Target: Humane Society of the United States
Goal: Protect Maine bears from cruel hunting and baiting practices
The Joint Standing Committee for Inland Fisheries and Wildlife in Maine recently deemed an important bear protection measure as “ought not to pass” despite many aspects of cruelty involved in bear hunting. The bill, backed by the Humane Society of the United States, sought to protect bears from unsporting practices that cause unnecessary suffering, such as snares and hound chases. While the Joint Committee unanimously opposed the bill, the Humane Society can still fight back with a referendum in 2014 (proposing a ban for the same aspects of bear hunting as the original bill) and continue to fight for an end to bear baiting in the state for good. Urge them to continue this legal battle until cruel bear baiting is illegal in Maine.
A nearly identical measure was voted down in 2004, but it is likely that the increasingly severe issue of bear baiting will not be ignored by animal rights groups. The Humane Society has already pledged to ask voters to pass a new law via a November 2014 ballot question, but it would only serve to eliminate certain aspects of hunting. Since the bear protection act is very likely to be voted down, it is necessary to take additional steps to ban bear baiting in Maine, and increasing awareness may be a key factor.
Sportsmen and women of Maine successfully rallied against the bear protection act earlier this month by swaying the committee to vote not in favor. This interest group convinced the small committee that the measure was unnecessary and even infringed on hunter’s rights. If animal rights groups can take the same approach by raising awareness and rallying support to protect Maine bears, their proposals have a greater chance of success in the future.
At present, the bear protection act seeks to ban bear trapping and hunting with dogs, prohibit the tracking of wounded bear with hounds, ban hunting between January 1st and July 31st, and limit the bear bag limit to one bear per hunter. Opponents of the bill claim it infringes on their rights to hunt, but animal protection groups understand that hunting methods are often cruel and unnecessary. Bears are lured into snares and left to suffer for hours before they are found and shot. Hunters that use hounds to bait bear are no better, causing the animal unnecessary physical and emotional suffering. Defenseless bears are chased by hounds until they are forced to take shelter in trees due to extreme exhaustion. They are then shot from the branches and killed.
Too many believe they are entitled to kill or harm animals because it is their right as hunters. This is a sadly misled perspective, and one that causes unnecessary suffering to precious wildlife. Urge the Humane Society of the United States to raise awareness of cruel bear baiting methods, and continue to fight hunting interest groups in court until Maine bears receive comprehensive protection.
Dear Humane Society of the United States,
I applaud you for your efforts to protect bears from cruel baiting and hunting methods in Maine. While the 2013 bear protection act is not likely to pass, I urge you to continue this fight by initiating a referendum in 2014 that would effectively ban certain aspects of bear hunting, and I encourage you to raise awareness of this issue as many are not familiar with the cruelty of bear baiting.
If hunter’s rights groups can successfully sway a committee against bear protection laws, a well-informed group of citizens can rally together to raise a voice for justice. Please do not give up, and please do not wait another decade to present additional protection measures. Bears in Maine need your help now, and I support your cause.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Forest Service Northern Region via Flickr