Bill Nemitz wrote in his March 23 column (“Big hole in the bear-bait debate”) that he’d been invited by James Cote, campaign manager for the Maine Wildlife Conservation Council/Save Maine’s Bear Hunt, to join him on a bear den visit with officials from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
What he saw were cubs that weren’t harmed. And the IFW folks got to pose for some cute pictures that had nothing to do with this fall’s bear referendum, except that when these creatures grow up, they will be ambushed and killed over bait, shot out of trees after being hounded to exhaustion or executed at point-blank range while caught in a trap.
It’s not pretty, but that’s what happens, and that’s what they won’t show you.
Oddly enough, the organization that Mr. Cote belongs to has the same address as The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine – 205 Church Hill Road in Augusta.
Lest there be any doubt about where the council stands, its website lists the Maine Trappers Association, Safari Club International, Downeast Houndsmen, Pine Tree Coon Cat & Bear Hunters, the National Rifle Association and the Virginia Bear Hunters Association among its supporting organizations.
Mr. Cote apparently used his association with IFW to garner the invitation. That’s not surprising, because there are very close ties between IFW employees, pro-hunting organizations, and even the IFW legislative committee, resulting in blurred lines between these seemingly separate entities.
Even the state biologist quoted in Nemitz’s column is a registered Maine Guide. The public should be aware that the cozy relationship between hunters, guides and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will be a powerful behind-the-scenes factor as the question of how bears will be treated is decided next November.