Hunting rights: Maine leads the way

Like so many voters trying to stay informed, articles about the pros and cons of the high-profile CMP Corridor Referendum have monopolized most of my attention. By pulling the curtain behind me at the ballot box, I was prepared – or, at least, that’s what I thought.

Like so many voters trying to stay informed, articles about the pros and cons of the high-profile CMP Corridor Referendum have monopolized most of my attention. By pulling the curtain behind me at the ballot box, I was prepared – or, at least, that’s what I thought. The second referendum question, money for highways and bridges, was just one question. Gave, he asked for little homework. These referendums on highway obligations always pass easily. Anyone who votes against these highway financing problems is spitting against the wind.

What about the third question, the right to food? Frankly, this one caught me off guard. For some reason – my own negligence or lack of media coverage – the far-reaching implications of this constitutional change of state were not known to me there in the Ellsworth voting booth. Taking my time, careful reading was in order before filling in the circle on the ballot.

Reading it, my assumption, perhaps mistaken, was that the right to food measure was simply meant to protect back-to-landers, who want to grow cannabis, special mushrooms, herbs or whatever. Despite my conservative penchant for public order, it has long seemed silly to me to jail people for growing things in their backyard, regardless of the culture.

The third question got my vote.

And guess what? Without knowing it, in supporting the third question, I also by sheer luck, simultaneously, voted to grant Maine’s hunting rights the constitutional protection of the state! The constitutional amendment, as worded, protects my right to “harvest the food of my choice”. According to David Trahan, executive director of the Sportsmen’s Alliance of Maine (SAM), Maine is the first state in the country to adopt such a constitutional provision. He expects other states to follow suit.

Trahan also observes that this “new law sets reasonable limits to protect us (the hunters) from animal rights activists.” Apparently there was a lot of opposition to this constitutional amendment, not only from the Farm Bureau, but from a number of animal rights organizations.

Ironically, a number of previous attempts to add hunting rights to the state constitution have failed over the years. And, for what it’s worth, the legislative debate that led to this recent protection clause has clarified and strengthened the definition of the word “harvest” to mean hunting and fishing.

It’s all good. In retrospect, however, given the groundbreaking implications of the third question, she really deserved a lot more media coverage than she got. Still, that may not have been a bad thing, for obvious reasons.

Much of the credit for this proposal goes to State Senator Hickman of Hallowell and State Representative Faulkingham of Winter Harbor.

Hunting rights aside, this constitutional right to raise and gather our own food may be opportune, given rapidly rising inflation and supply chain issues. Maine is at the end of the national supply chain. And, as Senator Hickman pointed out, “Maine is the most food insecure state in the country.”

The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a guide in Maine and host of a weekly radio show – “Maine Outdoors” – airs Sundays at 7 pm on “The Voice of Maine News – Talk Network”. He is the author of three books; online purchasing information is available at www.maineoutdoorpublications.com. or www.sportingjournal.com. Contact email – [email protected]

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