Rather than defend the inhumane and unsporting practices of bear hounding, baiting and trapping, state Rep. Ellie Espling, R-New Gloucester,  resorted to attacking a well-respected national charity (Sept. 22). Established watchdog entities such as the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance and Charity Navigator give The Humane Society of the United States top marks.

We rescued and cared for more than 100,000 animals in 2012, and our anti-cruelty campaigns have helped millions more. While rescuing animals is an important part of our mission — and just recently we assisted with a cat-hoarding case in Freeport — our organization was founded to address the root causes of animal cruelty.

We have thousands of supporters here in the state of Maine and are proud to be a member of Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting, a broad and diverse coalition of veterinarians, animal shelters, responsible hunters and animal protection groups seeking to place a measure on the ballot in November to end bear hounding, baiting and trapping.

Dumping hundreds of pounds of pizza, jelly doughnuts and rotting food into the woods, all to lure in bears for an easy kill, habituates bears to humans and grows their population.

Independent bear biologists recognize that baiting creates nuisance bears and leads to bear-human conflicts. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife issues stern warnings to the public, asking them to never feed bears. But the agency ignores its own advice by carving out a special exception for those who want to shoot bears for trophies, allowing them to put out food for the sole purpose of luring in bears for an easy shot.

That irresponsible practice teaches bears to seek out human food sources and leads to human-bear conflicts. To top it off, all that rotting food creates a supplemental feeding program that is artificially growing the bear population.


Many major bear-hunting states manage their bear populations quite well through fair-chase hunting, without those cruel and unsporting practices. Colorado, Washington and Oregon, for example, prohibited such practices years ago, and revenue in these states from bear-hunting license sales increased dramatically.

Many hunters oppose the use of unsporting and inhumane methods, such as baiting and hounding, and choose not to compete with bear hunters who use such highly predatory and unfair practices. But once those unsportsmanlike methods are prohibited and a fair-chase bear hunt is implemented, it opens up the field for a larger number of individual bear hunters to participate, ultimately providing more revenue through the sale of hunting licenses.

Baiting, hounding and trapping are the lazy man’s way to hunt and have no place in responsible wildlife management.

Katie Hansberry, Portland, Maine state director, The Humane Society of the United States

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