by Gayne C. Young
Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting, a group that vehemently opposes hunting bears over bait, with hounds, and by trapping, delivered more than 78,000 signatures to Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap’s office on Monday in an attempt to ban such methods on November’s ballot, The Bangor Daily News reports.
The group claims that the signatures were gathered in 417 cities and towns throughout the state over the last four months.
“This is a very important issue to Mainers across the state. Unfortunately, Maine has the notorious distinction of being the only state that allows all three of these inhumane, unsporting and unnecessary practices,” Katie Hansberry, Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting Campaign Director, said upon delivering the signatures.
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife disagrees. According to a fact sheet put out by the agency, roughly 80 percent of bears taken in the state are done so over bait. Eleven percent are done so with hounds. Three percent by trapping. Despite the high percentages for baiting and hunting with hounds, the statewide success rate for hunting bears with these methods stands at only 30 percent.
Because of this, and because these hunt methods are vital to the management of Maine’s bears, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, all three candidates for governor and the Maine AFL-CIO all oppose the ban.
Furthermore, David Trahan, Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine Executive Director, said banning these methods would not only reduce the number of bears killed by hunters but would lead to an increase in nuisance bears that would have to be killed by the state.
Maine has 30 days to certify the petition before it can be placed on the ballot. A similar ban was rejected by voters in 2004.