In response to a Sun Journal story, “Wilton signs resolution against state referendum question on bear hunting” (Sept. 17), Question 1 is about ending bear baiting, hounding and trapping — and nothing else. Those practices are cruel and unsporting. Maine is the only state to allow all three extreme methods. Once Mainers vote to end these practices, bear hunting will continue in the fair-chase tradition.

Restoring fair chase will draw sportsmen to the challenge and increase interest, as it has in other states. The number of bear hunting licenses doubled or tripled in states that banned those practices, and even generated more revenue.

With fair chase hunters in the woods, the bear population can be effectively managed and nuisance complaint levels kept in check. Responsible and humane bear management works.

It is no surprise that with the dumping of 7 million pounds of pizza, jelly donuts and rotting food into the woods annually, both nuisance complaints and the bear population have increased — the latter by 30 percent in the last decade alone.

The Humane Society of the United States is not an anti-hunting organization. We join responsible hunters in opposing unsporting practices, including bear baiting, hounding and trapping. Many rank-and-file hunters agree these practices are inhumane and unacceptable. The HSUS is proud to be a part of the Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting coalition.

By voting “yes” on Question 1, voters can restore fair chase hunting to Maine’s bear hunt, and provide the long-overdue prescription for addressing Maine’s growing bear population.

Katie Hansberry, Portland,

Maine state director of the Humane Society of the United States

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