To the Editor:
A recent letter to the editor by Maxine Snow included a number of so-called facts regarding the efforts by animal rights organizations to eliminate baiting, hounding and trapping from Maine’s bear hunting regulations. (Bear hunting factual info,” LCN, 10/31/2013, Page 4) Many of these “facts” need further explanation and others cry out for correction.
Ms. Snow’s first fact states that Maine is the only state in the United States that permits bear baiting and trapping. However, she fails to add that Maine has the largest black bear population (30,000) in the country and the combination of these three methods of harvesting bears is the only proven way to control that ever expanding population.
To eliminate any one of these methods would decrease the chances of achieving the 3500 annual kill figure that Maine’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife maintains is essential to managing a healthy bear population while reducing the chances of dangerous conflict with the general public.
In Ms. Snow’s fact #4, she asserts states that eliminate baiting and hounding have had an increase in still bear hunting. She uses Oregon as an example of how bear tag sales have tripled since the passing of their 1994 referendum.
If she had bothered to check with Oregon’s Big Game Statistics Division she would have found that like Washington and Colorado, their response to their referendums was to combine bear hunting with their big game licenses. It was hoped that more hunters targeting elk and mule deer would incidentally take a bear. Very few hunters in those states hunt only bear.
The success rate for Maine bear hunters is 30 percent. Oregon’s pre-referendum success rate was 7 percent. After the referendum, it has dropped to between 2 and 3 percent. If a referendum eliminating baiting, hounding and trapping in Maine were passed, and the Maine bear hunting success rate were to drop at the same ratio as that in Oregon, we would soon see a dramatic rise in the number of human-bear encounters.
In Aspen, Col., there were 1762 bear nuisance calls in 2012. The last thing we in Maine want is an increase in bear confrontations.
Ms. Snow’s fact 6 is unbelievably far off base. She lists a number of animal rights organizations that support the effort to ban bear baiting, hounding and trapping and says, “these agencies are not for banning hunting, only cruelty to animals while hunting.” This is the untruth to end all untruths.
The major national organization funding this referendum is the Humane Society of the United States, headquartered in Washington, D.C., and well known as the major anti-hunting organization in our country. Don’t believe it? Tap into the HSUS website and read their policy statements as we did on April 4, 2012.
“As a matter of principle, the HSUS opposes the hunting of any living creature for fun, trophy, or sport…”
To the Associated Press on Dec. 30, 1991, Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of HSUS said, “If we could shut down all sports hunting in a moment, we would.”
In Full Cry magazine on Oct. 8, 1991, Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of HSUS was quoted as saying, “We are going to use the ballot box and the democratic process to stop all hunting in the United States. We will take it species by species until all hunting is stopped in California. Then we will take it state by state.”
Now HSUS is going after Maine. It has pledged to spend $3,000,000 of their annual direct mail acquired $100,000,000 to change our bear hunting laws, negatively impacting not only our healthy bear population but our economy as well. The incomes of our Maine Guides, sporting camps, restaurants, and other rural businesses are largely dependent on the sport of bear hunting as it is today.
Organizations keep referring to “fair bait hunting” which means still hunting only. Obviously they don’t know that in Maine, during the November deer season, only still hunting for bear is permitted. During November 2012, a mere 60 bears were harvested. If baiting, hounding, and trapping were eliminated during the first parts of the bear season, it would be impossible to harvest the 3500 bears annually necessary to avoid a significant population explosion and dangerous confrontations with the public.
Maine hunting laws should be based on the recommendations of the biologists and wildlife experts in our Department of Inland Fisheries and wildlife.
Science and research, not emotions of those of us who are not bear hunters or hidden agendas of national animal rights organizations, should rule the day.