We can all heave a huge sigh of relief.

Finally, the live-free-or-die state ­ neighboring New Hampshire ­ has put in effect a new rule that bans the use of chocolate of any kind in bear baits. The new ban reads in part: “For the 2016 black bear baiting season and for all subsequent black bear baiting seasons, no person shall establish, tend, or hunt over a bait containing chocolate or any cocoa derivative.”

It seems that processed chocolate, including the kind we eat, contains theobromine, which officials say can be toxic to bears and other wild animals. Apparently a bear in Michigan and, reportedly in New Hampshire, died from eating too much chocolate at a bait site.

This is a breathtaking initiative taken by the New Hampshire wildlife officials.

Changing times in New Hampshire.

As we all know, especially those of us who have baited Maine bears or studied their eating habits, the omnivorous black bear is known for its delicate tummy and discriminating appetite when it comes to dining out. Talk about intestinal disorders! Don’t take my word for it. Study a few different heaps of bear scat and you’ll see what I mean. Ughhhh.

According to wildlife officials in the Granite State, a majority of hunters support the chocolate ban. Did they, the hunters or the wildlife managers, really think this thing through? How will a game warden enforce the ban? Will he reach the long arm of the law down into a stinky­-sweet bait barrel and take out a sample for a taste test?

And what about the bear? If the hunter shoots straight the bear is history, chocolate or no chocolate.

Topping off a belly full of fryer grease with a ripe chocolate brownie for desert is not a bad way to go out ­ at least, if you are a bear.

The good news, for the bears and the hunters who want to have their cake and eat it, too, is this, seriously: “White chocolate may be used as bait during the 2015 black bear baiting season and all subsequent black bear baiting seasons.”

Yes, in today’s America, truth is stranger than fiction. Pass the chocolate kisses, white ones if you please.

The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a Maine Guide, co-­host of a weekly radio program “Maine Outdoors.” His e-mail address is [email protected] . He has two books “A Maine Deer Hunter’s Logbook” and his latest, “Backtrack.”

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