After nearly a year and a half of fighting in court, and more than $100,000 spent, sportsmen in Maine were victorious today against a lawsuit brought by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Today’s victory was the latest in a long line of victories by the Maine Wildlife Conservation Council and the Sportsmen’s Alliance in this case.
In early 2015, Maine Superior Court Justice Joyce Wheeler sided with sportsmen and dismissed a lawsuit aimed at silencing Maine’s wildlife professionals on grounds that it was moot. Today’s Supreme Judicial Court ruling upheld that decision, effectively ending the issue.
“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.”
The case started in the final weeks of the 2014 Maine bear campaign over Question 1, which would have banned the most effective methods of controlling black bear numbers. HSUS, through their front group Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting, sued the state of Maine alleging an improper level of engagement in the bear hunting campaign. The “state,” in this case, was the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, whose vocal and public opposition to Question 1 didn’t mesh with HSUS’ wish to stop bear hunting in the state.
The original lawsuit sought to remove the Maine Wildlife Conservation Council’s television advertisements from the airwaves because the ads in question featured department personnel talking about the dangers of Question 1.
“There is no doubt in my mind that they knew where the polling stood, and were simply grasping at every last straw in their attempt to foist their radical Washington D.C. values on the good people of Maine,” said Heusinkveld. “They see the wildlife management professionals at the department as a distinct threat to their agenda, instead of the responsible fact-driven professionals that they are. I’m glad that the state’s Supreme Judicial Court has sided once again with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and sportsmen and women in Maine.”
About the Maine Wildlife Conservation Council: MWCC was the ballot-question committee set up specifically to defeat Question 1 – the Bear Hunting Ban. In addition to the Sportsmen’s Alliance, it is comprised of the Maine Professional Guides Association, Maine Trapper’s Association, Maine Sporting Dog Association, and the Grand Lake Stream Guides Association among others organizations concerned with managing the state’s wildlife in a responsible manner.
About the Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation: The Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization that was founded to protect and defend America’s wildlife conservation and hunting heritage. The Foundation focuses its efforts on public education, legal defense and research to protect and advance the rights of hunters, trappers, anglers and scientific wildlife management professionals. The Sportsmen’s Alliance, the Foundation’s sister organization, is the only organization exclusively devoted to combating the attacks made on America’s sportsman traditions by anti-hunting and animal rights extremists. This is accomplished through coalition building, ballot issue campaigning and legislative and government relations.