Here in Maine, it's always important to have the latest information on outdoor sporting laws, so everyone can stay safe and have fun. With hunting seasons either already here or right around the corner, here's what you need to know about recent changes.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife has the authority to patrol the state and enforce all laws relating to hunting and fishing. Here's an overview of the recent changes, as enacted by the 127th Maine Legislature:

Mainers May Now Carry a Concealed Handgun Without a Permit

This law allows a person to carry a concealed handgun without a permit and may have that concealed, loaded pistol or revolver in or on a motor vehicle or trailer if:

1) The person is 21 years of age or older and is not otherwise prohibited from possessing a firearm or;

2) The person is 18 years old or older and under 21 years of age and on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States or the National Guard or is an honorably discharged veteran of the Armed Forces of the United States or the National Guard and is not otherwise prohibited from carrying a firearm. This law takes effect on October 15, 2015.

New Animals Added to the Maine Endangered Species List

This bill changes the status of certain species on the State Endangered and Threatened Species list. It adds three mammals and three invertebrates to Maine’s current list of Endangered and Threatened Species. All three mammals are cave-dwelling bats. The three invertebrates placed on the list are a butterfly, a tiger beetle, and a land snail.

Authority to Cancel Hunting Seasons

LD 570 gives the Commissioner of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife the authority to postpone or cancel an open hunting season without the Governor’s authorization on any game species based on sound scientific wildlife management principles if the commissioner has concerns regarding disease, weather conditions, reduction in population or other unforeseen factors that may prevent publicly derived management goals from being met.

Target Practice with Bow & Arrow Now Allowed Closer to Buildings

LD 275 For persons target practicing with a crossbow on their own land, or on land which they have permission to use, they may discharge a crossbow within 100 yards of a dwelling provided the projectile does not enter the property of another.

Creation of a New Youth Bear Hunting Day

This law will allow youth hunters to hunt on the Saturday prior to the opening day of the bear hunting season. For 2015 this occurred on August 29, 2015. The youth hunter must have a junior hunting license and can hunt bear with a firearm, bow and arrow or crossbow. This will NOT allow the use of dogs. The adult supervisor, parent or guardian accompanying a youth on youth bear hunting day may not possess a firearm, bow and arrow or crossbow while the youth is participating in the bear hunt.

Transferring of Moose Permits

LD 373 allows family members to transfer awarded permits under limited conditions as set forth by the DIF&W Commissioner. See the new law for details.

No More Smelting on Mud River

This law changed the smelt fishing regulations in Mud Brook in Aroostook County so that it is now closed to recreational smelting with a dip net. It was already closed to the taking of smelts by commercial harvest.

Turkey Hunting Expanded

Effective January 1, 2016 this law makes the holder of a big game or a small game hunting license eligible to hold a wild turkey permit. Formally, only a holder of a big game hunting license could purchase a wild turkey permit. It also directs the Commissioner of IFW to establish a November wild turkey hunting season (beginning fall 2016) that is in addition to the current fall wild turkey hunting season in October. During the November hunt a hunter will be required to wear hunter orange if that hunter is utilizing a firearm. The fall wild turkey hunting season allows a person to take a total of 2 wild turkeys during the October and November seasons combined, regardless of sex.

Renamed Stream

"B Stream" in Houlton, famous for its sign on I-95, has been renamed the Captain Ambrose Bear

Other new regulations enacted this year include:

Expanded opportunities for junior hunters to hunt deer.
Out-of-state college students may now obtain hunting & fishing licenses at in-state fee levels.
New animals added to the Maine Endangered Species List.
Mainers over age 70 may continue to hunt deer in-season with a Bow & Arrow.

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