2014-09-19 / Letters

Bear baiting degrades the sport of hunting

To the editor:

We are the last state to allow trapping, baiting and hounding of bears. These practices are neither necessary to successfully hunt bear nor to control the bear population. Sadly, it’s the profitability of bear trophy killing that opponents to fair chase wish to conserve.

So-called guides profit handsomely by leading “hunters” to spots that have been strewn with meats, pastries, candies, etc. and set up with video cameras so that it is known exactly when the bear is in the predetermined killing site. This is not hunting, it’s trophy killing. This also increases their taste for human food. Feeding bears has always been strongly discouraged for this reason, except, apparently, if there’s money to be made.

The use of GPS-collared dogs to track and exhaust bears is not only cruel to the hounded but also to the dogs, who suffer from mistreatment by humans and attacks by bears trying to defend themselves. Going to a terrified and exhausted bear (at known GPS coordinates) trying to save its own life by climbing up a tree and then shooting it can hardly be considered sport.

Bears do not live within property lines. One property owner I spoke with who has always allowed hunting is now considering posting the land after he found that one of these baiting sites had been set up on his land.

Lastly, as a sport, hunting is meant to have the element of challenge. Many hunters, especially, are interested in maintaining the integrity of their sport. Similarly, basketball players wouldn’t sit by if people were allowed to pay to have unobstructed shots and runners wouldn’t support rules enabling people to pay to be driven to the finish line before the other, real runners.

Erica Heinrich
South Portland

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