Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting


Internal Agency Documents Show IF&W Employees Misleading Voters about Question 1

Government staff members don’t believe the agency’s political scare tactics; have personal stake in campaign

(Oct. 23, 2014) – Internal emails released by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife show that the agency has been misleading the public about Question 1. IF&W had refused to disclose these emails, and only did after a Maine court ordered the agency to do so last week. The emails released so far undermine some core IF&W claims about Question 1.

Claim: In an opposition television advertisement, IF&W spokespeople Judy Camuso and Randy Cross call Question 1 a “serious threat to public safety.”

Fact: IF&W staff don’t believe this claim. In an email exchange on Oct. 30, 2012, 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.” Question 1 also contains a specific exemption allowing the continued use of any method to address public safety. And Question 1 proponents have argued that feeding bears habituates the animals to human food sources and increases the remote risk of menacing behavior from bears.

Claim: In its advertisements and press statements, IF&W spokesperson Randy Cross has presented himself as an impartial expert, and never mentioned a personal stake in baiting bears.

Fact: Randy Cross is an active bear hunter, who likely baits and traps bears. This information casts doubt on his objectivity, since he enjoys these practices as a recreational activity. In an email exchange on July 17, 2013, a friend emails Randy Cross, “Did you trap out of Beddington or your camp? Sounds like you made out all right despite the weather. Are you and your brothers running baits Downeast this fall?” And Cross replies, in part, “Trapped out of Doug’s camp on Rte. 9 – couldn’t get into ours until late May…It looks like we won’t be hunting bear this fall. Maybe try to trap one later, I don’t know. Linda and I are going on vacation to AK during the bait season.”

Claim: In its statements, IF&W spokespeople Judy Camuso and Randy Cross claim that baiting with junk food doesn’t create nuisance bears.

Fact: IF&W knows feeding bears makes them more likely to come into conflict with people. In the Oct. 30, 2012 email exchange, Randy Cross writes, “Those [bears] that have been fed by people and have lost their fear of people are potentially very dangerous.” Every year, baiters feed bears an estimated seven million pounds of jelly doughnuts, pizza and other junk food, swelling their population and teaching them to seek out human foods.

Claim: IF&W claims it is not using tax dollars to tell Mainers how to vote.

Fact: Internal records suggest that the agency spent $10,000 on an outside designer to create web materials urging Mainers to oppose Question 1. And in an email exchange on Jan. 9, 2014, Judy Camuso says, “The bear referendum is a major commitment for the Department;” adding “There will be a few staff people dedicated to working on the referendum.” Emails also show that IF&W has reduced the number of bear pen study groups it conducts so that it can focus on campaigning on Question 1.

Claim: IF&W staff endorse Question 1 based on science, not politics

Fact: IF&W staff have been told that they need to oppose Question 1, regardless of their personal or scientific opinion on the topic – perhaps because of political pressure from Commissioner Woodcock. In the Jan. 9, 2014 email exchange, Judy Camuso writes, “All staff need to know what our position is, where we are coming from, and everyone needs to be on the same page.” 

“This is an agency with close ties to the bear baiting industry, financially conflicted because of the fees that go to the agency, and with personnel emotionally and personally invested in continuing these unsporting and inhumane practices,” said Katie Hansberry, director of Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting. “These folks seem prepared to say just about anything in order to keep Maine’s status intact as the only state in the nation that allows all three of these unacceptable bear hunting methods.”

Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting, 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, are urging residents to vote YES on Question 1 on the Nov. 4 ballot to stop the cruel and unsporting practices of baiting, hounding and trapping bears.


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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