Nate Webb has researched and hunted animals I can only dream about; wolves, cougars, grizzlies
and even Big Horn sheep. I first met Nate when we worked on Maine’s bear management plan
for MDIFW. An avid outdoorsman, Nate is incredibly knowledgeable about all things wildlife in
Maine and beyond.
So, I was not surprised when I saw the notification that he had been named the new wildlife
director of the department. I sat down with Nate to go over some of his goals and reflect on all of
the impressive animals he has studied so far in his career.
I asked him the question “Now that you are the wildlife director, what’s on your priority
list?” and we went from there. “I want to make sure that we are working towards the broader
vision for IFW and following Judy’s direction and initiatives,” Nate started, “Obviously, we
want our staff to be well supported and get the trainings that they need so that they can be the
best at their jobs. We have a lot of people coming up for retirement so we are looking at the
future and how we can be the most successful.”
One objective that is weaved throughout the entire big game species management plan is
the need for communication with the public. How do you see that evolving? “We know that
we can reach hunters, trappers and anglers but we also want to reach the non-consumptive public
and let them know about what we are doing.” Nate continued, “For example, we just wrapped up
an eagle survey that was paid for with Pittman-Robertson money. We now know that Maine has
more nesting pairs of eagles than existed in the entire lower 48 when the recovery efforts began.
We need more people to understand the complete role that the department has when it comes to
all of Maine’s outdoor resources. And the funding behind it. Pittman-Robertson can be used for
mammals and birds but when we want to study pollinators, we need to find the funding to do
One of Judy’s goals is to get more women and youth into the woods and streams. How do
you see yourself working to make that happen? “That is a crucial piece of growing our
outdoor community. Across the country, you see license sales drop but if you dig deeper into the
data, you can see that women are buying more licenses and their growth is trending upwards.
We need to make sure that we are helping them feel comfortable and encourage them to get out
there. Our daughter sees my wife out there hunting and trapping, so to her, it is normal to think
that women and girls do that. I really want to utilize our R3 (recruitment, retention, reactivate)
initiatives and Information and Education department to promote and demonstrate ways for more
What other priorities are you looking at over the next few year? “Since the wildlife plan is complete, we can work to implement it and really work to communicate with the public on issues that are facing wildlife. We have a great team with Mark Latti and Emily McCabe,” Nate replied, “Our goal is to help hunters, trappers and wildlife watchers appreciate and understand the mission of the department.”
Anything else? “We want to tackle private land and how to ensure that it stays accessible. Maine is made up of almost all private land. If we don’t take care of the land that we are using, we could lose it. Out West, a lot of land is public so they don’t have the same concerns as we do when it comes to land. We need to make sure that we are respecting landowners and working with them so that everyone can have the best experience in the woods and waters as possible.”