Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting


Bear Baiting, Hounding, Trapping are Scientifically Indefensible Methods

New report shows IF&W’s current management of black bears is growing the bear population

(Oct. 21, 2014) – A scientific report, released by Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting, shows the myriad of problems associated with the baiting, hounding and trapping of black bears. The report explains how baiting has contributed to the enormous increase in Maine’s bear population and heightened the potential for threats to human safety.

While national parks and other federal and state agencies forbid the feeding of bears and have even linked baiting to public safety hazards, Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife actively promotes it for bear baiting. The result of dumping approximately 7 million pounds of junk food into Maine’s woods each year creates human-habituated bears, which leads to an increase in nuisance bears and interactions with people.

Katie Hansberry, campaign director for Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting, said: “There’s a reason every responsible wildlife manager says ‘Don’t feed the bears.’ We all know ‘a fed bear is a dead bear,’ but Maine continues to carve out an illogical exception for bear baiters. We shouldn’t keep dumping tons of donuts and other junk foods in the woods, even as Maine’s sugar-addicted bear population grows out of control.”

The opponents of Question 1 continue to use scare tactics that if baiting, hounding and trapping were prohibited then the population would even further explode – they have even gone as far as placing ads that continue this false hysteria. The science simply does not support this and even IF&W knows it. In fact, they knew the population would not explode during the previous 2004 campaign. Their lead biologist stated: “We will not have a population explosion, especially in the span of a few years, as bears do not have the capacity to reproduce that quickly. Many have said that our nuisance complaints will go through the roof, but nuisance bear activity depends more on year-to-year variations in natural food crops and less on the total number of bears in an area…” 

Yet, as the report demonstrates, the IF&W conveniently ignores common sense biology: feeding bears with bait or other human food sources grows their population and habituates them to human scents turning them into nuisance bears. Numerous studies, including those conducted in Maine, show bears’ biology is regulated by food availability. With plenty of food at the bait sites comes early maturation of females, more cubs per litter and higher cub survival rates. A YES vote on Question 1 would help stabilize both the bear population and nuisance complaints.

Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting is a coalition of state and national groups, environmental and animal organizations, animal shelters and rescue groups, hunters, veterinarians, businesses, community and faith leaders and independent biologists. The coalition’s Bear and Science Advisory Council consists of sportsmen, scientists, and bear management experts who have come together to support a fair bear hunt and prohibit the cruel practices of hounding, baiting, and trapping.


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."

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