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Maine Animal Rights Group Revives 10-Year-Old Bear Hunting Debate

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August 26, 2013

Maine Animal Rights Group Revives 10-Year-Old Bear Hunting Debate

By Ben Romans

Less than 10 years after Maine residents voted down a ballot initiative that would have abolished the use of dogs, baits, and traps for the hunting of black bears, an animal-advocacy group claiming the practices are cruel and unfair is hoping to rekindle the debate.
 
An article from the Kennebec Journal says a coalition led by the Maine chapter of the Humane Society of the United States called Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting aims to collect around 80,000 signatures next month to place a referendum on the 2014 ballot, despite the fact a similar drive failed in 2004, 53 percent to 47 percent.
 
“This is a last resort (after trying several times without success in the Legislature). But with the additional 10 years of experience, we're confident we can win on the ballot,” said Katie Hansberry, director of the Maine chapter of the Humane Society, in the article.
 
Proponents say the methods in question give hunters an unfair advantage over the animal and are inherently cruel. Opponents argue that outlawing the current practices would allow the state’s bear population to grow relatively unchecked and increase bear-human conflicts.

Maine has one of the largest black bear populations in the lower 48 states, and while some states allow the use of dogs and bait to harvest bears, Maine is the only state that also allows traps.
 
In the article, Hansberry says the Human Society has been successful passing bear-hunting ballot measures in other states and plans to use those experiences to campaign in Maine. Efforts to ban one or more bear-hunting practices were successful in Colorado (1992), Oregon (1994) and Washington (1996), but failed in Michigan (1996) and Alaska (2004).

Comments (7)

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from RockySquirrel wrote 33 weeks 1 day ago

As much as I hate to agree with the humane society on anything (a bunch of pointless busy bodies who need a life), In this I agree (for different reasons). Baiting OK. In some respects we all “bait”, even when we cover natural food sources. Dogs to run bears. Uh maybe. That is a tradition that is older than this country. But trapping a bear to shoot it, is just not sporting. Just not cricket. Even the great Teddy Roosevelt refused to shoot a trapped (tied) bear, as it was not right. Thats the story of Teddy Bears (I believe).

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from derik wrote 33 weeks 1 day ago

Teddy refused to shoot the bear because the guide who had run it down, beat it up so bad that it had no fight left in it for an easy photo op (another in his hunting party put that bear out of it's misery). As for trapping bears I see no reason why it should not be allowed, trapping is as old a method as running game with dogs. Though the trappers who trap bears in Maine are in a severe minority (less than 300 taken in Maine by trapping last year) why take that away from them. I don't trap bears, I don't bait bears, I have run bears though, and I will not begrudge my fellow hunter his method if it is legal. These three methods have been used in Maine for many generations, in fact in years past hounding was put on hiatus because population estimates were low according tot he bio's. I put more stock in what the biologists have to say on the bear take methods as they see more bears than even some of the most experienced guides. If there was an issue with the methods they would say so, but they have no problem with it as it stands now, emotions and people who want to be rid of hunting in all forms are running this campaign against bear hunting. I will certainly not vote to remove all three methods. I have had conversations with people that have trapped bears and it is not as easy as people think, there is much involved.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from haverodwilltravel wrote 33 weeks 10 hours ago

I don't like telling any BROTHER sportsman how he should hunt or fish as long as it's legal and approved by fish and game. Mostly because if you give the Anti's ANY victory, next week they will be looking for you.
Maine has a real problem because it's rural population is full of stupid non-sporting poachers and it's urban areas and seacoast are full of Left Wing PETAphiles.
I think we all need to stand strong and support the REAL SPORTSMEN of Maine on this issue....again....otherwise we all lose, whether we hunt bear or even catch and release fly fish. UNITED WE STAND DIVIDED WE FALL.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from derik wrote 32 weeks 6 days ago

@haverodwilltravel
I agree with that assessment whole-heartedly. Though I don't believe the poaching problem is as rampant in most places as some would have you believe(in some areas it is likely a problem but overall not so much), it is a much larger problem amongst anglers in my opinion than the wider hunting community. Sportsmen should support one another on all issues.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from TinEagle wrote 32 weeks 15 hours ago

Before the flatlanders came to Maine, we hunted, we fished, we got along well with each other. The anti-hunting groups are like missionaries of old, bringing religion to the heathens that worshipped the sun, the moon, the birds, land animals and mother earth. Can't have that, we know the Right Way To Do Things and we're going to convert you or kill you. Thanks a lot flatlanders. We now have to fight to keep our right to hunt and fish and oh yeah, we have Zumba and Prostitution Trials.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from GarrisonRandy wrote 31 weeks 5 days ago

I agree with those who make the statements that we as hunters all need to support each other. I hunt bears over bait in Canada and can vouch that it is not a "slam dunk" by any means to get a bear in for an ethical shot. I have never hunted bears with dogs but I do not fault those who do. Likewise, I would not trap a bear but yet I do not see much difference between this and trapping varmints that may still be alive when the individual checks his/her traps.

I hope Maine residents step up to support their bear hunting traditions. I also hope more support from other groups (NRA, SCI, etc) comes into the state to help educate residents who may not be given all the facts.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Togue23 wrote 27 weeks 1 day ago

As a Maine Bear Hunter, it is incredibly frustrating to have this issue resurface. The argument that we can have the same success without the use of these tactics, (especially baiting) is absurd. The woods where Black Bear hunting occurs are incredibly thick, with little to no clearings or shooting lanes. We do not have the ability to glass a bear 300-400 yards away and stalk in for a kill. In all my years in the Maine woods hiking, hunting and fishing I have only seen one bear (outside of Bear Season when I am targeting them) and by the time I realized what it was, it was gone.

Every year we have more and more reports being called into the warden service in regards to bears getting into people bird feeders, trash cans, even homes. It just happened to a relative a few days ago, and they do not live in the deep north maine woods. Our population of Black Bear here is becoming a serious issue, and having national Organizations step in and push to tell us how we should manage this species with no scientific findings to back their case is disturbing. A few months ago the pop singer Kesha put out a statement backing the effort to ban these practices in Maine, it just goes to show this is all fueled by big money corporations and twisted views of reality.

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from haverodwilltravel wrote 33 weeks 10 hours ago

I don't like telling any BROTHER sportsman how he should hunt or fish as long as it's legal and approved by fish and game. Mostly because if you give the Anti's ANY victory, next week they will be looking for you.
Maine has a real problem because it's rural population is full of stupid non-sporting poachers and it's urban areas and seacoast are full of Left Wing PETAphiles.
I think we all need to stand strong and support the REAL SPORTSMEN of Maine on this issue....again....otherwise we all lose, whether we hunt bear or even catch and release fly fish. UNITED WE STAND DIVIDED WE FALL.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from derik wrote 33 weeks 1 day ago

Teddy refused to shoot the bear because the guide who had run it down, beat it up so bad that it had no fight left in it for an easy photo op (another in his hunting party put that bear out of it's misery). As for trapping bears I see no reason why it should not be allowed, trapping is as old a method as running game with dogs. Though the trappers who trap bears in Maine are in a severe minority (less than 300 taken in Maine by trapping last year) why take that away from them. I don't trap bears, I don't bait bears, I have run bears though, and I will not begrudge my fellow hunter his method if it is legal. These three methods have been used in Maine for many generations, in fact in years past hounding was put on hiatus because population estimates were low according tot he bio's. I put more stock in what the biologists have to say on the bear take methods as they see more bears than even some of the most experienced guides. If there was an issue with the methods they would say so, but they have no problem with it as it stands now, emotions and people who want to be rid of hunting in all forms are running this campaign against bear hunting. I will certainly not vote to remove all three methods. I have had conversations with people that have trapped bears and it is not as easy as people think, there is much involved.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from derik wrote 32 weeks 6 days ago

@haverodwilltravel
I agree with that assessment whole-heartedly. Though I don't believe the poaching problem is as rampant in most places as some would have you believe(in some areas it is likely a problem but overall not so much), it is a much larger problem amongst anglers in my opinion than the wider hunting community. Sportsmen should support one another on all issues.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from TinEagle wrote 32 weeks 15 hours ago

Before the flatlanders came to Maine, we hunted, we fished, we got along well with each other. The anti-hunting groups are like missionaries of old, bringing religion to the heathens that worshipped the sun, the moon, the birds, land animals and mother earth. Can't have that, we know the Right Way To Do Things and we're going to convert you or kill you. Thanks a lot flatlanders. We now have to fight to keep our right to hunt and fish and oh yeah, we have Zumba and Prostitution Trials.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from GarrisonRandy wrote 31 weeks 5 days ago

I agree with those who make the statements that we as hunters all need to support each other. I hunt bears over bait in Canada and can vouch that it is not a "slam dunk" by any means to get a bear in for an ethical shot. I have never hunted bears with dogs but I do not fault those who do. Likewise, I would not trap a bear but yet I do not see much difference between this and trapping varmints that may still be alive when the individual checks his/her traps.

I hope Maine residents step up to support their bear hunting traditions. I also hope more support from other groups (NRA, SCI, etc) comes into the state to help educate residents who may not be given all the facts.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Togue23 wrote 27 weeks 1 day ago

As a Maine Bear Hunter, it is incredibly frustrating to have this issue resurface. The argument that we can have the same success without the use of these tactics, (especially baiting) is absurd. The woods where Black Bear hunting occurs are incredibly thick, with little to no clearings or shooting lanes. We do not have the ability to glass a bear 300-400 yards away and stalk in for a kill. In all my years in the Maine woods hiking, hunting and fishing I have only seen one bear (outside of Bear Season when I am targeting them) and by the time I realized what it was, it was gone.

Every year we have more and more reports being called into the warden service in regards to bears getting into people bird feeders, trash cans, even homes. It just happened to a relative a few days ago, and they do not live in the deep north maine woods. Our population of Black Bear here is becoming a serious issue, and having national Organizations step in and push to tell us how we should manage this species with no scientific findings to back their case is disturbing. A few months ago the pop singer Kesha put out a statement backing the effort to ban these practices in Maine, it just goes to show this is all fueled by big money corporations and twisted views of reality.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RockySquirrel wrote 33 weeks 1 day ago

As much as I hate to agree with the humane society on anything (a bunch of pointless busy bodies who need a life), In this I agree (for different reasons). Baiting OK. In some respects we all “bait”, even when we cover natural food sources. Dogs to run bears. Uh maybe. That is a tradition that is older than this country. But trapping a bear to shoot it, is just not sporting. Just not cricket. Even the great Teddy Roosevelt refused to shoot a trapped (tied) bear, as it was not right. Thats the story of Teddy Bears (I believe).

-1 Good Comment? | | Report

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