AUGUSTA, Maine --Turkey hunters who thought they missed out this year were given a second chance by Governor Baldacci, when earlier today, he signed into law a bill that gave turkey permits to all turkey hunters who applied for one, but were not selected in the February lottery.
"This law is a testament to the success of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife's reintroduction efforts," said Governor Baldacci. "The turkey season is an example of how conservation not only improves our environment, but our economy as well."
"This is a great day for all hunters in the state," said Roland D. Martin, Commissioner, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. "This bill tells everyone that wild turkeys have returned to Maine."
LD 1456, sponsored by Senator Bruce Bryant, and representatives Mark Bryant and David Trahan, gives all hunters who applied by the deadline for a turkey permit an opportunity to hunt turkeys this year.
"I am very pleased that we were able to get permits to every turkey hunter who applied this year, just in time for opening day," said Senator Bruce Bryant.
Originally 20,300 hunters were selected in the lottery to hunt turkeys. LD 1456 gives the 3,649 unlucky hunters who were not selected a turkey permit. In all, 23,951 hunters applied for a permit. Starting in 2006, there will be no lottery, and all who apply will get a permit.
"The governor, commissioner and the legislature worked hard to make this happen," said Representative Mark Bryant. "and today, there a quite a few happy hunters who otherwise would not be able to hunt turkeys this spring."
"Senator Bryant and Representatives Bryant and Trahan were very supportive of this bill," said Martin, "and the broad support of others including the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine was instrumental in moving this bill quickly through the legislature and onto the Governor's desk so that all who wanted to hunt turkeys this year would get this opportunity."
Hunters who were not selected in the February lottery will receive a letter notifying them of their eligibility, and designating whether they are able to hunt during the A or B season. These hunters must pay for their permit at the Augusta headquarters of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, by returning their letter with a check or money order, or by paying for their permit online at www.mefishwildlife.com. Turkey permit fees of $13 for a resident or $43 for a nonresident. Hunters must also possess a big game hunting license to hunt turkeys.
Turkey season begins on May 2, 2005 and continues through June 4. Youth day for turkey hunters ages is on April 30, 2005. On this day, youths 10 years of age or older and under 16 years of age who have a valid spring Wild Turkey Permit and possess a junior hunting license may hunt wild turkey with a firearm or bow and arrow on April 30, 2005, the Saturday preceding the opening day of Season A of the spring Wild Turkey hunting season.
Wild turkeys disappeared from Maine in the early 1800s. In 1977, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Biologists released 41 wild turkeys in York County. By the early 1980's that population become large enough to serve as a source of birds for additional releases throughout the state. In 1986, Maine had its first modern turkey hunt. Last year, 15,600 hunters were issued permits, and 4,675 hunters were successful.
Cutline for attached photo: Governor John E. Baldacci signs into a law a bill that gives every turkey hunter who applied for a turkey permit a chance to hunt for turkeys this spring. Standing behind the Governor are, left to right, George Smith of the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine; Ed Pineau of SAM; Senator Bruce Bryant; Representative Mark Bryant; Representative Troy Jackson; Mark Stadler, IFW Wildlife Division Director; and Roland D. Martin, IFW Commissioner.
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