The Fight for Sunday Hunting in Maine

Contact: Joe Mullin, Assistant Manager, Northeastern States

  • Earlier today, the Maine Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife held a public hearing and work session on LD 2014 – An Act Related to Sunday Hunting.
  • The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) testified in favor of this bill and emphasized the growing national efforts in removing Sunday hunting restrictions.
  • This legislation stems from a survey that was conducted on Mainers’ sentiments towards Sunday hunting, following numerous stakeholder meetings (of which CSF was a key contributor).
  • Sunday hunting prohibitions serve as a hurdle for existing sportsmen and women, a barrier to entry for those who are interested in learning to hunt, and a limitation on the potential economic benefits that the state would otherwise be earning.

Why it Matters: Restrictions on Sunday hunting are one of the last remaining examples of the puritanical blue laws that were initially designed to encourage church attendance. Unfortunately, individuals who are unable to head afield during the normal work week due to conflicts with jobs, school, and extra-curricular activities, are thereby forced to make a cost-benefit decision when considering purchasing a hunting license. As it relates to Maine, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation has been at the forefront, alongside in-state and national conservation organizations, supporting Sunday hunting authorizations throughout the legislative process and during crucial stakeholder meetings. 

Earlier this morning, CSF testified in support of LD 2014 – legislation that would permit 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. If you’re left wondering why there’s a geographic breakdown in the language of the bill, then let us bring you up to speed.

In April of 2020, CSF testified before, and submitted a letter to, the Maine Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife in support of three bills that sought to authorize Sunday hunting in the Pine Tree State. Of the three bills, one was amended at the committee level to require the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) to assemble a stakeholder group to “examine issues related to allowing Sunday hunting.” CSF actively participated in these meetings and worked alongside the other participants and MDIFW to put together questions that were then utilized in a state-wide survey on Mainers’ attitudes towards Sunday hunting. Following the results of this survey, the MDIFW reported back to the Committee on the survey findings, which have thus led to the introduction of LD 2014.

The past decade has brought a wealth of advancements in removing and/or lessening Sunday hunting restrictions. States such as Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia have all made significant changes to their Sunday hunting laws. Additionally, CSF’s Southeastern States Assistant Director, John Culclasure, was instrumental in passing legislation (in 2017) and regulations (in 2021) that opened up 1.6 million acres to Sunday hunting in North Carolina. As CSF has previously reported, Maine’s southern neighbor Massachusetts has taken steps towards opening up seven-day hunting seasons. As this evidenced, more and more states are realizing the benefits brought on by authorizing Sunday hunting.

Following the hearing, the Committee held a work session during which the bill ultimatelt died. CSF will continue to provide updates on the topic of Sunday hunting across the nation as they are made available.

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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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