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Rep. Dunphy introduces bill to prevent politicization of wildlife management

March 26, 2015

AUGUSTA – Changes in wildlife management laws would rely on sound biological science and remain in the hands of Mainers under a proposal from Rep. Michelle Dunphy, D-Old Town, which protects such matters from out-of-state interest groups that take advantage of the state’s citizen’s initiative process.

“Decisions on issues as important as our wildlife and outdoor heritage should be made by Mainers, not by outside interest groups, and based on sound scientific research to determine what is best for our state,” said Dunphy. “My bill would exclude proposed changes to wildlife management laws that have not been subject to professional review or input from the public from being proposed to voters through the citizen’s initiative process.”

The bill, LD 1084, proposes to amend the Maine Constitution to exclude wildlife management laws from the citizen’s initiative process. It would require the two-thirds support of the Legislature before being sent to voters for final approval.

Dunphy submitted the measure in response to a 2014 referendum initiative organized by an out-of-state interest group. Had it passed, the referendum would have prohibited trapping, baiting or the use of dogs in bear hunting.

“In recent years, special interest groups have launched not one but two statewide campaigns to change our wildlife regulations. Now those same groups are threatening to return to try the same tactics Mainers have twice clearly rejected,” Dunphy said. “Maine has the nation’s healthiest, best-managed black bear population using scientific data accumulated over many decades. The bear referendums ignored all that work and sought to promote an agenda item for an out-of-state organization to raise money with. These decisions should be in the hands of our wildlife biologists and Maine voters through the legislative process.”

David Trahan, executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, said his organization favors the measure.

“We are proud to support Rep. Dunphy’s measure to protect wildlife management policies from the whims of out-of-state special interest groups,” said Trahan. “We appreciate her responsiveness to the needs not only of Maine’s sportsmen but of all who are frustrated by the pressure and money these outside organizations have brought into our state to attack our outdoor heritage.”

The bill will be scheduled for a public hearing before the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee in the coming weeks.

Dunphy is serving her first term in the Maine House. She is a member of the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee and represents Old Town and Penobscot Indian Island.

Contact:

Ann Kim [Dunphy], 287-1430, c. 233-1838