Maine bear-hunting referendum fails: It's still OK to hunt them using dogs, bait and traps
Voters in the state of Maine Tuesday appear to have defeated efforts to change the state's bear hunting regulations, which are the most liberal in the country.
A referendum asked the following question: "Do you want to ban the use of bait, dogs or traps in bear hunting except to protect property, public safety or research?"
Maine is the only state that allows all three bear-hunting practices, according to the Portland Press Herald.
With 64 percent of the state's precincts reporting early this morning, the referendum was headed toward defeat by a margin of 52.3 to 47.7 percent, the newspaper reported. An Associated Press story in the Washington Times reported the referendum as defeated.
This is the second time in a decade that the state's voters have been asked to settle the argument over the state's bear-hunting regulations. A similar referendum fell short in 2004.
Katie Hansberry, director of the campaign Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting, proponents of the measure, was quoted by the newspaper as saying, "there remains votes to be counted, but it appears we came up short."
Supporters of the referendum insisted stalking bears without the use of bait, dogs and traps should be enough to control the state's bear population. They labeled the current regulations inhumane.
Supporters of the current regulations insisted such measures are needed and that if they were made illegal the state's bear population would grow and threaten public safety.
The Portland Press Herald noted that Mainers For Fair Bear Hunting raised more than $2 million in campaign funds with just 3 percent ($59,717) coming from donors within the state. The majority of the funding came from the Humane Society of the United States, based in Washington, D.C.
Those opposed to the referendum, the newspaper added, raised $2.8 million, with 39 percent coming from donors within the state, and 61 percent coming for at least 41 other states.
In New York, bears can be hunted in the fall with compound bows and crossbows, shotguns, handguns and muzzleloaders. However, the use of dogs, bait to attract them and traps are banned. The seasons vary, depending on the hunting instrument used and areas where the hunt is taking place. For more, see the DEC hunting guide or the DEC website.
In addition, bear hunting opportunities were expanded this year in this state as result of regulation changes adopted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Bears can now be hunted in all Upstate counties -- including those in Central New York.
The reason behind expanding the areas where they can be hunted, according to the DEC, is "to maintain bear population levels that are acceptable to the public while providing sustainable opportunity for New York's big game hunters."
According to the DEC: "New York State has between 6,000 to 7,000 black bears in the wild. In recent years, black bear numbers have increased and bear populations have become more widely distributed across the state. Hunting is the primary management tool to control the bear population."
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