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.