March 5, 2014
Mainers to Vote on Inhumane and Unsporting Bear Hunting Practices
Secretary of State Certifies Signatures
The Maine Secretary of State certified 63,626 signatures, giving voters an opportunity to end the cruel and unsporting practices of bear hounding, baiting and trapping in Maine. A question on the issue will appear on the November 2014 ballot. Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting – the broad coalition leading the effort to end Maine’s status as the last state to allow all three practices – submitted 78,528 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office in early February. The signatures collected came from 417 cities and towns, in every county throughout Maine.
Katie Hansberry, campaign director for Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting said: “We are excited to work with Maine hunters and non-hunters to ban the inhumane, unsporting and reckless practices of bear baiting, hounding and trapping. Dumping millions of pounds of pizza, jelly donuts and rotting food into the woods – to lure in bears for an easy kill – is wildlife mismanagement at its worst, providing heaps of supplemental food for bears and training them to raid garbage and other human food sources.
She added, “Many states with dense forests, such as Oregon and Washington, ban these unacceptable practices, and Maine can, too. We are thrilled that Maine voters will have an opportunity to decide this issue in November.”
The proposed measure only affects recreational hounding, baiting and trapping, while still allowing fair chase bear hunting – it includes exemptions for research purposes and for the take of bears in the interest of the public safety or to protect public or private property, endangered or threatened species, livestock or pets.
Daryl DeJoy, executive director of the Wildlife Alliance of Maine said: “The next 9 months will be an opportunity for us to provide the people of Maine with the full story about how these practices actually negatively affect both bear and human populations in Maine. The 60 percent increase in our bear population since the start of baiting in Maine speaks volumes about the potential repercussions of continuing on our current bear management path.”
More than 2,000 Maine residents signed up to volunteer as part of Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting, a coalition of animal welfare groups, responsible hunters, conservationists, veterinarians, businesses and community leaders seeking to enact these long overdue protections for Maine’s bears and hounds.
Robert Fisk, president and director of Maine Friends of Animals said: “Kudos to the many Mainers who gathered more than 78,000 signatures, once again demonstrating strong support for ending Maine's ignominious position as the only state in the country to allow all three of these three egregiously cruel hunting methods. Three practices that have another common component – there is no fair chase, and three practices that are completely unnecessary for bear management. It’s time for Maine to end its association with all three.”
The legislature has the option of enacting the measure or referring it to the 2014 ballot.
Independent bear biologists and researchers acknowledge the reckless nature and numerous problems associated with the irresponsible practice of dumping millions of pounds of pizza, pastries, candy and rotting food in the woods to lure in bears for an easy kill.
- Baiting changes bears’ behaviors, habituates them to human food sources, and reduces their natural fear of humans, which increases the likelihood of negative interactions with people. Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife rightfully issues stern warnings to the public not to feed bears every year in an attempt to reduce these bear-human conflicts.
- With vast amounts of junk food readily available in their environment, bears increase in size, and mother bears have greater reproductive success and greater cub survival, which unnaturally increases Maine’s bear population, the very thing that state officials are trying to reverse.
- Bait piles concentrate animals, including raccoons and other species. These areas become significant disease-transfer sites, which exacerbates the spread of infection between animals. Biologists are particularly concerned with the spread of rabies at baited zones.
- Voters in Colorado, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington approved similar ballot measures in past elections. California lawmakers outlawed hound hunting of bears in 2012.
Paid for with regulated funds by the committee of Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting