director of Marine Mammals of Maine, tells The Portland Press Herald that her organization was notified on Tuesday that a dead 28-foot whale was found on a Horseshoe Cove beach.

Doughty’s group and staff members of the New England Aquarium in Boston are in the process of conducting a full necropsy on the adult female whale.

For the first time, manufacturers who use hormone-disrupting chemicals known as phthalates in their products have reported their use to the state of Maine. A new report released Thursday by the Environmental Health Strategy Center reveals that phthalates are in more household items than previously thought.

The Advisory Council for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is considering increasing the number of any-deer permits by nearly 60 percent this year in response to the increased numbers of deer in several regions of the state.

Kyle Ravana, the state deer biologist for IF&W, said this year’s mild winter was responsible for a lower than average deer mortality rate, adding that the increase varied depending on the region of the state.

BOSTON - The Massachusetts congressional delegation is questioning a push by the Swedish government to declare American lobsters an invasive species.

Sweden wants the European Union to bar imports of live American lobsters into the 28-nation bloc, a response to the appearance of 32 American lobsters in Swedish waters.

Massachusetts' delegation has sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and others saying the Swedish claim needs to be backed up with scientific evidence.

Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

PORTLAND, Maine - Endangered piping plovers are returning to nest at beaches in southern Maine. Last year, a record number of the fragile shore birds hatched, and last week, the first egg-laden nests of the season were found.

Maine Aububon wildlife biologist Laura Minich Zitske says, so far this year, plover nests have been found in Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Biddeford and Old Orchard Beach.

PORTLAND, Maine - Southern New England's fading lobster fishery will be the subject of a battery of new regulations to try to save the crustacean's population locally.

The interstate Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's American Lobster Management Board voted on Monday to use new management measures to address lobster decline.

In 2013, the number of adult lobsters in New England south of Cape Cod was estimated at about 10 million. That is one-fifth the total in the late 1990s.

PORTLAND, Maine - Thanks to a new purchase of 150 acres of land, the town of Unity now has a 1,500-acre conservation area.

The area will be open for recreational activities, including hiking, bird watching, hunting, and skiing, and will have public boat access.

Jennifer Irving is the executive director of the Sebasticook Regional Land Trust; she says the new parcel also has an important role to play connecting existing conservation lands "so we have 1,500 acres.  That's important for wide-ranging critters such as moose and bear, and our local deer population."

Workers at Idexx in Westbrook are getting their cars detailed courtesy of Calpine Corp., after that company’s neighboring power plant rained steel rust in an unplanned emission.

Calpine officials say maintenance work on the power plants earlier this month left a residue of rust that was emitted to the air on a rainy day earlier this month. The mixture fell on cars belonging to workers at the plant and to workers at Idexx, nearby veterinary medicine company.

PORTLAND, Maine — Portland City Council’s Energy and Sustainability Committee voted in favor of creating a task force to consider restricting the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizer in the city.

Councilor Jon Hinck, the committee’s chair, tells The Portland Press Herald that the 12-member task force would include landscapers, anti-pesticide advocates, academics and residents nominated by Mayor Ethan Strimling.

Hinck says he hopes the full council will vote to approve the plan soon.

State wildlife officials are reminding homeowners to remove potential food sources so bears don’t become a nuisance after emerging from their dens following their winter hibernation.

“With the lack of snow and the early onset of spring, bears are out of their dens earlier than normal,” says Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Bear Biologist Jennifer Vashon, and they’re hungry. “It’s just important for people to bring in their bird feeders, keep their garbage stored inside and, when their grills are in use, keep those inside as well.”

Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences

Over the last century the Gulf of Maine’s blue waters have yellowed. That’s what scientists at the Bigelow Laboratory in East Boothbay reported in a recent study this month, and it indicates trouble for the microscopic plants that are the foundation of the gulf’s food chain.

MOUNT DESERT ISLAND, Maine — Members of Maine’s congressional delegation are working to authorize Acadia National Park to acquire more than 1,400 acres of land on the Schoodic Peninsula.

WCSH-TV reports park officials say the land is theirs due to a 1929 law that allows donations of land to expand the park.

But others say a 1986 bill establishing the park boundaries is the one that should be used.

Surrounding towns are concerned that the park may creep up on homes in the area.

FREEPORT, Maine - Activists in Freeport, Maine, want the town to become the second in the state to ban disposable plastic grocery bags.

The town is already offering a June 14 ballot question that asks whether residents will support a minimal fee on paper and plastic bags. But some residents feel that measure doesn't go far enough.

The Portland Press Herald reports that there could be competing questions on the ballot if supporters of a ban succeed in a petition effort.

HARPSWELL, Maine — A nonprofit group plans to open a seal holding facility that federal authorities say will be the first of its kind on the East Coast.

Marine Mammals of Maine says the facility will allow the group to provide care for animals such as gray and harbor seals.

The seals live along Maine’s coast year round. Arctic harp seals and hooded seals come to Maine’s waters in the winter.

GRAY, Maine — It’s late April but it’s not too late for snow in northern New England.

The National Weather Service says parts of Maine and New Hampshire are going to get a couple of inches of the white stuff on Tuesday. Some areas of Vermont are forecast to get about a half an inch.

Meteorologist Andy Pohl says there’s a possibility of accumulating snow south of a line that runs from Mount Washington, New Hampshire, to Brunswick, Maine. He says central New Hampshire and inland York and Cumberland counties in Maine could see 1 or 2 inches of snow.