October 22, 2019

Maine Governor Vetoes Two Hunting Related Bills

Maine Governor Paul LePage has vetoed two hunting-related bills – LD 1816 and LD 1823.

LD 1816 is a bill that would reduce the second offense penalty for hunting deer over bait from a lifetime license ban back to a two-year suspension. Here is the statement Governor LePage made public for his reason for vetoing the new bill.

[pdf-embedder url=”http://tomremington.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/LD-1816.pdf” title=”LD 1816″]

Governor LePage cited a reason for keeping the lifetime license suspension as punishment for a second offense as being a strong deterrent to stop illegal hunting of deer over bait. With unclear definitions as to what determines “bait”, it would appear that abuse by law enforcement and the courts could make for as much trouble as the handful of those charged with hunting over bait now.

Until such time as Maine can get their act together to better lay out the exact definition of “bait” and at the same time rid the conflicts between growing “crops” and hunting over those and hunting over bait placed by a hunter – as though growing a crop to hunt over is any different than dumping a bag of apples under a tree stand – I cannot agree with LePage’s veto of this bill.

It would appear that while it may be a strong deterrent, the punishment may not fit the crime when comparatives are made with all laws and punishments in Maine.

LD 1823 is a bill that made permanent a temporary law that allowed nonresidents to hunt on the “Residents Only” Saturday prior to the open season on deer, provided that nonresident owned at least 25 acres of land in the state. Here is the Governor’s reason for the veto.

[pdf-embedder url=”http://tomremington.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/LD-1823.pdf” title=”LD 1823″]

I never liked the bill in the first place. While it seems a good thing to make hunting opportunity available whenever possible, this kind of legislation simply reeks of preferred treatment, discrimination, and elitism.

Hunting should never be meted out in any fashion when determined by social status. Simply because a person is wealthy enough, or through inheritance, to own land equalling at least 25 acres shouldn’t give them privilege over someone else who doesn’t.

While LePage believes the Residents Day Only is special for Maine residents and should remain that way, consideration of making it also open to nonresidents should be all or nothing.

Let the discriminatory bill sunset. The veto was good.

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Bills to Modernize Endangered Species Act Advance Through Committee

Press Release from the House Committee on Natural Resources:

*Editor’s Note* – It is highly recommended that readers take the time to read the full text of each proposed bill. Links are provided. A synopsis, as is provided, often only relays what the author wants readers to read and not what a bill actually says and does, or does not do.

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 4, 2017 –

Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed five bills to reform the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) issued the following statement:

The ESA is a landmark statute created with noble intent. It also includes fatal design flaws that inhibit greater success and handicap state-led, science-based recovery strategies. These flaws must be addressed and the law must be modernized. This slate of bills provides a framework for this discussion that we will build upon in coordination with the Senate, Trump administration, states and all interested stakeholders. I thank the bill sponsors for their work on these important pieces of legislation and look forward to our work ahead.”

H.R. 424 (Rep. Collin Peterson, D-MN), the “Gray Wolf State Management Act of 2017,” reissues the final rules from the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to delist the gray wolf in the Western Great Lakes region and maintains effective state wolf management in Wyoming. The bipartisan bill passed by a vote of 26-14.

H.R. 717 (Rep. Pete Olson, R-TX), the “Listing Reform Act,” allows for the consideration of economic factors in threatened listing decisions. It also provides flexibility to agencies’ prioritization in processing listing petitions, which relieves FWS from excessive litigation and allows more resources to be used for species conservation and recovery. It passed by a vote of 22-13.

H.R. 1274 (Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-WA), the “State, Tribal and Local Species Transparency and Recovery Act,” fosters greater cooperation between the federal government and states by ensuring state, local and tribal scientific data is factored into ESA species listing decisions. The bill passed by a vote of 22-14.

H.R. 2603 (Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-TX), the “Saving America’s Endangered Species Act” or “SAVES Act,” removes duplicative permitting requirements for interstate movement of nonnative endangered species enhancing opportunities for conservation. The bipartisan “SAVES Act” passed by a vote of 23-16.

H.R. 3131 (Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-MI), the “Endangered Species Litigation Reasonableness Act,” combats the recent proliferation of ESA-related litigation by capping attorneys’ fees to the same reasonable levels allowed for other types of citizen lawsuits against the government. It passed by a vote of 22-16.

Click here to view full markup action.

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Anti-Foraging Bill Sponsor Doesn’t Want Bill to Pass

Yup! After all the hubbub about turning Mainer’s into hardened criminals for randomly picking a wild berry, the sponsor of a bill to ban foraging, while at the same time criminalizing anyone who might happen to be berry picking while carrying a weapon, has told the Department of Conservation Committee, he doesn’t want the bill to pass.

It’s nice to see that some can eventually see the stupidity of their ways. Thanks!

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Something Maine Sportsmen Can Sink Their Whine Into

According to George Smith, the Joint Standing Committee for Inland, Fisheries and Wildlife, voted unanimously to approve LD 1593 that was amended – I don’t have a full copy of the amendment.

Smith says the amendment goes with Maine Title 12, Section 10051 and is added (amended) to the end of the first paragraph, thus reading as follows: “The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is established to preserve, protect and enhance the inland fisheries and wildlife resources of the State; to encourage the wise use of these resources; to ensure coordinated planning for the future use and preservation of these resources; to provide for effective management of these resources; and to use regulated hunting, fishing and trapping as the basis for the management of these resources whenever feasible.” (Amended portion underlined.)

The best argument I can offer is that it’s better than nothing…maybe, and is better than what was proposed before. It will not accomplish what some think it will accomplish – protecting hunting, trapping and fishing. What it does do is give those who think it does, something more to whine about. This is not a mandate but merely a suggestion, with no teeth. It suggests that hunting, trapping and fishing “is the basis” for management. It does NOT say that hunting, trapping and fishing WILL be used for management, nor does it mandate the fish and game department to manage game species for the purpose of surplus harvest. It might provide a thin veil of protection against forthcoming lawsuit directed at banning hunting, fishing and trapping…but don’t bet the farm on it.

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Outdoors in Maine: Amendment may not be ‘silver bullet,’ but it would be well worth it

Earlier this month, two legislative bills that would, in all likelihood, represent a preemptive strike against the HSUS anti-hunting initiatives in Maine were heard by the Joint Legislative Committee on Fisheries and Wildlife. Basically, the two bills, LD 703 and LD 753, would amend the state constitution so as to protect the people’s right to hunt and fish and manage wildlife.

From all reports, these bills are going to get an inordinate amount of legislative scrutiny.

Source: Outdoors in Maine: Amendment may not be ‘silver bullet,’ but it would be well worth it

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Washington Bill Would Put More Wolves Over More of the State

Let’s dump about 6 packs of wolves in downtown Seattle!

“Kretz’s bill proposes to create a $1 million pilot program to move some wolves from northeastern Washington to other parts of the state to test how that concept works. It was one of several wolf-related measures heard in the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources in Olympia.”<<<Read More>>

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A Bill To Change Signature Gathering Process for Referendums

Hot off the latest vote by anti human groups to ban all things normal, a bill is being proposed in the Maine Legislature that would change the process of how signatures are gathered in order to petition the state to get placement of referendum questions on the ballot. At issue, for some, is the so-called loophole that allows for out-of-state persons to effectively gather signatures, even though Maine law says signature gatherers must be Maine residents.

The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine is supporting the bill. Executive director David Trahan says, “Just the fact that any group in the world could come in and cut a check and get their issue on the ballot,” Trahan said, “that should send a chill down everyone’s back in the state of Maine.”

According to an article in the Central Maine edition of the Morning Sentinel, the text of the bill, not yet released, would:

…clarify state law to say only Mainers can ask for signatures during citizen initiative and people’s veto drives, processes that allow citizens to make and repeal laws, respectively.

It would also make paid signature-gatherers for initiatives register with the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices. While gathering signatures, they would have to wear a badge that says their name, residence and who’s paying them. They would also have to tell the state what they’re paid and how many signatures they gather. Violating the new provisions would be a misdemeanor crime.

Some opposed to the bill say it isn’t necessary and tramples on the First Amendment.

Secretary of State, Matt Dunlop, says that he, “…don’t think there’s anything wrong with transparency.”

The difficulty, most always, with bill proposals to change and/or increase governmental regulation is all too often people fail to realize that laws created swing in both directions and place the same limits on everyone. While a bill today might seem to solve a problem of today, what happens tomorrow when the tide turns?

As with the proposals that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) should not be allowed to actively support or oppose citizen referendums, calling for transparency should be welcomed but a ban should not. Voters must know a department’s position and why. And yes, that door swings in two directions also.

I understand the call for preventing entities from outside the state from taking over the processes and priorities of the Maine people. An opponent of this bill proposal, a person who worked to collect signatures for the late bear referendum, called the bill, “a cowardly way to attack the initiative process.” He further explained that it was his belief that those who signed the petitions were more important than the process and that added restrictions drives up the cost of placing citizen initiatives on the ballot.

I’m not sure I would go so far as to call the bill proposal cowardly, as there is merit in claiming that the signature is more important than the process, providing that the process is legal and ethical and the gathering of signatures actually is a reflection of the citizenry as a whole.

When professional signature gatherers are paid, sometimes handsomely, to garner signatures, what happens to the process of approaching voters for their interest in the issue, especially if being paid an amount for each signature retrieved? There’s a good chance that the signatures do not represent the citizenry as a whole. Wasn’t the establishment of gathering signatures in the amount of a percentage of the last election intended to be a reflection of issues that would appear important enough to the people of Maine or any other state, to place a ballot initiative?

When signature gathering becomes a matter of enough funding to pay enough people ample money to harvest signatures, isn’t this a bastardization of the Initiative process? Can we then, with a straight face, say that the signature is more important than the process?

We might draw two examples that could provide reasonable substantiation of those wishing to change the process. Twice the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) brought a referendum against bear hunting and trapping to Maine – 2004 and 2014. Twice that referendum was defeated but not until after hours and hours of time and gobs of money were spent by both sides. After ten years of debates about bears and bear management, HSUS, able to buy the necessary number of signatures got their initiative on the ballot. Think of the large expenditures, on both sides and for what purpose? Evidently right now that purpose is a couple of proposals to change the laws in which both sides think it might “better the process”, perhaps better explained as increasing their chances of winning next time.

This has become part of the political process whether we like it or not. As with the bear referendum and the debates we were all subjected to, once again voters are being subjected to the same process, both sides wishing to make tougher laws. And when tougher laws are enacted, the people lose.

The people ALWAYS lose!

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Anti-Hunting Senator Takes Another Run at Nebraska Mountain Lion Ban

Despite having already suffered multiple defeats in his quest to ban mountain lion hunting in Nebraska, Senator Ernie Chambers has again surfaced with another attempt to ban the season.

With little more than a week to go in the 2014 legislative session, Senator Chambers filed a motion yesterday to yet again vote to over-ride the governor’s veto on LB 671, the mountain lion ban, despite previous attempts failing twice last week. Because the previous attempts to overturn the veto both failed, it’s up to Senate Speaker Greg Adams whether to suspend the rules to grant Senator Chamber’s another attempt.

In addition, Senator Chambers also filed his mountain lion ban language as an amendment to a bill dealing with insurance companies. Despite intense pressure from Senator Chambers, the amendment was ruled not germane to the bill. This means that the amendment was not closely related to the topic of the bill, thereby out-of-order and could not be considered.

“It’s evident that Senator Chambers is going to try every trick in the book to pass his anti-hunting agenda,” Evan Heusinkveld, USSA’s vice president of government affairs. “Senator Chambers has now turned his focus to derailing the legislative process as much as possible in an effort to force his way.”

Senator Chambers has also filed his anti-hunting amendment on 10 additional bills that are scheduled to be considered today.

“Senator Chambers’ amendment is not germane to any of those bills, either” said Heusinkveld. “Regardless, it’s clear that Senator Chambers is content to throw a wrench into the works until he gets his way. Nebraska sportsmen must be vigilant and call their senators today in opposition to this effort. Let your senators know that Nebraska sportsmen and women expect their wildlife to be managed by the professionals at the Game and Parks Commission and not by someone with an anti-hunting agenda.”

Take Action! Nebraska sportsmen should call Senate Speaker Greg Adams TODAY at (402) 471-2756 and let him know that sportsmen expect their wildlife to be managed by professionals, not anti-hunting politics. Nebraska sportsmen should also call their state senator today and ask them to stand up for sportsmen and vote against any attempt to ban the mountain lion season. To find your senator’s phone number visit the USSA Legislative Action Center.

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Washington State Senate Approves Bill to Kill Wolves Without Permit to Protect Property

As an update to a story I published earlier this week of two domestic dogs being attacked by wolves in Twisp, Washington, the Washington State Senate, by a vote of 25-23, passed a bill that would allow a person to kill wolves that are attacking or threatening their animals and livestock.

The bill now goes to the House.

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Sending The Wrong Message to Maine’s Youth Hunters?

Rep. Gilbert of Jay, Maine is sponsoring a bill that would give youth hunters, age 10-15, a chance to shoot an antlerless deer, without a special permit, during the regular firearm season. Let’s be clear, youth hunters in Maine already have their own Saturday before the commencement of the regular firearm season on deer to hunt and bag any deer, while abiding by the existing harvest laws. The bill is being opposed for all the wrong reasons from what I can see.

In an article that appeared in the Bangor Daily News today by Scott Thistle, middle school students from the Spruce Mountain School in Jay, appeared before the Maine Legislative Joint Standing Committee for Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, to tell why they support this bill.

The article offers two people who oppose this bill: David Trahan, executive director for the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and Don Kliner, Maine Professional Guides Association. Trahan says:

“This testimony does not reflect any of my personal or SAM’s position against young people hunting in the woods,” Trahan said. He said SAM opposed the measure because the number of youth that would be allowed to shoot a doe would have a big impact on the deer that are shot.

And Kliner adds:

The bill sends the wrong message, Kliner said.

“The reason why hunting has been so successful in not only bringing back wildlife populations that were once nearly extinct, including whitetail deer, is that we have rules,” Kliner said. “Rules to promote the conservation, the wise use of the species that we all hold so dear and reverently. I would argue that allowing children to disobey or not take part in the rules robs them of the opportunity to participate in the covenant of conservation that is hunting.”

Can anyone argue the fact that if we can’t get and keep kids in the woods hunting, trapping and fishing, it will not matter the impact on the deer herd or whether or not the wrong message is being sent? We can do better than this.

I fully understand Trahan’s and Kliner’s positions on why they oppose this bill. In addition, I would have to say that this bill, as written and blindly implemented would, more than likely, be a bad idea. This news report and the sponsor of this bill is void of any data needed to convince anybody the bill would work. Where are the data? Where are the numbers that can show the impact would be inconsequential and the effort beneficial?

I recall during the debate as to whether to allow a day for only youth hunters prior to the regular season giving those kids a chance to shoot any sex of deer, bald-headed or not. The claims went up then that the kids would destroy the deer herd. Question: Has that happened? Question: Where are the data to show the impact for or against?

While Trahan boasts of his ability to get the Youth Day hunt going, expanding on that program would seem a positive thing and not something to stop simply by stating it will impact the deer herd enough it shouldn’t be allowed. Will it? Where are the projected numbers to show that? Can the bill be amended so it will work? Is anyone looking into that possibility?

Kliner says we would be sending the wrong message to our kids that they need to follow rules too. Agreed, but is a flat rejection of this bill, without an honest effort to modify it to work, also sending the wrong message? A message that says I really don’t care enough to craft a bill that would work well.

We have had Youth Day for a few years. Certainly there must exist data that can give us an indication as to the impact. If my memory serves me correctly, Lee Kantar, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) head deer biologist, told me at the time of consideration to implement the youth hunt, that he didn’t believe the number of deer taken by youth on one day would have much impact at all. Does he still feel that way?

It is my understanding that in the wording of Rep. Gilbert’s bill, all youth hunters would have to abide by all the existing hunting laws, with the exception that they could harvest an antlerless deer without a permit. That would mean they follow the same harvest restrictions as everyone else, meaning they cannot shoot an antlerless deer in those Wildlife Management Districts where taking of antlerless deer is prohibited. That leaves those zones where permits are issued because the population of deer is such that a harvest of does is part of the management plan for deer.

It seems to me that biologists and wildlife agencies nationwide spend gobs of money creating computer models for just about anything they want an outcome for. Would it be that difficult at the onset of such a bill, to create a model, based on past history, as to how many of those youth hunters would shoot an antlerless deer and with that information, factor it into the logarithm used to determine the allotment of Any-Deer Permits? Can adjustments be made as part of the lottery drawing for Any-Deer Permits, that would give an advantage to youth? Can there be a way for an adult who draws an Any-Deer Permit, to sign it over to a youth? (Perhaps that already exists. Seems there is some amount of swapping of moose permits allowed.)

I think there are ample ways to make hunting laws that will encourage kids to hit the woods, rather that prop up a half-hearted effort thinking your doing the youth a favor. Now, you want to talk about sending wrong messages? Maybe it’s time to show the kids we adults really do care about the hunting heritage and their future in this sport by finding ways to make such proposals work.

I understand the process of proposing bills and the debates etc. I also understand that when bills are poorly crafted – no or little thought going into them, providing no data to support the need and impacts – they sometimes require an up or down vote. It sounds like David Trahan may have found himself in such a predicament. I don’t know.

It also appears that Rep. Gilbert, while his heart and his intentions where in the right place, a better effort should have been made to craft a bill that would benefit the youth, who are the only future to our hunting heritage, and at the same time providing statistical proof of how and why a well-constructed bill would not impact negatively the deer herd.

Rep. Gilbert, in my opinion, is on the right track. He just needs some help and cooperation from MDIFW and others more knowledgeable about crafting good legislative bills.

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