PORTLAND (AP) – Two national animal rights groups have contributed $525,000 to the political action committee that is spearheading the referendum to ban bear-baiting in Maine.

Maine Citizens For Fair Bear Hunting received $250,000 from the Fund For Animals in New York and $275,000 from the Humane Society of the United States in Washington, D.C., in the first two weeks of October, according to campaign finance reports filed Wednesday.

The group brought in $556,200 during the reporting period from Oct. 1 to Oct. 21, bringing its total donations to $986,200.

Maine’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Council, the political action committee leading the fight against the referendum, raised $142,000 during the reporting period, according to the reports. The group has now raised a total of $1.4 million in contributions.

Edith Leary, campaign manager for the conservation council, said the two large contributions to referendum backers speak “volumes as to why this is on the ballot.”

Maine Citizens for Fair Bear Hunting, she said, “would be nowhere if it did not have the financial backing of these two national animal rights group.”

Robert Fisk, director of the fair bear hunting group, said 46,000 Mainers are members of the Humane Society.

“Humane Society leaders have been supporting this for the same reason we are: to end needless animal cruelty,” Fisk said. “The trophy hunting groups outspent us more than 2-1. They brought in a campaign of fear and deception. Both the (Humane Society) and the Fund for Animals did not sit back and let the deception go unanswered.”

The conservation council has received between $80,000 and $90,000 from the United States Sportsman’s Alliance in Columbus, Ohio.

“Their donation pales in comparison to the (Human Society) and Fund for Animals,” Leary said.

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