Maryland DNR Rejects $75,000 from Fund for Animals and HSUS

The Fund for Animals and the Humane Society of the United States made a financial offer to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in March: withdraw plans for a Fall bear hunt season, and the two groups would donate $75,000 to the DNR to compensate property owners for damage from bears as well as help education Maryland residents on managing bear-human conflict.

On April 14, the Maryland DNR said it was willing to accept the $75,000 from the groups but could not agree to the stipulation that the bear hunt season be withdrawn,

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today accepted a funding offer from the Fund for Animals and the Humane Society of the United States to mitigate bear and human conflicts. While accepting the funding, DNR rejected the stipulation that the proposed bear hunting season be cancelled.

The funding offer, $75,000 in total, would be used to further the financial resources DNR currently dedicates for bear damage compensation and bear-human conflict management. Specifically, these funds would be used to compensate individuals who document bear damage and to implement an aversive conditioning and bear education campaign in bear-occupied areas.

“While we may not agree on the hunting regulation proposal, I hope that the Fund for Animals and Humane Society of the United StatesÂ’ commitment to assist us is sincere and that we can count on their financial and philosophical support for the remaining non-lethal and education strategies in our bear management plan,” said DNR Wildlife & Heritage Service Director Paul A. Peditto.

This was, in this writer’s opinion, a clever strategy to take, especially Peditto’s comments when he had to know full well that HSUS and the Fund would both interpret this as a rejection. Oddly, the conservative Washington Times ran an op-ed by Gene Mueller who completely missed the point here> Mueller chastised the DNR for getting into bed with animal rights groups and wrote,

I’ll wager the well-heeled Fund for Animals and the Humane Society are having parties right now, celebrating the fact that they got a foot into the door of an agency that regulates all the hunting and fishing of an American state.

Hardly. In fact The Fund for Animals and Humane Society of the United States released a press release the same day noting that the DNR had rejected its offer,

The Fund for Animals and The Humane Society of the United States learned today that the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has rejected a substantial financial offer for solving bear conflicts and compensating farmers for bear damage. In a March 17 letter, the two organizations offered collectively to provide $75,000 to compensate farmers for bear damage and expand educational programs to solve bear conflicts, if the DNR’s plan for the first bear hunt in fifty years was withdrawn.

In that press release, Fund president Mark Markarian said,

It is clear that the DNR is not seeking to solve bear conflicts in western Maryland, but simply to put bears in trophy hunters’ sights. Hunting bears for trophies or rugs will not provide money to farmers and will not provide the relief that citizens are demanding. Governor Ehrlich’s administration should look for constructive solutions and new funding partnerships, not trophy hunting opportunities.

And HSUS senior vice president Wayne Pacelle offered this bit of trivia,

There are fewer black bears in Maryland than there are pandas in China or endangered grizzly bears in Montana.

I’m not sure what the population of pandas in a country the size of China has to do with the population of bears in a state the size of Maryland, but such comparisons probably makes perfect sense to animal rights activists.

Sources:

DNR, animal rights groups in bed. Gene Mueller, The Washington Times, April 21, 2004.

Maryland Rejects $75,000 Offer To Cancel Bear Hunt. Press Release, The Fund for Animals, April 14, 2004.

Letter to DNR Offering $75,000 for Solving Bear Problems. Letter, Michael Markarian, Fund for Animals, March 17, 2004.

DNR Accepts Funding From HSUS, Fund for Animals. Press Release, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, April 14, 2004.

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