Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has been captured by the number of hunters and trappers whose licensing fees and related expenses create an important source of revenue. The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, The Maine Trappers Association, and the NRA receive special treatment, even though they are a small proportion of the state’s population. DIFW’s own figures show that only about 13 percent of Mainers hunt and less than 2 percent trap.

Why should that minority make major decisions about the state’s animals? Maine’s wildlife are a vital part of the public domain, not some group’s private preserve. Just as motorists don’t own public roads, boaters don’t own public lakes, hikers don’t own public land, anglers don’t own the fish that live in public ponds and streams, so hunters and trappers don’t own the state’s wildlife. The welfare of Maine’s wildlife is no less than the province of all Maine citizens.

Should DIFW pay hunters to kill coyotes? Should bears be ambushed over junk food even though DIFW urges the public not to feed wild animals? Should trapping wildlife and holding them in steel jaws until they are shot or clubbed to death be allowed by any society that calls itself civilized?

Those and other questions should be asked by the legislators people elect because all residents — not just hunters and trappers — have the right to ask them. Anything less undermines a fundamental principle of democracy — decisions that are made for all should not be made by a few.

Don Loprieno, Bristol