Legislature cracks down on deer baiters and bad guides

With encouragement from the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the legislature cracked down on deer baiters and bad guides. Let’s start with deer baiters.

This bill was amended to provide that the person who is convicted of hunting over bait during an open season on deer must be revoked for one year. A second offense requires revocation for two years. The original bill required a mandatory fine of $500 but that was removed, as committee members thought this should be left up to the Judge.

Representative Will Tuell of Washington County sponsored the bill, and began his testimony by thanking the committee for rejecting a bill that would have made hunting deer over bait legal. “Doing so would have encouraged and emboldened those bad actors who flout our game laws to push the envelope, while threatening the overall health of our deer herd,” he said.

Colonel Joel Wilkinson of the Maine Warden Service testified in favor of the bill for DIF&W, reporting that “hunting deer over bait prosecutions have steadily increased since 2004 to a point that we average over 100 cases per year now.”

Dave Trahan, Executive Director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, supported the bill and suggested that community service be an option instead of a fine. The committee did not add that to the bill.

The bill was enacted in May by the full legislature and signed into law by the Governor.

Guides Bill

A working group of DIF&W staff and the Maine Professional Guides Association joined in making this recommendation, to “preserve the reputations of Maine Guides and protect public safety.”

Senator Paul Davis sponsored the bill on behalf of DIF&W, and reported that it “authorizes the Commission of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to revoke, suspend, refuse to issue or refuse to renew a guide license if the license holder has been convicted of committing a crime punishable by imprisonment for one year or more or is found not criminally responsible by reason of insanity of committing a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term of one year.”

Senator Davis noted that the guide could request a hearing to appeal the revocation, suspension, or denial. It also requires the applicant or holder of a guide’s license to notify DIF&W of any conviction.

Dan Scott of the Maine Warden Service testified in favor of the bill, stating “Imagine the surprise to learn that the guide, who was tested, licensed and linked to you by the Department was convicted of an aggravated assault, burglary, or sex crime after you or a loved one had spent or were planning to spend 2 or 3 nights camping on a remote pond with him or her…. LD 1489 ensures that Maine Guides are as morally and ethically sound as they are competent and knowledgeable in the field.”

Don Kleiner, Executive Director of the Maine Professional Guides Association, also supported the bill,  testifying that they were “seeking to preserve the reputation of the Maine Guide into the future. That reputation serves us well as a state for marketing purposes but for other things as well like favorable insurance rates.”

This bill was enacted by the legislature and signed into law by the Governor.

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. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.