Animal rights advocates are at it again, pushing a ballot initiative to ban most popular methods of bear hunting in Maine.
The move by the Humane Society of the United States and its local affiliate Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting is the second time in a decade the group has tried to restrict bear hunters from using bait, dogs and traps in their pursuit of reclusive bruins. A similar initiative in 2004 failed 53 percent to 47 percent, the Bangor Daily News said.
“What we’re really doing is saying there’s a right way to bear hunt and there’s a wrong way,” the Humane Society’s Wayne Pacelle told the Bangor Daily News. “This is not about stopping bear hunting. It’s about making bear hunting more fair, more responsible, more humane.”
But national hunting advocates are pushing back, with groups like Safari Club International urging its members to vote “no” on the November 4 ballot.
“Professional biologists to continue to manage Maine’s bear population with their nationally recognized bear management program,” SCI says. “Without bear hunting, baiting, and trapping, it would become much more difficult for Maine to manage its bear population to a level consistent with the public goals and objectives.”
In fact, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife issued a report in July saying black bear populations have jumped 30 percent since 2004, adding baiting, trapping and using dogs on bear hunts are “scientifically proven methods” of bear population management.
Maine’s fish and wildlife office recently launched a website that outlines the department’s efforts to manage the bear population and help block animal rights advocates’ efforts to change hunting methods.
“We felt it was important that voters understand the ramifications of this referendum,” said Judy Camuso with the state’s wildlife service. “Maine’s biologists and game wardens are opposed to this referendum, and this website clearly shows why we are opposed and why this referendum is bad for Maine.”