Depending on Maine legislators to take action overlooks their allegiance to the hunting community.
In “Our View: Bear-baiting case not made: We say ‘no on Question 1″ (Oct. 19), you wrongly conclude there’s no good argument for banning recreational bear baiting, hounding and trapping.
You acknowledge that hounding and trapping are cruel, but oppose Question 1 because it includes baiting, which you deem “less cruel.” To that point you compare shooting a grazing deer to shooting a bear over bait. The correct comparison is shooting a deer over a salt lick, which is illegal, unfair and unethical. Bears deserve equal treatment.
We agree that “the effect of bait on population growth is a less subjective issue” than cruelty. Bear reproduction is indisputably a direct function of food supply. The Inland Fisheries & Wildlife Department has never studied the effect of baiting on bear population fluctuations. Still, IFW flatly insists that baiting does not affect population
You say that absent the evidence, it “makes no sense to overrule our wildlife management experts and change the law.” Why defer to the agency responsible for critical missing evidence? And why ask your readers to trust biologists who won’t do the biology?
Even more baffling, you note that since the last bear-hunting referendum, “several legislatures have avoided” addressing “hunting practices that seem unfair and brutal.” Nevertheless, you say voters should vote “no” and keep pushing their legislators “to do their jobs and create a balanced wildlife management plan for the state.”
This fantasy recipe for action has it backward. The hunter-dominated IFW Committee has consistently blocked legislative efforts to address even hounding and trapping. Victory for the IFW will only harden their resolve.
Passage of Question 1 is the only pathway to effective and humane management of the black bear, the very symbol of Maine’s natural wonder. Don’t consign this noble animal to the garbage pile and the misery of these practices. Vote “yes” on 1.
Brad and Anita Coupe
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."