Each year, BTLT staff and volunteers post distinctly orange temporary signage across properties that BTLT owns and easement properties with public trail access where hunting is allowed. While many locals are avid hunters, others are not, and that can leave trail users with many questions about what the dos and don’ts of trail use are during hunting season. Below we have compiled information that addresses commonly asked questions to help illuminate how hunting is managed on BTLT owned and managed properties, and what you can do to safely enjoy your visit to a local trail while helping support the long standing tradition of responsible hunting in Maine.
Why does BTLT allow hunting?
BTLT is dedicated to the protection of the land, water, and wildlife of the Brunswick-Topsham area. We are also committed to providing access to these public lands for low-impact and traditional recreation including hunting, where appropriate.
Hunting is not only an important cultural tradition in Maine that allows for folks to provide sustenance for their families and communities, but is also an important management tool to help control overpopulation of deer. Overpopulation can lead to the outbreak of disease, spreading of ticks, and can also have serious impacts on the environment. In agricultural areas, deer can wipe out entire crops and destroy a farmer’s livelihood overnight. Having a balanced ecosystem is important for plants, animals, and humans. Hunting can help keep that in check when deer populations skyrocket.
How do you determine where hunting is allowed?
We assess whether or not to allow hunting on the properties that BTLT owns based on the nature of public access, grant funder restrictions, and the location of abutting residences. Hunting is not legally allowed within 300 feet of a residence and we ask that hunters maintain a good distance from any public trails, which leaves a number of BTLT properties with an extremely limited area where hunting can take place after applying that buffer, making them not suitable for hunting. Please visit our website in 2021 to see a full list of the BTLT–owned properties where we allow hunting by permission.
If I’m interested in hunting on BTLT owned land, how do I get permission?
BTLT requires that all interested hunters speak on the phone or come in to meet with staff before receiving permission to review property boundaries, the location of any trails, and BTLT’s hunting rules listed below. Please note that BTLT gives permission before hunting season begins, so please plan accordingly! Interested hunters can call the office at 729-7694 or email email@example.com.
For hunting at Crystal Spring Farm, BTLT starts giving permission at the beginning of August, one month before expanded archery season begins in September. Permission for Crystal Spring Farm is given on a first come, first serve basis until we meet our cap of hunters for the season and/or hunting season begins.
Hunters are expected to follow all state laws and local ordinances when hunting on BTLT properties, as well as the following rules:
- Hunting is allowed with permission only;
- Tree stands must be removed daily, except at Crystal Spring Farm;
- Hunters must remove all parts of deer bagged on BTLT properties;
- Tree stands should be marked with the owner’s name as required by law ;
- Hunters are expected to notify the BTLT office if they see anything we should know about;
- Hunters should know the location of trails, patterns of use, property boundaries, and nearby residences;
- Hunters should cross onto adjacent properties only if they have that landowner’s permission.
What’s the difference when it comes to hunting on an easement property?
A number of public trails that BTLT manages and maintains are located on privately owned, easement properties. The public is only allowed on the designated trails on these properties, and it is at the discretion of the landowner, or in some cases the easement itself, whether or not hunting is allowed. On these properties, BTLT cannot give hunters permission, but temporary signage will be posted at the trailhead indicating to visitors whether or not hunting is allowed on the property. The public access easement properties where hunting is currently allowed are:
- Chase Reserve (Privately owned)
- Bradley Pond Farm (Privately owned)
- Maquoit Bay Conservation Land (Town owned)
- Woodward Point (Partnership Project, owned by Maine Coast Heritage Trust)
Please respect private landowners and do not approach their residences to ask for permission.
Are all BTLT properties posted?
No, currently only Crystal Spring Farm is posted along Pleasant Hill Road to alert hunters and trail users alike that hunting takes place on the property and is by permission only. Given BTLT’s limited staff and resources, we do not post our properties and to date have not had any incidents that pose a safety risk or negatively impact the conservation values of the property. However, should such incidents occur, we would work with the local game warden to post properties as needed.
Is it safe to be out on the trails at a property where hunting is allowed?
Yes, however preparation is key to help ensure accidents don’t happen. Come prepared wearing blaze orange, stay on the trail, and keep your dog on a leash.
If you are on a public access property owned by BTLT, the only hunting taking place will be bow hunting, one of the oldest methods of hunting, practiced for thousands of years and into present day on these lands by the local Wabanaki people. This form of hunting uses archery rather than a firearm, and requires great skill, aim, and carefully placed delivery from a close distance. By requiring permission to hunt on any BTLT owned property, BTLT is able to limit the amount of hunters per property to ensure it is not only safe for users, but not overhunted and therefore worth the effort and time of hunters.
I own a dog, should I keep my dog at home during hunting season?
Dogs are required to be leashed at all times on all BTLT trails, and this is especially important during hunting season, because:
- You could be fined up to $500 if your dog is found chasing or pursuing a moose, deer, or wild turkey at any time (MRS §12404 PL 2003, c. 614, §9 (AFF)
- A game warden can kill a dog outside the immediate care of its owner or keeper if your dog is found chasing, killing, wounding or pursuing a moose or deer at any time (MRS §12404 PL 2003, c. 614, §9 (AFF); PL 2003, c. 655, Pt B §243 (AMD), PL 2003, c 655, Pt B, §422 (AFF)
So remember to leash your dog, it’s required on all BTLT trails and it could have serious consequences during hunting season!
If I’m out on a BTLT trail and see a hunter clearly not following the law, or an injured deer, or any other hunting related issue that is of concern, what should I do?
If the concern is serious and requires immediate attention, please contact a Maine Game Warden, available 24 hours a day, at 1-800-452-4664. If it is an issue not requiring immediate assistance, please either call the BTLT office at 729-7694 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can visit the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife at https://www.maine.gov/ifw/hunting-trapping/hunting-laws/deer-hunting.html to learn more about hunting laws and the dates of hunting season this year.
Maine Game Wardens can be reached 24 hours a day at 1-800-452-4664.
Maine Revised Statues as they relate to wildlife causing damage or nuisance https://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/statutes/12/title12sec12404.html
Find what Widlife Management District you live in to learn more about the local ordinances and who your local Game Warden is https://www.maine.gov/ifw/hunting-trapping/hunting-laws/wildlife-management-districts/wmd-map.html
Still have questions about hunting on BTLT lands? Call 729-7694 or email email@example.com.