I was able to be in the audience during last Thursday's Town Hall debate about bear baiting. The panelists were James Cote, Campaign Manager of NO on 1!/Save Maine's Bear Hunt; Judy Camuso, Wildlife Division Director of the Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife; Daryl DeJoy, Executive Director of the Wildlife Alliance of Maine; and Anita Coupe, Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting.
The lies being told by the people working for the Yes campaign are mindblowing. Here is the link for you to watch.
Here are my highlights and my commentary from the 90 minute event:
* Anita Coupe- "I have been a Mainers for 15 years" (Mainer's take: you are an out-of-stater who lives in Southern Maine and think that's what Maine is. CLEARLY not a hunter and would rather not question where her meat comes from when she buys it at the store.)
* Judy Camuso - "We have 1 bear for every 8 deer" (It is easy to see all of these deer while in the woods, driving back roads etc. Not so for our 32,000 bears in Maine.)
* Daryl DeJoy - "You can not trust Maine biologist" (FACT: Maine has THE longest running bear management and research program with THE BEST, MOST TRUSTED bear biologists. States seek out MAINE for advice on their bears.)
* Judy Camuso - (to Daryl) "I don't care what you say about me, but don't you ever, EVER question the knowledge, integrity or dedication of Randy and our biologists."
* Judy Camuso - "The proponents of this referendum are not going to be there when bear populations and nuisance complaints skyrocket. Inland Fisheries & Wildlife department will be." (FACT)
Overall, Anita and Daryl could not break away from their talking points. They made blatant lies about the types of traps that are used (Anita told a story about a dog getting trapped in a bear trap. The trapper was IN the audience and corrected her that it was a coyote trap and the dog and it's owner did not have permission to be on the land, but he did) and basically said that they preferred the bears to suffer of disease and starvation. A woman in the audience was making snarky comments throughout the whole debate and when people referenced Randy Cross' name (one of our excellent bear biologist), she commented that if he was so great where was he? She shut up really quick when the audience, almost in unison, told her to turn around because he was sitting behind her. The Yes side was clearly uneducated on the issue and were trying to play off of emotion and not fact.
Seeing and hearing Judy's comments, information and expertise was incredible. Maine is LUCKY to have her and I think she does not get nearly enough kudos for what she does. Anyone who listens to her can tell that she is passionate about what she is doing.
This is a heated election issue and I am proud to be helping to get the word out about the impact that this referendum will have on our bear population. If you live in Maine or know people who do, please, PLEASE VOTE NO!