Here are my ideas for legislation in 2017

Kerri Bickford Capitol twoThis is a preliminary list of bills I am thinking of proposing for the 2017 legislative session. I’d appreciate your reaction to any or all of these. Please email your thoughts to me at georgesmithmaine@gmail.com. Thanks!

Exotic Animals: Require permits for all non-native animals and require notification of the Maine Warden Service and any neighbors within range of an exotic animal that escapes.

Feral Cats: Forbid the release of feral cats into the wild.

Hatcheries: Organize a Hatchery Commission to study all issues and make recommendations, before spending more than $100,000 to upgrade, expand, or repair existing hatcheries. This bill will include a list of issues and questions for the Commission to tackle.

Fall Fishing: Expand catch-and-release fall fishing statewide to the month of October. Include a program like Montana’s that automatically closes waters when temperatures reach a certain high level.

Landowners: Require landowner permission to remove anything from private land, including wild crops like mushrooms and fiddleheads.

Licenses: Create a comprehensive hunting and fishing license that includes all hunting and fishing opportunities. And allow all license agents to sell lifetime licenses, with clarification of identification required.

DIF&W Funding: a Constitutional amendment requiring 1/3 of the budget of Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to come from the General Fund’s non-DIF&W funding.

Fishing Rules: Establish a Commission to simplify and clarify fishing laws and rules.

Wild Game Dinners: Legalize charging people to eat wild fish and game.

Heritage Fish: Extend protection (including no stocking) of our Heritage Fish waters to include all tributaries leading into or out of those waters.

Marketing: Establish a marketing position at DIF&W, with a budget of $250,000.

Fisheries Division: Reorganize DIF&W’s Fisheries Division to match the Wildlife Division, with species specialists and less autonomy in the regions.

Turkeys: authorize online and phone-in tagging, eliminate fees and permits, include turkeys in big and small game hunting licenses, and expand the bag limit to 3 male birds in the spring and 5 birds of either sex in the fall.

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.