By Senator Russell Black
Given my family’s heritage in both farming and hunting in Maine, I cannot remember a time when both of these things were not at the forefront of my activities, both professionally and for recreation. That is why I welcome the opportunity to serve as the Lead Republican on two of the Legislature’s committees: Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry, and Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
For sportsmen and women, my Senate Republican Colleagues and I have sponsored a number of bills designed to enhance the great tradition of hunting in the Maine woods. One of them has to do with state-owned lands.
One of the intended purposes for which Public Reserved Land was established in Maine was to provide outdoor space where everyone could enjoy recreation. State government owns and maintains nearly a million acres of public lands, divided into units across the state.
To make it easier to enjoy these lands, I have submitted a bill to require that state agencies develop hunting, fishing, and trapping policies for each parcel and to make these policies readily available to sportsmen and women.
My colleague and friend Sen Jeff Timberlake has sponsored “An Act To Allow Sunday Hunting on Private Property with the Written Permission of the Landowner.”
The long-standing argument against Sunday hunting, as I have heard it, is that it gives non-hunters one weekend day each week to spend time in the woods without interrupting another’s hunt or the dangers that they believe they might encounter, even though the instances of hunting accidents in Maine are remarkably low.
This bill would allow people on both sides to have what they wish. Those who wish to hike, birdwatch, or simply experience nature on a November Sunday, could do so on public or posted lands, while hunters who have precious opportunities because their jobs do not allow weekday hunting can still hunt if they know an agreeable private landowner.
Among the bills I have sponsored this session is “An Act To Allow Custom Slaughterhouses To Produce Cuts of Meat To Be Sold Commercially in the State.” This would address the large bottleneck in Maine slaughterhouses which are far too few and currently backlogged many months. By removing restrictions and allowing custom facilities to help process beef, pork, and other meats, we can reduce the backlog and allow Mainers who choose to be self-sufficient more options.
Despite the pandemic, it is going to be as busy a legislative session as ever.
Senator Russell Black is serving his second term as the State Senator representing District 17.