Legislature debates deer baiting and biodegradable lures

The legislature’s Fish and Wildlife Committee worked yesterday on bills on deer baiting and biodegradable hooks and lures.

The Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Department spent more than two hours briefing the committee on deer feeding issues and answering questions. I will report on that in more detail later. But essentially, the department asked for no changes in the current law, while they acknowledged they need to do a lot more to assure deer are not harmed.

I shot a lot of deer in my lifetime, but never needed to bait them. I did hang out in areas where I knew deer were eating, including an abandoned apple orchard in the middle of the woods across Route 141 from our house.

Deer feeding is a different issue. I see nothing wrong with providing food during the winter for deer. But it is important to know the best food to provide. The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine sells bags of feed that are good for lots of wild animals. And SAM’s Dave Trahan opposed legalizing deer baiting by hunters.

After their long discussion, the IFW Committee voted unanimously against the bill, LD 638. Another deer baiting bill, LD 1804, was amended to increase penalties for deer baiting, without taking away the right to hunt. This motion passed unanimously.

After that, the committee moved on to LD 695 which would require biodegradable hooks and lures for freshwater fishing.

A lack of data demonstrating that this is a problem was one issue with committee members. The committee discussed using only DIFW’s definition of soft plastic lures. It’s already against the law to dump plastic lures into the water. In the end, the committee killed the bill but agreed to write a letter to DIFW supporting their initiatives to educate anglers on this issue and enforce the existing law, and to report to the committee next year on how their initiatives worked out.



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.