AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A new law designed to appease an Amish community in northern Maine has created a loophole. Amish leaders in Fort Fairfield informed state Rep. David McCrea that they would no longer wear blaze orange while hunting.
Their objection was in line with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. McCrea went to the Legislature with a law which allows hunters to now wear bright red if they have strong religious conviction.
"It's a problem for them," said McCrea, who noted that not all Amish communities in Maine live so strictly.
The Legislature passed the bill and Gov. Paul LePage signed it into law.
The change concerns the sporting community. Hunter safety is essential to protect the future of hunting. The Sportsman's Alliance of Maine (SAM) opposed the bill.
SAM Executive Director David Trahan thinks the law creates potential trouble for Maine hunters. He also sees the Amish argument as disingenuous: "What's the difference between blaze orange and bright red?" he mused.
That's part of the problem. The law does not define "bright red" where blaze orange worn by hunters can be measured as legal or illegal.
Trahan went on to say that hunters are trained to be on the lookout for orange. He also believes the law didn't get much notice when passed and there is a potential for danger now that deer season is on.
He points out that any hunter who doesn't like blaze orange could reject it for the less visible red and say it is for religious reasons.
"I don't think they made their case," Trahan said.