The Dec. 3 Maine Voices column by Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife spokesman Travis Barrett, excusing Maine bear hunting, is as full of holes as the 300th bear he imagines goes unrecovered (“Bear hunting in Maine remains a sport in all its forms”).

Barrett offers a new spin of cherry-picked language from “hands on” bear experts now emphasizing bear populations “could” have doubled in the past 20 years (their former main line of certainty), but then downplaying this as insignificant and merely a “clever talking point.”

The real concerns about Maine bear hunting practices are falsely characterized as just another bone to pick with a revenue-hungry state agency, in this case IFW. Barrett goes on to allay some of the real concerns, i.e. the rigged advantage of “bear baiting” and prolonged and needless suffering, with an array of self-contradictions.

In one instance, we are led to believe bear baiting is nothing more than game play for the bear and hunter while the bear still manages to hold an unfair advantage. It would be easier, Barrett claims, to hunt the bear in an “unbaited’ environment where there would be no “red flags” to scare it away. This should be the new bear hunting policy in Maine.

And finally, we are told baiting is necessary to avoid the one in 300 unrecovered bears by ensuring a clean shot. So much for the bear having the unfair advantage.

Possibly the most incoherent angle of Barrett’s argument is an odd sandwich of anthropomorphism. We make the bear a knowing participant in the “game” while simultaneously denying the bear any humanlike feelings with regard to pain and suffering.

I guess we would all like to have it both ways as it makes it more like a video game, yet this is no game or even sport. It is rigged cruelty and detracts from all of Maine to let it continue like this.

Marc Rodrigue

Westbrook

State’s inland residents deserve protection, too

Can someone at the Maine DEP please answer a few basic questions about onshore industrial wind?

Why is it OK to put these 400-foot-tall Cuisinarts within 1,200 feet of residential dwellings, knowing that when they collapse they can throw parts up to half a mile?

Health issues are being caused by the sounds they produce, and property values are being degraded. The industrialization of our once-protected mountaintops and ridge lines threatens Maine’s wildlife, waters and communities, jeopardizes the billions of dollars that tourism brings into the state, and will raise electric rates and drive businesses and jobs out.

The highly subsidized, erratic and “proprietarily secret” amount of electricity these “farms” generate isn’t needed by Mainers, won’t wean us off foreign oil, and won’t shut down any existing power plants or reduce CO2 levels.

And last but not least, why are those proposed offshore wind farms going to be built “out of sight of land”? Could it be that well-heeled coastal residents are more important than us blue-collar workers in western Maine?

Some answers, please. We deserve them, even if we are regarded as second-class citizens. We pay taxes, too, and we love our mountains very much.

Penny Gray

Carthage

Many Mainers affected by federal wage freeze

Every day at Customs and Border Protection in Maine, we defend our borders and air and seaports from illegal entries, safeguard our trade and commerce, and protect our food, agriculture and democracy.

Yet our impact was ignored in President Obama’s proposal to freeze federal pay, which will result in the loss of effective, knowledgeable employees.

Consider that the modest 1.4 percent pay raise originally proposed by President Obama for 2011 is reflective of the average increase in wages for private-sector workers, who already make significantly more than federal employees in comparable jobs.

While negatively impacting vital public services, the pay freeze will have little federal deficit benefit. It is especially disheartening that the president would choose to freeze federal pay before dealing with more effective solutions.

Federal employees, like most Americans, have been negatively affected by the recession. They live paycheck to paycheck, face rising health care costs, and have spouses who have lost their jobs.

The fact is federal workers are not just faceless bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. We are hard-working public servants right here in Maine. We pay our taxes, send our children to Maine schools and contribute to the Maine economy. We are part of the community.

We choose public service with a sense of duty to this country and its citizens. Freezing our pay does little to solve our deficit problems, but will do much harm to hard-working, dedicated public servants.

Alan D. Mulherin

President, National Treasury Employees Union Chapter 141

Limestone

Federal health care law deserves careful look

I was struck by the irony of two stories in the Dec. 1 edition of The Portland Press Herald.

On the second page of the Local & State section, I read a heartening article concerning the recent forum called “National Health Care Reform: Leveraging Opportunities for Maine.” The conference was attended by hundreds of motivated and interested people, mostly from the health care sector in Maine, who are mobilizing efforts to improve care in their communities.

The forum focused on how the new federal law (sometimes referred to as “Obamacare” by its detractors) encourages preventive care and supports experimentation to create new, efficient and more effective payment systems.

Maine was recognized as having the potential to play an important role in shaping such reforms, and for being at the forefront of being able to take advantage of the Affordable Care Act.

But then two pages later I was chagrined to read that Maine’s attorney general designate opposes the federal health care law and would work to have Maine join other states that have filed legal challenges to it. I hope AG nominee William Schneider and Gov.-elect Paul LePage are paying attention to what is really happening in health care in Maine.

Terry Danowski

Cumberland