Maine News Media Tells the Truth About Bear Hunting

Bradford Camps photoAs we head into the last two months of what promises to be an expensive, bitter, ugly fall campaign over bear hunting and trapping, the issues are already getting lots of media attention.

Both Aislinn Sarnaki and John Holyoke of the Bangor Daily News have written recently about bear hunting, Sarnaki offered an excellent run down on current bear hunting practices, and Holyoke just wrote a preview of the hunting season that began yesterday (August 25).

Duchesne Radio Show

I’ve been very encouraged by recent news coverage of the bear situation in states that banned hunting with hounds and bait. Bob Duchesne, on his Saturday morning radio show on Bangor’s sports station, 92.9, is presenting on his radio show – over three Saturdays  – interviews with wildlife biologists in Washington, Oregon, and Colorado. The interviews are enlightening, interesting, and very important.

Bob is a retired Bangor DJ, termed-out legislator who sat out a session and is running this year to return, the state’s leading birding guide and author of The Maine Birding Trail, a member of the Maine Audubon Board, and a guy who works with Harry Vanderweide and I on our Wildfire TV shows.

I wish every Maine voter would listen to Bob’s interviews with the biologists from those other states. You can help move us in that direction by listening yourself, posting the links on your Facebook page, and urging all your friends to listen.

You can access Bob’s shows at http://929theticket.com/author/bobduchesne/  The first show was last Saturday, August 23, featuring interviews with biologists in Washington and Oregon. The next two Saturdays, Bob’s show will feature a great interview with a wildlife biologist in Colorado.

Fleming Story

Deirdre Fleming, a staff writer for the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram, wrote a lengthy and very insightful story last Sunday about the bear situation in Oregon and Massachusetts, two states that banned hunting bears with hounds and bait.

You can read Fleming’s story here: http://www.pressherald.com/2014/08/24/bear-populations-grew-in-2-states-that-okd-limits/

The headline reported: Oregon and Massachusetts find harvesting harder when some hunting methods banned. Oh yea, I know, this is not what you are hearing from bear referendum proponents, but it’s the truth. As Fleming reports, both these states, “have seen growing bear populations despite an increase in hunting permits.”

The bear population in Oregon has increased 40 percent, and in Massachusetts by 700 percent. Yes, that’s not a typo. 700 percent!

“There are constant complaints about bear encounters…” said Wayne MacCullum, Director of the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. “We are constantly moving bears. It’s kind of like shoveling sand against the tide. There is the largest bear population in the state for at least 200 years. The fact of the matter is, at some point you will just have so many bear that people won’t tolerate them.”

Perhaps we won’t have to worry about that, because Maine’s ballot measure, if enacted, will allow the Fish and Wildlife Department to control the bear population with – surprise! – bait, hounds, and traps. Apparently those practices are unethical and unfair for hunters, but not for wildlife biologists!

Please – I urge you to listen to Bob Duchesne’s radio interviews, read the excellent stories and reports from Sarnaki, Holyoke, and Fleming, and spread the truth to your friends, family, and neighbors.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. George also hosts, with Harry Vanderweide, a TV talk show called Wildfire, now in its 13th year and focused on hunting, fishing, environmental, and conservation issues. The show is owned and produced by Maine Audubon and seen on its website as well as on the Time Warner cable TV station throughout the state.