Talking Turkeys on Tuesday at the Legislature!

We’ll be talking turkeys with members of the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee on Tuesday, February 12. The committee hosts public hearings on 6 bills that day, starting at 1 pm in Room 206 of the Cross Building.

LD 84, An Act to Expand Turkey Hunting, sponsored by Senator Tom Saviello, is my proposal. This bill:

1)      Focuses on reversing the decline in turkey hunters and serving farmers and private landowners by increasing the turkey harvest.

2)      Eliminates the turkey permit and fees so that turkey hunting may be included in DIF&W’s hunting licenses without additional payment.

3)      Expands the spring season’s hunting day to 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. Currently the spring hunt ends at noon while the fall season allows all-day hunting.

4)      Expands the fall season from the current one week in October to the entire month of October.

5)      Increases the fall bag limit from one turkey of either sex to two turkeys of either sex.

6)      Requires DIF&W to allow turkeys to be registered on its website or by telephone.

Testimony in support of the bill is expected from groups representing farmers and private landowners, sportsmen, and legislators who have submitted their own turkey bills. We’re hoping to win quick action on this bill so the changes can be incorporated into the 2013 season. But I’m also expecting opposition from Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and that always makes it difficult to enact changes that are this comprehensive.

We’ll also be hunting some deer bills that day. Other bills up for public hearing on February 12 are:

LD 63, a Resolve to Direct the Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to Allow Veterans with Lower Limb Loss to Obtain “Any-deer” Hunting Permits, is sponsored by Rep. Larry Dunphy.

LD 79, An Act to Allow a Junior hunter to Shoot any Deer on Opening Day of the Hunting Season, is sponsored by Rep. Jeff Gifford.

LD 98, a Resolve Directing the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to Study Issues Related to Bear Hunting and Management, is sponsored by Rep. Steve Wood.

LD 99, An Act to Allow Hunting for Deer with a Crossbow during the Expanded Archery Season, is also sponsored by Rep. Steve Wood.

LD 101, an Act to Allow a Junior Hunter to take One Antlerless Deer without an Antlerless Deer Permit, is sponsored by Rep. Paul Gilbert.

Should be an interesting afternoon! Come on down and join us!

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. George also hosts, with Harry Vanderweide, a TV talk show called Wildfire, now in its 13th year and focused on hunting, fishing, environmental, and conservation issues. The show is owned and produced by Maine Audubon and seen on its website as well as on the Time Warner cable TV station throughout the state.