Maine’s top wildlife management official said Friday it is unlikely that deer hunting will be allowed anywhere on Marsh Island this year.
Earlier this week, the Old Town City Council voted to support a one-year pilot program allowing a limited deer hunt on two city-owned parcels. City officials endorsed the twonweek window for select bowhunters in response to concern that Marsh Island’s deer population is too large.
But Roland “Danny” Martin, commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, said there is not enough time to go through the required rule-making process before December. DIF&W’s Advisory Council must approve any hunt.
The council could use the emergency rule-making process to approve a December bowhunt on the two parcels. But Martin, who supports allowing deer hunting on Marsh Island, said he does not believe that is the best course of action given past controversy over deer hunting on Marsh Island.
Marsh Island, which encompasses much of the populated portions of Orono and Old Town, has been a designated game preserve since 1965.
“I want to do this well and I want to do this right,” Martin said. “I am in favor of it. But to present this as an emergency rule probably would not be prudent at this point in time.”
Martin said he would discuss the issue with advisory council members later this month.
Some Old Town and Orono residents have been lobbying to renew deer hunting on Marsh Island for years. A different proposal made it to the advisory council last year but Martin tabled the matter largely because University of Maine officials continued to oppose hunting on university land. UMaine is the largest landowner on the island.
Old Town City Manager Peggy Daigle said she was disappointed to hear that Martin did not want to proceed with emergency rule-making for the limited hunt, which was intended to be a one-year test case. Daigle questioned the need for what she called a prolonged rule-making process when the city already has held hearings on the issue.
“We would strongly urge him to consider an expedited process,” Daigle said.
City Councilor Alan Stormann said he was surprised to hear that the limited hunt would not happen this December. Stormann supported the hunt because of the high number of car-deer collisions.
But Stormann did not begrudge Martin’s decision.
“I’m sure at some point this is going to happen and it’s important that we do it right,” Stormann said.