During the 2nd Session of the 125th Maine Legislature, Governor Paul LePage signed a number of pieces of legislation that will ensure a better future for Maine’s wildlife providing us with the tools to continue to improve our service on behalf of Maine’s wildlife population.
Some of those bills provide more than $350,000 toward programs that will reduce deer predation, increase fish stocking, and see to it that tagging agents can cover their costs. Also approved is a check-off program that allows license buyers to contribute toward improving deer habitat.
Another measure that was passed and signed makes Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and the Department of Marine Resources, eligible for tax increment financing. That means projects to improve Maine’s fish, wildlife, and coastal resources could benefit from tax breaks that others have enjoyed.
Below is a summary of the enacted laws pertinent to the upcoming hunting seasons.
Public Law, Chapter 668
An Act to Restore the Deer Herd in Certain Wildlife Management Districts
This bill gives the commissioner the authority to establish rules that prohibit the feeding of deer at any location if there is documented evidence of chronic wasting disease; prohibit or otherwise limit the feeding of deer if the department has reason to believe that the type or location of feed is creating a public safety hazard or having a detrimental effect on the deer. The bill encourages the commissioner to direct advisory council members to convene stakeholder groups in their area to obtain information and advice on enhancing fish and wildlife resource management in the State. At least once a year, the advisory council shall convene stakeholder group meetings in strategic areas of the State where deer populations need to be enhanced. It requires a check-off option on hunting licenses to allow for donations to the newly established Maine Deer Management Fund for predator control or deer habitat enhancement. This fund will receive revenue from deer registration fees – $2 from each registration will be deposited and split between predator control and deer habitat enhancement.
Public Law, Chapter 660
An Act to Increase the Amount Tagging Agents Receive for Tagging Game
This bill authorizes tagging agents registering deer, bear, moose or wild turkey to retain an extra $1 from the $5 fee collected. They will now keep $2 from the fee paid by hunters.
Public Law, Chapter 561
An Act to Repeal the Requirement That Canadian Big Game or Wild Turkey Hunters Be Accompanied by Guides Licensed in the State and To Clarify the Laws Concerning the Civil Violation of Trespass by Motor Vehicle
The requirement for Canadian big game hunters to secure the services of a guide was repealed in this bill. In its place is a prohibition, in Title 17, on parking a motor vehicle or allowing a motor vehicle under a person’s control to remain parked in a private drive or private way in a manner that blocks or interferes with the free passage of other vehicles without the permission of the owner of that private drive or way, or on a public highway in a manner that blocks the entrance to a private driveway, gate or barway. The penalty for doing so is a civil violation for which a fine of not less than $500 must be adjudged.
Public Law, Chapter 533
What is commonly referred to as the Department’s omnibus bill, contained minor changes including the ability for nonresidents who are suffering from the loss of, or the permanent loss of use of, both lower extremities, to apply for special antlerless deer permits. This was restricted to residents prior to this law change. It also changed the composition of the taxidermy board and we are currently in the process of making appointments to that board to provide testing for potential taxidermists.
Public Law, Chapter 576
An Act to Strengthen the Relationship Between Land Users and Landowners
An Act to Strengthen the Relationship between Land Users and Landowners was enacted and takes affect with the new licensing year beginning January 1, 2013. The intent of this bill was to “re-write” the landowner relations program with more concise language as to the coordination of efforts to: encourage landowners to allow outdoor recreationists access to their property to hunt, fish or engage in other outdoor recreational pursuits; foster good relationships between landowners and outdoor recreationists; and promote high standards of courtesy, respect and responsibility by outdoor recreationists in their relations with landowners. The noticeable change for license buyers will be the change to the name of the program that has funded landowner relation efforts — Supersport. The designation as a supersport will still be available, but under a different name. This will eliminate any confusion with the superpack license that is now available. Stay tuned for a new option through the licensing system and website for the ability to contribute to the Landowner Relations Program.
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.