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9 New State Laws That Could Affect Your Next Hunting Season

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Here are some new hunting laws from around the U.S. Is your state affected by this list?

Changes to state laws and regulations are issues that all outdoor enthusiasts must be aware of, and many of those changes went into effect earlier this month.

Some controversial practices remain legal in the face of strong opposition, while some states made sweeping moves to protect the rights of both hunters and game animals. In addition to legal changes, events in 2014 that will likely affect 2015 seasons are included in this list.

Read more to find out which changes will impact your 2015 season.

1. Illegal Drones

Hunting with drones or other smart-weapons was already illegal under existing laws in many sates, but in 2014 four more states passed laws explicitly prohibiting their use by hunters. Colorado, North Carolina, Montana and Alaska became the newest states to outlaw the use of drones for hunting or tracking wildlife.

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Hunting with drones is also banned in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. North Carolina, Illinois, and Alabama recently approved legislation that prohibits animal rights activists from using drones to track and harass hunters.

2. Michigan Voters Reject Wolf Hunting Laws

Michigan voters rejected two referendums that would have allowed the hunting of grey wolves in the state. One would have removed the wolf from the state’s list of endangered species and reclassified it as a game animal. The second would have given the state’s Natural Resources Commission the power to decide on a hunting season for the wolf.

3. Hunting With Silencers

Ohio and Florida joined 34 other states in allowing the use of silencers while hunting deer and game birds. The Florida law also allows the use of silencers when hunting gray squirrels and rabbits.

4. Bear Baiting Upheld In Maine

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Maine voters rejected a ballot initiative that would have banned the use of bait, traps and dogs in bear hunting. 27 states allow the hunting of black bears, and Maine is one of 12 states that allows bear baiting. Although the law did not pass, bear hunting remains controversial in many states, and future initiatives to ban the use of traps or dogs are likely.

5. Constitutional Right To Hunt

Alabama voters made hunting a constitutional right in the state, though hunting remains regulated by state wildlife agencies and is still subject to state law. Mississippi voters also passed a similar law in 2014.

6. Washington Universal Background Checks For Guns

Washington voters passed a ballot measure that requires background checks for all people purchasing a gun, even via private gun sales. Exceptions to the law include transfers of antique guns and transfers between immediate family members.

7. Florida Water And Land Conservation Initiative

Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment that dedicates 1/3 of net revenue from the state’s current excise tax to the Land Acquisition Trust fund. The Land Acquisition Trust fund was established to “acquire, restore, improve, and manage conservation lands including wetlands and forests; fish and wildlife habitat” as well as farms and drinking water sources.

8. Nebraska Mountain Lion Season is No More

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Nebraska saw its first cougar season in 2014 since the animal was reintroduced to the state in 1991, and now mountain lion hunting will not be legal in 2015. Biologists report that the number of female cougars taken from the small population (22 cats total) puts their survival at risk. Five cougars were killed by hunters in 2014, and another 11 died by other means, including poaching and trapping.

9. Chronic Wasting Disease In Ohio

After a captive deer in Ohio was identified with chronic wasting disease (CWD) in April 2014, the Kentucky Department Fish and Wildlife took precautions against spreading the highly infectious disease: “Hunters coming to Kentucky from Ohio, will not be able to transport whole carcasses of deer into Kentucky… Brain matter and spinal materials from cervids [deer, elk, moose] are not allowed into the state from Ohio because of [CWD].” The ban will likely continue through the 2015 season.

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9 New State Laws That Could Affect Your Next Hunting Season