Letter: Bears, hunters, deserve better from Maine
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife falsely characterizes the consequences of prohibiting the grotesque practices of bear baiting, trapping, and hounding. The experience of other states that have prohibited baiting and hounding suggests a far different outcome.
States such as Oregon, Washington and Colorado, where baiting and hounding were banned decades ago, have seen higher bear harvests and more bear hunters. In Oregon alone, since the baiting and hounding ban, bear tag sales have tripled, revenue from the sales has grown by 214 percent, and revenue from nonresident bear tag sales has doubled. Washington and Colorado have seen very similar results with the number of bear hunters doubling or tripling. Conflicts with bears, which baiting encourages by causing bears to seek out human food, have remained stable in these states in spite of human population growth.
These are facts, and they demonstrate that Maine could attract more bear hunters, sell significantly more bear hunting licenses, raise more revenue from bear hunting and keep our bear population stable without current practices.
However unwittingly, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has created a bear-hunting culture that is dependent upon outdated, inhumane, and, sad to say, lazy hunting methods. Maine, and its bears, deserve better.