AUGUSTA (AP) – A compromise plan for limited Sunday hunting is taking shape amid an emerging consensus among legislators that Gov. John Baldacci’s version has failed to generate the needed support.

Opposition from landowners and lawmakers has derailed the Baldacci budget proposal to allow Sunday hunting for all game except during the firearms season for deer, according to members of the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee and the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine.

George Smith, SAM’s executive director, is working on a new approach that would permit Sunday hunting in northwestern Maine – the area north of Moosehead Lake – and allow landowners and their invited guests to hunt on their own property anywhere in the state.

“The two proposals have to go as a piece so we’re not moving all hunters up into the northern woods,” said Smith, whose plan would apply to gun season for deer.

Members of the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee are split on the idea of Sunday hunting. Many are opposed to it, but some say they are willing to consider a compromise.

Baldacci’s proposal would make permanent what has been a temporary $3 charge that was added to the cost of hunting licenses and was due to expire this yaer.

Rep. Thomas Watson, D-Bath, said the $3 increase, which generates an estimated $5.3 million over two years, is likely to stay, but full Sunday hunting is not.

“This compromise may well fly,” he said.

But Rep. A. David Trahan, R-Waldoboro, said he would not support a compromise because he objects to the inclusion of Sunday hunting in the budget and the way negotiations on the original plan were conducted.

“In my opinion, Sunday hunting is dead for this session,” he said. “There is no compromise.”

Smith said he was disappointed with what he described as bitter opposition to the governor’s proposal that caused even some hunting groups to oppose it. Some expressed concern about landowners who threatened to close off all access to their property if Sunday hunting is approved.

“We recognized that we weren’t going to get what the governor proposed,” Smith said.

The current negotiations, which have not been developed into a formal proposal, have focused on the least objectionable parts of the original proposal, Smith said.

There was little opposition to hunting in the northern, mostly unorganized territories, he said, while those who own land may want the opportunity to hunt on Sunday.



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