2014 Bear Referendum

This November, Maine voters will have the opportunity to vote on Question 1, which reads: Do you want to ban the use of bait, dogs or traps in bear hunting except to protect property, public safety, or for research?

The Department is opposed to Question 1. As the agency responsible for the conservation of Maine’s wildlife, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is taking an active role in providing Mainers with information about why we are opposed to this referendum.

The Department opposes Question 1 since if it passes, it would cripple the Department’s ability to control the bear population. That will lead to more nuisance bear complaints and increased threats to public safety. More bears will die from disease and starvation. Towns and property owners will face increased costs to deal with nuisance bears.

Maine already has one of the largest bear populations in the country, estimated at over 30,000 bears. Bear hunting with bait, dogs, and traps currently keeps bears from expanding into more populated areas of the state, it reduces the number of bears that die from disease and starvation, it decreases vehicle collisions and protects public safety.

The Department opposes the referendum based upon over 40 years of scientific research conducted by state wildlife biologists here in Maine. Maine’s bear research program and our bear biologists are some of the most respected and experienced in North America.

Bear populations are growing across North America, including Maine. Despite having one of the largest bear populations in the nation, Maine experiences relatively few bear conflicts (about 500/year) compared to other states with no bear hunting or those that have lost different bear hunting methods to referendum.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Maine’s Bear Biologists, and Maine Game Wardens are opposed to Question #1 because the traditional hunting methods that would be banned by this referendum are the only effective tools that are available to control the state’s large bear population. We urge Maine voters to consider all the facts when casting their vote this fall.

For more detailed information on specific components of the referendum, please explore the different pages on the right hand navigation panel.