Rifle hunting season for deer is scheduled to begin on Saturday for residents in Maine, posing another challenge for hundreds of law enforcement officers who are searching the state’s wooded areas for the suspect in the Lewiston shootings.
The presence of hunters and the sound of gunfire could disrupt the search, distract the police, cause frightened residents to make additional 911 calls 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 over whether to postpone the start of the season, according to Mark Latti, a spokesman for the wildlife agency. He said that the authorities will announce their decision on Friday afternoon.
Hunting is deeply rooted in Maine culture and the deer hunting seasons are the most popular in the state, which has millions of acres of dense woodland. Rifle hunting season for nonresidents is scheduled to start Oct. 30.
It “is a big deal in Maine,” Michael Sauschuck, commissioner for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said at a news conference on Friday morning.
“If you just happen to be in the woods minding your business going for a walk, that’s going to make us a little concerned,” Mr. Sauschuck said.
Hunters are required by state law to wear bright “hunter orange” hats and clothing covering their torsos.
Robert R. Card Jr., whom law enforcement has identified as the suspect in the Lewiston shootings, is a proficient marksman and a deer hunter, according to neighbors who live near his family’s farm in Bowdoin, Maine.