On hunting bears in Maine

by Jul 17, 2013Uncategorized

On hunting bears in Maine

Once again, Maine finds itself facing a battle over our bear hunt.  The Humane Society of America tried to get a motion to outlaw bear baiting through the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee at the State House and it fell flat.  As a result (and as they threatened to do), they are trying to collect enough signatures to take the issue to the voters.  The last time they did this, Mainers won out with 53% of the vote.  We appreciate our biologists, bear hunters and those that make a living off of the hunting industry. 

Below is a blog that I wrote for the Bangor Daily News.  I have included the link here so you can read the comments that people left and see how uneducated people are when it comes to creating and maintaining a sustainable population.  Here is my blog.  I would love your thoughts:

We are starting to see the first stories of the possible bear
referendum coming up in 2014.  Local news stations are starting to cover
the story and interview those for and against the baiting of bear as a
means to hunt them. Katie Hansberry spoke in one interview, about how
inhuman it is and how it is not fair chase hunting.  Ms. Hansberry is
the Maine representative for The Humane Society of the United States
(HSUS) and I am willing to bet she has never stepped foot into the woods
to go hunting or know what really goes into fair chase and humane
hunting.  I stand by that statement because I have heard Ms. Hansberry
speak in front of the IFW Committee and the minute she mispronounced
“Cabela’s” she lost all credibility in my book to speak on the topic of
hunting (you should know how to pronounce the name of the largest
hunting retailer in the State) to the hunting community.

Those of us that do hunt, and those of us that have some common
sense, know that the Maine woods is not some animal farm where you can
put out bait, wait a couple of minutes or hours and shoot the animal you
are after.  There is no magic button. There is no guarantee that
putting out bait will result in you seeing and shooting a bear. Does it
help? Probably but I know plenty of people who have spent years bear
hunting with bait and have not shot a bear.  I don’t hunt bear. I have
no desire to, but I have eaten bear meat (it’s good) and I understand
the conservation efforts behind the need to bear hunt.  No one wants the
population to get out of hand.

Years ago, I went with Randy Cross and his team to tag bear cubs
north of Bangor.  It was an incredible experience that I still talk
about.  The sow’s radio collar had died but because Randy knew this bear
(he talked about tagging this bear and her mother when they were cubs) and knew where she normally had her den, within minutes we had found her and her two new cubs.

As Mainers we care about our wildlife and want to make sure the
populations are kept healthy for generations to come.  As hunters, we
obsesses about population numbers around the State and in our local
areas.  We trust the biologist to do their jobs effectively and
communicate when there is need to restrict the number of animals
harvested each year (deer hunters know this all too well as we saw a
drop in doe permits post 2007-2008).  What we do not trust is out of
state organizations coming into Maine (with their millions of out of
state dollars) and trying to tell us that what we have been doing for
years is wrong.

No one wants the bear population to get out of control and no one
wants to see bears having more altercations with humans.  We should
stand up for the conservation efforts that have been made when it comes
to bear hunting and are proud of where we are as a state. Let’s use
common sense and not let the propaganda and spin take away the good work
that has been done.


  1. Good blog post. Sadly far too many people live in the Bambi world and have no clue about real world nature. It's really bad that these same people want to over rule wildlife biologists and game experts on wildlife decisions.

  2. I have never hunted bears before but have thought about it, maybe in the future.

  3. Hunting is not a Sport. I do not see score cards when I humanely harvest a game animal. Hunting is a way of Life. Trying to Live self-sufficient and a traditional lifestyle. The numerous game laws dictate fair chase in every instance.

    You need to ask yourself when taking an animal for consumption or to cull due to disease or destruction. How much fair chase is needed? Do you sit at the dinner table and ask those around you if they gave fair chase to the chicken salad, hamburger or eggs and bacon you are eating. What did you do to insure that enough effort was given in order to justify your dinner. Oh you’re a vegan? Then consider how many animals were crushed by the combine to make your tofu? Did you give them consideration to your ideology of fair chase?

    Two out of the three ways to harvest a bear in Maine have been used for upwards of 20,000 years. Trapping for centuries So time honored tradition is moot. Baiting bear takes considerable time and effort. Days are spent scouting for game trails, scat and bedding areas. Hours are spent setting up bait sights and then two to three days a week maintaining them for a chance to lure a bear into sight so you can evaluate its health, gender, size and if cubs are present before taken a humanely placed shot. Did you do this prior to sitting at the dinner table last night?

    Trapping takes hours of preparation to guess where a bear will step. (Same preparation as above.) A cable restraint is adjusted as to not catch untargeted animals or a smaller juvenile bear. The cable holds the bear so it maybe judge as a harvestable bear. At which point it can be released or humanely dispatched. Cable restraints have been used on nearly every endangered species except birds to catch, study, release or relocate. It causes no harm to the animal. Did you do this before sitting at your dinner table last night?

    Hound hunting takes a lot of training year round. Cost of expensive dogs. Miles of chasing on foot that most cannot keep up due to the endurance factor. If a bear is treed one can evaluate the condition, sex, age, size of the bear before a careful humane shot is made or not. Did you do this before sitting at the dinner table last night?

    HSUS and Maine for Fair Bear Hunting all your misguided rhetoric you fail to give any facts. So let me help you. Fact #1 Maine has the largest number of Black Bear in the continental United States. Fact #2 with all three methods of hunting bears. Maine Bear hunters have a 26% success rate. Fact #3 From 2004 when the HSUS first initiated its anti-hunting agenda on Maine citizens, until 2010. Bear populations have increased nearly 30%. Even with all three active hunting means. So the concepts of fair chase are evident. One could argue we need a more effective means to harvest bear.

    All animals are hunted over food plots, bedding areas or travel corridors; You simply sit quietly and wait. No extra work unlike the three current practices of Bear Hunting in Maine. Actually Hounds is the only chase method and extremely exhausting.

    Another fact I would like to share. HSUS a 100 + million dollar entity gives less than 1% of its revenue to animal shelters. Imagine that all the money the caring people of Maine donate to HSUS never goes to help the very cause they are misled to believe. The Fair Chase referendum like in 2004 is an anti-hunting SCAM agenda to raise money for the HSUS to spend on personal agenda of specism by CEO Wayne Purcell and his $350,000.00 yearly salary.

    Leave game management to the scientist, biologist, and conservationist. This is how we humanely manage our wildlife! Tell these factless, emotion baiting, scam artist NO!

    • Those of us closely involved in dog sport have been long aware that the Humane Society of the United States is nothing more than an activist animal rights movement that has “appropriated” the identity of a long established and respected animal welfare organization. It is endlessly frustrating to hear their representatives quoted by media as though they were – often the same media that is finally alert and skeptical towards PETA.

      According to Activistcash.com ” HSUS has accumulated $113 million in assets and built a recognizable brand by capitalizing on the confusion its very name provokes. This misdirection results in an irony of which most animal lovers are unaware: HSUS raises enough money to finance animal shelters in every single state, with money to spare, yet it doesn’t operate a single one anywhere.”

      Like many groups of this kind, they have a habit of exploiting natural disasters to excite the donation stream. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita were no exception. Complaints from animal rescuers on the ground have been gathering for months, and now the Louisiana Attorney General has opened an investigation.

      Attorney General Charles Foti Opens Inquiry into Humane Society of the United States

      March 27, 2006: (Baton Rouge, LA)-Attorney General Charles C. Foti, Jr., announced today that his office has opened an inquiry into allegations involving funds raised for pet /owner reunions by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). The Attorney General’s Office is asking the HSUS for an accounting of all funds HSUS raised for the purpose of pet rescue and reunion with pet owners in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.


      The Attorney General is asking anyone with information about questionable fundraising activities by animal groups or any other groups to please contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section at 1-800-351-4889 or visit our website at http://www.ag.state.la.us.

      If you want to support animal welfare causes, your safest bet is to donate to your local shelter.

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Erin Merrill, author of And a Strong Cup of Coffee, is president of Women of the Maine Outdoors, a senior writer for Drury Outdoors, a contributor to the Northwoods Sporting Journal and passionate all things Maine, Hunting, and the Outdoors.