Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting represents a coalition of hunters, environmental and animal organizations, animal shelters and rescue groups, veterinarians, businesses, community and faith leaders, and independent biologists. Several of the hunters supporting the coalition have spoken out, opposing the cruel, unsporting, and scientifically indefensible practices of bear hounding, baiting, and trapping.
Sportsmen and women are speaking out in support of restoring fair chase to Maine's bear hunt. Outspoken hunters who are demanding fair chase include: Mary Moulton, a 90-year-old hunter from Livermore Falls who firmly believes these practices are despicable; Cecil Gray, a lifetime hunter from Skowhegan who wants Mainers to understand that an end to bear baiting is not an end to bear hunting; and Josh Phillips, an avid hunter and a man of faith living in southern Maine who explains that baiting is not hunting, it's just shooting. Mainers are ready to end their notorious distinction as the very last state in the country to still allow all three cruel, unsporting, and scientifically indefensible practices of bear hounding, baiting, and trapping. Enlarge map.
If you are interested in speaking out against these practices, please sign up online and mention that you are a hunter.
"I hunted as hard as any man for 30 years when I was younger. In all those years, I came across many bears -- in trees, on the ground or even fishing -- papa bears, mama bears and even baby bears. Not once did any of them gnash their teeth at me or act aggressive toward me in any way. They ran, faster than I could ever run."
"Hounding, baiting, and trapping lack the very skill that draws most hunters to the sport: the challenge of tracking and finding the bear. These practices give hunting a bad image by mocking the notion of sportsmanship and fair chase."
"I am not against hunting bears and neither is the Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting coalition, only the way in which they are hunted. It seems to me giving the bears the same chance to live as other wild animals involves a challenge to a hunter, rather than using traps, bait, or dogs. I am asking the hunters to give the bears as much of a chance to run free as any other animal. Voting “yes” in November, will give them that chance."
"I’ve pretty much hunted and fished my whole life. I spend a ton of times outdoors. I became a guide in the late 80’s and still maintain the license and I still spend a ton of time out in the woods -- a lot further north than here."
"Bears used to come to dumps all the time, people would see the bears at dumps and I’m sure somebody said, “Wow, if we had like 40 of those strung out and we could shoot them.” I don’t know if exactly that’s it but they came up with the idea."
"Baiting and hunting are different concepts. When you hunt you go look for something. If you bait -- why does it even have to be explained -- you know, the donut is hunting for you. Here they all come, you’re not looking for the bear, you’re just gonna sit there and wait for the bear to come to the food pile."
"A lot of people will say that this referendum is to end bear hunting -- you see that in a lot of headlines, a lot of chitter-chatter on the internet. This referendum is to end bear baiting. Bear hunt all you want. If you’ve got the gumption and the time and the know-how and you want to put your time in it -- yes it will take a lot of time... go for it. Be a real hunter. Baiting and hunting are two different things."
"It should be obvious to most people that hunting and baiting are two different things. I don’t care what your argument is: when you hunt you look for something, when you bait you go sit by a pile of donuts that has been drawing animals to it for thirty days. Completely different concept. And people have to understand, this referendum is not about ending bear hunting... Bear hunt all you want. And matter of fact, this will turn it back to people who like to bear hunt. So, this is about ending bear baiting, not ending bear hunting, and anybody that tells you different is basically lying."
"Hunting allows me to gain a better understanding of nature; a fair chase hunt fosters a continued approach to humbly respecting the animals I take."
"I speak from experience when I say, baiting is not hunting; it’s just shooting. I could put a bowl of milk out for kittens and just shoot them as they come up for a drink. That’s not hunting. Hunting takes time, research, ground study, hiking, observation. Luring a bear to a specific kill site with pungent-smelling, high-calorie junk food is lazy. Some people say calling bear baiters lazy is an insult. I say that’s calling a duck a duck."
"All said, I hear the complaint that finding a bear to kill and stuff or turn into a rug is going to be more challenging after this ban. It will be more challenging and it will be more sporting. Hunting a bear can certainly be done without bait; it will involve the challenge of a fair chase hunt. Not everybody likes to work hard and that’s not what everyone wants to hear. But the idea that bear baiting is anything but lazy is bull snot, plain and simple."
"Evidence from other states is overwhelming. A ban on bear bait is not an end to all hunting, it is rather a return to fair chase hunting."
"I am an advocate for the right to bear arms. A longtime hunter, I have been selected three times for a Maine moose permit. Baiting a bear, however, is not hunting nor is it a sport. Feeding a hungry animal and waiting to kill it is not a sport. Knowing where and when the kill will happen is not hunting, it is premeditated killing. This is all about money. A person who lures an unsuspecting animal to its death for money is a paid assassin. When the thrill of a kill outweighs the work it takes to actually hunt the game, it can no longer be called hunting.”
“I am an upland game hunter, not a bear hunter. I have carefully read the recent articles by those for and against the current baiting, trapping and hounding of bears... The only credible reason to continue [the current] practices is to provide income for guides and lodges. If the information from the West Coast is correct, that reason doesn’t hold water."
“Our bears are severely mistreated: chased by packs of dogs, caught in painful and indiscriminate traps and lured to their death with pastries and fryolator grease. Our environment is abused by the bear baiting industry, which dumps 7 million pounds of human waste foods into our woods every year. Starting July 26, our woods will be flooded with junk food so out-of-staters without the skills needed for real hunting can pay to take pot shots at our Maine bears… I’ve hunted bear in Maine for the last 25 years [and] know the woods well and am a skilled enough tracker to find a bear when I want rather than relying on lazy and cruel tactics."
“I’m tired of hearing the arguments that banning the use of bait to attract bears will infringe on the tradition of hunting or that baiting is necessary to manage the bear population. They’re simply not true. We don’t use traps to hunt deer; we don’t use dogs to hunt deer; and we don’t stick jelly donuts in a bucket to hunt deer. We don’t do it with deer, so why do it with bears? It infuriates me to no end. Bears and deer are beautiful animals, and they’re good eating. They deserve to be hunted using fair chase rather than some hunter waiting on his duff to shoot a bear who sticks his head in a bucket full of jelly donuts. Bears also deserve more than getting chased up a tree by dogs for someone to blast off a branch and finish with a handgun, or leghold snares that could catch a hunter or unintended wildlife."
“It is sad that the state of Maine is the only state that permits these three practices. In traveling to other states with large bear populations, we are warned by park rangers not to feed the bears or they could be addicted to human food. We have a problem here in Maine, where bears wander into built-up areas… If the current system is voted out, Maine will see an increase in the hunters who stalk bear and this will fill the void that is expected to occur. The current system is a cruel practice, and I shall vote yes on the referendum this fall. I encourage others to do the same.”
"I've been hunting from the time I started, at an early age with my grandfather, on up to the days of my father -- and all my life. I'm taking more pictures as I get older, I'm finding that I'm enjoying pictures of the deer more and more. But the fair chase really interested me this year with this, the whole bear thing is a good thing for Maine to change... I've spent hours, years and years of chasing animals the fair way."
"[Baiting] reminds me of putting out food in a dog dish. The bear comes to the dish, he only knows it's a food source. He doesn't realize there's somebody there to kill him. And they are going to kill him. There's no difference at all shooting that bear over bait and the over the dog dish in your home -- there's no difference."
"A true hunter would be hunting [bear] the same way he would be for a deer or another creature. There's no sport to baiting, and that's trapping, as well. You don't know which bear you are trapping -- whether you're trapping a cub bear, a little bear. I am dead against hounding, I am worse against hounding than I am the rest of it. They use teams of dogs -- the bear has very little chance."
"Those three issues are all bad for Maine, have been since the day they were started. It is time to change."
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."