Fair chase

To the Editor:

As a resident who dearly loves Maine “the way life should be,” I know protections for our bears and other wildlife are long overdue.

I remember that the bear referendum lost by a very narrow margin ten years ago. Since then, baiting, hounding and trapping have done terrible damage to the Maine we love. We have the embarrassing distinction of being the only state to still allow all three cruel practices.

One of my concerns about this is the danger that it poses to our pristine and beautiful state. Bear baiters are dumping nearly seven million pounds of junk food into the woods every single year. We need to take into account the environmental impacts of baiting on our bears, other wildlife, water, air and forest wild lands.

Baiting unnaturally concentrates animals at piles of noxious, decomposing high-calorie junk food, including stale jelly doughnuts, grease and rotting meat. Bear populations respond to an excess of food by increasing their birth rate, which appears to be illogical if one wants to maintain or reduce the bear population.

It is illegal to feed and bait other forms of wildlife, so why is it still legal to feed and bait bear?

It is also illegal to dump refuse in the woods, so why is it legal for baiters to do so? Can one really call oneself a hunter when one sits in a tree and shoots an animal with its head buried in a barrel of rotting food?

To my mind, that’s not hunting, that’s sniping, a cowardly act.

Why are traps allowed which pose a serious danger to other wildlife, domestic animals and humans as they travel through the woods? And when hounds are used to track and tree bears, who are the real hunters here? Are the real hunters the hounds? Or the one who sits in his or her truck tracking the radio-collared hounds?

These three practices are neither tradition nor culture. Cruelty should never be a tradition or a part of culture. The real tradition of hunting is fair chase. It’s time for the real tradition of fair chase hunting to take the place of cruelty.

Marie Zwicker