Mainers who care about their rights should have serious concerns about a right that’s threatened by LD 11 – legislation recently heard by the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee and now subject to further review – which seeks to amend the constitution of Maine to establish the right to hunt and fish. The fact is that Mainers already have the right to hunt and fish and putting this redundant “right” in our constitution is a solution in search of a problem.

LD 11 is particularly motivated by the unfounded fear that hunting in Maine will come to an end, even though no referendum has ever proposed that all hunting be outlawed. What has been targeted is the cruel and inhumane treatment of wild animals – ambushing bears as they are lured by human junk food, hounding of bears and bobcats with GPS collared dogs, trapping of almost all animals and executing them as they lay helpless and struggling. There’s no “hunting” in any of those activities, and many anticipate the day when they will end.

Further, since most Mainers neither hunt nor fish, LD 11 denies participation by the majority of our citizens by enlarging the power and control of the minority, thereby blocking the ability of Maine citizens to conduct ballot initiatives on wildlife-related issues.

This removes one of the few tools that citizens have to enact reform on wildlife management methods that society may no longer find acceptable, humane, effective, or sportsmanlike. This sets a dangerous precedent of suppressing public input on an issue that is clearly of great importance to many Mainers, while at the same time determining who can and cannot petition the government by limiting the subjects of a citizen initiative.

Maine has long relied on its voters to enact critical policies; LD 11 would deny them that longstanding constitutional right. It’s a right we can’t afford to lose.

Don Loprieno