Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting is a nonprofit dedicated to establishing long-overdue protections for Maine’s bears and the dogs forced to chase them. We represent a broad coalition of hunters, environmental and animal organizations, animal shelters and rescue groups, veterinarians, businesses, community and faith leaders, and independent biologists.
We made a good-faith attempt to bring all stakeholders to the table and address this issue during the 2013 legislative session. Unfortunately, the other side was unwilling to pursue a compromise. In Maine, we’re lucky to have the citizen initiative process, which allows citizens to prohibit these cruel and unsporting practices at the ballot box.
With the help of thousands of Mainers, in just 121 days, we gathered nearly 80,000 signatures and placed this initiative on the November 2014 ballot. Now we’re gearing up for Election Day, Tuesday, November 4, 2014. Join us!
In Maine, hunting is a time-honored tradition but cruelty is not. If you have questions, use this form to contact us or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For all media or debate inquiries, please contact email@example.com.
Get the Facts:
Maine is the only state in the country to still allow all three practices of bear hounding, baiting, and trapping. These practices are cruel, unsporting, and scientifically indefensible. Explore below to get the facts.
IT'S SCIENTIFICALLY INDEFENSIBLE.
- Baiting hooks bears on human junk food in order to lure them in for an easy trophy kill.
- Even the opposition's numbers show baiting isn't working: the bear population has grown in Maine by 253% since 1975, when baiting became popular.
- In Maine, baiting hasn't stabilized the bear population -- it's grown by 30% since 2004. Meanwhile, other states have taken the lead and enacted less cruel, more effective methods of stabilization.
- Washington, Colorado, and Oregon have proven that since prohibiting baiting and hounding 20 years ago, bear populations have actually stabilized. We need to follow their lead in Maine, not continue to shun science.
- Read more about the science behind effective bear management.
IT'S CRUEL TO BEARS AND DOGS.
- Bear trapping is so cruel that Maine is the very last state in the country to still allow this practice. A bear’s instinct is to break free from foot snare traps, which can lead to extensive injuries to the animals. Trappers have even reported bears chewing off their own paws to free themselves. Since these traps must be checked only once per day, the bear could be suffering for hours in excruciating pain.
- Mother bears are particularly vulnerable to baiting. When they are killed, they leave behind orphaned cubs that are frequently unable to survive on their own.
- Bear hounding uses high-tech, unsporting equipment. There is nothing "natural" or "traditional" about packs of dogs outfitted with GPS devices forced to run down bears. Dogs trap bears in trees, allowing houndsmen to follow a GPS signal with a handheld computer to find the frightened and exhausted bear and shoot them off tree limbs at point-blank range.
- After gaining their trust by luring them day after day to barrels full of donuts, bears are then shot at close range for an easy trophy kill.
- Only 12% of bears killed in Maine are taken via hounding -- where packs of trained dogs fitted with GPS collars allow houndsmen to remotely follow the dogs' movement for miles on computer screens. Hounds trap the bears in trees, allowing the houndsmen to follow their GPS for easy kills at short range.
- Baiting unnaturally concentrates bears, which leads to older males preying on cubs.
- Hounding pits dogs against bears. If a bear is unable to escape up a tree, in exhaustion, the bear may turn and face the pack. This confrontation can result in serious or fatal injuries to either species.
- Read more about why we need to ban these cruel practices.
IT'S NOT REAL HUNTING, THERE IS NO FAIR CHASE.
- Bear hounding, baiting, and trapping does not reflect traditional Maine hunting values. Traditional hunters prefer a fair chase during the hunt. There is no sport in using traps, bait, or packs of dogs equipped with radio collars or GPS transmitters to kill a bear. That is not hunting. Instead, it is shooting animals for a trophy and that is not the Maine way.
- Dumping 6 million pounds of junk food into the woods, luring bears to specific sites, and then shooting them at close range has no fair chase element involved -- it isn't hunting.
- According to Tom Beck, retired bear biologist, prohibiting baiting fosters more effective hunting techniques:
"I don't believe anyone who says you can't hunt bears in the fall when they're on berries or nuts. You can predict where they're going to be, and if you're a woodsman, all you have to do is scout those places. After we prohibited baiting, it took only two years for our hunters to get to the point where they were killing more bears than they were before."
- Using hounds pits exhausted bears against packs of hound dogs, resulting in injuries or mortality to both the bears and the dogs.
- Read more about the importance of protecting fair chase hunting in Maine.