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Lawsuit links new Maine right to Sunday hunting

Maine's 'right to food' amendment approved by voters in 2021 could open the door for Sunday hunting.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Most Maine voters probably didn’t realize it when they marked their ballots last November, but they might have set the stage for people to hunt on Sundays.

Voters in the November 2021 election approved the “right to food” amendment to the Maine constitution, which said all individuals have a natural, inherent, and unalienable right to grow, raise, harvest, produce, and consume the food of their own choosing for their own nourishment, sustenance, bodily health, and well-being.

On Wednesday, that new constitutional right became the centerpiece of a lawsuit to allow Maine people to hunt on Sundays.

“Mainers deserve the right to hunt and harvest the food of their choosing seven days a week during established hunting seasons,” Hared Bornstein, director of Maine Hunters United for Sunday Hunting, said.

The group filed a lawsuit in Superior Court in Augusta, hoping to force the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to end the more than 120-year prohibition on Sunday hunting. They filed the suit against the DIF&W.

Hunting is not specifically mentioned in the right to food amendment, but Bornstein said the word “harvest” in the amendment clearly covers hunting as well as crops and livestock.

The Sunday hunting ban is superseded by the Right to Food Amendment,” the lawsuit states. “The ban is a religious and social construct that does not fit into any of the amendment’s exceptions, as it cannot be justified by the need to protect private property rights, public safety, or natural resources.”

The DIF&W chose not to comment on the suit, and neither did the Sportsmen’s Alliance of Maine, the state’s largest hunting group.

Jared Bornstein said many hunters find it difficult to find time for the hunt as they deal with work and family commitments and that allowing Sunday hunting would help them feed their families.

“Harvesting deer meat can be a recreation, but for the majority of Mainers who choose to hunt it is a spiritual, ancestral and economic necessity that they’re afforded the most opportunity to be successful in their harvest," Bornstein said. 

Virginia Parker of Readfield, the plaintiff named in the actual lawsuit complaint, said that is the case for her family and why she wants to see hunting allowed on Sundays.

“We would have more opportunity to feed our family an organic natural and god-given gift of wildlife, wild game,” Parker said.

The lawsuit will proceed through the court, which typically can take months. 

The attorney who filed the suit said he hopes Maine’s Attorney General will agree the ban on Sunday hunting violates the constitutional protect for right to food and be willing to start the process to change that law without waiting for the court to rule.

RELATED: Sunday hunting bid gets shot down in committee

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