The Maine Senate voted 20-15 to accept a bill that is believed to be protecting the heritage of hunting, trapping and fishing by prohibiting citizens’ petitions brought against the fish and game department and making it a “right” to hunt, fish and trap. With the passage of this bill vote, the actual bill will need to wend its way back through both the House and Senate where a 2/3 majority vote is needed. Should this pass both houses, then a vote must go to the citizens by referendum where a 2/3 majority vote is also needed.
LD1303 was a flawed bill from the onset and then an amendment was added. The amendment, “Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to provide that laws limiting hunting or fishing may not be proposed through a citizen initiative and that hunting and fishing and the taking of wildlife are a valued part of our heritage that must be forever preserved and regulated for the public good?”, takes away citizens’ right to petition the state and this action, in my opinion, is unconstitutional.
However, the basic proposed constitutional amendment, thought to be an effort that would protect and make it a right of Maine citizens to hunt, fish and trap, is focused on only providing the right and does not mandate the fish and game department to manage game species for surplus harvest. It seems to me the author of this bill is only thinking about environmental and animal rights groups that want to stop hunting, fishing and trapping. The question needs to be asked what good is a constitutional amendment to provide a protected right to hunt, fish and trap if there is no guarantee to make every effort to manage game species in a manner in which it will provide game to actually hunt, fish or trap?
On examination of the history of Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), we discover that policies and efforts within that department have been detrimental in ensuring Maine citizen’s have game to hunt, fish to fish for and fur-bearing animals to trap. Nothing in LD1303 ensures that MDIFW will always manage game for harvest opportunities.
I would suppose that if you trust your government and your fish and game department, this would not be of concern. Personally, I find it very troublesome.