Fish, Game, Boating and ATV Law

207-571-8146

Maine's Experienced Title 12 Attorney

Title 12 (Fish, Game, Boating and ATV Law)

Serving all of Maine Including Biddeford, Saco, Bangor, Portland and Augsta

With some of the largest forests in the nation, 3,478 miles of coastline, and countless other natural resources, like lakes, beaches, mountains, hunting, and fishing, Maine's wilderness has something to offer everyone. That's why Maine has had to come up with extensive laws regulating how people can use the great outdoors, so that others can enjoy it, as well.

All of these laws can be found in Title 12 of Maine's Revised Statutes. This document, a full 1,197 pages long, has been divided into thirteen parts, and makes for heavy reading. 

Here's a helpful summary of what's in Title 12.

The portion of Title 12 that the most people will have to deal with is Part 13. This portion of Title 12 creates the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, a government department whose mission is to preserve, protect, enhance, and effectively manage the inland fisheries and wildlife resources in Maine, and encourage their wise use. This includes the granting and enforcing of licenses and permits for hunting and fishing in the state of Maine. All of the requirements that need to be met in order to get a hunting or a fishing license comes from Title 12, Part 13.

Part 13 also makes many things illegal. Among the things that Part 13 prohibits are the operation of a motor vehicle on a public water supply, the failure to stop for a law enforcement officer, the abuse of another person's property while fishing, hunting, or trapping, harass hunters, trappers, or anglers, failing to notify the Bureau of Warden Service of a lost, stranded, or drowned person, defacing public notices, trespass on private land, or hunt or operate watercraft, snowmobile, or an all terrain vehicle (ATV) under the influence. People who hunt or operate a watercraft, snowmobile, or an ATV have the duty to submit to chemical testing by law enforcement under Part 13 of Title 12, and can face penalties if they do refuse. Part 13 also provides the general rules for license applications, requirements, and revocations, and sets out the general rules for hunting restrictions.

Chapter 915 of Title 12, Part 13 includes specific instructions on the hunting season, requirements and fees for both licenses and permits, and lists general unlawful hunting acts. This chapter also provides the laws having to do with hunting bear, deer, moose, wild turkey, game bird, raccoon, hare and rabbits, and coyote, as well as miscellaneous laws on training hunting dogs and importing wildlife. Chapter 917 deals with trapping, including the license requirements and fees, while Chapter 919 handles the registration and transportation of harvested animals.

In addition to its provisions on hunting, Part 13 also deals with fishing. Chapter 923 sets out fishing seasons, license and permit requirements, and improper fishing methods.

Part 13 also includes several sections that deal with an assortment of other issues relating to the outdoors, such as trail guides, whitewater rafting, and taxidermists, as well as recreation vehicles, snowmobiles, and ATVs.

Another important piece of Title 12 is Part 9, which deals with conserving Maine's seacoast and offshore areas. Part 9 creates the Department of Marine Resources, which handles issues such as permits, licenses, and regulations for offshore fishing, including lobster and crabs, finfish, shellfish, and scallops, as well as other species of saltwater fish.

Other pieces of Title 12 are less likely to be encountered by the public. Nevertheless, it's helpful to be aware of their existence.

Part 1 of Title 12 is concerned with the conservation of Maine's water and soil. This part of Maine's conservation regulations is meant “to provide for and encourage the optimal use of the State's agricultural resources” by making the state's soil and water resources available to those who need them. This includes the prevention and the control of soil erosion, flooding, the impairment of dams and reservoirs, and insuring the navigability of Maine's rivers and harbors. These regulations of Part 1 act to not only preserve Maine's abundant wildlife; it also protects the health, safety, and general welfare of the state's citizens, as well as the state's tax base by ensuring that people can enjoy and benefit from the state's natural beauty.

Part 2 of Title 12 deals with rivers, forests, lakes, and parks in Maine. This aspect of conservation, however, balloons quickly to include many other elements of conservation, as well.

Part 2 expressly tries to find a “well-reasoned balance among the competing uses of the state's rivers and streams,” and that this balance attempt to revitalize waterfronts, maintain Maine's scenic beauty, further the development of hydroelectric power, improve the productivity of the state's inland fisheries, and expand the opportunities for outdoors and Maine's 32,000 miles of rivers and streams. In doing so, Title 12, Part 2 puts special protections on the uses of 18 rivers in the state, such as the Aroostoock, Kennebec, Penobscot, and Saco rivers, and regulates floodplains.

This part also includes the Maine Cave Protection Act, regulations on mining on state land and drilling water wells, as well as zoning and land use regulations. It also creates several state parks, and the Bureau of Parks and Lands, which regulates the parks and other natural resources.

One way that Title 12's conservation laws reach into other areas of law is Part 6. This short section of Maine's conservation laws deals with residential subdivisions, and regulates the disposal of waste from these areas, as well as certain zoning aspects, as well, such as frontage and lot size.

Like Part 9, Part 4 is concerned with Maine's offshore resources. This part of Title 12 includes the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Compact, which joins the states that have coastline on the Atlantic Ocean, all the way down to Florida, into an agreement to promote and protect fisheries on the Atlantic seaboard.

Both Parts 8 and 11 are sources for Maine's forestry laws. The bulk of this aspect of the state's conservation laws is found in Part 11, which creates the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry: Bureau of Forestry. This Bureau, also known as the Maine Forest Service, has the responsibility of controlling forest fires throughout Maine, protect the trees of the state against insects and diseases, and manage the state's forests and wooded resources. Part 11 provides the laws that let the Service do this to the best of its ability. Part 8 is the source for a few regulations regarding the protection of Maine's forests, but is primarily concerned with the Maine Shoreline Public Access Protection Program, which aims to protect and develop public ownership of Maine's shoreline, so the public can better enjoy it.

The remaining pieces of Title 12 – Parts 3, 5, 7, 10, and 12 – have all been repealed or moved by the Maine legislature. 

Contact us today with your questions for William T. Bly about Title 12 and Fish, Game, Boating and ATV Laws. 

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