April 2, 2023

Maine Now Offers Elitist, Privileged Moose Hunting Opportunities

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Here I go again about to make more enemies within the hunting community. Due to Maine Governor Paul LePage’s failure to veto a very bad hunting bill, “An Act To Promote the Maine Economy and Support Maine’s Sporting Camp Tradition” went into effect on January 12, 2014. The governor did not sign the bill either. By default, it became law.

The bill began as LD738 and then was amended, actually replaced by S-304.

It creates a new moose hunting permit lottery system for hunting outfitters, who may sell or transfer the permits as part of an eating, lodging and hunting package. The permits made available for this lottery, if any, will come from 10% of the number of permits that exceed 3,140, which is the total number of moose hunting permits issued in 2010. Individuals hunting with permits issued under this system must hunt with a licensed Maine guide. Proceeds of the new lottery system will be allocated to youth conservation education programs under certain conditions and any remainder will be allocated to the Moose Research and Management Fund.

This is wrong on many levels. First, this action steals away from Maine residents, the same opportunity as anyone else to have the opportunity to hunt a moose. Whether it is one permit or 1,000, any number of permits that are allocated to specific special interest or those only with the ability to pay more money than anyone else, is wrong.

Second, this is nothing more than government subsidizing of private business. What makes it doubly worse is that it is the conservation-minded hunters’ tax dollars, from fees paid for licenses, that provides for the management of moose herds in the State of Maine. Is it right then that those tax payers have their moose hunting opportunities taken away from them for the purpose of subsidizing Maine guides and outfitters, who, according to the stipulations of the bill, provides for the sale of moose permits to wealthy “sports” who can afford them.

Third, there exists a number of people in Maine who have never had the opportunity to hunt moose. Some have tried every year since the moose hunt was reimplemented. Think now how these few will feel? Many hunters each season lament the problems with the moose lottery in that with its design, some have obtained several permits while others have never received one. These hunters have demanded changes to a more fair system.

Fourth, none of the money generated from these moose permits that will go to the privileged will do anything to enhance moose hunting in Maine. One might be able to argue that the increased revenues would be used to improve the moose herd and overall bettering moose hunting opportunities, but it’s not set up that way.

Singling out sporting camps and in addition singling out only those sporting camps that meet certain requirements, perhaps above beyond even the majority of camps and outfitters, is doubling down on commonality while promoting privilege and elitism in the hunting community. Are these moose now property of the king?

I am all for enhancing hunting opportunities when the science dictates those harvest requirements. But those opportunities must be made available to ALL those who buy a license to hunt. Setting aside advantages to targeted groups is wrong.

The bill is designed to take advantage of a growing number of moose permits being made available because of a robust moose population. Should the number of permits drop below the 3,140, no specialized and privileged moose permits would be available. However, this last moose season, moose permits totaled 4,100 or 960 more than the 3,140. No matter what kind of spin you want to put on this, that’s 96 moose opportunities taken away from the residents of Maine, some who have been trying since the very first moose lottery system to get a permit. This just isn’t right.

Governor LePage should have stiffened his spine and vetoed a very bad bill designed to enhance the privileged while doubling down on the regular hunters of the state, stealing away their deserving opportunities to hunt moose.