Poaching

207-571-8146

Maine's Poaching Laws Are Far From Toothless

Bear Trap

With so much land, wilderness, and wildlife in the state, Maine is very concerned with how people hunt and fish inside its borders. If the state didn't make extensive regulations and enforce them as much as possible, people from all over the region would come to Maine and hunt and fish until there wasn't anything left.

That's why the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has made rules for hunting and fishing, such as when and where you can and can't hunt, and how much you can take. Violating these laws is poaching.

Poaching is a serious problem, both for those who do it, and for those who don't. Poachers, if caught, can face serious penalties, and can lose their hunting or fishing registrations, sometimes forever. Landowners and other members of the public who don't poach suffer, as well – every deer that a poacher kills is one less that can be seen and enjoyed while on a hike through the woods.

One way of poaching is to hunt out of season. The penalties for out-of-season hunting in Maine are some of the highest in the country, and depend on the kind of animal being hunted:

 

Crime Class

Jail Time

Fine

Bear, Deer, or Moose

D Misdemeanor

Minimum of 3 days for first offense, and 10 days for subsequent offenses

Minimum $1,000

Wild Turkey

E Misdemeanor

None

Minimum $500

Another common way of poaching is to exceed your bag limit, which limits the number of a certain animal that you can hunt in a year. Again, Maine has some of the toughest laws in the country when it comes to poaching, and exceeding your bag limit is no exception:

 

Bag Limit

Crime Class for Exceeding Limit

Jail Time

Fine

Bear

2

D Misdemeanor

Maximum of 180 days

Minimum $1,000

Deer or Moose

1

D Misdemeanor

Minimum of 3 days for first offense, and 10 days for subsequent offenses

Minimum $1,000

Wild Turkey

1

E Misdemeanor

None

Minimum $500, plus $500 for each wild turkey above the bag limit

To better enforce these laws, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, with fewer than one hundred rangers to oversee the entirety of the state, has enlisted the public's help to report poachers. Those who report illegal hunting in the state of Maine can be rewarded with up to $1,000 if the information leads to an arrest for a hunting or a fishing violation. Rewards of up to $2,000 can be handed out if a report leads to an arrest for introducing non-native fish into Maine's waters. This money comes from Maine Operation Game Thief, a non-profit organization that works with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

About William Bly

William graduated from the University of Maine School of Law in 2004. During law school, he interned in the Cumberland County District Attorney's Office in Portland, Maine. His experience looking at cases from a prosecutor's point of view has proven to be an invaluable aid to his clients as he defends them against some of the same prosecutorial tactics that he witnessed as an intern.

If you enjoy the outdoors in the Rangeley and Moosehead regions, you might find him there fly fishing for brook trout during the summer.

A Word from One of Our Clients

Mr. Bly is a superb lawyer! He is without a doubt one of the finest criminal defense lawyers in the state of Maine. He handled my son's case with sincerity and professionalism, and the results, "All Charges Dismissed!" If you need a defense attorney, he is simply remarkable.

– Wade Charnock

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are some of the general restrictions on hunting in Maine?

Just about anyone who hunts wild animals in Maine, including wild birds, needs a hunting license (certain narrow exceptions exist). The type of license you need depends on:

  • Your age
  • Whether you are a Maine resident
  • What type of hunting authorization you seek
  • Other factors

You also need specific permits to engage in most hunting activities.

Will a hunting license suspension or restriction in one state affect my legal hunting rights in another state?

It probably will, depending on the state. Maine is a member of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact (IWVC). If your license has been suspended in a member state, for example, your right to receive or maintain a license in Maine will be affected. Likewise, if your license has been suspended in Maine, it will probably affect your hunting rights in other IWVC member states.

What is involved in taking an outdoor safety course?

An outdoor safety course, required to obtain a first-time Maine hunting license, requires an investment of six to twelve hours of classroom time. Sports clubs and civic groups that are authorized by the state government often sponsor outdoor safety courses for aspiring hunters.

What is a junior hunting license?

Children under 17 must obtain a junior hunting license to hunt legally in Maine. All hunting must take place under the supervision of an adult (parent, guardian or someone authorized by the child's parent or guardian) who has taken an outdoor safety course.

Can I hunt on my own land without a hunting license?

You can hunt on your own land without a hunting license as long as:

  • you are a Maine resident;
  • you own the land you are hunting on (or are an immediate family member of the landowner);
  • the land parcel is at least 10 acres in size; and
  • the land is used exclusively for agriculture.

How can I know if hunting (including fishing and trapping) is restricted or prohibited on a particular site?

Hunting, fishing, or trapping on a posted site without authorization can subject you to criminal trespass charges. The landowner restricting these activities must:

  • Place a vertical "OSHA Safety Purple" stripe along the property line, at no more than 100 feet apart and in conspicuous locations
  • Post signs or stripes at all vehicular entrances from public roadways
  • Signs must indicate that entry is prohibited or prohibited without permission, or that certain activities (such as moose hunting, for example) are prohibited

What are Maine's registration requirements for bears, deer, moose and wild turkeys?

Once you kill one of these animals, you must remain with it until it is registered. You must register the animal in your name at the first open registration station you encounter, within 18 hours of killing it. The officer will attach a registration seal, and you must leave it attached until the animal is packaged and processed. A small registration fee is required.

What is a leashed dog tracking license?

Tracking a wounded deer, moose, or bear with dogs requires a dog tracking license. Holders of this license may charge a fee to others for dog tracking services, even without a guide's license.

What are some of Maine's restrictions on hunting equipment?

Certain types of weapons may not be used for hunting, and certain types of weapons may only be used for hunting certain types of animals. You may not use an automatic firearm for any type of hunting, for example. It is also illegal to hunt with silencers or explosive bullets. Many other restrictions exist.

Contact Maine's Poaching Lawyer Serving Biddeford, Bangor, Saco, Portland and Augusta

Because they're so extensive, Maine's conservation laws, including those regulating hunting and fishing, can be difficult to understand. Call the law office at (207) 571-8146, if you have questions or concerns regarding your hunting or fishing permit, or if you are facing charges concerning the violation of Maine's conservation laws. 

WTB Law

Here at WTB Law, we provide professional and aggressive criminal defense representation that exceeds the expectations of our clients and secures their freedom and their future.

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What distinguishes our firm from the numerous law firms throughout the state is that we genuinely care about the well-being of our clients. Because Attorney Bly is a sole practitioner, every client receives hands-on and personalized attention from Attorney Bly and our staff throughout the entirety of their case.

50 Adams Street
Biddeford, ME 04005
(207) 571-8146
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