Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting


RELEASE: Voters Seek Emergency Injunction to Block IF&W’s Continuing Illegal Expenditures of State Resources in Maine Elections

(Oct. 8, 2014) –An emergency injunction is being sought to stop the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s continuing illegal use of taxpayer money to conduct a political campaign in opposition to Question 1. The motion, filed by Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting, also asks the court to compel IF&W to immediately disclose records concerning its political activities, which the department has hidden for many months.

Katie Hansberry, campaign director for Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting, said: “Even with broad public and press criticism of its overreaching and illegal activities to undermine Question 1, IF&W has ratcheted up its use of staff time, equipment, and agency dollars to influence the upcoming election, and this should concern every Maine resident who cares about good government. With the election looming in four weeks, we have no choice but to seek an emergency court order to put the brakes on this outrageous and illegal politicking by government officials.”

In the last week, the IF&W has done nothing to pull back or stop the illegal campaign actions described in the lawsuit’s complaint. Instead, IF&W Commissioner Woodcock bragged to the media that his agency’s campaign activities will continue until the election. They’ve released a new taxpayer-funded campaign video that includes misleading rhetoric, delivered by uniformed IF&W employees, and attacks of the proponents of Question 1.

IF&W is essentially running the political campaign against Question 1 out of its taxpayer-funded offices, and doing so for the benefit of out-of-state trophy hunters who have set up the most extreme and unsportsmanlike bear killing program in the nation. Officials with this executive agency are falsely holding themselves up as impartial experts, but are behaving as anything but. The agency is pressing forward with an aggressive political agenda, designed to inflate bear populations through widespread baiting of bears to offer guaranteed kill opportunities to out-of-state trophy hunters.

The Maine IF&W is an outlier among states managing bear hunting, allowing bear baiters to dump garbage in the woods, and is the only state wildlife agency to allow recreational bear trapping. Despite discouraging the feeding of bears, deer and other animals, the Maine IF&W allows seven million pounds of garbage to be dumped into the woods a year. Studies in Maine show bears are reproducing more frequently, as baiting activity has become so commercialized and gotten out of control.

As described in the lawsuit, IF&W’s campaign also tries to frighten Mainers into believing Question 1 will somehow threaten public safety, ignoring the fact that Question 1 contains express exemptions for the protection of property, public safety and research. The state’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal and Program Review analyzed the economic effect of ending bear baiting and determined it will have “no net revenue impact” on state government, contradicting statements from IF&W personnel. In fact, when other large bear hunting states banned baiting and hounding, they saw an increase in the number of hunters and licenses sold, and stabilized their bear populations 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.


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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