FALMOUTH, Maine — The Falmouth Town Council on Monday night banned bow hunting on several town-owned properties where traditional hunting with shotguns is already prohibited.
The unanimous decision by the council expanded the current no-hunting-with-firearms ordinance on some densely populated, publicly owned property to include archery.
“This is not anti-hunting or anti-gun,” Town Manager Nathan Poore said, noting that the town has many large public spaces open to hunting.
Previously, bow hunting in Falmouth was allowed during hunting season in some areas where guns were not allowed.
Councilor Chris Orestis said he brought the issue to the council after he recently witnessed bow hunters trekking through the parking lot at the Falmouth Shopping Center on U.S. Route 1 in “full pursuit of deer.”
“It was just so in the mainstream and so out of place, and quite frankly, shocking,” Orestis said.
Deer are the most common animals hunted in Falmouth. In 2012, hunters killed and registered 85 deer in Falmouth, according to the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Statewide, hunters killed more than 21,400 deer.
The expanded ordinance now specifically prohibits bow hunting in public areas where hunting with firearms was already banned: school properties, Community Park, Walton Park, Pine Grove Preserve and the Town Landing, among others.
The vote, however, does not prohibit bow hunting during the appropriate season in the area around the Route 1 shopping center, Poore said. Property managers would have to post a no-hunting sign to prevent hunting there because the ordinance does not include private property, he said.
The bow hunting season is longer than the firearms hunting season but is restricted to three zones that are mostly on the east side of town. The extended season is aimed at controlling the wildlife population, Poore said.
State law allows hunting on private property unless otherwise posted, although hunters may need property-owner consent.
Poore said a public hearing was not required before the Town Council vote because they were only clarifying the understanding of the ordinance, not altering or amending it.
Councilors considered altering the ordinance to define other forms of hunting, which could have triggered a public hearing, but eventually agreed that the inclusion of archery was sufficient and consistent with the intent of the ordinance.
The council most recently approved the allowed hunting areas as part of a larger “housekeeping” measure in 2011. The order involved the use of town-owned lands, but was not specifically related to hunting, Poore said.
Councilor Shawn Mahoney said the inclusion of archery strikes an appropriate balance between hunting and safety.
“I think this is recognizing that hunting is important to a lot of people’s lives in Falmouth,” he said. “We’re lucky in Falmouth not to have had any accidents like some other towns.”