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Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Bear Referendum Advocates Decry Department Bear Report
Written by Robert Fisk   
Wednesday, 08 March 2006
February 28, 2006

CONTACT: Robert Fisk, Jr.


(Falmouth) …… The state animal protection organization that spearheaded the bear referendum to end the hunting of bears with the use of bait, hounds and traps today called a legislative report on bear hunting practices by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (DIF&W) “unfortunately a whitewash document that is only going to harden sides.” The fall out of the bear referendum was that eight bear bills were submitted before the legislature in 2005 and the Committee of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife directed the DIF&W to instead seriously review all bear hunting practices in Maine while involving all the stakeholders. A “bear working group” was formed by the Department.

The Department’s recommendations were presented to the Committee on IF&W today and were immediately dismissed by Maine Friends of Animals president and bear referendum director, Robert Fisk, Jr. “It was a significant missed opportunity by the Department. There were no meaningful changes offered, not even the ending of bear trapping, which means Maine remains the only state in the country that still allows this barbaric practice. This report was a strong confirmation that a rigid and inflexible hunting lobby and the Department of IF&W are unwilling to make any change in any hunting practice no matter how cruel, unethical or unnecessary they are,” said Fisk.

Opponents of these bear hunting practices said they considered this process politically suspect, but were willing to sit down and give the process a chance. “A very reasonable compromise could have gone a long ways to stem a growing divide between an intransigent Department and hunting lobby and the growing number of non-consumptive users of wildlife that have no say in wildlife management decisions.”

“The Department and the Committee had a chance to be viewed as positive agents for change. Instead their lack of any action is only going to polarize sides like never before,” said Fisk. “It is a wakeup call to those non-hunters and ethical hunters who are eventually going to want some input on wildlife decisions. It is the same outdoor extremists that wanted Sunday hunting and are now threatening to kill the Baxter State park deal.”

Maine Friends of Animals is calling on non-consumptive user groups to speak out more, and use the fact that non-hunting wildlife appreciation groups out number Maine sportsman by 2 to 1. They point to a 2001 wildlife survey that estimated 164,000 people hunted and 376,000 people fished in Maine that year, while the survey counted 920,000 wildlife watchers. Fisk said non-consumptive users like wildlife viewers, kayakers, primitive outdoor campers, bird watchers, hikers, wildlife photographers and even other hunting groups have to speak up against the present control of wildlife decisions by this “unholy alliance between the DIF&W and the inflexible, extremist hunting lobby that are connected ideologically, personally, financially, and politically. The Department has to be told it also works for the 90% of Mainers who do not hunt.”

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