Yesterday, voters in Maine solidly defeated a ballot referendum that would have virtually eliminated the state’s ability to manage the bear population.

The referendum, known as Maine Question 1, would have banned hunting with bait, hounds, and trapping as management tools for controlling the state’s bear population. Hundreds of businesses and thousands of jobs rely on bear hunting in this heavily forested state, where any other type of bear hunting would be fruitless. As it is, with the use of hounds, baits, and cable restrain traps, success rates for bear hunters runs about 30 percent.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the nation’s largest animal rights activist organization, bankrolled the effort by setting up a group called Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting which gathered more than 70,000 signatures to put the issue on the ballot.

The state was bombarded with negative ads in every kind of media portraying the hunting methods as cruel, unneeded, and bad for bears. It is estimated that the Washington, DC-based HSUS spent between two and three million dollars on the failed effort. The ban went down to defeat by a margin of 52.3 to 47.7 percent.

Randy Cross, biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW) and nationally noted bear expert, said this was a big victory for wildlife management everywhere. “This was a win for science over emotion,” he said. “The facts were on our side but the facts were muffled by so much static and distortion. They challenged everything we said. It was a very difficult battle to get the truth across.”

The HSUS filed a lawsuit to stop the IFW from actively campaigning for the defeat of the referendum, contending that state money was being used in a political way, but Superior Court Justice Joyce Wheeler ruled that Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting failed to demonstrate that the department’s opposition to Question 1 caused “irreparable injury,” and that department employees’ free speech was protected under the First Amendment.

The ban came to be seen as a fight between hunters and anti-hunters rather than just a referendum on specific hunting practices. While 97 percent of the funds from the anti-hunters came from out of state, mostly through the HSUS, 39 percent of the money used in the campaign to defeat the initiative was raised within the state.

“This is a big win for bear management in Maine,” said Cross. “This would have been very bad for the people who live here and very bad for the bears. It was a big win for wildlife management everywhere.”

Featured image copyright Getty Images/Mark_Norman

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5 thoughts on ““A Win for Science over Emotion”: Bear Hunters Victorious on Maine Ballot

  1. Congratulations Mainers! (sp?) don’t relax now though, they won’t go away just because they lost today. I’m sure they see the margin of defeat as a shoehorn for next time. Keep reaching out and create a camp that protects hunting rights as a federal issue. In Minnesota one of the only things Jesse the body did when he was governor was establish hunting and fishing as a constitutional right. It’s time to claim that right federally too.

    1. Thanks MN. And thanks to all you folks that pitched in to once again kick the moonbats who sponsored this thing, to the curb. We real Mainers hugely appreciate it. HSUS is very much like a criminal organization. They sucker otherwise rational people into sending them barrels of cash under the pretext that they are helping animals. Nothing could be further from the truth. Here in Maine, as they do elsewhere, they routinely and constantly lied through their teeth to gain the sympathy of the naive and gullible. They are very good at this game. They know full well that folk’s heart strings are connected to their wallets, and they know how to pull them.
      So THANKS AGAIN to all who supported common sense and scientific, not emotional, wildlife managment.

  2. GREAT! I am relieved that HSUS spent so much money and lost. Perhaps they will spend enough on false campaigns that they will go away permanently. It seems amazing that all they have to offer is misinformation, emotional ignorance and outright lies.

    1. You are absolutely right… the hard part with HSUS is that this is a BIG!!!!! money making machine for them… the more states they shut down … the more money it makes them. We also owe the Maine DIFW a debt of gratitude… I believe that the HSUS folks never anticipated the state to get involved and speak up for what is right. You can bet behind closed doors that Parcelle and many lawyers have had many conversations in trying to figure out how to take the state of Maine right out of the picture… they cant buy their silence and they already have tried 3 times to shut them down thru the court systems. Looking forward to 2015 bear season at camp… really sad how hard you have to fight for a little peace and relaxation with friends and family.

  3. The Lord provided the food for our use. All game was provided by the Lord for our benefit. We have many hungry and starving in this country. Those that have the means and resources should provide a share to the hungry and homeless.

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