Four bills rejected that would have allowed Sunday hunting in Maine

By Pete Warner, Bangor Daily News Staff

Mainers who want to hunt on Sundays have been dealt another blow. 

The Legislature’s Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife on May 10 voted to reject four bills presented this session that would have afforded some hunters the opportunity to pursue game on Sundays. 

“I feel that if we opened up any hunting on Sunday, as well intentioned as Sunday hunting may be, then the deluge next year of Sunday hunting bills will be overwhelming,” said committee chair David LaFountain, D-Winslow. “I just have, I think, more consideration for the landowners.”

It’s the latest setback for Sunday hunting advocates in Maine, as these were the final bills concerning the issue up for consideration during this legislative session. Maine and Massachusetts are the only states that do not allow some form of Sunday hunting.

The only pending action that remains is a Readfield couple’s appeal to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court after their lawsuit to allow Sunday hunting as part of Maine’s landmark right-to-food amendment was dismissed in November. 

Two of the bills attempted to crack the door open on Sunday hunting by directing efforts toward youth hunters. LD 626 would have allowed most licensed hunters aged 18 and under to hunt wild animals and wild birds on private land on Sundays with the land owner’s written permission.

The committee voted 6-3 to reject the bill, with members citing a previous study done by the state in which many Maine landowners indicated they would post their land if Sunday hunting was allowed, among other reasons.

LD 672, which had proposed allowing youth hunters to hunt on Sundays as part of a youth hunting weekend, also was defeated by a 6-3 vote. 

The committee previously had voted to approve an amended version of LD 482 which, if passed by the Legislature, would allow youth hunters ages 16 and under to pursue deer on the Friday and Saturday immediately preceding the regular firearms season on deer in 2023.

That Saturday has traditionally been dedicated as a single Youth Deer Hunting Day in Maine.

The Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee also voted 7-3 not to support LD 1166. The bill would have allowed landowners with five or more acres of property to hunt animals and birds on their own land on Sundays.

Such a law would not align with the tenets of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation because it does not grant equal access to all citizens and instead would reward only some private landowners, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Judy Camuso explained.

The other Sunday hunting-related bill was LD 1241, which would have permitted hunting on Sundays while only using a bow and arrow or crossbow. The vote on that proposal was 7-3, ought not to pass.

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