For Immediate Release
House Republican Office
February 3, 2012
For more information:
Jay Finegan, 287-1445
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Rep. Davis Introduces Bill to Repeal Hunting Guide Mandate
AUGUSTA - State Rep. Paul Davis will introduce legislation next week to repeal a law that requires Canadians to hire a licensed hunting guide if they wish to hunt moose, deer or bear in Maine.
"The law's motivations were dubious from the start," said Rep. Davis (R-Sangerville), House chair of the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee (IF&W). "And now we know that it hasn't even fulfilled its stated purpose of increasing business for Maine guides.
"If enacted, this bill will send a signal to hunters from Canada and elsewhere that Maine welcomes them and wants them to come here, enjoy our open space, stay at our camps and hunt our game," he added. "That's what it means to be open for business."
The bill is LD 1785, "An Act To Repeal the Requirement That Canadian Big Game or Wild Turkey Hunters Be Accompanied by Guides Licensed in the State." It repeals a requirement established in 2007 that hunters from Quebec and New Brunswick must hire a licensed guide to hunt in Maine. Rep. Davis will formally present the legislation on Feb. 8 to the IF&W Committee.
The purpose of the original law was to limit the number of "alien" hunters while providing a boost to the hunting guide business. In practice, the law sharply reduced the number of Canadian hunters in Maine. In 2006, for example, 241 hunters from Quebec and New Brunswick applied for Maine moose licenses. In 2011, with the law in full effect, only 128 did so. The same held true for Canadian deer hunters. In 2006, 75 of them applied for an "any deer" license. The number dwindled to only 14 in 2011.
Overall, the number of nonresident and alien hunters has been steadily declining for years, according to a report released last month by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IF&W). Hunting licenses sold to non-residents have declined from 41,538 in 2002 to an all-time low of 27,898 in 2010.
Moreover, the law has provided no benefit to the hunting guide business. In fact, the Maine Professional Guides Association (MPGA) supports Rep. Davis's effort to repeal it, just as it supported another repeal effort in 2009.
According to Don Kleiner, executive director of the MPGA, the association received numerous complaints when the 2007 law was passed. Many people naturally assumed that the requirement to hire a guide was pushed through by them, he noted.
"It simply sends the wrong message to hunters from another country," Kleiner said. "The value of guides is clear, and we don't need a law to say that."
The bill also would allow non-resident youths aged 12 to 16 to fish in Maine without a license, just as Maine youths are allowed to do. Finally, the bill would task the IF&W Department with repackaging its current hunting license options with an eye toward making them more marketable to out-of-state hunters. ###
Maine House Republicans
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