Bears Deserve Better
By David Trahan

On September 5, WGME Channel 13 and the Bangor Daily News held a debate on the Question 1 referendum proposal to end the use of bait, dogs and foothold cable restraints to hunt bears. The press reported the debate as fiery and emotional. I was in the audience, and can attest that emotions were high. But lost in the emotion was something that Daryl DeJoy, spokesman for the Yes on 1 effort, said during the debate. He said, “If this referendum passes, I agree, more bears will starve to death.”

DeJoy was responding to comments made by DIFW biologist Randy Cross, one of the nation’s most respected bear biologists, who stated his concern that passing Question 1 would harm the health of Maine’s bears.

As a conservationist, I was shocked by Dejoy’s comments. Intentionally subjecting wildlife to a death by starvation is to guarantee unspeakable suffering. Why would anyone advocate such a gruesome alternative to hunting?

DeJoy and HSUS concede that a ban on baiting, use of hounds and traps in Maine for bear hunting will result in higher bear populations. And they agree with DIFW’s assessment that bear populations which exist at the limit of their food supply will be regulated through low birth rates, disease, starvation, and cannibalism. Proponents of Question 1 are OK with this scenario because they believe it is “nature’s way”, and it does not require hunting.

Readers should note that Washington DC based Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has provided 99% of the funding for the Yes on Question 1 side. And they should be aware that Question 1 in Maine serves HSUS’s national mission to end all sport hunting. Skeptical? Here is a direct quote from HSUS’s mission statement online:

“Hunting - As a matter of principle, The HSUS opposes the hunting of any living creature for fun, trophy, or sport because of the animal trauma, suffering, and death that result. A humane society should not condone the killing of any sentient creature in the name of sport.”

Wayne Pacelle, HSUS’s CEO elaborates on the organization’s mission. He has stated that he has no constraints on his travel or time to develop a national anti-hunting campaign, , (Boodties, Nature, Culture and the Hunt, 1993) and that he intends to end hunting state by state, using the ballot referendum process.

This is not the first time HSUS has promoted an indifference to the suffering of bears as an alternative to hunting. New Jersey is another example.

New Jersey lost bear hunting in the 1970’s as anti-hunters prevailed in the courts and the legislature. During the ensuing 40 years, bear populations increased dramatically, as did conflicts with people, pets and property. New Jersey’s wildlife agency repeatedly tried to re-instate bear hunting, but they were thwarted in the courts three times by HSUS. By 2010, New Jersey’s bear population was 10 times higher than it needed to be, according to state wildlife biologists.

As an alternative to bear hunting, HSUS proposed a sterilization initiative to manage New Jersey’s bear population. HSUS and their coalition partners insisted the state should capture male bears and release them after injecting their testes with heavy metals, essentially performing chemical sterilization.

This is what then New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell had to say about the proposal: “I fail to see how injecting an untested chemical, at speculative doses, into the testes of our majestic black bear population could possibly be considered humane. There have been no studies to determine whether this would be effective, or to determine appropriate dose levels, or to assess what painful or injurious effects this might have on the bears used as subjects.”

HSUS will have us believe that utilizing our three most effective methods of hunting bears and controlling Maine’s large bear population is not justified. Yet, they acknowledge that if these methods are banned, Maine’s bears will overpopulate, leading to higher rates of disease, starvation and cannibalism. HSUS also appears to condone higher human-bear conflicts, expanding costs for dealing with nuisance bear damage, higher losses of deer fawns and moose calves, and a major loss of hunting revenue in Maine’s rural counties.

Any organization that advocates greater animal suffering and human conflict just to end regulated hunting is peddling cruelty. HSUS should look to itself before painting Maine hunters, and Maine’s professional wildlife biologists as cruel.

Help us to keep Maine’s bear population healthy, productive, and thriving. Help us to keep Maine bears in balance with their natural food supply, and out of your back yard. Please vote NO on question 1 on November 4, 2014.

David Trahan is the Executive director off the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine. He served six terms as a State Representative and Senator all those years on the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee. He can be reached at:

David Trahan
Executive Director
Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine
205 Church Hill Road, Suite 1
Augusta, ME 04330
Phone: 207-623-4589
Cell: 207-691-0367
“We are the conservationists”

Click Here For Past Feature Stories!!

Feature Story |  Current News |  Photo Gallery |  Advertising |  Subscribe Today |  Outdoor Resources |  Home