January 27, 2023

Bear Spotted in Downtown Ellsworth, Maine

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It is that time of year when in Maine black bears emerge from their wintering dens. More than likely they are all out by now and some are probably hungry. Such was the report from the Bangor Daily News of events occurring in downtown Ellsworth, a small village south of Bangor, toward the coast.

In the BDN report, it suggested, from earlier press releases from MDIFW, that increases in these bear encounters happen when spring comes early.

Last year, when the state saw an early spring, the Maine Warden Service received 870 bear-related complaints — up from 436 complaints in 2011 and just 395 in 2010.

While this information may be true, what should have been included in this was a statement of fact that as bear populations increase, so to do the number of incidents of bear meeting man. I bring this point up because recently the Joint Standing Committee for Inland Fisheries and Wildlife voted “ought not to pass” a bill that would end bear hunting with dogs and trapping, among other limitations; a bill sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). However, HSUS has promised a referendum on this issue next year.

Maine, like most all other states, implements hunting and trapping as a means of regulating the desired populations of game species, including predators. Should HSUS be successful in their referendum, from the information I have received to date on what the proposed referendum will look like, basically all aspects of bear hunting will be eliminated with the exception of stalking.

Already the bear population in Maine is at perhaps record high numbers with MDIFW facing a difficult task in getting hunters and trappers in enough numbers to keep in check the population. Contrary to popular belief, wildlife does not “balance itself” and one can easily and logically conclude that, among other difficulties, Maine people would be facing increased problems with bears.

The MDIFW spokesman speaks of, “bear incidents tend to slow down as summer progresses, when it’s easier for hungry bears to find natural food.” Again, this is true under “normal” circumstances. With overgrown bear populations, too many bears will be competing for food. If natural food is not abundant, the competition becomes even greater and this circumstance will tend to drive bears into human populated areas in search of food. Now imagine a scenario of too many bears AND not enough natural food.

Maine residents should be encouraged to take the advice of MDIFW in making your homes as bear proof as possible and don’t allow HSUS, or any other animal rights groups, to force our fish and game experts into managing or not managing wildlife based on social demands rather than science. Sound wildlife management benefits both humans and wildlife.