To the Editor:
Facts are the most important issue regarding the upcoming vote to decide to ban or continue to allow the allegedly, “cruel and unsportsmanlike,” hunting practices currently used in the state of Maine when hunting bears. There are three hunting practices at issue: Hunting using foot traps, dog packs, and food placement (training the bears to feed in specific places). These three are referred to as “trapping, hounding and baiting.”
It’s against the law to hunt deer and moose in Maine in these ways. The other way to hunt bear is called (as with moose and deer) “fair chase hunting.” You walk quietly into the woods with guns, track the animals on foot and shoot when you are close enough.
Fact 1. Maine is the only state in the U.S. that hunts bear by all three methods in question: trapping, hounding and baiting.
Fact 2. Maine is the only state left in the U.S. that uses trapping.
Fact 3. More people come to Maine to watch wildlife than to kill it. More than 200,000 people travel to Maine every year to view wildlife, spending more than $141 million to do so.
Fact 4. When other states have banned hounding and baiting, interest in fair chase bear hunting actually increases. Since Oregon banned bear hounding and baiting in 1994, bear tags sales have tripled, revenue from bear tags sales has increased by 214 percent, and nonresident bear tag revenue in the state has doubled.
Fact 5. In Washington, the number of bear hunters has almost doubled and the number of bear hunters in Colorado has more than tripled since the state prohibited baiting and hounding.
Fact 6. The following agencies support the vote to ban these three methods of hunting bear to change bear management in Maine for the better: The Humane Society of The U.S., The American Society for the Protection of Animals (ASPCA), Wildlife Alliance of Maine, Animal Welfare Society, Maine Friends & Animals, Coastal Humane Society, Animal Refuge League… among others. These agencies are not for banning hunting; only cruelty to animals when hunting.
They hope you vote to eliminate cruelty in sporting/recreation bear hunting. (There are, “exception,” laws, used for research of wild bears in their environment and for the safety of the public with individual rogue bears or bears that end up in public places and must be removed back to the woods. Those current exception laws will remain the same when voting to ban trapping, hounding and baiting in the Oct. 5 vote.)
All citizens of Maine will benefit with the economic increase caused by removing these three methods of hunting. The bear population will go down as well, as it has in other states. In Maine, it has been on the increase lately.
If you want to read the data research or get more in depth information regards to bear hunting you can go online to http://www.fairbearhunt.com.