The legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife disposed of more Sunday hunting bills quickly in a recent work session, and then spent a couple of hours working on deer and moose bills. We’ll report on the Sunday hunting and deer bills today.
LD 694, to allow Sunday hunting with deer rifles only, and LD 485 to allow Sunday hunting for migratory birds, got 8 to 2 ought-not-to-pass voted. Reps. Steve Wood and Tim Theriault voted in favor of the bills, as they have on all the Sunday hunting bills this session.
The committee voted unanimously against LD 1041 that would have extended the no-firearms-discharge distance from the road from the current 10 feet to 100 feet. Several of us joined DIF&W in opposing the bill, and Rep. Peter Lyford summed it up nicely, saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And they didn’t.
The committee also unanimously rejected LD 1038 which would have allowed junior hunters to take antlerless deer anywhere in the state on Youth Deer Hunting Day. Currently that is allowed only in WMDs that issue antlerless deer permits.
The committee voted unanimously in favor of LD 1002 which added .17 caliber Hornady Magnum Rimfire Rifle Cartridges to the cartridges that are legal for deer hunting.
While the hearing on LD 732, establishing antler restrictions, was lengthy, the work session lasted only a few minutes with a unanimous ought-not-to-pass vote.
After a lengthy discussion, the committee amended LD 767, sponsored by Rep. Harvell of Farmington, to prohibit deer feeding from June 1 to December 15. The original bill would have started the ban on August 15. The current ban only covers the deer hunting seasons.
I think the committee might have extended the ban to May or even April, but Judy Camuso of DIF&W wasn’t able to give them an official opinion on that.
Roger Lambert of Franklin County was allowed to speak at the work session and provided some great testimony on the problems caused by deer feeding in his area. “We’re raising a herd of goats, feeding deer year round,” he said. “This is a big deal up in the woods.” Roger told of many deer killed in collisions with vehicles, and deer wandering down into the village year-round looking for feed. He said hunters are now setting up along the trails that take the deer from the woods into the village.
The committee, with DIF&W’s encouragement, significantly increased the penalty for baiting deer during hunting seasons.
The amended bill, sponsored by Rep. Tuell of East Machias, will require a one year suspension of the hunting license for the first deer baiting offense, a two year suspension for the second offense, and a three year suspension for the third offense.
Current law calls for a suspension of all hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses for three offenses, and even the possibility of prison and steep fines.
The committee, at Rep. Tuell’s suggestion, took out the call, in the original bill, for mandatory $500 fines for a first deer baiting offense. Deer baiting is current a Class E crime, allowing a judge to impose a fine up to $1000.
The amended version of the bill won the support of all committee members except Rep. Tim Theriault.