Take a hike, go fishing, ride your bike, get some exercise, but stay safe – and six feet apart – during the COVID-19 pandemic, and especially during the state’s stay-at-home order, in effect until May 1, Maine officials advise. Courtesy Photo

AUGUSTA — Maine Inland Fisheries Wildlife officials say engaging in outdoor exercise such as fishing, hunting, hiking, boating, walking, running, and more are permitted under the executive order issued by Gov. Janet Mills, just as long as people continue to follow social distancing guidelines.

“Getting outside to go fishing, hiking, canoeing, scouting for a hunt, or other outdoor activities are essential to not only your physical health, but your mental health as well, particularly during these difficult times,” said Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Judy Camuso. “The governor and I continue to encourage people to get outdoors, but to do as close to home as possible and in strict adherence to physical distancing requirements. While it is important for your mental health to get outside, it is also important to do so safely.”

Outdoor activities that are allowed include, but are not limited to, hunting, fishing, wildlife watching, boating, trapping, birding, canoeing, smelting, kayaking, hiking, snowmobiling, ATV riding and picking fiddleheads, Camuso said in a prepared statement.

Over at the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, officials noted some conservation lands and beaches have been closed, due to recent oveeruse and crowding, but others remain open. People can check what’s open and what isn’t at https://www.maine.gov/dacf/recreation/index.html

Maine residents are extremely active in the outdoors, Camuso said, and cited a recent study showing that Maine ranked third in the percentage of residents engaged in outdoor recreation.

MIFW spokesman Mark Latti said the governor and commissioner also extended the renewal period for boating registrations and have suspended the requirement to have a fishing license through April 30 in order to support people going outdoors. Turkey season is also set to begin May 4, and many people are starting to scout in preparation for their hunt, he said.

Latti cautioned that those headed outside should remember to always keep a minimum of six feet from other people and those driving to a spot to fish or enjoy the outdoors should travel only in a vehicle with members of their own household.

No matter where you are going or what your essential activity, MIFW officials said people should avoid the crowds, visit lesser known spots and explore close to home, stick to adventures within their experience and comfort level, tell someone where you’re headed and when you expect to return. The department advised that people be prepared for limited access to public restrooms; always leave no trace, including cleaning up after your pet and prevent tick bites by wearing light-colored pants, closed-toe shoes, and applying EPA-approved bug repellent.

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