Legislature’s end kills important bear bill

A very important bill allowing expansion of the bear harvest died yesterday when the legislature abruptly adjourned. The bill, strongly supported by DIFW, would have been voted on today by the IFW Committee, and then gone to the House and Senate for action.

DIFW says we have 45,000 bears, and thinks we need to reduce the population, especially in southern Maine.

The bill would have given DIFW the authority to set bear hunting and trapping seasons, and allowed bear hunters to shoot 2 bears and bear trappers to trap one bear and shoot another bear. And the bill even lowered fees for some permits.

Without these changes, the department really has no way to increase the bear harvest.

There is a possibility that the legislature will reconvene later in the year, so the bear bill could be enacted at that time. The early adjournment left a lot of bills in committee, so there will certainly be a lot of interest in reconvening and finishing their work. DIFW didn’t intend to implement the changes until next year.

A lot of bear hunters are nonresidents, and if the corona virus problem extends into the fall, I am afraid a lot of nonresident hunters will not come to Maine to hunt this year.

In the meantime, you do not need to be afraid of Maine bears. They are very timid, and if they see you, they’ll run the other way.


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. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.