Ladies Take Off the Gloves for Bear Referendum

Bob Duchesne’s Wild Maine tackles the controversial subjects of bear hunting and trapping – and he lets the ladies make their cases first – on two recent editions of his always-entertaining radio show.

Bob’s a term-limited legislator, the author of The Maine Birding Trail and the state’s top birding guide, a long-time retired radio personality, a member of Maine Audubon’s Board who is working with us our on TV talk show Wildlife – and oh yea, this year he started this new weekly radio show. A very busy guy.

Bob’s two bears show can be accessed at, and

These shows are really good, a thorough exploration of the issues that will dominate the 2014 referendum initiated by the Humane Society of the United States.

Here’s how Bob describes the first show:

Maine is the only state that allows bears to be hunted with bait, dogs and traps. If the Humane Society of the United States gets its way, Maine will be the only state that doesn’t allow any of it.

Part 1: The gloves are coming off in this edition of Wild Maine. Ten years after the last bear baiting referendum, opponents are back and looking to ban more than baiting. Tenley Bennett, a Maine guide from Eagle Lake, gives us a hunter’s perspective.

Part 2: What would your chances be of bagging a bear without traps, dogs or bait? Bennett gives you the odds, and she says they aren’t good.

Part 3: Bear hunting is the busiest season for Barb and Wayne Plummer at the Northern Pride Lodge in Kokadjo. Barb talks about getting her first bear and how to best prepare the meat.

Part 4: How rare is it to see a bear if you’re not hunting for one? Barb Plummer has been in Kokadjo for 13 years. Guess how many bears she’s seen by chance?

Part 5: How do we control the bear population without the current means of hunting? That’s one of several questions Barb Plummer has for bear-hunting opponents. Hear her other questions.

Here’s how he describes the second show.

Part 2: Katie Hansberry, Maine State Director for the Humane Society of the United States, explains why Maine voters should ban trapping, baiting and hounding. She calls those practices “inhumane and unsporting” and the “lazy man’s way to hunt.”

Part 3: Colorado, Oregon and Washington have already banned bear trapping, baiting and hounding. Is Maine comparable to these states? Katie Hansberry explains why “fair chase” hunting is workable in Maine.

Part 4: George Smith, former executive director of the Sportsmen’s Alliance of Maine, has some of his own thoughts on bear hunting in Maine. In 2004, he raised $1.7 million to defeat a similar referendum in Maine. Hear what he has to say about another run at the ballot box.

Part 5: Baiting is the big issue, according to George Smith. Smith said the state actually needs more hunters to control the bear population.

Yes, that’s right, after hearing from all the ladies, Bob talked with me about the issues and the 2004 bear hunting and trapping referendum. I got to bat cleanup.

HSUS is now gathering signatures on a petition their proposal to ban bear trapping and bear hunting with bait and hounds – and plans to spend $3 million on this referendum issue in 2014. This is a repeat of the 2004 referendum on the same issues, in which Maine sportsmen narrowly defeated HSUS by a margin of 53 percent to 47 percent.

Interestingly, Hansberry and others at HSUS recently refused my invitation to appear on Wildfire. They said they were “not ready.” But a week later, I read her comments in a Maine Sunday Telegram column by Deirdre Fleming. Hansberry told Fleming, “I think it’s important that we get our message out as often as possible, so people can be well educated on the issue. We want to take every opportunity. I think it’s important that people here about this issue.”

Not important enough to appear on Wildfire, I guess! But we can hear Hansberry’s thoughts on Bob Duchesne’s Wild Maine.

You can access all of Bob’s weekly radio shows at

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,, 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.