Maine Governor Comes Out Against Anti-Bear Hunting Initiative

In a talk to sportsmen, Maine Gov. John Baldacci expressed his opposition to a proposed initiative that would ban bear baiting, hunting bear with dogs, and bear trapping in that state.

With the help of the Humane Society of the United States and other animal rights groups, Maine Citizens for Fair Bear Hunting has been working to place such an initiative on the ballot in Maine. They have collected more than 100,000 signatures, virtually guaranteeing that it will be on the November 2004 ballot unless the state legislature adopts the initiative on its own first.

Baldacci, speaking at a meeting of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, said,

Groups, funded by out-of-state organizations committed to ending hunting, are backing a referendum that would make it illegal to hunt bear with dogs, to hunt bears with bait or to trap bears. They believe they know better than the state’s biologist and animal management professionals how Maine should manage our wildlife resources. They have gotten out early to tell their story to Maine voters. We need to tell our story.

HSUS maintains that baiting, trapping and hunting with dogs are not necessary. In a press release on the ballot initiative, it said,

The recreational hounding, baiting and trapping of bears is unnecessary. Most bear hunting states do not allow these unsporting methods, yet hunters in the states are able to hunt bears without them. Pennsylvania, for example, prohibits baiting, hounding and trapping bears, yet hunters there kill more than 2,000 black bears annually.

Recently, Massachusetts, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington approved similar ballot measures to ban cruel bear hunting practices. Statistics from these states prove that inhumane practices are not necessary to control bear populations, as hunters are able to kill the same number of bears without them.

The full text of the ballot initiative can be read here.

Sources:

Baldacci backs vote against bear-bait ban. Misty Edgecomb, Bangor Daily News, December 6, 2003.

Baldacci opposes bear referendum Says current hunting laws benefit biologists. Dwayne Rioux, Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel, December 6, 2003.

Maine: Initiative to Ban the Baiting, Hounding, and Trapping of Bears. Press Release, Humane Society of the United States, 2003.

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