June 4, 2023

Maine Bear Hunting Legislation Proposal LD1118

LD1118 is a revised bear hunting and trapping bill that has been unanimously approved by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) committee. It will now go to the full Legislature for action. The Legislature, in the recent past has failed miserably in accomplishing anything that would address the serious overpopulation of bears in the State of Maine.

LD1118 essentially gives the commissioner of MDIFW authority to set bear hunting and trapping seasons and bag limits according to the management needs and goals of the department. What could possibly go wrong?

The proposed bill would also lower the bear permit fee from $27 to $10 and this is a good thing. It still should revert back to the good ole days when having a Big Game License would include big game hunting, i.e. deer and bear. But it’s better than $27 dollars. Non residents would have to pay $74 for a bear hunting permit.

We’ll see if the animal lovers in the Maine Legislature will allow this bill to go through.


And The Bear and Moose “Instant” Harvest Data Is………?

The baiting season for black bears is over. The black bear hunting season with hounds has been ongoing since September 10 and will run until October 26. Black bears can still be taken during the regular deer hunting season.

The first week of moose hunting for Zones 1-6, 10, 11, 18, 19, 27, 29 ended September 29th.

With the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife promising that they would have virtually “instant” tagging data, why haven’t they published any of this information? MDIFW extolled the benefits to hunters and the department but evidently, those benefits must be prioritized to MDIFW only and they will wield their full control over the wishes of some of us and withhold that data until such time as it is beneficial to them.

Business as usual I guess.

And how much did WE pay to have this new system???

Isn’t the Department required by law to share this data? Or do we have to beg to get it?

I’m still waiting for a web page on the MDIFW site that is live, i.e. that when a tag is registered digitally, it shows up immediately on a page that can be viewed by everyone…at any time.

We have the technology!!!!!!!!!

As an aside: Maine is in the middle of the busiest time of the year with hunting seasons. The state is busy, busy, busy with bears, moose, turkey, upland birds, migratory birds, and small game and we get to find out that MDIFW has completed their bald eagle survey.




Doing Nothing About Maine’s “Too Many Bears” And What’s Up With Electronic Tagging?

Let’s start with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s (MDIFW) new system of electronic tagging so that the Department can have essentially real-time harvest data. I mentioned in a previous post about this new system where MDIFW stated it would benefit hunters, etc., that it would remain a mystery as to whether MDIFW would be eager to share their new-found electronic toy with the general public. Evidently not.

Today I read where Maine has harvested 2,627 bears as of September 17th. The major bear hunt, with the use of baits, where the majority of bears are taken, ended on September 22nd and yet MDIFW has not shared with the public the harvest numbers. Hmmm! New system malfunctioning? MDIFW up to their usual power control tactics?

To get this bit of information came from a news media platform, which, evidently is privileged to access to this information (not beneficial to hunters) or they had to call MDIFW and beg and plead for the information.

There is nothing on the MDIFW website that shares harvest data. Perhaps we can now get it from them BEFORE the start of next season’s bear hunt and not sometime after.

In this same Internet article, it states that Maine’s bear hunt is “successful” but that the population is still growing. Is this MDIFW’s intent, to grow the population even more? If not, just what is MDIFW seriously doing to solve this problem?

If they wait long enough, a disease will take over and do the job management should be doing. But we know that MDIFW’s hands are tied because of the policies they employ of meeting the social demands of environmental groups. In addition, MDIFW is controlled by Maine’s guides and outfitters who tell the department what they want in order to maximize their profits, even at the expense of the scientific need to actually reduce the bear population.




Lies, Misinformation, and Emotional Clap Trap About Bear Management, Hunting, and Trapping

Katie Hansberry, head of the Maine chapter of the Humane Society of the United States, and one who has weaseled her way onto the subcommittee for black bears at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has penned an opinion piece and the Bangor Daily News has published it as a “Special to the Bangor Daily News.”

I refuse to provide a link to her propaganda as it is not worthy of any recognition beyond expressing my complete disgust that any print publication would allow such unsubstantiated drivel to be published in their paper.

Not one shred of evidence was provided by the author to back up her ridiculous claims about bears, bear behavior, hunting, or trapping. The claims are so bizarre that the newspaper should have questioned the content and sought some kind of substantiations to support the claims.

There are none.

One can only hope that enough readers will see the work for what it is and toss it in the garbage where it belongs. All are entitled to an opinion. Such opinions presented in this fashion are nothing more than agitprop drowning in emotional animal perversion proselytizing.

Shame on the Bangor Daily News for giving this inculcation space in their paper.



552 Pound Black Bear Tagged in Allagash, Maine

I am told that this 552-pound black bear was tagged at Tyler Kelly’s Camps in Allagash, Maine.


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.


Maine Bear Season Starts Monday, Youth Bear Hunting Day is Saturday

Press Release from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife:

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine’s bear season begins on Monday, August 27 throughout the state of Maine, and youth hunters get their own day this Saturday, August 25.

“Bear hunters should have a good early season as natural foods seem to be in shorter supply this summer, particularly up north and Downeast as bears are on the move and actively looking for food,” said Randy Cross, bear field crew leader for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Maine’s black bear population is closely monitored by Department biologists through one of the most extensive, longest-running biological studies in the U.S. The study began in 1975 and continues today. Over nearly 40 years, Department biologists have captured and tracked over 3,000 bears to determine the health and condition of Maine’s bears and estimate how many cubs are born each year.

 “Over those forty years, it’s very clear that during years with poor natural food production of nuts and berries, bears are moving more seeking out other food sources, and hunters are more successful,” said Cross.

Maine’s bear season is divided into three segments, as hunters can hunt with bait from August 27 to September 22, hunters can hunt with dogs from September 10 to October 26, and hunters can still hunt or stalk bear from August 27 to November 24.  Maine has one of the longest bear seasons in the country since Maine has one of the largest bear population estimated at over 36,000 animals. In addition to a season that starts in August and ends after Thanksgiving, Maine allows hunters to take two bears, one by hunting and one by trapping.

In 2017, hunters harvested approximately 2,900 bears during the three-month season. In 2016, numbers were similar with hunters taking 2,859 bears.

Even with the lengthy bear season, only about 25% of all bear hunters are successful. By contrast, 73% of moose hunters were successful last year, turkey hunters enjoy success rates between 30-35% and deer hunters in Maine are successful 14-18% of the time.

Young hunters will once again get their own day on Saturday, August 25. Youth hunters who have a junior hunting license can hunt bear with a firearm, bow, or crossbow on this day.  Youth hunters may hunt bear with the use of bait, or still hunt; however the use of dogs during youth hunting day is prohibited.

Youth hunters may hunt only in the presence of an adult supervisor who is at least 18 years of age.  The adult supervisor may not possess a firearm, bow, or crossbow while the youth hunter is participating in the bear hunt; however, the parent, guardian or qualified adult may carry a handgun pursuant to Title 25 M.R.S. SS 2001-A, but the handgun may not be used for the purpose of hunting. Any person who accompanies a junior hunter other than the parent or guardian, must either possess a valid adult hunting license or have successfully completed a hunter education course.

With natural food production down, hunters should have greater success, and in-state research shows that abundance of natural foods is also what drives nuisance bear complaints.  In years when there is a good natural food crop, the numbers of complaints drop. In poor natural food years, nuisance complaints increase. This year, there has been over 450 complaints through mid-August. Maine generally averages 500 nuisance complaints for the year.

Over a span of 40 years, Maine’s bear study has shown that not only does the availability of natural foods drive bear cub survival and bear birth rates, but it also directly influences when bears den for the winter, as well as hunter success rates. In poor natural food years, hunter success is higher than in years when natural food is abundant.

Successful bear hunters are reminded that it is mandatory to submit a tooth from their bear when registering. Tagging agents will provide envelopes and instructions to hunters as to how to remove the tooth. Biologists age the tooth, and the biological data collected help biologists adjust season lengths and bag limits for bears.  In August, hunters can learn the age of the bear they harvested the previous season by visiting https://www.maine.gov/ifw/hunting-trapping/harvest-information.html.

Hunters and trappers must have a bear permit in addition to a big game hunting or trapping license to harvest a bear in Maine.  However, during the deer firearm season, resident hunters can harvest a bear without a bear permit. Bear hunting is most popular and bear populations are the densest in the northern and downeast regions of the state.


Odd Way of Selling Bear Hunting

It seems that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) is on a bit of a promotion kick attempting to convince more Mainer’s to take up bear hunting.

Maine has too many bears – or at least anyone with any sense at all realizes that – and not enough hunters to control the growth. Or, it could be that the MDIFW is too tightly controlled by the guides and outfitters who dictate to them when, where, how often, how long and what bag limits will be on black bear. Then again, maybe two seasons for bear would work but you still need hunters.

Several articles have appeared in newspapers of late encouraging people to take up bear hunting with the MDIFW expressing thoughts of how the population of bears keeps growing while the population of bear hunters keeps shrinking.

Perhaps an actual change in attitude and presentation of propaganda at the department might help in that way. MDIFW is pretty quick to relate stories of their great bear management activities, cuddling up with bear cubs during the winter surveys and sharing stories of “named” bears as though they were a member of the neighborhood instead of potential table fare.

Some people (potential bear hunters) would prefer to see statistics from bear harvests to determine whether making the effort to take up bear hunting or come to Maine for a visit and do some bear hunting is worthwhile. To a bear hunter, cute and cuddly bear cubs all snuggly-wuggly into the jacket of a bear biologist isn’t what excites a bear hunter.

So here’s a suggestion. To help generate a bit more interest in bear hunting, MDIFW could at least pretend they give two rat’s patooties about bear hunting and see if they could publish the bear harvest results for the previous bear hunting season before the next one begins. Maybe they could even run a few more bear hunting reports in those same newspapers they like to publish cute bear pictures in.

But now that MDIFW has announced that they are no longer all that concerned about game populations and will focus more on health, counting and producing data is a thing of the past. It’s also a convenient way of ensuring there is no accountability.

Well, here’s a thought. If MDIFW is pretending to be recruiting bear hunters (more precisely they are recruiting revenue to pay the retirement pensions) but at the same time changing their focus to the health of game herds instead of population numbers, then history tells us that soon MDIFW will have their hands full of taking up the chore of dealing with all the diseases that come from overpopulations of any animal.

Health focus they want? Health focus they will get!



What A Maine Legislative-Proposal for a Spring Bear Hunt Might Look Like

Just last week I discovered that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) has sent out a questionnaire to Maine bear hunters asking whether or not they would kill two bears if the bag limit for black bears was raised to two bears during the firearms season. At that time my comments were that MDIFW appeared to be finally getting around to doing something about an overgrown state bear population. However, I’m not holding my breath, even though many of you would like me to.

Regardless of what the Advisory Council may suggest and regardless of what the MDIFW Commissioner might propose to establish for a bear hunting season or bag limit, once the special interest groups (these include Maine Guides and outfitters, SAM, etc.) get involved with their favorite legislator, just about anything might be suggested and proposed by the Legislature as to how best to administer the need to kill more bears. (This doesn’t include the animals rights mentals who will spend millions of dollars to make sure no bear is inhumanely killed.)

Listed below, in no particular order, are a handful of what we might see from special interest groups and politicians if a Spring bear hunt or an increase in bag limits is suggested.

If a Spring Bear Hunt were proposed here’s what we might see. The MDIFW would have to come up with a calculated guess as to how many bears they would like to have taken in a Spring Bear Hunt. Let’s say the Commissioner decides 1,000 bears needed to be culled. It is determined, by science or magic, that the success rate might be 30%ish, as this is a number guessed at in the past. That means Maine will need around 3,000 eager licensed bear hunters, hoping to take 1,000 bears.

That means 3,000 Spring Bear Hunt Permits (money). If we administer this as has been done historically, Maine would offer a bear lottery. It would cost each applicant $10.00 (or why not $20.00?)to apply for one of the 3,000 permits. If successfully drawn, each winner would have to purchase a Spring Bear Hunting License. Because it now costs more to “manage” bears in Maine (and conduct a lottery), that “special” bear license is going to cost each hunter $45.00.

But don’t get your hopes too high, even if you don’t mind spending whatever sum of money the government thinks you should have to spend because all these special interests will get a certain number of permits to hand out for votes.

Permits for the Spring Bear Hunt will be divided accordingly among, seniors, juniors, Quakers, Shakers, Muslims, guides, outfitters, veterans, veterans with disabilities, landowners, retired cops, retired politicians (only one term will do), left-handed people, those with green eyes, and anyone who thought up all this foolishness. I’m sure I left many special interests off the list.

What is left are 50 bear permits and MDIFW will auction off 40 of those permits to raise money for feed the hungry, feed those who won’t work, feed those with privilege, etc. 10 of the permits will be set aside for the elite auction where all the cronies gather together to administer political favors and paybacks. Of course, the elites will get the first two weeks of a Spring Bear Hunt all to themselves and will be guided by those guides who yelled and screamed the loudest that they can’t afford a Spring hunt. Guides will be paid with Pittman-Robertson money claiming that money is going to responsible game management.

This is just a small sampling of how the politics of hunting easily overpowers the science.

So, you think you want a Spring Bear Hunt?

Gather ’round kids and keep me safe!


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.