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USDA Approves Maine Hemp Production Plans
Friday, September 04, 2020
AUGUSTA - On Wednesday, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved Maine's hemp production plans. With the approval, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) assumes primary regulatory responsibility for hemp production within its jurisdiction, under the oversight of the USDA Domestic Hemp Production Program.

"Hemp is becoming an important part of Maine's agriculture sector. Approval of our hemp production plan means Maine's growers will have certainty about the expectations and guidelines for hemp cultivation for the coming years," commented DACF Commissioner Amanda Beal.

Because Maine allows for hemp production under existing state law, the Department must act to reconcile the differences between its existing program and the Interim Final Rule during the upcoming January 2021 legislative session. The statutory changes and subsequent rulemaking will authorize hemp production and provide the Department with the authority needed to regulate hemp production in a manner consistent with the 2018 Farm Bill and the USDA's Interim Final Rule that establishes the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program.

Maine's hemp program has been in place since 2016, beginning with one grower who harvested seed from less than an acre. Today the program includes 110 outdoor licenses and 362 licensed acres of planted Hemp and seven indoor grower licenses, with over 22,700 licensed square feet planted. Hemp is grown in every one of Maine's 16 counties, and the varieties grown thrive in all parts of the state.

Maine CDC Offers Tips to Avoid Rabies Exposure from Bats
Friday, September 04, 2020
MAINE - The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) urges Maine people to take steps to limit exposure to rabies during the time of year when bats are most active, which extends from August into early September. Maine CDC encourages people to be cautious around bats, enjoy them from a distance, and know what to do following an exposure to a bat.

Bats play an important role in local ecosystems, but they can spread viruses such as rabies, which can be fatal in humans, pets, and livestock. Timely treatment following a rabies exposure is effective in preventing disease in humans. Human rabies cases are rare in the United States, and Maine last reported a human rabies case in 1937. However, the rabies virus is naturally found in Maine wildlife including bats, foxes, raccoons, and skunks. In 2019, bats accounted for 40 percent of the 644 animals submitted to the Maine state lab for rabies testing, with nine bats testing positive for rabies.

The rabies virus spreads when infected mammals bite, and in some cases scratch, other mammals. Contact with an infected mammal's brain tissue or spinal cord can also transmit the virus to humans and pets. The virus is not transmitted in blood, urine, feces, skunk spray, or dried saliva. A rabid animal may show a variety of symptoms or no symptoms at all, so always be cautious around wildlife, including bats, or any animals you do not know.

Bat Exposures
A bat exposure includes bat bites, scratches, or handling a bat without gloves, but may also include awaking to a bat in the bedroom or finding a bat in a room with an unaccompanied child or incapacitated adult. For pets and livestock, this may include holding a bat in their mouths or being in the same area as the bat, such as a living room or barn.

It may be difficult in some situations to tell if a bat exposed a person or domestic animal. Therefore, bat exposures should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and always treated with caution.

Contact your health care provider about any potential exposure. The following steps are recommended if you, someone under your care, or a pet is exposed to a bat.

Trapping and Releasing Bats

  1. Always attempt to capture the bat if you can safely do so.
  2. Never handle a bat with your bare hands. Wear thick gloves, if available.
  3. Put a container over the bat once it lands, then gently slide some cardboard underneath.
  4. Take care not to damage the bat's head. Damaging the head can invalidate rabies testing.
  5. Only release the bat outdoors if you are certain no people or pets were exposed.
  6. If there is any uncertainty, call Maine CDC before releasing the bat.
Submitting Bats for Rabies Testing
  1. Bats can be tested for rabies at Maine's Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory.
  2. If a person or pet is exposed to a bat, contact your nearest Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife's (Maine IF&W) Warden Service Dispatch Center. A Game Warden will pick up and deliver the bat to the state lab for rabies testing.
  3. An epidemiologist will follow up with results on any bat that tests positive.
  4. Lab results for bats submitted before 9 a.m. are usually available the same day.
Rabies Treatment in Humans
  1. Rabies treatment is called rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).
  2. Rabies PEP should be administered within 10 days of an exposure.
  3. In most cases, rabies PEP can wait until lab results come back for the tested animal.
  4. People exposed to bats should contact their health care providers.
  5. Health care providers will make the decision to begin or discontinue rabies PEP.
Rabies Management in Pets and Livestock
  1. If your pets or livestock are exposed to a bat, call your veterinarian.
  2. Domestic animals exposed to bats may need to be quarantined in order to rule out rabies.
  3. Keeping your pets up to date on rabies vaccination can reduce quarantine times.
Bat-Proofing Buildings
  1. If you have ongoing issues with bats, contact a Maine IF&W Regional Wildlife Biologist who can talk to you about your options for removing bats from the building.
Bats and COVID-19
  1. To date, there are no reported cases of SARS-CoV-2 in North American wildlife, including bats. Mainers are unlikely to get COVID-19 when interacting with bats and other wildlife.
For more information:
  1. Maine CDC Rabies webpage: www.maine.gov/dhhs/rabies
  2. Maine IF&W Bats webpage: www.maine.gov/ifw/fish-wildlife/wildlife/living-with-wildlife/avoid-resolve-conflict/bats.html
  3. Maine CDC disease reporting & consultation line: 1-800-821-5821 (available 24/7)
  4. Maine IF&W Game Warden Dispatch Centers (for bat pick-up and delivery)
  5. Augusta: 1-800-452-4664
  6. Bangor: 1-800-432-7381
  7. Houlton: 1-800-924-2261
  8. Maine IF&W Regional Offices: www.maine.gov/ifw/about/contact/department-directory.html

Maine Bureau of Agriculture warns of unsolicited packages of seeds from China
*Do not plant them and report it to Division of Animal and Plant Health*
Thursday, July 30, 2020
AUGUSTA - In Maine and across the US, people are reporting receiving unsolicited packages containing seeds from China in the mail. The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) Bureau of Agriculture is advising anyone who gets these packages to not open or plant the seeds. Recipients are asked to contact either DACF's Division of Animal and Plant Health, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., at (207) 287-3200 or by emailing horticulture@maine.gov or the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal Plant Health Inspection Service - Plant Protection and Quarantine office in Hermon, ME, at (207) 848-0008. Recipients should hold onto the seeds and packaging, including the mailing label, until someone from DACF or USDA gets in touch with further instructions. Please do not plant seeds from unknown origins.

The seeds are usually sent in white packages displaying Chinese lettering and the words "China Post." Most recipients say they did not order anything, and that the packaging was labeled as jewelry. Some recipients have reported ordering seeds on Amazon and receiving these seeds.

The United States Department of Agriculture's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service's Plant Protection and Quarantine Smuggling, Interdiction and Trade Compliance Unit is currently investigating this situation across the nation.

Maine Secretary of State Kids' Page
MAINE - For the young and young at heart, Maine's Secretary of State Charles E. Summers, Jr. has a kids' page full of interesting facts and figures about the Pine Tree State. From games to student programs, and from details about Maine Government and its Constitution to State symbols and contests, this site is a great resource for those wanting to know more about Maine.

Call 2-1-1 Maine
MAINE - 2-1-1 Maine is an easy-to-remember telephone number that was created by the United Ways of Maine, in partnership with Youth Alternatives Ingraham and the State of Maine. The goal of 2-1-1 Maine is to provide resource information on topics including, but not limited to, energy assistance, emergency shelter, consumer help, food, and senior services.

2-1-1 Maine includes a statewide directory of over 5,000 resources, including support groups and agency services. To access this list, please visit www.211maine.org.

You may contact 2-1-1 Maine by dialing 2-1-1. The call center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. E-mail may be sent to info@211maine.gov. All calls and e-mail are kept confidential.

Rules For Displaying The American Flag This Flag Day
Flag Day is Monday, June 14th. Inspired by decades of state and local celebrations, Flag Day was officially established with a Proclamation by President Woodrow Wilson on May 30th, 1916. On August 3rd, 1949, President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day. Here are the regulations from the US Flag Code Title 4 Chapter 1 for citizens who would like to display the American Flag:
  • It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.
  • The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
  • The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all weather flag is displayed.
  • The flag should be displayed on all days, especially on New Year's Day, January 1st; Inauguration Day, January 20th; Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, third Monday in January; Lincoln's birthday, February 12th; Washington's birthday, third Monday in February; Easter Sunday (variable); Mother's Day, second Sunday in May; Armed Forces Day, third Saturday in May; Memorial Day (half-staff until noon), the last Monday in May; Flag Day, June 14th; Father's Day, third Sunday in June; Independence Day, July 4th; National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day, July 27th; Labor Day, first Monday in September; Constitution Day, September 17th; Columbus Day, second Monday in October; Navy Day, October 27th; Veterans Day, November 11th; Thanksgiving Day, fourth Thursday in November; Christmas Day, December 25th; and such other days as may be proclaimed by the President of the United States; the birthdays of States (dates of admission); and on State holidays.
  • The flag of the United States of America should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of States or localities or pennants of societies are grouped and displayed from staffs.
  • When flags of States, cities, or localities, or pennants of societies are flown on the same halyard with the flag of the United States, the latter should always be at the peak. When the flags are flown from adjacent staffs, the flag of the United States should be hoisted first and lowered last. No such flag or pennant may be placed above the flag of the United States or to the United States flag's right.
  • When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height. The flags should be of approximately equal size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace.
  • When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union should be uppermost and to the flag's own right, that is, to the observer's left. When displayed in a window, the flag should be displayed in the same way, with the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street.
  • The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.
  • The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.
  • The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning. (Many American Legions offer this service. Check with your local groups.)
These guidelines were submitted by the Somerset County Cooperative Extension Office.

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