Handgun hunting, youth days, moose permits, and more at legislature

Several interesting issues were debated yesterday by the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee.  Public hearings were held on 5 bills and work sessions on 2 bills.

Work Sessions

LD 881 would allow the holder of a super pack license who obtains an antlerless deer permit to also participate in an antlerless deer permit lottery. The Fish and Wildlife Department supported the bill. The committee unanimously voted for the bill and made it an emergency so that it can take effect this year, if the full legislature endorses it and the governor signs it.

LD 891 This bill allows the Commissioner of Inland and Fisheries and Wildlife to establish 3 consecutive days as youth hunting days for hunting bear and deer. The days would have been scheduled on a Thursday through Saturday. DIFW opposed the bill and the committee voted unanimously against the bill.

Public Hearings

LD 924, to remove the background check requirement for Maine guides who are at least 70 years of age or hold a lifetime hunting or fishing license, was opposed by the Maine Guides Association and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (DIFW).

LD 996 would allow establishment of a special handgun hunting season that coincides with the muzzle-loading open season on deer. In addition to the sponsor, one fellow spoke for the bill. The only opponent was DIFW.

LD 932 would allow family members to get a moose permit if the holder of that permit dies before the hunt. It turns out DIFW’s Commissioner already has the authority to do that, but that is not well known.

The committee heard the next two bills together.

LD 927 would require a person when removing a vessel from an inland water body to drain the vessel and other equipment and to remove or open drain plugs, bailers, valves and other devices to drain the water before that vessel is transported. It exempts emergency response vessels from these requirements. Committee members expressed many concerns about the bill, including the possibility that the boat could contain invasive species from somewhere else which would be drained into the lake.

DIFW Fisheries Director Francis Brautigam did express some concerns about boats from out of state. He also reported that the Department of Environmental Protection supported the bill.

LD 967 would prohibit seine fishing in great ponds. The sponsor said the concern is that seines could contain pieces of invasive plants. The MPGA expressed lots of concerns about the bill. DIFW spoke in favor of the bill while expressing some concerns about the bill.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.