When is a live moose worth more than a dead moose? A live moose is worth more than a dead moose to the Maine economy when, statistically speaking, about two-thirds more people come to this state every year to watch a live moose than to kill a moose in the annual moose hunting permit lottery. This is not unique to Maine; all across this country, more people are turning to camping, hiking and wildlife watching as opposed to hunting or trapping wildlife by traditional means.

According to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s website, the number of hunting and trapping licenses purchased annually in Maine has been in decline for years. I quote: “State General Fund tax dollars have all but evaporated, and the sale of licenses and permits is down substantially from historical highs in the 1980s and 1990s …,” as, presumably, more young people are choosing not to hunt or trap.

People who care about the citizen referendum petition process here in Maine should be very concerned about L.D. 11, which, if passed by a two-thirds majority of the House and Senate and approved by the voters in the next general election, would enshrine the right to hunt and fish into the Maine Constitution. This is a solution in search of a problem, lobbied for by the National Rifle Association, as the hunting and trapping special interests in this state view wildlife as their own private preserve rather than a public resource.

L.D. 11 would eliminate the citizen petition process with regard to wildlife and forever silence the public on wildlife management issues. L.D. 11 will come back before the House this week. Contact your elected officials and urge them to vote “ought not to pass” on L.D. 11.

Val Philbrick