PORTLAND (AP) – Former Maine Gov. Angus King on Tuesday endorsed Democrat John Kerry for president, blaming Republican President George W. Bush for what King described as partisan policies that have divided the nation.

“Rather than uniting the country, George Bush has pursued a narrowly partisan and ideological agenda that has divided our nation as never before,” King told reporters at a news conference arranged by the Kerry campaign.

King is a former Democrat who ran for governor as an independent and served two terms. He said he remains an independent.

Biologist focus of bear-bait issue

FALMOUTH (AP) – Leaders of an effort to ban bear baiting in Maine accused a state biologist of flip-flopping in a TV advertisement in which she suggested it would be unwise to vote for the referendum proposal.

Robert Fisk, director of Maine Citizens for Fair Bear Hunting, said bear biologist Jennifer Vashon told an organization in an e-mail that passage of the referendum would not have a dramatic short-term effect on the bear population.

The e-mail also quoted her as saying reports of nuisance bears depend more on year-to-year variables than on the total number of bears.

Fisk has accused the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife of playing politics in fighting the proposal to ban bear baiting.

Mark Latti, spokesman for the agency, said there was an easy explanation. He said that another biologist, Ken Elowe, contributed the material in question in the e-mail. “Those weren’t Jen’s words,” he said.

Latti acknowledged that the e-mail was confusing because it came from Vashon but that other state biologists had a hand in the material.

Fisk said there’s no scientific evidence that the referendum’s passage would cause a big increase in the bear population.

Latti responded that there’s no evidence that the bear population is self-regulating without measures currently allowed.

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