This November 4, the future of traditional Maine bear hunting will be at risk. Maine Ballot Question One aims to outlaw traditional methods of bear hunting in the state which would be detrimental to the current wildlife management system, the economy, and our hunting heritage.
Maine’s bear management program is rooted in responsible and sustainable harvesting practices and is celebrated for its success. Due to the inclusion of bear harvest techniques such as baiting, using hounds, and trapping, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has successfully minimized cultural concerns that many areas with burgeoning bear populations experience, including: threats to human safety, property damage, and agricultural and livestock depredation.
Additionally, through the American System of Conservation Funding, a “user pays-public benefits” program, the dollars generated by bear hunting, including these traditional methods, have gone back into habitat conservation and have accounted for a 30 percent population increase in the last decade. Maine now has 30,000 bears statewide. Maine bear hunting also generates over $50 million annually. If Ballot Question One were to pass, eliminating traditional methods using baiting, traps, and hunting with dogs, these benefits would have significant negative impacts.
On October 28, 35 sportsmen’s and other conservation organizations from the American Wildlife Conservation Partners sent a letter to Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Chandler Woodcock expressing their support for his position, opposing the anti-bear hunt referendum.
All four of the Maine Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chairs, Sen. Tom Saviello, Sen. Troy Jackson, Rep. Michael Shaw, and Rep. Steve Wood are signed on to the coalition to Save Maine’s Bear Hunt and oppose the anti-bear hunt referendum.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?