December 13, 2019

Outdated laws will be wiped off the books

FARMINGTON — Fishermen will soon be able to travel by helicopter to their favorite back-country fishing spots in Maine without breaking the law.

Once there, they can charge up the electronic fish lures because they, too, will be legal.

More than 25 changes in state fishing and hunting regulations take effect Sept. 18, some aimed at cleaning up laws now regarded as outdated.

Some changes, such as repeal of the helicopter ban for transport to ponds smaller than 10 acres, will have minor impact on Maine sportsmen, said Mark Latti, spokesman for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

“Many of these laws were placed on the books years ago and there was a fear that helicopters would become a very public mode of transportation and that people would just be pond-hopping in helicopters,” Latti said. “Obviously that never happened.”

Similarly, use of electronic lures never became an issue in Maine.

Other changes, like a 15-minute extension of the deer hunting day, will have a far wider impact.

Some change in the law are designed to extend fishing and hunting opportunities, Latti said.

One measure allows holders of any-deer permits to transfer the permit to a junior hunter (ages 10 to 15), or senior hunter (age 65 or older). The change is aimed at boosting interest in deer hunting, which has been waning in recent years.

“It’s a way, hopefully, to get younger hunters more interested,” Latti said. “If you are out playing a sport or hunting or fishing, it’s more fun if you get something, and this increases their chances of getting a deer.”

Among other changes:

Expanding bow hunting season to run from the first Saturday after Labor Day until Dec. 15. Expanded archery season license holders will be allowed to take two deer during that season;

Allowing children who will be 10 at the time a moose hunt occurs to apply for a moose hunting permit. Previous rules required that they be 10 at the time of application;

Setting stricter OUI penalties for operators of watercraft, ATVs and snowmobiles. The law makes fines more consistent with those imposed for operating motor vehicles under the influence.

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