After reading my column about the new severe penalties for hunters who bait deer, and the expansion of the months when deer feeding is prohibited, a reader asked me if mineral blocks are considered to be bait. I sought clarification from DIFW and will give you their response in this column.
If you missed that previous column, it reported on the new law that takes away your hunting privilege for a year if you are caught using bait to lure in deer. But what was very surprising is that the legislature amended that bill, which originally called for a two-year suspension of hunting privileges for a second baiting offense, and required a lifetime loss of hunting privileges for that second offense.
I recently learned that the bill was amended at Governor Paul LePage’s insistence. The governor said he’d veto the bill unless they amended it to require that lifetime suspension. I do not know if he consulted with DIFW on that.
What’s deer bait?
Here is the answer to this question, from Mark Latti, Outreach and Communications Director for DIFW’s Fisheries and Wildlife Divisions.
The legislature has clearly defined in statute what constitutes deer baiting, and that is what we use when it comes to enforcement. I have posted it below, along with the new law effective November 1 which prohibits feeding or baiting during certain times of the year.
When someone asks whether a mineral block is considered bait, they should review the law, and then consider, as the law states, whether that mineral block is salt or any other bait or food, and if that mineral block would entice deer to that place, or if it is attractive to deer.
After that, if the person is still wondering whether or not what he is using is bait, it is probably best that the person contact their local game warden.
- 11452. Baiting deer
- Prohibitions. A person may not, during an open hunting season on deer:
- Place salt or any other bait or food in a place to entice deer to that place; or [2003, c. 414, Pt. A, §2 (NEW); 2003, c. 614, §9 (AFF).]
- Hunt from an observation stand or blind overlooking salt, grain, fruit, nuts or other foods known to be attractive to deer. This prohibition does not apply to hunting from an observation stand or blind overlooking:
(1) Standing crops;
(2) Foods that are left as a result of normal agricultural operations or as a result of a natural occurrence; or
(3) Bear bait that is placed at a bear hunting stand or blind in accordance with section 11301, subsection 1.
Sec. 1. 12 MRSA §10659 is enacted to read:
- 10659. Feeding or baiting of deer
- Prohibition. A person may not place salt or any other bait or food in a place to entice deer to that place from June 1st to the start of an open hunting season on deer and, if all open hunting seasons on deer are closed before December 15th for that year, from the close of the last open hunting season on deer to December 15th.
- Penalty. A person who violates subsection 1 commits a Class E crime.