When fall hunting season opens with the bear hunt on Aug. 29, bow hunters in Maine will be required for the first time to have an archery license and to have taken the bow hunter safety course.

A law change this year requires all bow hunters to have taken the safety course. And bow hunters are no longer allowed to hunt with archery equipment on a firearm hunting license.

Until now, only bow hunters who hunted the special archery season and expanded archery season for deer were required to have a valid archery license. Previously, those hunters who chose to hunt turkey, bear or moose with archery equipment were not required to have taken the safety course and could bow hunt on a firearm license.

The law change was made to keep the requirements consistent, said Christl Theriault, the assistant to the commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. However, Theriault said most bow hunters hunt the archery season for deer, or do so in the expanded archery season, and so most already have an archery license.

“Before, you could have a hunter who was hunting bear in September with a bow using their firearm hunting license hunting next to a bow hunter with an archery license hunting the expanded archery season. You’d have a person required to take the safety course and one who is not. It didn’t make a whole lot of sense,” Theriault said.

In 2015, there were 10,600 hunters who had purchased an archery license, which costs $27.

Theriault said the Warden Service would spend this fall educating bow hunters on the new law, and the law will be enforced in 2017.

To learn more, go to maine.gov/ifw/education/safety/

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