I enjoyed the article about the Islesboro ferry, “The Commute,” so much. My introduction to the ferry was on my first visit to my future in-laws in the fifties. The captain allowed me to “steer” the ferry. Pretty exciting stuff for a city girl! And I had to laugh (a little bitterly) at the comment about following the rules. I inadvertently chose the wrong lane to board the ferry. The attendant saw what I did, but allowed every car to board before me, and I had to wait for the next trip. It all turned out well, though, because while I waited, I had a wonderful conversation with the attendant and his wife. That’s the way things go on Islesboro. It is such a place apart and some of its special nature is due to the necessity of riding the ferry.
North Palm Beach, Florida
EARTH AT HIDDEN POND
We were delighted to be told by friends that our work made its way into Down East by way of photos of Earth at Hidden Pond in Kennebunkport. My husband, Steve Doe, crafted the obelisk outside the pictured shed and manipulated the tree with lights in Earth. Who knew, a guy who started his business by picking up fallen arborvitaes after the Patriots’ Day storm several years ago might make good fodder for a story at some point!
Whitten Hill Studio
COUGARS IN MAINE
As a wildlife biologist, I applaud your August story on Maine’s mountain lions, “Shadows In The Woods,” by Paul J. Fournier. Mr. Fournier correctly concludes that mountain lions in Maine are either released pets or escapees. This news will not sit well with diehard mountain lion romantics who believe Maine has a remnant wild population. Annual winter mammal track surveys by wildlife biologists since the 1970s reveal no evidence of mountain lions. I spent the better part of four winters on snowshoes conducting mammal track surveys in dozens of deer wintering areas (DWAs) from Clayton Lake south to Moosehead Lake. Tracks of every species of predator were recorded, including the rare Canada lynx. My snowshoe trails never crossed a mountain lion track in any DWA. This included one spanning five thousand acres on Big Scott Brook that supported five hundred deer, the primary diet of mountain lions. It stands to reason that if wild mountain lions exist in Maine they would be preying on deer, especially during winter months when deep snows confine deer movement. Tracks and scat of coyotes and bobcats — also efficient predators of deer — were recorded, but no signs of lions.
The question isn’t whether a few people are correctly identifying a stray mountain lion. Some mountain lion sightings are valid, as Fournier’s article states. Rather the question should be, what is the origin of the mountain lions that people are reporting?
Pet mountain lions have been legally (with wildlife import permits) and illegally brought into the state. They either escape captivity or are intentionally released. Pet lions become too expensive to feed or they use the family sofa as a scratching post one too many times. These are the mountain lions that people report. If Maine has a viable lion population, as some claim, why are no cubs reported or photographed? Why hasn’t a cub been killed by a vehicle in Maine or caught in a leg-hold trap set for coyotes?
Where in Maine?
Photograph by Alan Lavallee
“Where in Maine?” is of Ram Island Lighthouse in Boothbay Harbor. Also easily seen in the harbor is Burnt Island Lighthouse and keeper’s house, which can be visited by commercial boat in July and August and private boat any
day. Nearby, seen from many vantages in the area, is Cuckolds Lighthouse, which can be seen close-up from the town pier at Newagen on Southport Island. Seguin Island Lighthouse is visible across the mouth of the Sheepscot River from the same point.
This is a picture of Ram Island off Ocean Point in Boothbay Harbor. The island on the left is Fisherman’s Island. Ram Island Light is a directional lighthouse, which means it has both red and white lights showing at night. If a mariner can see the white light, they are safe. But, if they see the red light, they are sailing on the wrong course. In between Ram Island and Fisherman’s Island is a very narrow but deep passage that almost any boat can navigate and there is a public buoy in the channel that any craft can tie up to and spend a delightful summer day relaxing and doing such things as reading Down East.
Nancy Keating and Michael McCab
Our Favorite Letter
We just received our August issue, opened it to “Where in Maine?” and were delighted to see a Hinckley 43 sailing past Ram Island Light, a favorite sailing passage of ours, when we realized the photo was of us aboard our boat Jubilee! We were returning from a Down East cruise heading for Robinhood Marine Center, where we’ve moored our boat for the last sixteen years. While our winter home is in Arlington, Virginia, we spend our summers sailing the Maine coast and now have a residence in Georgetown.
Stephen S. Fuller and Susan Bateson
Arlington, Virginia, and Georgetown, Maine
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