AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife would like to inform people of some changes in the law concerning the issuance of antlerless deer permits.

During its last session, the Maine Legislature passed Public Law Chapter 492 that went into effect as an emergency law on March 12, 2008. The new law does change the way the Superpack Licenses will deal with antlerless deer permits. Superpack license holders still will be eligible for entry into the Superpack antlerless lottery and if chosen, which most holders will be, can then take one more antlerless deer during the other deer seasons.

This law reaffirms the original intent of establishing the expanded archery season, which was to allow hunters in areas that had no firearm discharge ordinances to take antlerless deer to help control deer populations in those areas. This season was not established to allow people to hunt for bucks and not take antlerless deer in the process.

The law reaffirmed that the Superpack license antlerless deer permits can only be issued in Districts that have over 5,000 permits issued, and at no time can the number of antlerless permits given to Superpack holders in those Districts be over 2.5 percent of the total permits in that District.

This new law also increases the number of antlerless deer permits made available to landowners from 20 percent to 25 percent.

The Superpack license was enacted as part of the budget in 2005. When the Legislature revisited the license in 2006, and added the expanded archery permits, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife had to make some interpretations as the law simply stated “3 deer during the special season (Expanded Archery) established in accordance with law.” Our interpretation, lacking clear direction at the time, was to issue one buck permit and two antlerless deer permits, as this is what was available to other license holders.

After hearing from the hunting public, as well as staff, that perhaps the interpretation needed to be looked at, the Department asked the legislature what the intent was and Public Law Chapter 492 was enacted clarifying that the three permits issued for expanded archery were to be antlerless deer permits.

What has not changed is the fact that all other licensed deer hunters still will be limited to taking one deer. If those hunters do not receive an antlerless deer permit either in the landowner drawing or the regular antlerless deer permit drawing they will have to take a buck. But they can only take ONE deer. A Superpack License holder, however, if given an antlerless deer permit from the Superpack drawing, still will be able to take FIVE deer, and without the superpack antlerless deer permit still be able to take FOUR deer.

It should be noted that due to the severe winter this past year and amount of deer mortality that resulted from last winter the Department reduced the number of antlerless deer permits available statewide from 66,275 permits in 2007 to 51,125 permits for this year’s season.

Finally, Superpack license holders still will be allowed to take a buck in the expanded season, BUT they will have to purchase a buck tag to do so. That is consistent with the requirement that states that all regular archery license holders, that is folks who do not buy a Superpack license but want to participate in the expanded archery season, must buy a permit to take a buck for $32 and can only take one buck, and may purchase an unlimited number of antlerless deer permits for $12 each and take as many antlerless deer as they have permits.

– Courtesy of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

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