A group of hunters has filed what’s thought to be the first lawsuit under Maine’s new “right to food” amendment, seeking to allow hunting on Sundays.
The suit, filed Wednesday in Kennebec Superior Court, argues that the first-of-its-kind constitutional amendment voters approved last fall trumps the state’s “old religious ban on Sunday hunting.”
The lead plaintiffs are Virginia and Joel Parker, who live with their five children in Readfield. They say in the suit that they rely on hunting, especially for deer, as part of their family’s food supply. But they can’t get a permit to hunt on Sundays from the state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, or IFW.
The Parkers argue that this, combined with their work and school schedules, typically limits their ability to hunt as a family to Saturdays only. They say this infringes on their now constitutionally enshrined right to legally harvest food for their own sustenance.
"Our family will enjoy spending the whole weekend hunting together for our own food,” Virginia Parker said in a press release. “But we also hope this case gives IFW more flexibility to manage populations of the species that we all treasure."
The suit notes that IFW has said the Sunday ban is “not biological in nature” and that only Massachusetts still enforces a Sunday ban on hunting as a vestige of old blue laws. The Parkers say the court should invalidate Maine’s ban so IFW can issue permits for Sunday hunting while continuing to allow property owners to restrict hunting on their land as they see fit.
“Because the Sunday hunting ban cannot be justified based on the need to protect private property, public safety, or natural resources, the ban is superseded by the Right to Food Amendment and thus unconstitutional as applied to the Parkers, who are Maine citizens who wish to harvest food for their own consumption through hunting,” the suit says.
A spokesperson for IFW declined to comment. State lawmakers voted against a repeal of the Sunday hunting ban earlier this legislative session.