by Patsy Murphy, ARLGP Executive Director
We support the Vote Yes on 1 campaign to prohibit bear baiting, hounding, and trapping because we care deeply about the welfare of all animals. Our founder, Governor Percival Baxter believed that Maine’s wildlife should not be wantonly destroyed for recreation or entertainment. His mission and animal welfare values are used by our organization as a compass, and we continue forward with his stance on wildlife and hunting. It’s important to note that hunting over bait is prohibited in Baxter State Park.
We believe that this initiative will provide long-overdue protections for Maine’s bears, and addresses significant concerns for the dogs used in hounding. Our shelter has seen its fair share of “stray” and “owner surrendered” dogs both during and after the bear hounding season. In our experience, hounding dogs are often treated more as tools or hunting equipment than as family companions and this can result in behavioral problems making them more difficult to place than other dogs. Treating these dogs as disposable property puts a strain on the shelters that take them in.
In addition, using packs of dogs to chase down bears creates welfare issues for both species. At the end of the chase, which can last for hours, the bear takes refuge in a tree until the shooter finally arrives to shoot the bear at close range. Hounding sometimes results in a violent confrontation. If the bear can’t make it up the tree in time, the bear will confront the dogs, which can result in serious injuries or death to the dogs. Non-target animals can get caught up in the chase and mother bears may be separated from their dependent cubs.
In Maine, we don’t bait moose or deer, because that’s not fair chase. Hunting bears should be just as challenging as hunting any other wild animal. Hounding is unsporting and cruel for both bears and hounds.
We encourage our community members to learn the facts behind hounding, and the current tactics being used to hunt bears. At the ARLGP, we support Yes on Question 1 to prohibit bear hounding, baiting, and trapping, and end this unnecessary suffering for Maine’s bears and hounds.