May 14, 2015

Maryland Reforms Waterfowl Baiting Law, Repeals “Strict Liability” Doctrine

Previously, Maryland law – unlike federal law – did not require criminal intent as a condition of violating the state’s migratory bird baiting law. In Maryland, as in many states, baiting for deer is legal, while baiting for waterfowl is illegal. Under the previous law, individuals could have been charged with baiting for waterfowl simply because elsewhere on the property someone was baiting for deer, regardless of whether the waterfowl hunter was aware there was bait nearby.

In response to this issue, the bipartisan Maryland Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus leadership introduced a pair of bills to ensure that in order to be charged with baiting for waterfowl it must be demonstrated that the hunter knows, or reasonably should know, that the area is baited. SB 88 was introduced by Past National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses (NASC) Executive Council President and Maryland Caucus Co-Chair Senator John Astle on January 26. Its companion bill, HB 170, was introduced on January 29 by Caucus Co-Chair and NASC Executive Council member Delegate Wendell Beitzel. Both bills passed their respective chambers unanimously, and SB 88 was signed into law by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan on May 12 at a ceremonial bill signing in Annapolis.

For more information on the Maryland “Strict Liability” issue, click here to read a detailed analysis submitted by the Maryland Hunting Coalition.

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?

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