Contact: Joe Mullin, Assistant Manager, Northeastern States and States Program Assistant
Why it Matters: Much to the surprise of those not on the Atlantic coast, there are states, such as Maine, that do not allow sportsmen and women to hunt on Sundays. This dated prohibition is one of the last remaining examples of the puritanical blue laws that were initially designed to encourage church attendance. Unfortunately, the ban harms the sporting community in a variety of ways in addition to state and local economies. Many individuals are unable to head afield during the normal work week due to conflicts with jobs, school, and extra-curricular activities, and are thereby forced to make a cost-benefit decision when considering purchasing a hunting license. An additional day to hunt would mean more dollars spent by hunters in restaurants, hotels, gas stations and stores throughout the state, boosting the state’s economy. Allowing farmers and other landowners to diversify their income sources by allowing an additional day of hunting on their land will also help to provide a large capital influx to rural economies that are hardest hit by the recent pandemic.
As most states have already recognized, restrictions on specific activities on Sundays are antiquated and irrelevant in today’s society. Over the past decade, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia have all made significant changes to their Sunday hunting laws, and in the case of West Virginia, have eliminated all restrictions on hunting on Sundays. Support for these antiquated bans often relies on unfounded safety concerns and the general belief that you “don’t fix what isn’t broken.” However, these perspectives fail to recognize the variety of benefits realized by the state’s sporting community and economy, and often discount the perspective of private landowners that wish to allow hunting on Sundays.
In their own respective ways, LD 1033, LD 1054, and LD 1212, intend to afford families seven-day hunting opportunities, presenting the very real likelihood that the state will see increased hunting license sales, which under the American System of Conservation Funding, would mean more revenue for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife for the purpose of carrying out critical conservation efforts.
Sunday hunting authorizations also reflect a strong support for landowner rights. Property owners already have the ability to limit or completely restrict access to their lands – these bills do not remove or change those capabilities. Instead, LD 1033, LD 1054, and LD 1212 would expand private property rights by allowing landowners to fully utilize their properties as they deem fit.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s (CSF) Joe Mullin, Assistant Manager, Northeastern States, testified to the effect of these arguments during the April 21 hearing, and submitted a letter of support that favored each of these bills. CSF will continue to provide updates on the topic of Sunday hunting in Maine as they are made available.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?