December 13, 2019

Maybe More Junk Food For Bears Is The Answer

I find reading in echo-chambers of the press nonsensical articles that make little or no sense. I think most of it is a reflection of ignorance and laziness.

I’ve been reading how there has been a spike in bear and human conflicts in the Northeast this year. It appears the major excuse given is that there was a scarcity of natural food, causing the bears to seek any food source anywhere they could. Along with this, more conflict bears had to be killed because of risks of public safety…or something.

If I was to use the same sort of warped, circular thinking of many who don’t want to see any animal killed for any reason, I would first have to ask the question as to whether or not baiting bears during bear hunting season is a method of reducing bear conflicts with humans.

The argument always seems to focus around food supply as to what mostly effects bears’ behavior. If the thinking is that there are more bear conflicts and more deaths of baby bears due to lack of natural food, then perhaps on those lean years we should systematically set up bear feeding stations to reduce cub mortality and public safety issues.

Not really, but I hope you get my point.

Circular and illogical thinking causes a person to believe, according to those opposed to baiting bear, that bears would stay in the forest where the junk food was rather than come out and bother or harm people.

Just practicing the kind of thinking as of others, hurts my brain.

Also, according to what we have always been told that in those years of lacking natural food, bears are more readily drawn to bait pile and thus the success of bear hunters goes up.

With the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife now using that instant tagging data, we already know, er, uh, hmmm….NOTHING. If anyone has seen any kind of public release of bear harvest numbers for the 2018 bear hunt, please let me know.

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Maine Bear Baiting Season Begins. IFW Fails to Have Last Season’s Numbers Published

FWIW: Baiting of Maine bears begins on Saturday and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) Folks haven’t got the numbers for last year’s hunt published on their website. They produced numbers last year on August 3rd for the 2014 hunt but their record for most tardy is for the 2006 hunt which was reported on August 27th.  The numbers are somewhat meaningless because they switched categories for reporting from Counties to Hunting Zones for the 2011 Kill.  Following Precedent the 2005 Bear Harvest Numbers will be dropped from the Bear Page because they only display the latest 10 reports.

Perhaps caring for those piping plovers, counting bats and swooning over the over-population of loons and cormorants keeps the bear counters too busy to fuss over anything as trivial as bear harvest data.

(Note – You can click on the charts to enlarge for easier reading.)

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Maine Supreme Court Decision Against HSUS Not Necessarily a Victory for Sportsmen

Maine sportsmen shouldn’t go off half cocked and with swelled chests believing that the decision by the Maine Supreme Court to uphold Superior Court Justice Joyce Wheeler’s ruling that a lawsuit, filed by Katie Hansberry and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), declared “moot,” was some kind of major victory for sportsmen.

The Sportsmen’s Alliance put out a presser extolling the victory: “Today’s ruling just reaffirms our position and is a clear and decisive victory for sportsmen in Maine,” said Evan Heusinkveld, president and CEO of Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation. “The people of Maine deserve to hear from the experts when it comes to these issues, and today’s ruling rightfully upheld that position.”

A writer for the Bangor Daily News reports: “In March 2015, Superior Court Justice Joyce Wheeler dismissed the lawsuit, saying it was moot because the election had been decided. She also declared the department’s campaign activities were legal because restricting speech on a contested issue was not in the public’s interest.”

I think it’s imperative that readers examine the written ruling of the Maine Supreme Court on the issue, compare it with comments being made and determine that this ruling is not a huge victory for sportsmen. As well, it’s important to understand what was and what wasn’t written in the decision.

As I understand it, Katie Hansberry and HSUS filed a lawsuit to stop representatives from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) from speaking out in opposition to Question One on the Maine ballot – an initiative that would have effectively ended bear hunting and trapping in the state. From the perspective of MDIFW such a referendum, if passed, would have seriously impeded the department’s ability to responsibly manage black bears.

Maine Superior Court Justice Joyce Wheeler, at the time of review of the lawsuit, ruled the case “moot” because the referendum voting had already taken place. However, HSUS and Hansberry decided to appeal that ruling and sought from the Maine Supreme Court a clear ruling that would, in the future, prohibit state departments, and in this case MDIFW, from using what they deemed public resources against public referendum issues.

While the Maine Supreme Court upheld Wheeler’s moot ruling, in response to the appeal the justices attempted to explain why the moot decision was upheld and why the same Court could not make a blanket ruling about future campaigns that involve state departments.

The Court writes: “An issue is moot when there remains no “real and substantial controversy, admitting of specific relief through a judgment of conclusive character.”  A controversy that declares rights “upon a state of facts that may or may not arise in the future” is not justiciable.” 

HSUS was seeking a ruling that they could perhaps use that would prohibit any department from speaking out, for or against, in future referendum campaigns. The Court was not going to give them that ruling because there is no way to determine future issues and the context in which such campaign issues may arise.

The lawsuit against the MDIFW claims that employees/representatives of that department, continuing to be allowed to speak out against HSUS’ efforts “harms ongoing efforts” of HSUS. The Court thought otherwise: “This alleged harm does not present a “real and substantial controversy” that could be addressed through “specific relief.” Any relief that MFBH will obtain is theoretical, depending on whether it becomes involved in a future ballot initiative.”

The Court also explains, in depth, certain exceptions to “mootness.” (1) sufficient collateral consequences will result from the determination of the questions presented so as to justify relief; (2) the appeal contains questions of great public concern that, in the interest of providing future guidance to the bar and public we may address; or (3) the issues are capable of repetition but evade review because of their fleeting or determinate nature.

Perhaps of most importance is the following statement found in the ruling as it pertains to why “mootness” exceptions do not exist: “However, the core question at issue in this case is not a generic question; rather, the question presented is the specific agency’s authority in the context of the facts at issue. Each State agency’s authority turns on its individual enabling statute. Although the question may recur, the extent of an agency’s statutory authority, the actions taken by the agency, and the context of those actions will vary and are not predictable. An interpretation of the Department’s enabling statute in the context of this now-concluded action may have little authoritative value in future litigation.” 

Hansberry and the Humane Society of the United States did not get what they wanted but it should be understood that they also were not shut out in their efforts. What they got was a better understanding of how to go about filing the next lawsuit in order to better satisfy the demands of the Maine Court. The ruling does not declare that all of Maine’s governmental departments are free to campaign for or against public issues. Each department is different and the context of the lawsuits – circumstances involved – can and will determine the viability of a lawsuit against the state.

In this particular case, because the lawsuit never reached the Courts before the referendum voting, the case was declared moot and considerations as to future lawsuits could not be evaluated “generically.”

A victory? Perhaps. A huge victory? No. And even the so-perceived victory is in the eye of the beholder. Is it a victory to know that in the right context, the state can be sued to prevent the public from gaining knowledge about a department’s ability to do their jobs? Is it a victory that in the same or different context, that state can not be sued?

Doors always swing in two directions. What we should learn is that in this one particular case, HSUS was not able to get the Court to give them what they wanted to make their future lawsuits easier by censorship. However, they gained understanding for the next time.

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Bear-hunting guides wary of another referendum challenge

*Editor’s Note* – Don’t bet on the statement below!

WELD — A year after Maine voters defeated a second bear-hunting referendum, hunting guides are wary they might have to fight off another challenge in the future.However, the Humane Society of the United States, which funded last year’s campaign to ban the use of bait, hounds and traps in bear hunting in Maine, says it has no plans to return.Nicole Paquette, the Humane Society vice president for wildlife protection, said Thursday that while ending Maine’s “cruel bear hunting practices” remains a priority for the international animal-welfare group, there are no plans to pursue another referendum.

Source: Bear-hunting guides wary of another referendum challenge – The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

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Outdoors in Maine: No more chocolate for Yogi

*Editor’s Note* – The emboldened words and phrases below, I added. I’m not an expert on bear baiting and don’t really know how banning chocolate will effect the process, but do scientists really have a grasp on the effects of theobromine on bears? Or is this just a placating law, that will be difficult, to impossible, to enforce, as an incremental step toward the complete ban of baiting bears?

There has been discussion for quite some time now about chocolate eating bears and most information available is based on possibilities. Perhaps it’s akin to when Cyclimates were banned as an artificial sweetener after it was believed that if a person drank the equivalent of a 20-acres pond full of Cyclimates, it might cause cancer.

It seems that processed chocolate, including the kind we eat, contains theobromine, which officials say can be toxic to bears and other wild animals. Apparently a bear in Michigan and, reportedly in New Hampshire, died from eating too much chocolate at a bait site.

Source: Outdoors in Maine: No more chocolate for Yogi | Sun Journal

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Chocolate as Bear Bait Banned in New Hampshire

Under the new rule, no person shall establish, tend, or hunt bear over a bait containing chocolate or any cocoa derivative, except that during the 2015 bear baiting season only, donuts, pastries, or other baked goods containing chocolate or cocoa derivatives may be used as bait. For the 2016 black bear baiting season and for all subsequent black bear baiting seasons, no person shall establish, tend, or hunt over a bait containing chocolate or any cocoa derivative.

Source: Chocolate as Bear Bait Banned in New Hampshire : The Outdoor Wire

CallMeCecil
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Keep an eye on bear hunts in Colorado, Massachusetts

In both Massachusetts and Colorado, there are some new developments regarding bears that is timely and noteworthy.

In Colorado, black bears numbers are going through the roof.

…in Massachusetts, booming bear numbers, even close to urban areas, have forced the state this fall to declare a new statewide bear hunt, in fact three separate seasons, September, November and December! According to South Shore outdoor writer Randy Julius, his state’s bear numbers are on the rise significantly.

Source: Keep an eye on bear hunts in Colorado, Massachusetts | Sun Journal

Growing Like Weeds!


GrowingBears
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Maine’s Bear Hunting Season Approaching. Biologists Have Yet to Post Last Year’s Harvest Data

According to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) website, bear hunting season begins in just about a month and hunters can begin setting out their baits on August 1. I would imagine excitement is building and plans are being made. HOWEVER….

I wonder if hunters actually care about the effort that is supposed to go into compiling data and crafting a report for bear hunting, as well as deer and moose? Does anyone else bitch, moan and complain that it’s been nearly ONE YEAR and the Department has failed to make available last year’s bear hunting harvest data?

Getting any data from MDIFW is like looking for hens’ teeth, so essentially when there is nothing to review and compare except one annual harvest report, it is important to have that information. Some of us want to know the effects of the bear, deer and moose harvest. We just are not getting this information in any kind of timely manner.

We live in an age of instant information and yet, as we progress through this age, it certainly appears that MDIFW is headed in the other direction. I would like to know why. Are biologists so busy counting bats, bees and piping plovers they are not allotting time to compile harvest data? Maybe MDIFW believes they deserve a pass on this one because they worked so hard last year fighting the environmentalist freaks who want to end bear hunting?

Many things happen when there are failures like this. One thing is that sportsmen become suspicious. When sportsmen become suspicious they think terrible things and soon begin talking terrible things. Of course this does not bode well for the Department and in particular the head biologists from each game department. And let’s not forget the commissioner.

Another issue is that while the negative talk is going on, writers, like myself and serious hunters and “watch dogs” do not have the data to make comparisons in order to form opinions as to direction the managers are going in taking care of bears, deer and moose to protect our investments.

The reality of it is, the only explanation there is for the failure to do the job is that they have failed to do their job. I don’t want to hear about lack of funds. That’s BS. The department is scurrying around writing reports so they can be held hostage to the Federals at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and obtain grant monies to keep biologists counting bees and bats, as well as pay salaries and retirement benefits. If they have time to pimp for prostituted money, certainly they should be making time to compile a report and get it out to Maine citizens.

MDIFW can look so great at times, like they did during the bear referendum, and then appear as incompetent slobs when it takes a year to post a harvest report.

I think MDIFW and the leadership there, need to take a deep breath for a minute and once again try to realize where their money comes from. It makes little sense to me that the majority of their means of making a living comes from license buyers and yet their actions appear to be focused on taking care of the environmentalists, some of whom are offering extortion money in order to play on their playing field. Perhaps the paying sportsmen are being taken advantage of?

This is a recipe for failure and a looming disaster that all sportsmen should not be supportive of.

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Big Bank Account and Little Knowledge: Why HSUS Can’t Be Trusted with Decisions for Maine’s Bears

Press Release from Save Maine’s Bear Hunt:

Augusta, Maine- Three recent pieces of evidence make it extremely clear why the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting can’t be trusted to make healthy decisions for Maine’s wildlife.

Exhibits 1 & 2- Lack of understanding of bear species in Maine

Below you will find exhibits 1 & 2. Exhibit 1 was posted recently on Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting Facebook page. Exhibit 2 was the cover of a recent mailer that was sent by Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting to Maine voters. In each of these, pictures of grizzly bears are shown. The species was confirmed by Nate Webb a biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. (Nate Webb, Ph.D., received his doctorate degree at the University of Alberta, and was the large carnivore biologist overseeing grizzly and black bear management in the province of Alberta for over five years. One of Webb’s duties was teaching bear identification and bear safety to the general public. Webb currently is the IFW special projects biologist.) The problem with this, of course, is that Maine is not home to any native population of grizzly bears. In fact, grizzlies are only found in Alaska, south through Western Canada and into the northwestern U.S. The closest grizzly population is likely to be in Wyoming or Manitoba- nearly 2,000+miles away. Maine has one of the largest populations of black bears anywhere in the country.

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Exhibit 3- Lack of understanding of Maine bear hunting laws

In this screen shot of a 15 second ad paid for by Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting titled “hounds”, taken on October 27 from the Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting website (www.fairbearhunt.com/video), seven bear dogs are seen hunting a bear. An eighth dog eventually comes into the shot. Under Maine law, only 6 dogs may be used to hunt bears (see: Maine Statutes, Title 12: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/statutes/12/title12sec11302.html) This hunt likely took place in another state, not in Maine.

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“These three pieces of evidence clearly demonstrate why HSUS and Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting should not be trusted with decisions regarding Maine’s bears,” said James Cote, Campaign Manager for the Save Maine’s Bear Hunt/NO on 1! Campaign. “Maine voters deserve better than this level of deception and misunderstanding- our bears, our safety, our economy and our outdoor heritage are too important be left to outsiders with big bank accounts and little knowledge of bears and bear hunting here in Maine.”

According to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Maine is home to a population of 30,000 black bears. Question 1 would eliminate the three most effective methods of controlling the bear population. Hunting over bait, trapping, and hunting with dogs accounts for approximately 93% of Maine’s annual bear harvest.

“If these groups can’t even take the time to talk about the correct species of bear, or show images that are truly reflective of a bear hunt under Maine law, how can we possibly trust them with decisions about managing our healthy bear population?” said Cote. “This is a no-brainer. Let’s trust our experienced bear biologists and game wardens, not the outsiders. Vote NO on 1.”
HSUSGetRight

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Raccoons Eating all the Bear Bait

From a person who hunts bears and uses bait, he writes that he thinks the 7 million pounds of bear bait used in a season in Maine is an exaggeration. He also claims that while 7 million pounds seems like a lot of bait, in the grand scheme of things it’s not.

However, the claim being made by the Humane Society of the United States that baiting these bears is causing higher birth rates and conditioning bears to human food, this man’s personal experience tells a bit of a different story.

With “thousands of photos and videos” over his bait piles, he contends that bears don’t come that often and when they do are only there for short periods of time. But his bait isn’t being consumed by bears.

Lastly, who eats most of the bear bait? Those furry bandits called raccoons. Every night, I have seen as many as 10 raccoons on the bait. They clean it out nightly. So in all the “7 million” pounds is reduced greatly and is not at all what the anti-bear hunters make it seem.

Raccoons

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