A Move to Ban Bear Hunting in Maine – Again

(Photo courtesy USFWS/Karen Laubenstein)

In a disappointing, although not wholly unexpected, move, Maine Rep. Denise Harlow, D-Portland, has introduced legislation that calls for a ban on bear hunting with dogs and traps. The bill comes a mere three months after the voters in Maine soundly rejected the very same issue at the ballot box. Harlow’s activist ways call into question her knowledge of wildlife management, and even basic understanding of the political system.

On Nov. 4, the citizens of Maine resoundingly rejected a ballot initiative foisted upon them by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) that called for an end to bear hunting with bait, dogs and traps. That was the second time in 10 years that the voting public had to make clear to HSUS that they support sound wildlife management and bear hunting in The Pine Tree State. The margin of victory for opponents of Question 1 was 7 points – greater than it was even in 2004 when HSUS first tried to take wildlife management out of the hands of biologists.

Harlow’s latest introduction of the same tired issue only underscores her ignorance of wildlife management and disregard for the voters of Maine.

“Voters have clearly and decisively spoken on this issue twice over the past 10 years, there’s nothing more to discuss,” said Evan Heusinkveld, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance’s vice president of government affairs. “Despite the $2.5 million dollars HSUS dumped into the campaign, Maine voters resoundingly rejected Question 1. Maine sportsmen, and voters, deserve better.”

While likely to die in committee, as nearly every politician in the state opposed Question 1, Harlow’s actions should serve as a bellweather to sportsmen in Maine and across the country.

“This is the type of relentless tactic that we’ve come to expect from the animal rights lobby, even after the voters sent a clear message that trained professionals should manage wildlife, and not an outside special interest group, they continue to push their agenda in Maine and across the country,” said Nick Pinizzotto, USSA’s CEO and president. “We will continue our defense of hunting and sound science against misguided emotion and anti-hunting rhetoric.”

With a $195 million war chest, HSUS can lobby politicians to do their bidding and can buy propaganda-filled airtime with wanton disregard for costs in their effort to remove hunting, fishing and trapping from the sound management practices of state biologists across the country. During the battle over Question 1, the Washington D.C.-based HSUS bankrolled nearly 97 percent of the almost $2.7 million budget used to advance the ballot initiative.

Harlow’s latest move clearly illustrates she’s more interested in wasting taxpayers’ time and money by advancing her own interests ahead of those of the state’s citizens.

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