Outdoor Heritage Act | Hunting | GOAL Massachusetts

GOAL’s Outdoor Heritage Act

Click here for GOAL’s Informational pdf about this legislation

September 11, 2017 Update: Please attend important public hearing for this legislation! The hearing is scheduled for Monday, September 18, 2017 at the MA Division of Fisheries & Wildlife at 11:00 AM. Please see our alert page for info about the hearing, or the pdf linked above for info about the legislation. Also, see below for a line by line description of changes the bill will make.

We are proud to advocate for this important legislation, which will improve many of our current state laws.

This bill will address many important issues, hunter harassment, Sunday hunting, transportation of firearms on all terrain vehicles, and more – please see our item by item plain language summary below.

We are expecting this legislation to begin with a public hearing, possibly in late-June. Please follow our email alerts and social media, we will broadcast information about this as soon as we have confirmed the date.

An Act Relative to Outdoor Heritage (S.437)
Section1. The current ATV laws under Chapter 90B of the general laws require that any gun be unloaded and enclosed in a case. Many hunters who utilize recreational vehicles are not aware of this law. There is also no exemption for lawful citizens who ride these vehicles and carry firearms for defense reasons. This language does away with the need for a cased gun as that part of the law serves no purpose. It also provides rightful exemptions for carrying defense arms.

Sections 2. Would allow the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife to establish Sunday as a lawful hunting day as it sees fit.

Section 3. GOAL has received many stories about a new increase in hunter harassment. These include property damage, threats of violence and posting of land that was not so authorized by the owner. This update to the hunter harassment law addressed these new issues and provides for stiff penalties for property damage and injuries caused by vandalism.

Section 4. Since the infamous passage of Question 1 in 1996 certain wildlife populations have increased dramatically. One of those species is the black bear. This is caused in part because the species adapts very well to our suburban settings. It is also caused in part because the use of bait and dogs was banned under Question 1. As this species encroaches on more urban areas it will become crucial to manage the population through safe and proven methods. One such method that will be vital is baiting. Hunting over bait in more heavily human populated areas will allow the hunter to put the animal in exactly the place need for a safe and successful harvest. This language would strike the statutory prohibition on such baiting.

Sections 5 & 6. Part of the language necessary to remove the prohibition on crossbow hunting.

Section 7 & 8. This language strikes the confusing current law dealing with hunting ammunition restrictions and replaces it with simplified language that allows the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife to regulate as needed. This also prevents the need for constant law changes as ammunition technology advances.

Section 9. Would allow the use of artificial lights for the hunting of coyote at night.

Section 10. Part of the language necessary to remove the prohibition on crossbow hunting.

Section 11. Under current law there is a prohibition for the use of dogs during the modern gun season for deer. There is one exemption for waterfowl hunter in the coastal zone only. This language would remove the statutory prohibitions and allow the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife to regulate the use of dogs for upland and waterfowl hunting should the seasons overlap.

Section 12. Would remove the statutory prohibition on moose hunting.

Section 13. Would remove the requirement that hunters must enclose guns while crossing, or following a public way. This is a very troublesome law for hunters that are not aware of the requirement as they traverse through hunting areas. Furthermore, there are no safety issues to justify this particular legal requirement.