August 23, 2019

Maine’s Legislature Overrides LePage’s Anti-Hunting Veto

How much clearer do you send a message to the governor than to override his veto in both houses with unanimous votes? Such was the case in Maine as the Legislature by votes of 33-0 in the Senate and 148-0 in the House overrode Governor LePage’s veto of bill LD 1816.

If you recall I recently made comments on two bills that the governor signed his veto to – LD 1816 and LD 1823.

LD 1816 was more of a discriminatory bill than anti-hunting. This issue stems from making laws to stop illegal baiting of deer for hunting purposes. The initial passage of a bill aimed at addressing this concern came last year when the Legislature passed LD 1083. In that bill, the punishment for a second offense of hunting over bait required a lifetime loss of hunting privileges. Some, like Sen. Davis, believed that punishment to be beyond the scope of the severity of the crime and wished to amend that bill to make a second-offense punish a two-year license loss. LD 1816 passed both houses but the governor vetoed it. The vote to override was unanimous.

In my comments about LePage’s veto I wrote: “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.”

Senator Paul Davis was quoted in the Piscataquis Observer that: “The fact of the matter is, deer baiting laws only really apply to hunters who don’t have the economic means to purchase land and manage for crops that attract deer. It is perfectly legal to hunt over a crop, yet it is illegal to hunt deer over a pile of apples. This discrepancy in Maine law treats some hunters differently than others, and I don’t believe that it is fair. That’s why I feel strongly that this crime shouldn’t carry a more severe penalty than other crimes that are much worse, such as hunting game out of season or illegal night hunting.”

Now perhaps it is time for some Maine politician(s) to do the right thing and step forward to change the recent law (LD 557) passed that wrongly punishes hunters more than all others for the same crime. Unconstitutional Animus, or a serious violation of equal protection under the law, does not permit a more severe punish against one group over another. Last June (2017) I wrote: “I believe the term that might apply to such an egregious violation of due process, can be found in Supreme Court cases that involve “unconstitutional animus.” If you Google that term, you can spend hours reading about what this term is and how it affects all of us. In brief, unconstitutional animus is a violation of equal protection under the law. In this case, a hunter or fisherman is not afforded the same due process and equal protection as someone else who might commit the same crime.”

The Maine legislature has righted one wrong in bringing the punishment for hunting over bait back to something more sensible. They still need to clear up the contradictions and definitions between hunting over a crop and hunting over a bait pile.

Now if they can straighten out this ridiculous discriminatory law that targets hunters for greater punishment than all other groups, things would be better off.

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Again Amish Seeking Special Interest Hunting Privileges

A proposed Maine bill, LD 426, would provide an exception for the Amish, who claim they are opposed to wearing bright-colored clothing, to wear “red” while hunting instead of the required hunter or blaze orange.

“SUMMARY – This bill allows a hunter whose religion prohibits the wearing of hunter orange to instead wear red. It also directs the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to amend its rules to reflect this exemption.”

Questions that need to be answered:

1. This proposed bill does not allow for the definition of “religion” nor does it specifically exempt the Amish from wearing hunter orange. Any “religious” group would be exempt. What can of worms is this going to create? What other groups will seek preferential treatment or exemptions from Maine laws.

2. By allowing an exemption to special interest groups, which any “religious” group is, setting of such a precedent could have far reaching future problems. Has this been thought through completely?

3. According to testimony by a member of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, who support the passage of LD 426, it was stated that this bill would, provides visibility for a hunter and a choice for persons who have a religious opposition to wearing orange.” [emphasis added]. An interesting perspective, when the overwhelming majority of hunters are required, by law, to wear the blaze orange, evidently if you are religious, the increased visibility is not necessary? In addition, it was also stated that if Amish (religious) people took their children hunting, it would be left up to the parents as to whether or not they needed to be seen. Clearly this is a double standard. I understand the so-called “religious” aspect, although it appears that the Amish prohibition against wearing bright clothing is not practiced or enforced universally. Last time I checked it was a legal REQUIREMENT that hunters wear blaze orange. Isn’t this a public safety issue and not one of fashion? Which brings us now to the next question.

4. If all “non-religious” hunters who wear blaze orange are in the woods hunting with “religious” hunters wearing, instead, red, even though the law states that a hunter must know his/her target, is the legal onus and liability now placed doubly so on the “non-religious” hunter to learn to recognize a “religious” hunter not wearing blaze? What is the difference in exempting all hunters and giving them the choice, over allotting this privilege to a religious person? Should this bill proposal exempt “non-religious” hunters from liability for “accidentally” shooting a “religious” hunter because he was allowed to not follow the same rules of safety?

Perhaps it is time for the “religious” people to lobby God and ask Him for an exemption to a seemingly silly requirement. For by Grace are you saved, by Faith, not according to the color of the clothes you wear.

However, last night god spoke to me directly and instructed me to never wear hunter orange. I must now lobby the government for a preferentially treatment law. How can the State deny me or anyone else who makes such a claim, from being granted this exemption?

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Maine Hunting and Trapping Laws Available Online

Press Release from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife:

Hello-

Just a note to let you know that the 2015-2016 Hunting and Trapping Law Book is now available from licensing agents throughout Maine.

Bowhunters should be aware that the dates for the expanded archery season were printed incorrectly on page 19 of the law book. The correct dates for the expanded archery season are September 12, 2015-December 12, 2015.

The correct season dates are reflected in the online version of the law book, which can be viewed by visiting: http://www.eregulations.com/maine/hunting/

Stay safe and enjoy your time in the Maine outdoors!

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Bill would allow Maine Amish hunters to wear red instead of orange

*Editor’s Note* – Let’s forget about the “religious” aspect of the whats and whys of the Amish request to be exempt from wearing blaze orange when they hunt. That is a day-long debate with no end in sight. Consider what we have been told when the government forced hunters to wear blaze orange. And now consider what we are being told in regard to why a proposed exemption for the Amish bill should be passed.

The idea of blaze orange, we were told and everyone believes, was to be “safely” spotted by other hunters in the woods during deer season. It wasn’t just good enough that hunters HAD to wear an article of bright orange, it had to meet certain luminous minimum standards and cover head and a major portion of the torso. In addition to this forced requirement on the people, the law was changed that basically said a hunter was 100% responsible for any decision to pull the trigger and what happens to the bullet once it leaves the breech.

If all of this government intrusion is so important to the safety of everyone, why then should there be any exemption from participating in a government-mandated program?

If we look at the article, linked to below, read what lawmakers and others are telling us now about how there shouldn’t be any concern if Amish hunters hit the woods in red instead of hunter orange.

1. The Amish faith prohibits the use of bright colors
2. Amish hunters are forced to use the bright, fluorescent hunter orange to comply with safety regulations
3. the requirement to wear orange clearly conflicts with the Amish’s religious beliefs.
4. We should all be free to stick to our religious convictions
5. They just want to have the same opportunities as other hunters in Maine. (They do already.)
6. remedy the situation in the Legislature “while at the same time maintaining high hunting safety standards in Maine.”
7. The senate president said he did not believe safety would be an issue.(emboldening added).
8. “With all of the current laws and the hunter safety classes, we are past the time when people just point a gun at anything that moves and shoot it,”(emboldening added).

If the Maine Senate president and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee’s “some concern for safety,” are right, then why is there a requirement by the government to make anybody wear hunter orange? This makes no sense at all.

One might even ask if a “religion” prohibits wearing bright colors but allows for killing wild animals, what kind of “religion” is that? In addition, it would seem to me that if hunting is so important to certain members of the Amish faith, then the Amish “religion” needs to draw up their own exemptions to laws. Isn’t it a bit hypocritical to ask of another something they are not willing to do?

If the Maine Legislature agrees to pass legislation exempting the Amish from wearing hunter orange, then one of two things, or both should also happen: 1. Wearing of blaze orange should become optional for everyone, and 2. Hunters who might accidentally shoot an Amish hunter, not wearing orange, will not be held responsible for “accidentally” shooting someone.

Mind you these suggestions are based on what we have been told about hunter safety, the effects of being forced to wear hunter orange clothing and what we are being told now about safety should not be an issue if the Amish don’t wear orange. Evidently we have moved beyond that requirement.

Hunting is a privilege and is deeply ingrained into the fabric of Maine’s heritage. Everyone, of legal status, has the right to purchase a license and hunt…legally, and all participants must abide by the laws that regulate hunting…this includes the wearing of blaze orange. A person chooses their religion. If providing an exemption to the Amish to not wear bright colors is good enough for the Amish, then it should be good enough for everybody.

I suggest that if the Amish provide their own exemptions to allow their followers to hunt.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Emergency legislation was submitted Tuesday to allow Amish hunters to wear red items of clothing instead of the standard orange during hunting season. The Amish faith prohibits the use of bright colors, but Amish hunters are forced to use the bright, fluorescent hunter orange to comply with […]

Source: Bill would allow Maine Amish hunters to wear red instead of orange — Politics — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine

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Maine Clarifies Deer “Driving” Law…..Or Does it?

The Maine Warden Service (MWS) once again has attempted to define, redefine, examine, reexamine, improve, shorten, make better or choose any other description, but MWS says they have a solution in defining the law about driving deer. Finally, no more questions!

First, to clarify what “driving” deer is, it is an organized effort to force deer into a specific place where a shooter lies in ambush (my definition).

So, Maine now says, “A person may not participate in a hunt for deer during which an organized or planned effort is made to drive deer. For the purposes of this section to be considered ‘driving deer’ it would require four or more hunters, working together in an effort to move deer.”

At least we now know that if there are less than 4 hunters, you can drive deer……..orrrrr, or can you?

Stu Bristol, a former game officer in Vermont and freelance writer, wrote a while ago about the need for the MWS to “reexamine” the laws pertaining to deer driving.

I’m not a lawyer nor am I a law enforcement officer anymore but my previous years in law enforcement causes me to question how anyone could be charged with this violation, given that so much is written into the law demanding proof of intent. How does the Maine Warden Service determine that a person sitting on a deer stand could possibly know when other unknown hunters were moving through the woods in an organized attempt to drive deer?

If the driving deer law, prior to the MWS’s new wording was:

Driving deer or taking part in a deer drive is unlawful, except that 3 or fewer persons may hunt together, without the aid of noisemaking devices. Driving deer is an organized or planned effort to pursue, drive, chase or otherwise frighten or cause deer to move in the direction of any person(s) who are part of the organized or planned hunt and known to be waiting for the deer.

then I doubt that much has changed to get rid of the demand to prove intent.

Is an officer really going to be able to prove the intent that a hunt was an “organized or planned effort?” And what happens to the guy innocently (no seriously) sitting in his deer stand and 4 or more guys enter the woods a few hundred yards away and “drive” a deer or a few by his deer stand?

So with the new wording, can I hunt with two other people and use “noisemakers?”

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