The bear baiting debate on this November's ballot
STATE WIDE (WGME) -- With election day 78 days away, advocates on both sides of the debate over bear baiting are drumming up support.
Question one on this year's ballot asks: "Do you want to ban the use of bait, dogs or traps in bear hunting except to protect property, public safety, or for research?"
State biologists with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife put out a new video. They're saying if question one passes, it will be bad for Maine and the state's bears.
These are the same biologists we went deep into the woods of downeast Maine with this winter. The visit was part of the state's bear monitoring program. The program collars and monitors the bear population. It found Maine has 30,000 bears, the largest population in the eastern United States.
The state is concerned the population will grow out of control if voters approve a ban on three hunting practices, now allowed, baiting, hounding and trapping but the Humane Society of the United States continues to argue Maine is the only state to allow all 3 types of hunting practices.
The organization wants to encourage fair chase hunting by banning what supporters consider cruel methods of hunting.
Katie Hansberry, Campaign Director, says: “…Colorado, Oregon, Washington, all prohibited baiting and hounding in the 90s we have 20 years of data from those states demonstrating they're able to control and have a stable bear population and no increase in nuisance complaints.”
The state says 93%, almost all bear hunting in Maine uses baiting, hunting with dogs, or trapping.
The Humane Society of the United States says more hunters would be interested in coming to Maine to hunt if those methods were banned.