June 17, 2019

Disrupted Economics From a Spring Bear Hunt? I Have My Doubts

Bob Humphrey writes in his column that if Maine offered a Spring bear hunt – something suggested in order to find ways of reducing the bear population – it “…could have an effect on the fall hunt.” He further explains that “…fall bear hunting supports a substantial industry of guides, outfitters, lodges and ancillary service providers in more remote areas of the state. With deer numbers, and demand for deer hunting services at historical lows, guided bear hunts take on added importance to local economies.”

While it is important to understand the economics associated with all hunting, fishing, and recreational activities, we shouldn’t allow this to upend the scientific and public safety reasons that should be associated with bear management. I often lament over the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s (MDIFW) decision to allow social demands to drive their management decisions. Allowing the demands of guides and outfitters to direct management decisions is no different.

In addition, I’m not so sure that offering a Spring bear hunt would be so potentially devastating to the bear guiding and outfitter businesses as well as lodges and “ancillary service providers.” Are these businesses so inflexible and mired in the way they’ve always done things that adjustments can’t be made – perhaps even adjustments to pad the bank accounts a bit more?

It reminds me of people I know whose business was struggling. They voiced concern that they didn’t know what they were going to do to stay in business. When I asked questions about what things they had tried to improve business and offered some suggestions, their comment was, “we’ve never done that before.” End of discussion.

The end result in all of this is that MDIFW continues to express their wish to increase bear harvest in order to better stabilize the bear population. They boast of how long the season is and the different opportunities bear hunters have, while at the same time telling us the low success rate of taking a bear and how that rate fluctuates depending on demographics of the existing season, i.e. food availability, etc.

Perhaps an attempt at offering bonus tags or simply a two-bear bag limit that does not include taking one by trapping. It may sound generous to offer a two-bear limit, one by hunting and one by trapping, but bear trapping is, at least has been so far, a negligible part of the bear harvest with little hope of increased interest.

Is it more cost effective to increase the bag limit during the existing bear season or to have a second complete bear hunting season? Don’t bear hunters want to tag two bears? Time to hunt is limited for most. If during that time a hunter has the chance to take two bears…why not?

It just seems that although concerns are being expressed about how to further reduce and stabilize the bear population, little is being done to accomplish that – just cheap talk. Maybe it’s because there is so much focus on babysitting the guide and outfitting businesses responsible decisions aren’t being made that are in the best interest of bear management.

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Maine IFW Posturing for an “ATTA BOY?”

Could it be? With several years now of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) telling people that the state’s black bear population is getting too big and that bear hunting and trapping harvests have been inadequate to keep populations in check, is the Department actually considering doing something about it?

According to an article in the Bangor Daily News, the MDIFW has emailed out questionnaires asking licensed bear hunters, “If the law allowed you to harvest two bears while hunting, would you attempt to harvest two bears?”

It has been suggested that upping the harvest limit and/or adding a Spring bear hunt might assist the MDIFW in establishing the goals of the department. The Spring bear hunt has been under the control of the Guides and Outfitters for some time dictating to the MDIFW what, when, where and how. Perhaps these two groups have suggested upping the bear harvest limit?

I’ve grown tired over the years listening to the drivel over what to do about the growing number of bears, while at the same time never seeing anything done about it.

If finally, the department is going to do something about it and actually increase the bag limit to two bears while hunting, let’s all give the MDIFW a big ATTA BOY!

The author of the piece that I linked to, suggested, “Perhaps a two bear limit by any method or combined methods would be a feasible alternative.” I agree, however, if things go as they have in the past, the guides and outfitters will dictate to the MDIFW how things will run.

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Maine Should Increase Bag Limit on Bears From One Bear to Two

Perhaps it is time for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife(MDIFW) to put their money where their mouth is and increase the bear harvest bag limit to two bears per licensed hunter rather than leave it at one. MDIFW has often said that they are concerned that too few bears are being harvested each season and that the population is growing too large. Yet, they refuse to do anything proactive about the situation.

In the meantime, the anti human organization, Humane Society of the United States, is presenting a citizen’s initiative this fall to ban bear hunting. MDIFW is rightfully making the claim that with essentially removing all viable forms of being able to control the bear population would present a public safety issue.

With the bear population at present, higher than MDIFW thinks it ought to be, at least in some places, MDIFW should practice what they are preaching and take steps now to increase the bear harvest in order to better control the bear population. This also may send a better message to Maine voters that controlling bear populations is a serious issue.

Maine’s neighbors to the north in New Brunswick are considering increasing the bag limit to two animals, up from just one, due to an increase in the bear population believed to be the result of fewer bear hunters coming each year to bag a bear.

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