Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting


IF&W Forced to Release Damning Evidence of Political Campaigning with Tax Dollars

Agency playing fear card with the public, but one of its staff members says claim isn’t credible

(Oct. 22, 2014) – In response to a court order, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has released internal emails showing the use of government funds and unethical collusion with the opponents of Question 1, the ballot measure to end the cruel and unsporting practices of baiting, hounding and trapping bears. A Portland court ordered the agency to disclose the emails last week after finding that the IF&W had illegally withheld them. Amongst other transgressions, the emails reveal:

  • IF&W has spent upward of $10,000 of public money on an outside designer to create campaign materials against Question 1
  • IF&W sent its staff to a professional media training on Question 1 organized by the opposition campaign committee
  • IF&W and the opposition campaign have closely coordinated their campaigning

Without the benefit of this new evidence, a Maine court declined to issue a temporary restraining order stopping the IF&W from further interfering in the political campaign. This was a preliminary procedural ruling, not a final ruling based on the evidence. The decision only came after the IF&W had pledged to not spend any more money on its campaign, or to post more deceptive videos online – a decision that the Judge cited in her reasoning.

“Our government shouldn’t be telling us how to vote,” said Katie Hansberry, director of Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting. “At the very minimum, they should be transparent and disclose the full extent of their politicking to the public. We are pleased that the court ordered the agency to disclose its political activities, and that IF&W has promised not to spend any more money campaigning before the election, but we intend to continue this lawsuit, and to hold them to their promises.”

The new evidence also shows that IF&W’s own biologists do not believe in the scare campaign that the department has been running, which claims that bears pose a threat to human safety. In one email, IF&W biologist Randy Cross, states, “Since there has not been an unprovoked bear attack in the history of white settlement in Maine, it is not a realistic threat.” He later writes, “Those that have been fed by people and have lost their fear of people are potentially very dangerous.” Baiting bears involves feeding bears seven million pounds of human food annually.

“The new records show that even IF&W biologists know that their own scare tactics about bears are overreaching,” added Hansberry. “Maine voters should vote YES on Question 1 on November 4th to stop these scare tactics and to stop animal cruelty.”

 


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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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