Maine has the most permissive bear hunting laws in the country. We allow hunting by bait, trap, and dogs. On November 4th, Mainers will vote on a proposal to ban all of this (Question 1 on the ballot).
Hunters have funded fear-mongering advertisements featuring a bear attack in Florida (how the fuck is that relevant?) in the hopes of scaring people into thinking that without these cruel hunting methods, bears will overrun the public. Which doesn’t make any bloody sense because 1) bear attacks are extremely rare and 2) every other damn state, with stricter hunting laws, is fucking fine. No bear attacks.
I don’t give one single shit about the tourism industry and the money we get from bear hunting. It’s not worth actually torturing these animals. It’s morally reprehensible, no excuses. If Yes on 1 doesn’t pass to stop baiting, trapping, and using dogs to chase bears, it needs to be stopped somehow. Jesus Christ.
I’ve made the decision to get my Fall bear tags this season - not because I want to go out and shoot a black bear, but because twice now, while I’ve been exploring and hunting small game, I’ve found fresh bear sign, or, more recently, have had a bear encounter.
The encounter took place last night at Fern Camp. I’d shot a cottontail rabbit for dinner and since Jude wasn’t hungry right away when I gutted it, I left the small gut pile under the tree I’d hung the carcass from while dressing it. Jude did eventually eat it all, but the scent had wafted about by that time.
My housemate and I went for an evening hike, then, and spotted old cougar tracks, heavy (recent) elk activity, and caught a whiff of something dead and rotting - there was a lot of animal activity in the area as a result.
While we settled down under our debris shelter beside our fire that night, we could hear flying squirrels chattering back and forth, scurrying through the trees overhead, and taunting poor Jude.
Through the raucous, I kept hearing a bellowing sound down past the nearby clear-cut that sounded much like a baying hound. The call caught our attention, but the groaning roar we heard next was utterly unexpected.
It came from just up the road and was much, much closer. By the sound of the call, it seemed to be responding to the bark-like bellowing further down the mountain, and was, quite obviously, from a bear.
Looking into it now, I think that the bellowing was a young cub separated from its family, and that perhaps the bear answering the call was an adult calling back to it, or defending its territory and telling the youngster to “back off!”
Either way, it was too close for comfort, so I fired a round from the .22 into the side of a dirt mound. The baying stopped, and we heard no more from the big bear up the road, either.
The situation convinced me, though, to get my tags, because if I do find myself in a situation where I may need to be defend myself or my dogs from a bear, I’d rather do so legally - and I’d rather keep the animal for myself than have to hand it over to Fish and Wildlife, too. Killing such an animal wouldn’t be my first option, but if that’s what it comes down to, I want to be prepared.
When bears are sighted on shore the tour boat idles closer, giving everyone on board a better look. It is fascinating watching black bears hunt for Rock Crabs and other seafood. Constantly stopping to roll boulders over, checking for anything moving on the beach that might be good to eat…