Dismissed: HSUS Lawsuit to Silence Maine's Wildlife Professionals

Dismissed: HSUS Lawsuit to Silence Maine's Wildlife Professionals
Dismissed: HSUS Lawsuit to Silence Maine's Wildlife Professionals

On Friday, April 3, 2015 Maine Superior Court Justice Joyce Wheeler issued a final judgment in the question of the state’s ability to comment on wildlife issues. In her ruling, Wheeler sided with the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance and fully dismissed a lawsuit aimed at silencing Maine’s wildlife professionals.

The case started in the closing weeks of the Maine bear campaign over Question 1 on last November’s ballot. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), through their front group Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting, sued the state of Maine alleging an improper level of engagement in the. The “state,” in this case, was the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, whose vocal and public opposition to Question 1 didn't mesh with HSUS’ wish to stop bear hunting in the state.

The original lawsuit sought an injunction that would remove the TV advertisements being aired by the Maine Wildlife Conservation Council that featured department personnel talking about the dangers of Question 1.

“Political campaigns are won and lost on TV, especially in the case of ballot issue campaigns,” said Evan Heusinkveld, USSA Foundation’s vice president of government affairs. “There is no doubt that our opponents saw the wildlife management professionals at the department as a distinct threat to their campaign. In response, they attempted to silence the only true experts—the professional staff at the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.”


On Oct. 22, 2014, Maine Superior Court Justice Joyce Wheeler denied the request for a temporary restraining order by Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting, which sought to remove television commercials opposed to Question 1. In her ruling, Justice Wheeler sided with the right of the state to provide comment. This ruling ensured the TV commercials remained on the air, and just a few days later sportsmen were victorious at the ballot box, defeating Question 1 by a 53-46 margin. Despite the victory on the temporary restraining order and at the ballot box on Nov. 4, the lawsuit remained active.


In light of judge’s decision and with the election over, on Feb. 24 the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife moved to have the case dismissed because of mootness—a move wholeheartedly supported by Maine Wildlife Conservation Council. However, HSUS lawyer Rachel Wertheime countered that the lawsuit was still valid because the organization would be filing paperwork to once again put a bear-hunting ban initiative on the state’s 2016 ballot.


In her ruling today, Justice Wheeler responded to that motion by fully and finally dismissing the case at the Superior Court level, leaving HSUS, and their front group Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting, with few options outside of appeal to the state’s Law (Superior) Court.

“The Superior court already ruled that the state was well within its right to speak out on this issue, and now they have now decided that since the election is over, the case is moot,” said Heusinkveld. “This ruling just reaffirms our position and is a clear victory for sportsmen and women. There should be no doubt left, the people of Maine deserve to hear from the experts when it comes to these issues.”

Recommended for You

How does one go about getting rid of chiggers and treating chigger bites? Your first line of defense is insect repellent with DEET to keep chiggers at bay. But when you do get a few chigger bites, use Chigarid to treat them. Hunting How-To

How to Treat Chigger Bites

Lynn Burkhead

How does one go about getting rid of chiggers and treating chigger bites? Your first line of...

When all else fails, here's what these pros tie on. Bass

MLF Pros: What's Your Go-To Lure?

G&F Online Staff - May 20, 2019

When all else fails, here's what these pros tie on.

We're told to pay attention to the lunar phases. What do bass pros think? Bass

MLF Pros: What's With the Moon?

G&F Online Staff

We're told to pay attention to the lunar phases. What do bass pros think?

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

New 4-Liter Dry Creek Gear Pouch from Simms

New 4-Liter Dry Creek Gear Pouch from Simms

Outdoor Sportsman Group writer Lynn Burkhead gets new product details from Simms Fishing Product's John Frazier about the new waterproof 4-Liter Dry Creek Gear Pouch.

New Spinning Reel for Finesse Fishermen

New Spinning Reel for Finesse Fishermen

As Pure Fishing's Andrew Upshaw explains, reel making giant Abu Garcia has done it again at ICAST 2019 with a new spinning reel geared towards finesse fishermen.

BPT Points Champ Edwin Evers Talks New Berkley Baits

BPT Points Champ Edwin Evers Talks New Berkley Baits

After making the switch to Berkley products heading into the inaugural BPT season, Edwin Evers tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead why Berkley baits played such a key role in his recent angling success.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? There's more to successful long-range Ammo

10 Best Long-Range Cartridges Ever Made

David Hart - January 14, 2015

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? There's more to successful long-range

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish. Records

Upon Further Review: 70-Year-Old Catfish Record Voided

G&F Online Staff - May 22, 2019

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish.

Dozens of different bait types are commonly used for catfish, including these great options. Catfish

12 Great Catfish Baits

Jeff Samsel

Dozens of different bait types are commonly used for catfish, including these great options.

See More Stories

More Stories

A rimfire, old standard and new import top our list of favorite rifles for coyote hunting 

All Stories

3 Coyote Guns

Brad Fitzpatrick - September 28, 2017

A rimfire, old standard and new import top our list of favorite rifles for coyote hunting...

Here's a look at some of coyote hunting rifles and shot gun featured in this summer's Game & Fish 2018 Gear Guide magazine. Stories

Gear Reviews: New Coyote Hunting Rifles, Shotguns

Game & Fish Online Staff - September 07, 2018

Here's a look at some of coyote hunting rifles and shot gun featured in this summer's Game &...

Could the northern stretches of the Lone Star State one day rival the south for big-buck supremacy? Whitetail

The Next ‘Big Tex' for Trophy Bucks?

Jordan Michaels - October 18, 2019

Could the northern stretches of the Lone Star State one day rival the south for big-buck...

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.