Friday, February 8, 2013

Enough Is Enough

Do good intentions always have good consequences? I don’t think so. It seems that every other day, I hear of some new law or some new proposal, that touches upon my life in a negative way.

Let me point out that I am all for clean air and clean water. In fact, I don’t know anyone who isn’t. But some measures to ensure that our environment are not well-thought-out and in fact, some seem nothing short of dictatorial.

Let’s begin with gasoline. Modern gas contains ethanol, which comes from corn. To make ethanol, corn that would otherwise remain in the food chain gets re-routed to ethanol production. This in turn causes rising fuel prices. Furthermore, the new gas raises havoc with small engines. Everything from outboard motors to rototillers and lawn mowers to chain saws, have a shortened life expectancy. The ethanol rots fuel lines. It also draws water into the gas mix, causing breakdowns.

But now the law says that ever-increasing amounts of ethanol must go into the makeup of gasoline formulas. Need it or not, we are now burdened with it.

Next, we might look at light bulbs. Incandescent bulbs were deemed wasteful, so now people are compelled to switch to the new, mercury-containing curlicue bulbs. I read the two-page instructions on what to do if you break one of these modern marvels. They include opening all doors and windows, cutting out the flooring where the bulb broke and then calling a hazardous waste disposal unit. Do I want these things in my house? Definitely not.

That’s why I bought a lifetime supply of those “awful” incandescent bulbs. Call me greedy and self-serving, but if my old-fashioned light bulb breaks, I can just pick it up…no “hazmat” suit or respirator required, and throw it in the trash.

Then we have lead. As a fisherman and hunter, I use lead. Lead bullets, lead shot, lead sinkers and lead jigs. But now, these are being demonized and phased out.

It began more than 20 years ago when a doctor Kevin Potkvas conducted a study on loon mortality in New England. Over a long period, he acquired numerous loon cadavers. I think that one, perhaps two, of these dead loons had ingested lead fishing tackle. All of them, though, exhibited deep gashes on their backs, consistent with propeller wounds.

But what do environmental groups, including the Audubon Society want to ban? Are they interested in establishing slower speed limits for motorboats on inland waters? No. Instead, they now have a bill before the Maine legislature to ban all lead sinkers and jigs under a certain size. This would affect all Maine waters.

But since loons require many acres of surface area in order to establish a breeding population, they as a consequence, do not inhabit streams and rivers. Loons do not live on trout streams, in other words.

But that makes no difference to Audubon. They want to ban lead period, on lakes, ponds, rivers and streams. This puts fishermen at a decided disadvantage. It also puts trout at a disadvantage, since fish caught on jigs (jigs with lead bodies, I might add), are seldom seriously injured by hooks. Such fish are easily released, unharmed.

But ban these artificial lures and people will have no choice but to resort to natural bait. And when trout take natural bait, their chances of survival after being hooked and released decline greatly.

I have contacted the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Maine governor Paul LePage and also, George Smith from Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, and have asked them all to consider having Audubon amend their bill to allow for continued use of lead sinkers and jigs on brooks and streams, places where there are no loons. Whether my efforts will bring fruit remains to be seen.

Readers may wonder why I haven’t contacted Audubon. I haven’t because in talking with various people connected with them, I see no chance for reason.

As a side issue here, I wonder why environmental zealots don’t address the problem of mercury in what ought to be pristine Maine waters? Did you know that brook trout from Aroostook County, Maine, have a high mercury content? It’s true. The stuff is airborne, coming here from other states to the southwest. But that’s a political issue that won’t be easily won. Far easier to put the heavy boots down on fishermen.

Another lead item concerns non-toxic shot on migratory waterfowl. In heavily-hunted areas such as Merrymeeting Bay, a lead ban may have some small validity…not much, since lead is the next heaviest metal to gold and when it lands on a mud bottom, such as in Merrymeeting Bay, it quickly sinks. Even so, it’s possible that every decade or so, a duck could ingest lead shot.

But the lead shot ban exists everywhere, even on the ocean. When the ban was first imposed, I was guiding duck hunters out on Jericho Bay, a place with deep water and swift, powerful tides. No duck ever born could, even it if it wanted to, swim down to the bottom and pluck up a lead pellet. That is an impossibility. But still, lead shot is prohibited, even there. Even in the Bay of Fundy, where tides run faster than the average person can run, lead shot is banned.

The recent groundswell among the anti-gun crowd in Maine has brought up some interesting, needless proposals. Among them, Democrat lawmakers are proposing that gun owners have special liability insurance. Yes, you read me right. Mandatory, government-imposed insurance. Sound familiar? It’s scary. It scares me.

Also, holders of concealed carry permits would have their information made public. This would enable criminals to target their homes, looking for guns to steal. It just doesn’t make sense. To me, this sounds more like 1930 Germany than 2013 Maine.

And the latest bit of deviltry, that I heard on the news last night and which prompted me to write this blog, has to do with smoke from woodstoves.

The piece highlighted all the bad components of wood smoke. Well, duh, everyone knows that it isn’t good to breathe in smoke…any kind of smoke. But the new momentum has as its basis the simple fact that people can SMELL smoke from other people’s woodstoves. And if you can smell it, one man said, it is hurting you.

I often write about the almost cloying effect that the first whiff of woodsmoke on the air has on me each fall. One particle of woodsmoke per several million isn’t going to hurt me or anyone else. And yet the news story interviewed a man (someone obviously from some place other than Maine) who wants wood burning banned.

“I smell it when I walk my dog,” he said. To that, I made a gesture toward the television screen and quickly turned it off. And I’ll bet anything that this same man, who wants to take away our most renewable source of energy, walks his dog on other people’s property. I bet that in fact, he purposely takes his dog down the road so that it can defecate on someone else’s land. That’s the reason so many people walk their dogs on public places. Is there an irony here? I think so.

Anyway, I’m sure some readers will have different views on topics mentioned here. So be it. But as for me, I’ve had enough. No more. No more.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Tom,
    This was a really interesting piece--thanks for all of the info. It's nice to get the other side of the story to balance things out. Although I don't disagree with what you mentioned in regards to gun control it would be great if more gun owners stood up in favor of reasonable gun control. I'm assuming that you don't feel that there shouldn't be any restrictions? What would you support.