In response to Senator Tom Saviello’s determined effort to straighten out confusion over the legality of wild game dinners, the Maine Warden Service has issued a written memo stating that “it is legal to host a wild game dinner” if four conditions are followed.
Senator Saviello sponsored a bill this session, at my request, to make wild game dinners legal. DIF&W opposed the bill, but some IFW Committee members kept the issue alive, and Senator Saviello even got it as far as a committee of conference, essentially a meeting between House and Senate members to work on language that both bodies could support.
The conference committee created an amendment to the bill that led to the memo issued this week by the Warden Service. Clearly, DIF&W preferred to clarify this issue without putting it in statute. And that is fine by me.
Here is the Warden Service Memo, issued on June 5 by Major Chris Cloutier, and provided to all game wardens.
To: All Wardens
From: Major Chris Cloutier
CC: Colonel Joel Wilkinson
Re: Game Dinners
Each year the Department is approached by various groups seeking to host “Wild Game Dinners” where, bear, deer, moose, and wild turkey are served as part of the event. Per Title 12 Section 11217 – “Buying and Selling Wild Animals and Wild Birds”, the sale of bear, deer, moose, and wild turkey meat is specifically prohibited. To provide a consistent message and clarity, the Department has determined that it is legal to host a “Wild Game Dinner” if the following conditions are adhered to:
- All bear, deer, moose, and wild turkey served at the event must have been lawfully killed and registered, and must have been labeled and packaged per current state law.
- If there is a fee to attend the event, this fee is only for admission to the event, it is not for purchasing deer, bear, moose or wild turkey meat.
- All deer, bear, moose or wild turkey meat offered at the event must be immediately cooked and consumed on the premises.
- The person or entity who donated the deer, bear, moose or wild turkey meat does not have a financial interest in the event. If the group hosting the wild game dinner deviates from the above listed conditions, then they would potentially be in violation of State law and enforcement action should be taken as appropriate. As always, if you have questions please contact your supervisor.
Unity College got into a bit of trouble this spring at its annual wild game dinner by auctioning off packages of wild game meat. This will not be allowed in the future.
But the sponsors of all those wild game dinners around the state may now continue those wonderful events, with assurance that they are legal. Thank you Senator Saviello!