Bear hunting season begins on Monday at 5:19 a.m. throughout the state of Maine. Last year more than 10,000 hunters purchased permits to hunt bear and 2,845 bears were harvested.
Black bear populations are growing throughout North America and due to Maine's heavily forested landscape that state boasts one of the largest bear populations in the United States at over 30,000 bears. As a result, Maine has one of the longest hunting seasons in the country, stretching from the end of August to after Thanksgiving.
"Hunting is the department's tool for managing this thriving bear population," says Jennifer Vashon, one of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife's bear biologists. "And due to Maine's dense forest, bear hunting with dogs and with bait are essential for controlling Maine's bear population."
Department bear biologists expect bait hunters to do well this year as the availability of many natural foods has been delayed or are in low supply due to the cool, wet spring. Over a span of 40 years, Maine's bear study has shown that not only does the availability of natural foods drive bear cub survival and bear birth rates, but it also directly influences when bears den for the winter, as well as hunter success rates. In poor natural food years, hunter success is higher than in years when natural food is abundant.
Maine biologists have done a great job for decades of managing the bear population through the years.
Now here is the rub!
The Humane Society is back again to put an end to bear hunting in Maine. They want to stop trapping, baiting, using dogs or any hunting method Maine has allowed for generations to bring home a bruin. In fact the society has pledged $3 million to try to ban bear hunting in the state on Maine.
They tried this seven years ago in a referendum that got on the ballot and they lost the vote but it was close, only losing by 4 percent. Now they are back and they have secured enough signatures to once again be on the ballot in November.
The people of Maine must give this some very hard thought. You have a proud tradition in Maine of hunters who care and biologists who are educated in how to manage these animals. Now do you just turn your back on these people and say 'no' to smart management.
Maine has its share on nuisance bear complaints and they are growing every year. With the population explosion that has occurred can you imagine what will happen if you cut out active bear hunting? Think about this for a moment. A female has two to three cubs every two years. Now let us just say that only 5,000 bears are female. In just two years, yes two years, you just added over 12,000 bears and now your population is over 42,000 and that estimate is on the low end, believe me.
Untouched, your population will reach over 100,000 in a decade! You will have more confrontations between man and bear than ever and some may not be pleasant.
The season will run until Thanksgiving and the hope is 4,500 bears will be harvested. Let the biologists do their jobs and hunters help by harvesting the bears as they have for centuries.
The Massachusetts bear season will open on September 2. The state now has well over 4,000 bears and now part of north west Middlesex County as well as Worcester County west is open to bear hunting.
Bill Biswanger's email is firstname.lastname@example.org