August 14, 2018

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.

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.

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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Maine State Senator Davis: Lessen the Punishment for Hunting Over Bait

It’s a beginning I guess! Maine Senator Paul Davis has introduced LD 1816, an amendment that will lessen the punishment for hunting over bait.

Earlier this year, the Legislature, after making changes to a bill that came out of committee, passed LD 1083, that would, after a second offense, make the offender ineligible, for life, to buy a hunting license. No other similar legal offenses carry such draconian measures. Sen. Davis doesn’t believe “the punishment included in the new deer baiting law fits the crime.” I completely agree.

Now, what is it going to take to get the Maine Legislature to revisit the illegal law they passed last year where they opted to punish hunters and fisherman more than any other group if they were caught destroying private property – in this case, “No Trespassing” signs.

LD 557 states that, “The hunting and fishing licenses of a person convicted of destroying, tearing down, defacing or otherwise damaging a property posting sign in violation of section 10652, subsection 1, paragraph B must be revoked, and that person is ineligible to obtain a hunting or fishing license for a period of one year from the date of conviction.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled previously in cases involving “unconstitutional animus” that you cannot punish one group over another for a similar crime. While the SCOTUS has tiptoed around cases where state’s rights and “sovereignty” are involved, under no other cases decided by the SCOTUS have they wandered very far from the ruling that regardless of whether a state thinks it has a right to make laws, they cannot inflict biases, especially social ones, against one group over another.

As one example, in U.S. Department of Agriculture vs. Moreno, Congress attempted to pass a law that would deny “hippies” Food Stamp Benefits. Members of Congress openly admitted their intent of this law was because of their refusal to accept “hippies” as part of their idealistic social existence. Regardless, SCOTUS said no. This unconstitutional animus, in essence, violated Due Process.

I applaud Sen. Davis’ desire to correct a disparate law that hinders due process while at the same time targeting hunters, but someone in Augusta needs to step up to the plate and correct LD 557 that destroys the due process allowed under the U.S. Constitution through unconstitutional animus. All licensed hunters and fishermen should be incensed that the Maine Legislature would specifically and unequally target these two social groups for punishments that are held in reserve to other preferred groups.

If the Maine Legislature corrects this problem, as they should, they must then correct LD 557.

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Maine: Deer Baiting, Feeding, Crop Damage

If it is important enough that laws in the State of Maine be made tougher to extend and grow the penalties for hunting deer over “bait,” perhaps it would behoove the lawmakers to take the time first to define “bait.”

A proposed new law, LD 1083, would, “…makes the penalty for hunting over bait during an open season on deer a mandatory fine of $500. It also provides for the one-year suspension of a hunting license of a person convicted of doing so.”

The head of the Maine Warden Service supports this bill because, as he states, “the agency averages over 100 deer baiting cases per year.” 100 case per year, times $500, equals a nice little windfall, perhaps enough to pass out some raises. And, at a guaranteed $500 per case, doubling that to 200 is good profit.

The new proposal also states that, “A hunting license of a person convicted of placing or hunting over bait in violation of section 11452, subsection 1 must be revoked, and that person is ineligible to obtain a hunting license for a period of one year from the date of conviction.”

Taking a look at Title 12, 11452, subsection 1, we read,1. Prohibitions.  A person may not, during an open hunting season on deer: A. Place salt or any other bait or food in a place to entice deer to that place.”(emphasis added)

So, what is “bait?”
Part B of Subsection 1 describes the limits of hunting from a tree stand or an observation deck: It is prohibited to B. Hunt from an observation stand or blind overlooking salt, grain, fruit, nuts or other foods known to be attractive to deer.” (This is inconsistent with the above prohibition.)
What’s inconsistent in this regulation is that Part A prohibits anyone during deer season, to put out things that will “entice deer to that place.” In Part B, there are limitations as to what a hunter can observe from a tree stand, i.e. he can’t hunt over “salt, grain, fruit, nuts or other foods known to be attractive to deer.” This does not specify “bait.”
So, what is bait?
Can I climb my tree stand and hunt over “bait?”
So, what is “bait?”
It appears that the issue here, aside from the threat of the spread of disease, is that authorities don’t want hunters placing “bait” some place in the woods, which happens to be in front of their tree stand….or maybe not.
I know I sound like a fool, but, what is “bait?”
If the concern is over “baiting” a deer to the location in which a hunter awaits in ambush, then isn’t anything a hunter puts out, in, around his tree stand to “attract” deer, “bait?” The existing law states that you can’t use items that are known to be attractants for deer and lure them to a specific location. If so, then what is putting out scent attractants to draw deer to your stand?
Maine has to do a better job of making the work of law enforcement better but more importantly so that hunters fully understand what is legal and illegal and why. When we see exceptions to “baiting” it often times is a matter of a certain lobby fighting for their preferred methods of hunting at the expense of others. In case you aren’t keeping up, I might suggest that the manufacture of deer lures, scents, attractants and covers, is a giant money-making industry. Serious argument can be made as to whether those are “baits.”
It’s also very stupid that you can’t “bait” deer to a specific location, like a tree stand, but you can plant a “crop” and place your tree stand overlooking your “crop” – the result of a “standing crop” or “foods left as a result of normal agricultural operations…” (emphasis added)
So, what is “bait?” Your guess is as good as mine.
The other issue being discussed presently is what to do about deer and crop damage. I am a bit confused. Much of this debate takes place in Washington County, the eastern portion of the State of Maine, due to blueberry crops being destroyed by deer.
As anybody who has read much of my writings will know, I am as big a property rights supporter as there are. However, a scant few years ago, Washington County, along with many other parts of the state, had pretty much a non existent deer herd, much the result of too many coyotes and some tough winters. Efforts were put forth in the area to construct a systematic approach at reducing the coyote population in order to save the deer herd.
Killing coyotes helped the deer herd and now the blueberry farmers are complaining about crop damage. That’s understandable.
However, if one examines Maine’s history with blueberries and deer, both have existed since settlers first came here. I am willing to believe that at certain periods of time, deer were far more plentiful in blueberry country, and other areas of farmland where crops grow. What was done about that damage then?
I’m not opposed to doing what is reasonable to limit crop damage. I’m sure that same feeling has existed for decades. But, now the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) is suggesting a bill that would give the Commissioner authority to establish deer killing zones around crop lands, even the blueberry patches in Washington County, where deer numbers are only beginning to recover. Something tells me that either some people want too many deer, or some want crops that are never harmed and they don’t want the responsibility to deal with it. Or something. Is it just the tolerance level of people has dwindled so low that nothing is to be put up with? It seems we only bitch and complain and propose another law to stop somebody else from doing something somebody doesn’t like.
From testimony before the Committee, we are told that the Food Safety Modernization Act prohibits the harvesting of crops where animals have eaten or defecated. Obviously the Act is a Leftist nightmare creation, never intending to implement public health and safety but to destroy our food crops. But, that’s another book. How can we harvest any crops anywhere if any animal has excreted their waste there? What have we become?
Some want to kill deer to mitigate crop damage, complaining that deer defecate in the crops, while others want to protect the coyotes, to kill the deer, with no concern about the coyotes defecating in the fields. I’ll guarantee you that coyote scat is far more dangerous to our health than deer scat. This is a sure sign of animal perversion over human well being, including the protection of private property.
This morning I was listening to rubbish on television, when a news anchor asked a senator why they took so much time off. His answer was that some people would like it that Congress didn’t meet. I concur. We are so brainwashed to think that all legislation, at every level, must make laws and keep making laws. Why? The existing laws are incomprehensible, designed by lawyers for lawyers, and are either unenforceable or lacking the manpower to enforce them. And yet, we keep piling them on, as is the case here in Maine.
I believe that with increased levels of anger, hatred and intolerance, we can only expect that the number of totalitarian-type legislative proposals will inundate our politicians, who scramble to take care of only those that feed them money for reelection.
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