November 23, 2017

Why Is Baiting a Difficult Term to Define?

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It was a simple question…or so I thought, but it turns out that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) Communication Director opted not to define baiting of deer but to only refer to the Legislator’s creation of a law and/or suggested asking a Game Warden. Nice!

According to George Smith, outdoor writer and activist, he directed his question about what is bait to MDIFW because a reader wanted to know if a mineral block was considered bait.

It seems that Maine, under Governor Paul LePage, has channeled itself down the road more toward fascism creating such draconian laws with punishments not seemingly commensurate with the act and certainly not equitably administered to the masses. One example of such is the new law that punishes hunters for trespassing violations greater than any other labeled citizen.

The latest in the Maine Legislation’s attack on hunters, is another draconian law dealing with baiting deer. It is unlawful, and always has been to “bait” deer, i.e. to feed deer at a particular place for the purpose of lying in wait to ambush an unsuspecting deer…unless of course you are doing that over an “agricultural” crop.

The new law, shown below, prohibits placing “bait” someplace in order “to entice deer to that place.”

So what is bait?

Merriam Webster is all over the place in its definition of bait. Check these out as they seem to be dealing with the act of luring or enticing an animal.

2a :to harass (a chained animal, such as a bear) with dogs usually for sport

3a :to furnish with bait (see 2bait

  • bait a fishing line

 

  • bait a trap
b :enticelure 
4:to give food and drink to (an animal) especially on the road [Somebody help me out with this “especially on the road”]
And so I looked at “bait” as directed above and this is how Webster defines what bait is:
1a :something (such as food) used in luring especially to a hook or trap 

  • using worms for bait
b :a poisonous material placed where it will be eaten by harmful or objectionable animals
So much for that and does it really matter? Law makers don’t pay much attention to Webster’s definitions, or anybody else’s. They just do what they intend to do. And, as is usually the case, laws are either purposely written to confuse to keep lawyers wealthy or are poorly written and worded because the lawmakers are really ignorant. I’ll let you decide which applies here.
The Maine law now reads:
  • 11452. Baiting deer
  1. Prohibitions. A person may not, during an open hunting season on deer:
  2. Place salt or any other bait or food in a place to entice deer to that place; or [2003, c. 414, Pt. A, §2 (NEW); 2003, c. 614, §9 (AFF).]
  3. Hunt from an observation stand or blind overlooking salt, grain, fruit, nuts or other foods known to be attractive to deer. This prohibition does not apply to hunting from an observation stand or blind overlooking:

(1) Standing crops;

(2) Foods that are left as a result of normal agricultural operations or as a result of a natural occurrence; or

(3) Bear bait that is placed at a bear hunting stand or blind in accordance with section 11301, subsection 1.

 

Sec. 1. 12 MRSA §10659  is enacted to read:

  • 10659.  Feeding or baiting of deer
  1. Prohibition. A person may not place salt or any other bait or food in a place to entice deer to that place from June 1st to the start of an open hunting season on deer and, if all open hunting seasons on deer are closed before December 15th for that year, from the close of the last open hunting season on deer to December 15th.
  2. Penalty. A person who violates subsection 1 commits a Class E crime.

What I find most confusing is the wording: “A person may not place salt or any other bait or food in a place to entice deer to that place.”

The real kicker is “OR ANY OTHER BAIT.” So what is “bait?” Salt is clearly appointed and “to entice deer to a place” is mostly clear, although lawyers could have a lot of fun (make lots of money) with that.

The Communications Director refused to answer Smith’s question as to whether or not a mineral block was bait, instead referring him to the written law and instructing the person to talk to his local Game Warden. Huh? Maybe the director knows the law is vague and took the easy way out or he was doing what politicians do best – avoiding giving a direct and concise answer.

Is bait something edible?

I recall the story of traveling down the road one day during deer hunting season and spotting a deer (a doe) in the middle of a hay field seemingly eating something. I stopped my car (I didn’t have an “Any-Deer Permit”) and eventually discovered the deer was having quite an episode with the remains of a balsam-scented plastic container designed as an air freshener to be used in the home.

Was this “Glade” scent box bait? One has to wonder if this deer was attracted to it and a hunter intentionally put one out in the field to “entice deer to” it, would he be guilty of baiting deer?

Which brings us to the tens of thousands of hunters who regularly use scents for masking and luring. Are these now illegal? Will hunters be entrapped by wardens? And what of the scent making industry? Do they see this law as a serious threat to their economic well being?

What is most stupid of this entire stupid law, is that it makes no sense and is inconsistent with other restrictions and inconsistent with sanity. It is unlawful to “entice deer to a place” by “baiting” and yet it is not unlawful to hunt deer over standing agricultural crops or in fields where an agricultural crop has been harvested, such as a corn field, etc. Evidently it is okay to hunt deer over a bear baiting station. Huh? But to place a squirt of “Doe-in-Heat” in the middle of a buck pawing and climbing into your tree stand or ground blind, is “enticing a deer to a place” and is therefore illegal.

Let’s be reasonable here. Like with baiting bears, the need is driven, we are told, as a means of increasing the odds of successfully harvesting a bear for management purposes, i.e. population control. MDIFW doesn’t need to reduce deer populations, in most locales, and so baiting is not needed and evidently MDIFW believes baiting will cause an increase in harvest numbers….or do they?

MDIFW has always been opposed to winter feeding of deer for some good reasons and mostly for poor reasons…or no reason at all. So, when we see stupid laws like this, we ask ourselves is this just another incremental fascist step toward banning all forms of feeding?

Because hunters use a wide array of scent covers and lures, the law should be better defined. Obviously the lawmakers are probably not hunters and/or, if they are, never use scent covers or lures. Surely, the new law, placed in the hands of lawyers, will be ruled as prohibiting anything that might lure or entice a deer to a place. Beware your aftershave or deodorant.

It is common sense, when game managers don’t want hunters hunting over bait piles, to state the fact. In my travels, I have come across piles of apples in the middle of a pine grove (I call them pine apples) and I’ve also seen apples, cut up or smashed, placed in netted onion bags and hanging from a tree limb about chest high. This is baiting. Clear and simple.

Creating words that say it is unlawful to use any kind of “bait” to entice deer to a place, without providing a clear definition of the word bait, is arbitrary and seemingly capricious – capricious enough that if one didn’t think the legislators were so ignorant but knew exactly what they were doing, would be bordering on criminal. This sets the stage for hunter entrapment, which may be the intent of the law. I don’t know.

We live in a police state and Maine and many other states seem eager to create laws to bolster the police state. Ben Franklin once said that when the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When legislators pass stupid laws like this one, and the one that doles out greater punishment to hunters, it casts fear into the hearts of many and thus the result is a form of tyranny.

Why do we put up with this?

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