By Kristin Sette and Sarah Hoye
ANNAPOLIS – Maryland deer hunters may soon have to camouflage their deer carcasses – or risk paying a $100 fine.
If two state lawmakers have their way – and out of respect for the animals and passing motorists – sportsmen will no longer be able to haul dead deer without covering them up.
“All this bill says is, put your tailgate up if you have a deer in the back of your pickup,” said Delegate Kenneth D. Schisler, R-Talbot. “Just cover it up so you don’t have to look at a deer with its tongue hanging out.”
The bill, introduced Friday, is not meant to upset or inconvenience sportsmen, said Schisler, an avid hunter. Rather, it comes from a similar mandate in Colorado.
“One of the ways we can avoid conflicts is just to be respectful of non- hunters,” Schisler said. “I’m hopeful that police are not going to be going around writing too many tickets.”
The point is to make those who transport dead deer sensitive to other motorists’ concerns, added Delegate K. Bennett Bozman, D-Worcester, the bill’s co-sponsor.
“You see (deer) running down the highway fastened on top of a car,” Bozman said. “If people can’t stand the sight of a bloody animal . . . I feel it is appropriate.”
Catching wind of a possible dead-deer-cover-up law, sportsmen and animal advocates were wary.
While lawmakers contend they drafted the legislation with non-hunters in mind, the bill didn’t make Ann Selnick, spokeswoman for Animal Advocates of Howard County, feel any better.
“Of course most people would like to have ourselves and our children spared the bloody end result of the so-called sport of hunting,” Selnick said. “We would like to see efforts focused on humane methods of deer control . . . If legislators have their way we can soon look forward to seeing black bears thrown across the hoods of cars.”
And for Allan Ellis of Baltimore, publisher of the Maryland Deer Hunting Guide, the bill seems almost pointless.
“I don’t necessarily agree with displaying your trophy on your car . . . from a sanitary standpoint,” Ellis said. “(But) we don’t need regulations. It’s common sense.”
One hunter agrees covering up dead deer is a good idea, but he’s not so sure requiring it with a law and a fine is.
“(The deer) should be hidden so you don’t irritate others . . . I guess out of respect,” said Mark Morris, of Crofton, who hunts on the Eastern Shore. “I think (passing a law) is a waste of time, though. They can find better things to do than regulate how a deer gets transported.” Requiring hunters to cover dead deer is a step in the right direction, said Stephanie Boyles, wildlife biologist for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. “Certainly this shows more respect for the animal that was killed,” Boyles said. “I have never heard of this and I really do hope that this becomes a trend. To display the animal as a trophy is insane. It’s just so disrespectful.”