Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting


Q&A Regarding Lawsuit over Illegal Expenditures by DIFW

Q: Why did you file this now, right before the election?

We couldn’t file sooner because the Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife (DIFW) has been sitting on our request for records for months. Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting (MFBH) submitted a state public records request back in March 2013 and May 2014 seeking records related to DIFW’s opposition campaign. As of today, DIFW has provided only a tiny fraction of the documents requested. We had to file at this time because the election is a month away and we cannot wait any longer.

Q: Aren't you just trying to silence the opposition?

The lawsuit is not about silencing anyone. It’s about a state agency’s misuse of taxpayer money to interfere with fair debate, and tip the scales in favor of one side – the opposition. We respect the agency’s right to disseminate factual information about bear management. But they’ve repeatedly gone way over that line, and it’s time for it to stop. The DIFW is using taxpayer resources to mount ad hominem attacks on MFBH and HSUS in the media, and has engaged in baseless fear-mongering under the guise of objective science.

Q: Are you saying the agency cannot speak out at all? Where is the line?

The DIFW has a duty to administer and enforce the fish and wildlife laws of the state. It is not authorized to expend resources on, or otherwise involve itself in, political campaign activities. Maine law does allow agencies to disseminate factual “fair comment” about a referendum to voters. But there are legal limits to what constitutes “fair comment.” DIFW has been using taxpayer resources to achieve their political agenda, and their campaign against Question 1 not only aligns with the political talking points of the No campaign, but also tries to scare Mainers into believing Question 1 will somehow threaten public safety. The DIFW is using these scare tactics, despite the fact that Question 1 contains express exemptions for the protection of property, public safety, and research.

Q: Why didn't you sue the opposition campaign, rather than or in addition to the agency?

The lawsuit is not about the opposition campaign, nor does it try to stifle them. It’s about a state agency’s misuse of taxpayer money to interfere with fair debate, and tip the scales in favor of one side – the opposition. The agency is the party unlawfully expending taxpayer money to interfere with an election, and also the party withholding records showing the full scope and nature of its lobbying. That’s why this lawsuit is against the DIFW – they are the responsible party at issue.

Q: Why did you file in Portland, rather than Augusta?

MFBH, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, are based in Portland, which makes it a proper venue for this lawsuit.

Q: Are you going to seek an injunction? If so, when?

We are hopeful that the leadership and attorneys for DIFW read the complaint, and realize that the agency and its employees have crossed the line into illegal lobbying with government resources. If they don’t, then the plaintiffs will seriously consider seeking an injunction before the election. We want to give the agency an opportunity to correct its actions, but we cannot wait very long given the election is looming.

Q: Are you going to sue media outlets to take down the ads?

We have not filed and are not planning on filing suit against any media outlets at this time, but its not impossible if it becomes necessary to stop the DIFW’s illegal campaign activities.

Q: What's different now, as opposed to 2004 when you didn't sue?

While the DIFW engaged in significant political campaign activities in 2004, their actions in this election dwarfs their actions in the 2004 election cycle. The agency has already misled the Maine electorate in one election, and this case is designed to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

Q: Isn't this an HSUS lawsuit, being filed by proxy?

This is not an HSUS lawsuit rather a lawsuit filed by MFBH which is a coalition state and national groups, environmental and animal organizations, animal shelters and rescue groups, hunters, veterinarians, businesses, community and faith leaders, independent biologists and residents across the state all concerned about responsible bear management.


Endorsements

Wildlife Alliance of Maine
Animal Welfare Society
Spay Maine
Maine Friends of Animals
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)
Coastal Humane Society
Animal Refuge League
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)
Halfway Home Pet Rescue

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Media

Maine Bear Hunting Reform Narrowly Rejected by Voters

Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting expressed disappointment about the election results on Question 1, but thanked more than a quarter million Mainers who voted to end bear baiting, hounding, and trapping.

"We are grateful to so many Maine voters for supporting this proposed reform, and we look forward to working with them and with ‘no’ and non-voters to outlaw the practices of bear hounding and trapping, because we believe there’s substantial agreement on that issue."

Read more here »

View all media here »




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