Rifle deer hunting season is set to begin Saturday for Maine residents, posing another challenge for hundreds of law enforcement officers scouring the state’s wooded areas for the suspect in the Lewiston shooting.
The presence of hunters and the sound of gunfire could disrupt the search, distract police, cause frightened residents to make additional calls to 911, and potentially put hunters in harm’s way.
Members of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife are in talks with the Maine State Police about whether to delay the start of the season, said Mark Latti, a spokesman for the wildlife agency. He said the authorities would announce their decision on Friday afternoon.
Hunting is deeply rooted in Maine culture, and deer hunting seasons are the most popular in the state, which has millions of acres of dense forest. The non-resident rifle hunting season is scheduled to begin on October 30th.
“It’s a big deal in Maine,” Michael Sauschuck, Maine’s commissioner of public safety, said at a news conference Friday morning.
“If you happen to be out in the woods minding your own business and going for a walk, that’s going to worry us a little bit,” Mr. Sauschuck said.
They are hunters prescribed by state law to wear bright “hunting orange” hats and clothes that cover their torsos.
Robert R. Card Jr., who police have identified as the suspect in the Lewiston shooting, is an accomplished marksman and deer hunter, according to neighbors who live near his family’s farm in Bowdoin, Maine.