LD 1474, sponsored by Representative Denise Patricia Harlow (D-Portland) and supported by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), would mostly do away with the tactics of bear hunting and trapping in Maine that aid and assist in proper black bear management. LD 1474, if it were to pass, would:
*Ban bear trapping and bear hunting with dogs. Under the bill, government officials would only be allowed to trap or use dogs on “specific offending” bears or for scientific studies
*Ban using a leashed dog to track a wounded bear
*Place a permanent prohibition on hunting bears between January 1st and July 31st
*Reduce the bear bag limit from two to one bear for all hunters.
With a loss of these tools, an already overblown population of black bears, many of which are contributing to a whitetail deer herd going extinct in much of Maine, would balloon out of proportion and further exacerbate the problems, not to mention increased encounters between the bear and humans.
Not included in this bill is a ban on bear baiting. This bill is very unlikely to make it through the legislative process, in which HSUS has already promised they intend another citizens’ referendum in 2014 and in that proposal it will also include a ban on baiting.
George Smith, who was executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine in 2004 when the last bear referendum was defeated, is indicating he may support a move to pass LD 1474 in order to save bear baiting. One has to ask whether Smith has learned anything about these sort of things over the years. Does he really think if HSUS won LD 1474, they would quietly go away and never bother Maine again? Me thinks he’s been hanging out with the environmentalists too much.
The hearing on this bill will be held on Friday, May 10th, with the Joint Committee on Fisheries and Wildlife. The hearing is scheduled for 10 A.M. in Room 206 in the Cross Office Building in Augusta.
Please attend or contact members of the Joint Standing Committee. This bill should never make it out of the hearing alive.