The bill to kill hunt preserves in Maine, L.D. 560 was killed in committee.
A unanimous vote from the 13 member committee of "ought not to pass L.D. 560" rang out!...... The bill to kill our hunt preserves was dead!
Game parks still open
BY SUSAN M. COVER
AUGUSTA -- The Legislature's Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee voted 12-0 Wednesday against a bill that would have required large-game shooting areas to close within two years.
The bill, LD 560, is sponsored by Rep. Alan Casavant, D-Biddeford.
Committee member Rep. Benjamin Pratt, D-Eddington, was not present for the vote, but said afterward he was likely to vote with the rest of the committee to defeat the bill.
Earlier this month, shooting-area owners and animal-rights activists presented sharply divided views of what happens on these types of ranches.
Owners said they provide a safe hunting experience for people who want to hunt deer, bison and boar. Casavant described them as "barbaric and designed to satisfy the blood lust of a handful of out-of-staters."
In the end, committee members said the industry has a perception problem that should be addressed through an educational campaign.
"This issue has a lot to do with public perception," said Rep. Peter Kent, D-Woolwich. "They want to know what controls there are in place that make this hunting and not just sitting on a fence shooting cows."
In 2000, Maine passed a law to allow existing game preserves to continue to operate but that does not allow for new ones to open.
House Chairwoman Rep. Wendy Pieh, D-Bremen, said she visited one of the parks and found it to be well run. She said whether it's fair-chase hunting or farming, or whether it offends the morals of some, is not for the Legislature to decide.
"I think those are issues the market can handle," she said, noting that many of these businesses have made major investments.
Maine has nine licensed facilities, two of which are inactive, according to the Department of Agriculture, which regulates the preserves.
Casavant said many of his constituents wanted the preserves to be closed, and the only calls he got in favor of them were from northern Maine or out of state.
"It triggered some debate, which was good," he said. "As long as it educated, that's the bottom line for a lot of bills."
Susan Cover --207- 620-7015