Advocates of hunting and fishing are pushing for a college course to promote their favored industry. Identical legislation has been pushed by billionaire right-wing lobbyists in other states, and now Maine is their battleground.

The reasoning behind L.D. 271 is weak. Contrary to the sponsors’ claims, there is no evidence of a relationship between hunting and conservation. When pressed, hunting advocates admit that there is no evidence. Teaching college students about a “conservation model” that is not scientifically supported would do Maine’s public education system a profound disservice. Outside of the classroom, Mainers who care about wildlife must be aware of the distinction between hunting for sport and real conservation.

The promotion of hunting and fishing through L.D. 271 is not about conservation or education. It is about recruiting new members to an expensive hobby and sustaining an industry that is vastly profitable but likely in terminal decline. Testimony from the bill’s sponsor (Sen. Matthew Pouliot, R-Augusta) that celebrated the billions of dollars in sales associated with the industry made this clear in the legislative session. The U.S. offers a capitalistic market economy that lets businesses and industries advertise through myriad vectors to attract new customers.

L.D. 271 should be opposed in this legislative session. Maine’s taxpayers should not foot the bill for this cruel marketing campaign. And, ethically, teaching junk claims about hunting as conservation to Maine’s students makes the important fight against needlessly killing animals much more difficult.

Michael Burrows

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