Contact: Joe Mullin, Northeastern States Assistant Manager
Why it Matters: This bill would amend the current discharge distance statute in Maine, ultimately prohibiting the discharge of a bow within 100 yards of a dwelling or building. This bill would result in a loss of access for sportsmen and women – something that is commonly cited as the primary reason that lapsed hunters provide when responding to why they decided to stop hunting. Concerned landowners in Maine have the ability to post their respective properties, and they are encouraged to do so, rather than pursuing a blanket restraint that would close off significant portions of land. Even though such an action would result in a loss of access for Maine’s sportsmen and women, the overall effect of some landowners posting their individual properties and restricting public access would still fall significantly short compared to the detriments posed by LD 569.
Within the sporting community, archery hunting is widely understood to be a generally safe activity. Most hunters would not consider taking even a 50-yard shot, and typical hunting scenarios in the woods of New England are often significantly shorter. Why is it, then, that Maine saw a bill – LD 569 – that would put archery hunting in-league with firearms by instituting a setback of 100 yards? As is often the case, concerned landowners sought to implement legislation that fit their particular needs, rather than considering the detrimental effects that this bill would have on the remainder of the state.
To put this bill into perspective, a 100-yard setback for bows would effectively close-off an overall area of roughly 6.5 acres around each structure. Viewing this from a state-wide approach, 6.5 acres around every building in Maine would result in a resounding loss of huntable property. Maine, as well as most of the nation, has seen a generally declining trend in hunter participation over the past 30 years. However, Maine did see a bump in participation during the pandemic, and thus the state must capitalize on this increased interest. LD 569 is a step in the wrong direction, and the decrease in access that would result from this bill may ultimately lead to a further decline in hunter participation, thereby reducing conservation funding for the state through the American System of Conservation Funding.
For these reasons, CSF’s Joe Mullin, Assistant Manager, Northeastern States, submitted a letter of opposition to the Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and testified against LD 569 during its March 15 hearing. CSF will continue to remain engaged on the issue, and updates will be provided 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?