When evaluating Question 1 in Maine, voters should look at who actually backs the initiative and who supports it – and perhaps more importantly, who doesn’t support it.
Question 1, which bans the use of bait, dogs and traps in bear hunting, was placed on the ballot by Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting, a group headed by Katie Hansberry, an employee of the Washington D.C.-based Humane Society of the United States – an organization that has bankrolled more than 97 percent of the $2.1 million Question 1 campaign.
The fact that Question 1 has been almost completely funded by the radical, out-of-state Humane Society of the United States should concern Maine voters. This initiative does not reflect the will and desire of Maine citizens, and was not borne from a deep grassroots aspiration to change the state’s culture, heritage and laws. It was forced onto the ballot by the sheer will and large bank account of HSUS, with the aspiration of disseminating their emotion-filled, yet factually lacking, propaganda upon the voting centers of Portland, Augusta and Bangor. Their attempt, which was a resounding court loss, to silence the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife from speaking out about management and public-safety concerns should speak volumes.
When looking at the endorsements for both sides of Question 1, voters should consider the scope and knowledge of Maine-based citizens and experts. Those opposing Question 1, and who would shun out-of-state interference and opt instead to listen to science-based facts and the experience of Maine citizens, include:
- The experts: Bear biologists and game wardens with the Department of Inland Fish & Wildlife oppose Question 1 because it hamstrings their ability to manage Maine’s 30,000 bears. The three methods at stake (baiting, trapping and pursuit with dogs), account for 93 percent of the state’s approximately 3,000 harvested bears every year. Without those bears removed from the population, reproduction rates will greatly outweigh mortality rates and the carrying capacity of Maine’s habitat will quickly be maximized – forcing bears to search for food and refuge closer to civilization, which means increases in human-bear conflicts.
- Maine’s elected leaders: The state’s leadership, those people entrusted with evaluating and enacting laws, and who will ultimately be held accountable for their constituency’s displeasure with such laws, and who are responsible for balancing city, county and state budgets, which will experience an economic loss of nearly $53 million if the initiative passes, overwhelmingly oppose Question 1.
- Governor: Current Gov. Paul LePage and both challengers to the office, Congressman Mike Michaud and Eliot Cutler, oppose Question 1.
- Congressional candidates: Those hoping to gain office by popular vote include: Emily Cain (D), Blaine Richardson (U) and Bruce Poliquin (R).
- Current Senators and Representatives: Fully, 86 Senators and Representatives from across the state, and including Republicans, Democrats and Independents, completely oppose Question 1. A truly bi-partisan opposition that reflects the true views and wishes of the citizens of Maine. If this were a bill written by one of the only three Representatives supporting the initiative, it wouldn’t even make it out of committee – which underscores the HSUS manipulation of the political system and big-money spending to influence voters with emotion while attempting to squelch scientific facts.
- Important state organizations: A myriad of Maine’s largest and most influential organizations oppose Question 1, including: Maine Council AFL-CIO, Maine Tourism Association, Maine Farm Bureau, Northern Maine Development Commission, Maine State Council of Machinists, Maine Forest Products Council, Maine Snowmobile Association, Maine Woods Coalition and North Maine Woods. This cross-section of large organizations, associations and unions represents a large and diverse contingency of Maine citizens who reject the out-of-state interference of the Humane Society of the United States.
- Outdoors organizations: A plethora of firearm and hunting-related organizations from within Maine and across the country illustrate a unified front as hunters, fishermen, trappers – the country’s greatest conservationists who support America’s wild lands both financially and through volunteer efforts – have come together in opposition. These groups not only oppose the meddling of the big-money, agenda-driven Humane Society of the United States in state issues, they’ve generously donated to the “NO on 1” campaign: Maine Professional Guides Association, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, Maine Trapper’s Association, Sportsmen’s Alliance of Maine, Ballot Issues Coalition, Safari Club International, Vermont Trappers Association, Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, Pennsylvania Trappers Association, National Wild Turkey Federation, Vermont Bear Hound Association, Wisconsin Bear Hunter’s Association, Phippsburg Sportsmen’s Association, Maine Bow Hunters Association, Penobscot County Conservation Association, Ohio State Trappers Association, Dallas Safari Club, Campfire Conservation Fund and the Maine Sporting Camp Association. For a complete list of those who are opposed to Question 1, visit: http://savemainesbearhunt.com/endorsements/
On Nov. 4, the science, experience, expertise and diverse opposition to Question 1 is clear: A “No” vote on Question 1 is in the best interests of all Mainers, as well as its wildlife and pristine ecosystems.