CAPE ELIZABETH — In a town with about 45 square miles of woods, fields and salt marshes, and a state with a strong hunting heritage, regular questions and occasional controversies crop up over where, when and how it’s legal to shoot wild game.

So town officials plan to host a public forum Aug. 22 to provide an overview of the state laws and local ordinances related to hunting. They’ve invited representatives from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife to help explain the finer points of state regulations that are often complicated and confusing.

“A lot of people have questions about where and when hunting is allowed,” said Town Manager Mike McGovern. “Most of the hunting policies are state jurisdiction. Cape Elizabeth isn’t going after hunters. This is merely to give property owners and hunters a better understanding of their rights and responsibilities.”

The forum also will give residents an opportunity to meet their local game warden, Cody Lounder, along with Lt. Adam Gormely, who heads the Division A office of game wardens in southern Maine, and Scott Lindsay, a state wildlife biologist.

Cape Elizabeth Police Capt. Brent Sinclair will address questions about town ordinances and policies that pertain to hunting and firearms. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. in the council chamber at Town Hall.

The council set a goal in January to “review all policies relating to archery hunting in the community.”

Only bow hunting, including with crossbows, is allowed widely in town during state-regulated seasons for various animals and birds, said Police Chief Neil Williams.

Local ordinances prohibit the discharge of firearms anywhere in town, except at the Spurwink Rod & Gun Club and in coastal wetlands where federal jurisdiction allows hunting with firearms beyond the low-water mark.

CLARIFYING THE RULES

Town Councilor Sara Lennon had raised the hunting issue during a goal-setting session. Lennon said she grew concerned a few years ago and posted no-hunting signs on her Cranbrook Road property after finding a hunter’s tree stand bolted to a tree on her land. A tree stand is a small platform that hunters use to spot and hunt for deer and other game from a higher elevation.

“It was within view of the house,” Lennon said. “It was very disturbing. People know there’s a lot of open space and a significant deer population here, (but) hunters don’t know what’s public and what’s private land.”

Lennon suggested that the council address the issue after hearing similar concerns from several other residents.

“My hope is to have a friendly, informative, cooperative conversation about hunting in Cape Elizabeth,” Lennon said. “Both hunters and residents aren’t clear about the rules.”

Chief Williams said bow hunting is allowed on town property without special permission, and on private property with permission from the landowner.

“You should know as a hunter in Maine that you need to get permission to hunt on someone else’s land,” Williams said.

Hunters also need the chief’s permission to install tree stands or animal traps on town property, and they must obtain permission from landowners to install tree stands on private property.

ALMOST DEER SEASON

It’s illegal to shoot a firearm or install a tree stand within 100 yards of a dwelling or any of the town’s marked greenbelt trails. A tree stand must be clearly marked with the owner’s name and installed with straps only.

Williams noted that Maine’s expanded archery season for hunting deer with bow and arrow starts Sept. 10 and runs through Dec. 10. Cape Elizabeth is in an area where the state has determined that the deer population is large enough to withstand additional hunting without negatively affecting human safety, according to the state’s fisheries and wildlife website.

Different licensing, training and seasonal regulations apply to hunting various types of game in Maine, including turkeys, ducks, rabbits, foxes and coyotes.

With a crossbow hunting license, a person may only hunt deer during the open firearms season for deer, which is Oct. 29 through Nov. 26 for Maine residents. A crossbow may not be used to hunt deer at other times during archery seasons.

Under Maine law, anyone who hunts with a firearm or crossbow must wear bright, so-called “hunter orange” clothing. Bow-and-arrow hunters aren’t required to wear hunter orange.