June 6, 2020

Who Cares What Some Socialist From England Thinks About Maine’s Bear Hunting

There was recently a short Letter to the Editor from a Barbara Skapa of Mt. Vernon, Maine whose attempt, evidently, was to shame Maine residents about bear hunting. Skapa passed on a supposed comment made by somebody from socialist England; that place where the king owns the wild animals and “True Believers” become useful idiots to protect the king’s animals. No more than people from England would give two rat’s tails about what Maine residents thought about their ways of life, Maine people don’t care what someone from England thinks about bear hunting.

But what’s missing from the Letter to the Editor is information about the author. So here is some of it and a link so you can read more about her.

“My name is Barbara Skapa. I live in Mt Vernon and am supposed to be retired but am known to Commissioner Bradstreet and his dairy staff as Barbara of Echo Ridge Organic cows’ milk cheese; as the Dept of Ag licenses me as a cheesemaker.
I am a member of various animal protection orgs including ME Friends of Animals, Voice for Animals, the Maine Federation of Dog Clubs, on behalf of which I do NOT testify this morning; but rather on behalf of members of the recently incorporated Maine Poodle Rescue.”


Maine Will Vote on Bear Hunting Referendum in November

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Maine IFW News — Bear Season Numbers, Black Bear Winter Den Summary

Press Release from Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife:

26% Of Bear Hunters Were Successful In 2013; Winter Bear Den Surveys By Biologists Reflect Abundant Natural Foods, With Year Old Bears Weighing Over 40% More Than Previous Year

AUGUSTA, Maine — Over 10,888 hunters purchased a permit to hunt bear in Maine in 2013—the most bear hunters since 2009—but they harvested 2,845 bears.

That means only 26% of bear hunters in Maine were successful this past year. Hunters can take a bear in Maine using bait, dogs, traps or still-hunting. Over 90% of the bears taken by hunters this past season were taken using bait, dogs or traps. An abundance of natural foods last year also kept bears out later in the season, as 81 bears were taken during the deer season in November.

The abundance of natural foods this past year was also reflected in the winter bear den survey work conducted by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. This past winter, the average weight of year-old bears (yearlings) measured during the winter den surveys averaged 46.6 pounds. In contrast, in 2012, a poor natural food year, year-old bears only weighed 32.5 pounds on average.

Since 1975, IFW wildlife biologists have visited the dens of radio-collared female black bears in Maine to research and monitor the bear population. Over the course of the season, the bear research crew visited 88 dens this past winter, handling a total of 194 bears in three different study areas across the state. There are now 102 collared female bears throughout the state, including 17 yearlings.

Collaring female bears allows biologists to locate them in their dens during the winter. IFW biologists travel to the dens and gather biological data from the bears that they find, including size, weight, number of cubs and number of yearlings. These data give the department an in-depth view of Maine’s black bear population.

Baiting, the use of dogs and trapping continue to be the most effective methods for hunters. This past year, 2,048 bears were harvested over bait, 479 bears were taken by hound hunters, and 105 bears were taken in traps. Only 7% were taken by still-hunters: 81 bears were harvested by deer hunters, and 131 bears were registered by tagging stations but did not record the method used to take a bear.

Due to the quantity of natural foods available, bears entered their dens later, providing hunters with opportunity late into the season (12% taken in October and November), and fewer bears were taken by bait hunters (72%) than the past five year average (79%). As usual, most bears (87%) were harvested earlier in the season with 2,486 bears harvested before the end of September.

The 2013 bear hunting season was very different than in 2012, which was a very poor year for natural foods for Maine’s black bears. As a result, in 2012, more bears were taken by bait hunters (81%), and fewer bears (6%) were harvested in October and November since bears entered dens earlier. In years when natural foods are not readily available during the fall, a bear can actually burn more calories than it consumes while foraging for food. So in lean food years, bears will den early. The abundance of natural foods varies from year to year and is generally high one year and low the next.

Due to the thriving bear population that is estimated at over 30,000, Maine has a lengthy bear season with many opportunities for hunters. The general hunting season for black bears opened August 26 and closed November 30. Hunters were allowed to hunt bears near natural food sources or by still-hunting throughout the entire three-month season.

Hunting over bait was permitted from August 26 through September 21. The hound season overlapped the bait season, opening September 9 and closing November 1. The bear trapping season opened September 1 and closed October 31.

For the first time, bears were harvested throughout the state in all 29 Wildlife Management Districts (WMDs) in the state. The density of harvest expressed as the number of bears killed per 100 square miles of habitat (forested land) was greatest in WMD 3 (northeastern Aroostook County) and WMD 28 at 22 bears per 100 square miles (central Hancock and Washington counties) and lowest in WMDs 22-24 and 29 (southern and central Maine ) with only 1 or 2 bears harvested per 100 square miles. Males made up 56% (1,600 bears) of the 2013 harvest.

Despite a long fall hunting season for bears in Maine, the bear harvest has been below objectives since 2005. Bait, hounds and traps are the most effective for harvesting bears in Maine’s dense forest and accounts for 93% of the harvest. Even with these three methods, only about 1 in 4 hunters using bait, hounds and traps are successful. Still-hunters harvest less than 300 bears (7%), since it is very difficult to spot and stalk bears in Maine’s thick vegetation.

To stabilize the bear population estimated at more than 30,000, a harvest of 4,500 bears is needed. Without bait, hounds or traps, Maine’s bear harvest will be well below objectives.(emphasis added)


“Natural Foods Drive The State’s Bear Population

“Our biologists have conducted four decades of field research and have intensively monitored more than 3,000 individual bears. We monitor cub and yearling survival and weights, adult survival and health, age when females give birth and litter size, and the size and weight of all bears.

The research shows that natural foods drive the state’s bear population. Maine’s population is increasing because of several years of low hunter harvest and improving habitat that provides more natural foods.

Our studies show that in years of low natural food availability, bears enter their dens earlier, fewer cubs survive and yearling bears put on significantly less weight, although bait is still present on the landscape. Some bears even enter their dens during the baiting season because of the lack of natural foods.”<<<Read More>>>


If Baiting Bears Causes Population Spikes, Stopping the Practice Should Reduce Grow

trollingforidiotsBut does it? One of the nonsense issues that supporters of the Humane Society of the United States(HSUS) spread around like a bad disease is that baiting bears as a tool to manage and help control population densities of black bears in Maine is what is responsible for the state’s increase in bear numbers statewide. Their unsubstantiated claims of “millions of pounds” a year of junk food being dumped in the Maine woods is causing bears to produce more offspring, therefore increasing the bear population and running contrary to the efforts of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife(MDIFW) to reduce the population of bears. Some have gone so far as to attribute the growth in bear numbers in the state completely to bear baiting.

If that theory is true, isn’t it sensible then to logically conclude that if Maine would ban or stop the practice of baiting, the population of bears would be reduced, or at least would stabilize? Let’s examine a few other states to see what is happening there.

Perhaps the closest state to use for comparison might be Vermont. The Vermont Fish and Wildlife says that there are at least 6,000 bears in their state. According to a report found at the website of WCAX, that 6,000 population number is a doubling in twenty years. Over 40 years ago, Vermont banned the use of bait for bear hunting purposes. That fact sort of blows out of the water a statement that baiting bears is the cause of bear population growth when it doesn’t exist in Vermont.

We must also consider other events in other states and Canadian provinces if we are to fully understand HSUS’s statement that baiting bears causes population growths in bears. In New York, where baiting of bears is prohibited, that state is now facing a problem where hunting, as it is currently regulated (which is the way the HSUS wants it in Maine), is not viable to control the population of bears. In a recently approved black bear management plan, the option of adding trapping and baiting of bears has been included.

Why is New York’s black bear population rising to unacceptable levels if that state prohibits bear baiting as a tool to control the population?

In Ontario, Canada, where baiting of bears is illegal, they have so many bears they are trying to find ways to reduce the population; enough so they are considering bringing back a spring bear hunt. Maybe Ontario is just one more example of how baiting a handful of bears for harvest purposes is NOT causing the population increases.

Connecticut has a serious bear overpopulation, most especially in the northwestern section of the state. Connecticut prohibits bear baiting. As a matter of fact they don’t even have a bear hunting season. Where there is no bear baiting, why then, according to HSUS, is Connecticut’s bear population growing?

As a matter of fact, I can ask the same question of Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Florida and state after state.

It is utter nonsense for HSUS and others to claim that baiting of bears causes a population increase. Even though common sense and actual facts on the ground disprove such a ridiculous theory, but there does not exist any real scientific study that actually shows that baiting bears causes populations to grow.

As a matter of fact, I’m still waiting for HSUS to prove that “millions of pounds” of junk food are dumped in the Maine forests to feed bears. This is nothing more that utter sensationalism used to promote an anti human, anti hunting agenda.


Anti Human Bear Banning Referendum Wording Decided

“Do you want to ban the use of bait, dogs or traps in bear hunting except to protect property, public safety, or for research?”

This will be the wording of the referendum question on the Maine ballot in November.


The Problem With Arguing Hunting Ethics, Name Calling and Ignorance

This nonsense is endless. Even the Bangor Daily News allows anybody to publish a bunch of rude nonsense about bears and bear hunting in order, I suppose, to promote their anti-hunting agenda. If not anti-hunting, certainly to support radical, corrupt organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States.

In an opinion piece in the Bangor Daily News, a mortgage broker, presenting himself as some authority on hunting and, being an “ethical” one at that, because he lived in Alaska for a handful of years, calls those who legally choose to use baiting as a means of harvesting a bear, lazy. To him they are lazy because all they have to do is carry a bucket of bait to a site, climb into a tree and wait for a bear to appear. Obviously the man knows nothing about baiting. However, he presents “his way” of hunting as ethical and the right way. Oh really?

Josh Phillips is a lazy hunter, if one at all. He is lazy because he hunts with a gun, maybe even a bow and arrow. He probably uses scent block or some kind of lure or a masking scent. Does he use a gps so he doesn’t get lost? How about a radio? Carry a cell phone? What a lazy hunter. Perhaps a real “ethical” hunter would venture into the woods with nothing but a loin cloth and bare hands. Who died and left Josh Phillips in charge of hunting ethics?

The rest of his story is old, worn out, unsubstantiated, nonsense about how other states have magically done this and done that while at the same time increased the number of bear hunters, blah, blah, blah. Probably Mr. Phillips is a lazy writer because he didn’t “ethically” do his research to vet that misinformation being used to promote his cause. If he had he would know this repeated information is false.

Some might think that calling Mr. Phillips lazy is an insult. I say it’s calling a duck(quack) a duck(quack).

Now that we know that Mr. Phillips is better than other hunters, well, you know, those that are ” finding a bear to kill and stuff or turn into a rug,” it still doesn’t solve the problem of how the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is going to control bear populations.

It is nonsense to think that Maine’s bear population has increased in the amounts indicated by Phillips because of baiting bears. His analogy of relationships between bears and humans and bait stations is wrong on every account. He knows little, if anything, about baiting bears, nor the differences between “feeding” bears in back yards and carefully and strategically placing “bait” in remote areas.

I see the issue as one of the Humane Society of the United States wishing to steal the necessary tools away from the Maine wildlife management department in order to promote their bigger agenda of ending hunting. I wonder if Mr. Phillips has considered that his support of the Humane Society to end bear baiting, trapping and hounding, drives one more nail in the coffin of his beloved hunting experiences? For this reason, I doubt that he is much of a hunter at all. He appears as the typical person who condemns other choices of sport believing his own choice is THE ONLY one.

To compare bears and bear hunting in Maine to that of Colorado, Oregon or any other state further exemplifies the ignorance of the subject matter being discussed. Do your homework. Know your subject matter.

If Mr. Phillips really is a hunter and if Mr. Phillips chooses, because he is allowed legally to have a choice, to be nothing more than a stocker of game in the woods, that is his choice and I certainly respect that. His wish to steal choices from others is no different than should I campaign to make hunter an matter of loin cloths and bare hands. I doubt Phillips would like that much.

Ethics while hunting, as guided by hunting regulations devised for game management and public safety, is a subjective matter driven by personal choice. I don’t want to take away Mr. Phillips choices why does he want to take away mine?

The real issue here is the ability to be able to manage bears to provide a healthy bear population. How can that be done with the wildlife manager’s hands bound behind their backs?

Old Hunter says:



Vote “NO” On Question One



Who’s Brainwashing Who?

A recent opinion piece found in the Portland Press Herald (Maine) says that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s claim that stopping bear baiting, bear trapping and bear hounding will cause an increase in bear population, perhaps threatening public safety, is “baloney” and “brainwashing the public.” How about one of these brainwashed individuals, like who wrote this letter to the editor, provide some scientific research about the “millions of pounds” of food they claim hunters are dumping in the woods each year? Or that baiting bears is the same as feeding them in your backyard, and that baiting bears is what is causing the continued increase in bear population throughout Maine. That’s because there isn’t any. In case the writer isn’t aware, the use of propaganda (false information) repeated over and over again, results in brainwashing.



Opinions Are Like……….Well, Never Mind

Readers should ALWAYS be reminded that letters to the editor of newspapers are only opinions no matter how inaccurate a writers claims might be. It is quite astounding that some people can present seemingly continuous claims about Maine bear hunting while providing absolutely nothing of value to substantiate those claims. As a reader you are left with total disregard for what is contained in the opinion piece. It should be also noted that providing links to other’s opinions does not make for credible information to back claims.

This happened recently in the Bangor Daily News when a woman, passing herself off as someone who, “hunted as hard as any man for 30 years when I was younger,” states that people should support the upcoming bear hunting referendum to ban hunting bears with bait, hounds and trapping with snares.

I’ve addressed most all of these issues in the past. However, there is one issue that this author brought up that needs some attention as well; that of sportsmanship and hunting ethics.

The author says that Maine has a “time-honored principle of fair chase” and that game should have a “reasonable” chance to escape a hunter. I wonder if the 30-years of hunting “as hard as any man” can remember some of those “time-honored” principles when bears were slaughtered due to unregulated hunting? That the bear population had diminished to near unsustainable levels due to that “time-honored” tradition of fair chase? That heritage of “fair chase” might be more myth than reality.

The problem with discussing ethics in hunting is complex and too much of what is considered sportsmanlike and ethical is left to the individual beliefs and governed by laws crafted by fish and game authorities to provide a degree of public safety along with what becomes necessary to control populations of game species. The author makes the claim the Maine doesn’t “bait” for other species like moose and deer because “it’s not fair chase.” Maine has a very limited deer and moose population and so that while providing opportunities for all hunters to fill their freezers there must be limits on tools used in the “fair chase” to also limit harvest. If Maine was overrun with deer, it can be expected that laws would be changed to find ways to increase the harvest of deer and moose. If it then is an individual’s choice and belief system of what is and is not “fair chase” and decides to opt out of baiting, then more power to the individual. Perhaps to resort back to hunting with an atlatl would be ethical and fair chase enough. Then again there are those extremists who think any form of hunting at all is unethical. Who gets to decide what you believe? Legislating ethics and fair chase is something that should never happen.

When anyone inserts the word “reasonable” as a means of describing fair chase, then any definition is completely lost, as it should be. So, then, what is fair chase? Is hunting with a GPS fair chase? Using a rifle scope? Scent locked clothing? Buck lures and doe scents? Calling by mouth, with a hand-held device or electronic call? Every individual can draw their own line of ethics. Claiming bear hunting by hounds or baiting for hunting or trapping is not fair chase obviously in not to this writer but to many others, within the law, it is fair chase and they should have that right. I shouldn’t dictate to this writer what she should maintain for fair chase ethics and I expect the same in return.

Massing words together in a rant about other people’s perceptions of fair chase and ethics involving hunting does nothing to convince anyone that ending the current means of available hunting and trapping methods for black bears is a worthy goal.

Old Hunter says: