2014-10-03 / Letters

Letters display lack of knowledge

To the editor:

I’m taken by recent letters supporting the prohibition of certain bear hunting methods by folks from away that employ conjecture with no basis in fact, and those from here that profess the presently lawful methods are unnecessary.

All are interspersed with generous doses of opinion that demonstrate a profound lack of knowledge of hunting in general and of the unique aspects of Maine’s ecology that differentiate us from all other states.

First, some facts: Maine’s bear population of 30,000, the largest in the eastern United States and among the highest in the entire country, has grown from 18,000 since 1990, much of the growth being coincidental with the present hunting methods being lawful. Maine’s Bear Management Program is conducted by wildlife management experts, who annually adjust harvest objectives to maintain a stabilized and healthy bear population.

Regulated hunting is the principal tool to achieve these objectives, and includes baiting, hounding and trapping. Annual harvest rates required to meet management objectives in Maine are 3,500 to 4,500, yet since 2005 the harvest rate has dropped to an annual average of 2,910.

Projecting Maine’s outcome to the harvest rates in western states that have enacted similar prohibitions, if the referendum passes, is intellectually dishonest. Maine’s bear habitat lies within the most heavily forested state in the U.S., making the spot and stalk methods used in the open terrain of western states universally useless here.

Contrasting bear hunting methods to those for deer likewise lacks knowledge, as present hunting methods for deer more than continue to meet harvest objectives without being aided by baiting.

Finally, in the fine print section of the proposed ban is the exception for baiting, hounding, and trapping to be lawful for the purpose of public safety and property protection, a tacit admission that these methods are indeed the practices that are proven to be effective. With an average of 500 nuisance bear complaints made annually already, there’s only one result that will be certain should Question 1 pass.

Listen to the experts we have in Maine, not the special interests from away that have funded this campaign, whose stated aim is to end all hunting in the U.S., and who expect you to vote on emotion and not on the expertise of our wildlife management professionals. Taking for granted your intellect is an insult.

Jeff Cole
Kennebunk

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