May 28, 2023

Is Maine F&G and Legislature Scared of Spring Bear Hunt?

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Maine’s George Smith wrote yesterday wondering if Maine will ever have another spring bear hunt. He also made the comment that spring bear hunting takes place on Indian tribal lands and there appears to be no opposition to it.

It should be pointed out also that some of the Maine Indian tribes have undertaken predator control programs and other active game management actions that appear to be working to restore a seriously depleted deer herd. Maybe the real test will show after this past harsh winter. It appears though that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife ignores any successes the Indians have and some of us really can’t understand why.

Smith gives us all a history lesson about bears in Maine:

From 1770 to 1957, Maine paid bounties for dead bears and they were considered and treated as pests until 1931, when hunting seasons were introduced. From 1942 to 1965, bears were hunted year-round. Until 1969 we didn’t even monitor the harvest.

In 1982, a major battle over spring bear hunting erupted in the Maine legislature. That’s a tale for another time. That’s when we lost spring hunting – the time that many hunters and guides believe is the best to hunt bears.

He also laments the fact that bear hunting license sales have dropped considerably (about 37%) since a peak in 2002.

Maine’s sale of bear hunting permits peaked in 2002…….

But in 2012, 4,606 residents and 4,962 nonresidents purchased bear hunting permits

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) says repeatedly they need to find ways to increase bear harvest, at least in some areas, and yet they appear to be doing nothing about it. For years Maine hunters and MDIFW, and I’m sure the Maine Legislature, tip-toed around some wildlife management decisions fearing the threat of a lawsuit again by anti-human, bear worshipers. A lot of good the worrying did. Some day they will figure it out…….er, probably not.

To the animal rights wing-nuts, no hunting is any good. As a matter of fact no humans are any good if they interfere with the worship of animals. By disregarding science and the need for responsible bear management, that is the act of population management, in favor of social demands by human haters, Maine now sits still trying to figure out how to get the bear population down a few pegs and yet the lawsuits and referendums keep pouring in. Makes little sense to me.

Being money hungry, I’m guessing the MIDFW will try to find a way to charge more money to the hunters, while kowtowing to the guides and outfitters, fear the animal rights and environmentalists and still Maine will have too many bears. If this referendum passes, all this will be moot anyway…..right? Maybe that’s really what they want. I don’t know.

Why doesn’t MDIFW implement a 2-bear bag limit in addition to one hunting and one trapping? Allowing a bear each for hunting and trapping might affect a handful of people and do nothing for the bear population. In 2012 66 bears were taken by trapping. Do managers fear 66 extra bears harvested will extirpate the species?

It appears fear hamstrings any decision for a spring bear hunt, and yet a 2-bear bag limit, even if for just one season and then assess, could be productive.

Why no decisions? Why no action? Why is it business as usual? Who runs this show anyway?