Contact: Joe Bachar, Coordinator, Northeastern States
Why it Matters: The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has fought for years to protect and advance sporting heritages across the country. In the past year, Maine saw a variety of different sporting-related bills that were engaged on by members of the Maine Legislative and Gubernatorial Sportsmen’s Caucuses. With issue areas ranging from electronic registration of turkeys to a push for Sunday hunting, there is no doubt that sportsmen’s issues will remain in the spotlight in the coming years. CSF will continue to fight for legislation that safeguards our time-honored traditions and the conservation of our natural resources.
There is no question that sportsmen’s policies were front and center this year in the Pine Tree State. CSF alongside members of the Maine Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, in-state and national partners worked together advancing Maine’s outdoor sporting traditions.
In mid-March, CSF testified in favor of LD 2014 – legislation that would have permitted Sunday hunting north of U.S. Route 2 from the New Hampshire border to Bangor and north of Route 9 from Bangor to the Canadian border, while allowing Sunday hunting throughout the rest of the state, subject to written landowner consent. As was previously reported, CSF took participated in a stakeholder group organized by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) to examine this issue. CSF worked alongside the other stakeholder participants and MDIFW to put together questions that were then utilized in a state-wide survey on Mainers’ attitudes towards Sunday hunting. While LD 2014 ultimately failed, the data collected through the survey presented several potential paths forward on this topic for the outdoor sporting community.
LD 116 was introduced by Caucus Member Representative Scott Landry and signed into law by Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor Janet Mills. This bill requires MDIFW to report to the Committee of jurisdiction by January 2023 on suggested “statutory changes necessary to remove the distinction between hunting with a bow and arrow and crossbow.” In 2019, Maine passed legislation that authorized the use of crossbows for spring turkey season, fall turkey season through 2022, and deer during open archery season through 2022. Therefore, LD 116 was enacted with a sunset in the near future on these sporting activities.
Another bill introduced by Representative Landry and signed by Governor Mills, LD 1992, allows for the electronic registration of turkeys, enabling hunters to report their harvest more easily. These types of programs allow fish and wildlife agencies to effectively manage game populations through increased accuracy in population data.
This brief recap is not an exhaustive list of CSF’s policy involvement within the Pine Tree State. To learn more about the histories of these bills and more, we encourage you to check out Maine’s Media Room on CSF’s website
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?