2017-10-05 / Editorial

Maine’s hunting seasons are underway

Legislative Lowdown
by Rep. Martin Grohman

Maine has a long heritage in hunting. Many of our forefathers lived off the land. It is a long and wonderful fall tradition, which I personally enjoy greatly. And I’m not alone here locally in enjoying hunting. In fact, one of the traditional duties of a state representative is to send the winners of the moose permit lottery a letter of congratulations. I sent quite a few this year. That means we have a large number of local moose hunters, hopefully enjoying a good week.

No moose tags are awarded here in southern Maine, but we do have very good local hunting. Ducks and geese can be hunted along the coast, including within the Rachel Carson Wildlife Preserve in certain designated areas (and with a special license which you must obtain directly from preserve offices). Deer and turkey hunting is also available. This hunting is critical to keep local populations in check and help prevent the spread of disease. We are also extremely fortunate to have several local farms that participate in the pheasant release site program. I have been known to visit these sites with my hunting dog every single day in the first weeks of October, if only for an hour or so. And if they have farm stands (as they do at Ahearn Farm in Dayton) or sell Christmas trees (as they do at Meserve Farm, also in Dayton) I make sure to buy there.

Indeed, the economic impact of hunting is very positive, at $213 million a year. Hunting license sales alone account for $17 million in revenue to the state, which is directed to land conservation. However, sales have declined; 205,000 hunting licenses were sold in 2006; last year, that number dropped to 168,000.

I know that hunting can create some tensions between landowners and hunters. Maine has the smallest percentage of public land of any state on the eastern seaboard. Fortunately, we have a long and wonderful tradition of reverse posting, meaning that if private land is not posted, hunting is allowed. However, this should not be abused, and it is always better to ask permission. Larger areas of contiguous hunting lands are always fewer and farther between, and what parcels remain, we all need to work to maintain. I always try to pack out any trash I see. In fact, once I returned to the truck with my hunting vest completely full. My hunting buddies were impressed and thought I had a full limit of partridge until they saw the beer cans and antifreeze bottles I had picked up. I didn’t have any luck on birds that day but I left the woods a little cleaner, and that’s a good thing. That landowner may never notice, but if they do, it sends a good message.

There are state programs that seek to conserve lands for public access. In fact, in my capacity as House chairman of the Sportsmen’s Caucus, this week I will be leading a group of legislators on a tour to see lands preserved under the Land for Maine’s Future program. Lands for Maine’s Future-protected parcels are required to maintain hunting and recreational access (except where prohibited by municipal ordinance). The work of the program is one of the best ways we are preserving traditional hunting access as well as access for hiking, snowmobiling and a wide range of other outdoor activities.

Whatever game you pursue, I hope that you have a great hunting season. Partridge, woodcock, turkey and many ducks and geese are in season now; deer season begins with Youth Day on Oct. 21, and Oct. 28 with residents-only Maine Day. And if you are a non-hunter, I encourage you to talk to and get to know hunters you see. I think you’ll find we’re approachable, very safety-conscious and primarily trying to enjoy the outdoors and put a little food on the table if we can. Positive hunter and non-hunter and landowner relationships depend on these good communications.

Rep. Martin Grohman of Biddeford is serving his second term in the Maine Legislature and is a member of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. Outside the legislature, he is chair of the Biddeford Solid Waste Commission. Marty also hosts a podcast for Maine entrepreneurs called The Grow Maine Show, available on Apple Podcasts and Google Play. Sign up for legislative updates a twww.growmaine.com or facebook.com/ repgrohman.

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