Few Mainers hunt bears with hounds and even fewer trap bears. But the decision by the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and other sportsmen’s groups to reject an offer that would have avoided this year’s difficult referendum on bear hunting and trapping gambled our one and only effective means of keeping bear populations in check: hunting over bait.
The Humane Society of the United States made the offer last spring during the legislative session, telling the leaders of Maine’s sportsmen’s groups that they would not take bear hunting to referendum if their proposal to ban bear hounding and trapping was enacted. SAM and the other groups quickly rejected the offer, calling it extortion.
That rejection was a real gamble. Without question, if this referendum was just about baiting, our campaign would be a lot easier. In fact, there probably wouldn’t have been a referendum at all.