Each year our beloved legislators set their noses to the grindstone, trying to aid our safety and personal welfare.

While most of their legislative documents provide positive results, there are always a few bills that make us scratch our heads and wonder if their time might be better spent.

LD 557 prohibits hunters from “destroying, tearing down, defacing or otherwise damaging property posting signs” and calls for a mandatory one-year revocation of hunting and fishing licenses if convicted.

I suppose that makes sense though I’m not sure the penalty suits the crime.

There are far more lax penalties for far more egregious violations. Besides, it was already illegal to tear down posted signs. And why single out hunters? Is it legal for nonhunters to tear signs down?

I found LD 343, An Act To Prohibit the Discharge of a Firearm within 300 Feet of a State-owned Boat Launching Ramp, a rather peculiar proposal. That prompted further investigation, which only heightened my bewilderment; it seemed like a solution looking for a problem.


Testifying at a public hearing, the Gun Owners of Maine president, Todd Tolhurst, said “This bill would invent the new crime of discharging a firearm within 300 feet of a state-owned boat launching ramp.” He added, “It is not apparent what special hazard is formed by shooting in a safe direction within 300 feet of a boat ramp which happens to be owned by the state of Maine, which is not also a hazard when shooting within 300 feet of non-state owned boat ramps, or within 300 feet of state-owned facilities that are not boat ramps.”

The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine executive director, David Trahan, also testified against the bill, noting it’s too broad and would apply to very remote and rural primitive boat launches. He agreed with Tolhurst that existing laws more than adequately cover any conceivable manner of unsafe shooting. Nobody testified in favor of the bill, yet it was approved and becomes effective Nov. 1.

LD 426 allows “Hunters Whose Religion Prohibits Wearing Hunter Orange Clothing” to instead wear red. Like most folks I didn’t realize there was an issue, but according to testimony on the bill, it is the strong religious belief of the Amish community that lives in central Aroostook County that the bright color orange cannot be worn in any circumstance, even as legally required hunting attire required. To do so could result in banishment.

I’ve hunted in parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania where the Amish represent a significant proportion of the hunting community and they all wear blaze orange. Regardless, all the testimony was favorable and the bill passed. It definitely sends a message of religious tolerance but hopefully won’t open the floodgates to other colors.

Near as I can tell, LDs 1083 and 767 are a knee-jerk response to several proposals to allow deer hunting over bait. Maine prohibits the practice though numerous other states, including New Hampshire, allow it. Still, proposals pop up every year with a surprising level of support given how devastating it could be to Maine’s already tenuous deer herd.

Response to this year’s proposals was fast and furious. LD 1083 calls for a mandatory hunting license revocation for a first offense and permanent loss for a second.


That seems fairly logical, but LD 767 goes from the sublime to the ridiculous.

It prohibits putting out salt or any other bait or food to entice deer from June 1 to Dec. 15. Previously, one could place bait until two weeks before the season. The IFW wildlife division director, Judy Camuso, spoke in favor, noting, “Given all the issues associated with feeding and baiting deer (increased disease transmission, increased vehicle collisions, poor feed quality etc.), the department supports extending the prohibition.”

Interestingly, those are precisely the reasons IFW discourages feeding deer after Dec. 15, when it could have a marked effect, while feeding deer prior to hunting season would have little if any effect on those issues.

Meanwhile, other testimony supported the proposal based on the potential spread of chronic wasting disease, which doesn’t occur in Maine. Clearly this has nothing to do with disease and everything to do with pre-baiting.

I leave you with one more to ponder.

LD 305 increases the penalty for allowing wildlife in captivity to escape. A cheap lawyer could get this overturned with minimal effort. If you willingly and knowingly release an animal from captivity, it didn’t escape, it was released. If it did in fact escape, it did so, by definition, without your allowance.

Bob Humphrey is a freelance writer and registered Maine guide who lives in Pownal. He can be reached at:

[email protected]

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