Hello to all of my non-hunting friends!
I am writing this letter to you because I want to encourage you to become educated on one very important topic that you will be seeing and hearing more about. It is the issue of bear hunting in Maine. In the upcoming months, there will be a lot of political spin on the bear issue in Maine. I want you to feel as though you are getting a real picture of what the issue is before you cast that ballot next November.
Am I biased? Yes. I do not bear hunt but I know enough about it to have a very strong opinion about this issue. I am hoping that as my friend, you will grant me a few minutes to hear me out on the issue.
First, when you are hunting, there is no guarantee that you will shoot the animal that you are after. No matter what you do. When it comes to bear hunting, Maine is the only state that allows three different types of hunting; hounds (you must train dogs to find and then tree a bear), trapping (imagine a circle that you step into and it tightens around you. It only tightens if you pull on it but will not cut into you. It also loosens up if you don’t pull at it or if you pick at it like you would a knot in your shoe lace. Legally, you must check on these types of traps daily and each hunter is only allowed one of these traps) and baiting (you leave a barrel of sweets in the woods and hope the bear finds it and keeps coming back). All of these methods only work if there are bears around and you are in the right place at the right time and choose to shoot the animal. You are not going to find a bear hunter who will shoot a cub or a sow with cubs. You won’t. And if you do, they should not be allowed to hunt. Period.
Second, Maine has some of the BEST state biologist around. Randy Cross is the bear biologist in Maine. I went with Randy one spring to tag bear cubs and I can assure you that he lives and breathes bears. He has been working with the bear population in Maine for almost 30 years! He has been studying and learning about the bears here for as long as I have been alive. Think about that for a minute – that is A LOT of first-hand knowledge on a single population. When the state biologist tells you that you need to harvest (aka kill) ‘x’ number of bear to keep the population healthy and in check, I believe him. I trust him. I encourage you to learn more about what Inland Fisheries & Wildlife and the biologists have to say about this issue.
Third, bear hunting is a population management issue that the Humane Society of the United States wants to turn into something different. In some states, it’s legal to shoot deer over bait (like a pile of apples) because they need to keep the population numbers in check. It’s the same thing here for bears. No one (especially hunters) wants to see an animal be wounded or injured instead of killed quickly when we are out hunting. It may sound odd but it is true. A person who wants to see an animal suffer is a not a hunter, they are a sociopath.
Lastly, trust us! Trust the hunters, outdoors-women and men, Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the biologists and owners of the hunting camps that all rely on a healthy animal population to keep the Maine outdoors as we know and love it. We are the people who walk the Maine woods and see and love these animals. We are not an outside interest group who is trying to bully people into voting for their agenda. Talk to us! Ask us questions so you can learn more about the topic. I am more than happy to share with you some great blogs from bear hunters, like my friend Robin, who have first hand knowledge of what is it like to bear hunt. If you run into someone who is working on the campaign to ban these hunting practices, ask them if they have first-hand knowledge of using these tools. Ask them to explain their side of the issue to you so that you can be an educated voter when this issue hits the ballot next year.
Thank you for reading my letter and I hope in some ways, it has helped.