The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Landowner Relations Program is actively working towards enhancing the relationship between landowners and land users. With approximately 94% of the land in Maine privately owned, everyone MUST respect landowners and their rights. Landowner wishes have to be followed by all outdoor recreation participants to help ensure access and use of private property in the years to come.
The Maine Legislature has enacted laws that address the concerns of landowners.
Summarized below are several of those laws and a brief description of each. For further detail on these laws, consult Maine Revised Statues cited in parenthesis.
Landowner Liability (14 MRSA §159-A) Limited Duty
An owner, lessee, manager, holder of an easement or occupant of premises shall owe no duty of care to keep the premises safe for entry or use by others for recreational or harvesting activities or to give warning of any hazardous condition, use, structure or activity on these premises to persons entering for those purposes. This subsection applies regardless of whether permission has been given to another to pursue recreational or harvesting activities on the premises.
Exceptions to Limited Duty
Costs and fees
The court shall award any direct legal costs, including reasonable attorney’s fees, to an owner, lessee, manager, holder of an easement or occupant who is found not to be liable for injury to a person or property pursuant to this section.
Posting of Land (17-A MRSA, §402)
Posting may be done in one of the following four ways:
Other provisions of posting
Trespass Damages (14 MRSA, §7551-B)
Any person who enters the land of another without permission and causes damage to the property of another is liable to the owner in a civil action. Violations of this law will have the following results:
Unlawful cutting of trees (14 MRSA, §7552, and 17 MRSA, §2510)
It is unlawful for any person to intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or negligently cut down or fell any tree without the consent of the owner of the property on which the tree stands.
Abuse of Another Persons Property While Hunting (12 MRSA §10652)
It is unlawful to tear down a fence or wall, destroy any crop, leave open any bars or gates, or insert objects into trees on another person’s land without permission (see observation stand information).
It is unlawful to dispose of litter anywhere in this state except in areas or receptacles designed for that purpose. See laws pertaining to field dressing lawfully harvested wild game.
Civil Trespass (12 MRSA, §10657)
While engaging in any activity regulated by the Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, a person, knowing that the person is not licensed or privileged to do so, may not:
Definition of projectile: For the purposes of this section, “projectile” means a bullet, pellet, shot, shell, ball, arrow, bolt or other object propelled or launched from a firearm or a bow, crossbow or similar tensile device.
For information on other provisions of these laws, contact the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife at (207) 287-8000.
Commercial Shooting Areas
A person may not charge any fee for access to land if the fee is contingent upon the taking of game on that land or directly related to the taking of game on the land, unless the land is an authorized commercial shooting area licensed as follows: The Commissioner may issue licenses for the establishment and operation of commercial shooting areas, authorizing the owner of a commercial shooting area to charge others for the opportunity to hunt mallard ducks, pheasants, quail, Chukar partridge, and Hungarian partridge in that area (12 MRSA section 12101).
The operator of a commercial shooting area may authorize a person to hunt other wild birds or wild animals in a commercial shooting area during the regular open season on those species, in accordance with the provisions of 12 MRSA Part 13, as long as the person possesses a valid state hunting license that allows the hunting of those wild birds and wild animals.
The operator of the commercial shooting area shall provide to each person taking birds in that area a receipted invoice or bill of sale for possession and transportation of those birds.
Enforcement of the trespass laws of a commercial shooting area is the responsibility of the owner and may not in any manner be considered an obligation of the Department.