From deer antler restrictions to life jackets, lots of bills are ready for action

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 Nearly 1/3 of the legislature’s 1900 bills have been drafted, and there are lots of outdoor issues on the agenda for hearings in the next month or so. Here are a few of the more interesting bills for those of us who enjoy the outdoors in Maine.

LD 61, sponsored by Rep. McCrea of Fort Fairfield, An Act to Allow Bird Hunting on Sundays by Licensed Hunters Using a Shotgun. I’ve predicted that none of the Sunday hunting bills will be enacted, or even win the support of the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee, but the hearings and work sessions will be entertaining to put it mildly.

LD 109, sponsored by Rep. Strom of Pittsfield, An Act to Allow Sunday Hunting by Landowners and Those with Landowner Permission. The last Sunday hunting bill I testified for, when I worked for SAM, would have allowed us to hunt on Sundays on our own land. Like all other Sunday hunting bills, it was easily defeated.

LD 62, sponsored by Rep. Lyford of Eddington, An Act to Remove the Prohibition on Baiting Deer. This one should be interesting!

LD 68, sponsored by Senator Davis of Piscataquis Country, An Act Regarding Maine’s Moose Lottery. This bill restricts eligibility to apply for a moose hunting permit to those 8 years of age and older. When the legislature eliminated the age limit for hunters last session, they opened up the lotteries for moose and any-deer permits to all ages, including babies.

LD 241, sponsored by Rep. Martin of Eagle Lake, An Act to Eliminate the Authority of Game Wardens to Violate the Hunting and Fishing Laws When Carrying Out the Duties of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. After the controversial news story by Colin Woodard about the undercover law-breaking activities of the Maine Warden Service, the Colonel announced that wardens would no longer break the laws while working undercover. So it will be interesting to hear their testimony on this bill.

LD 275, sponsored by Rep. Kinney of Limington, An Act to Expand Disabled Veterans Eligibility for Complimentary Hunting, Fishing, and Trapping Licenses. This bill expands that opportunity to nonresident disabled veterans who hold valid hunting or fishing licenses in the states where they are residents.

LD 277, sponsored by Rep. Stearns of Guilford, An Act Regarding the Use of Helmets of Minors Riding in an All-terrain Vehicle with an Adult. This bill allows kids to not wear helmets while riding next to an adult on an ATV.

LD 305, sponsored by Senator Cyrway of Kennebec Country, An Act to Require Permits for Wildlife in Captivity and Notification of the Escape of Exotic Wildlife in Captivity. This bill was sponsored by Senator Cyrway at my request, and would require permits for all exotic animals, and notification to neighbors and the Maine Warden Service if an exotic animal gets loose. I’m calling it the loose python bill.

LD 325, sponsored by Rep. Riley of Jay, An Act to Amend the Process for Distributing Any-deer Permits. This bill would establish a point system for those not drawn for an any-deer permit, to increase their chances in future years, and require DIF&W to issue any-deer permits to veterans without requiring them to participate in the lottery.

LD 341, sponsored by Rep. Wadsworth of Hiram, An Act to Promote Deer Hunting. This bill would limit hunters to bucks with 3 or more tines of one inch or longer along the main beam of either or both antlers.

LD 342, sponsored by Senator Maker of Washington County, An Act to Require the Use of Flotation Devices in Canoes. This bill would require you to wear a life jacket while in a canoe.

LD 343, sponsored by Senator Davis of Piscataquis Country, An Act to Prohibit the Discharge of a Firearm within 300 feet of a state-owned boat launching ramp.

LD 350, sponsored by Rep. Harvell of Farmington, An Act to Repeal Certain Requirements Concerning the Sale and Purchase of Firearms. This bill repeals the law that requires a firearms dealer who sells or loans a firearm to make a copy of the form the dealer must keep pursuant to federal law and to show that copy to a law enforcement officer or prosecuting attorney.

LD 351, sponsored by Rep. Spear of South Thomaston, An Act to Allow Municipalities to Prohibit Weapons at Municipal Public Proceedings and Voting Places.

LD 352, An Act to Require a Dealer to Sell a Gun Lock with Every New Firearms.

LD 359, sponsored by Rep. Ginzler of Bridgton, An Act to Protect Maine Lakes and Ponds from Invasive Species. Today motorized watercraft must purchase and display an invasive plant sticker. This bill would extend that requirement to nonmotorized watercraft.

Stay tuned. There are lots more bills coming! And if you want to follow the progress of any of these bills, you can do that on the legislature’s website. You can also keep reading my outdoor news!

Photo by Kerry Bickford.

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