The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife paid more than $6,000 to a Westbrook Web-design company for work done on Web pages and PowerPoint presentations opposing a statewide ban on bear hunting with bait, traps and dogs, according to department emails.

Invoices from the design company were obtained by the Mainers For Fair Bear Hunting, proponents of the ballot measure, this week after a judge ordered IFW to release emails related to the referendum.

Katie Hansberry, director of the group, contends this is a misuse of public money because it was spent to influence the outcome of a statewide referendum.

Question 1 will ask voters on the Nov. 4 ballot: “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 has actively voiced its opposition to the referendum.

On Thursday, the Fair Bear Hunting group released IFW emails that showed two receipts totaling $6,600 from Erica Johnson Design in Westbrook for work done on material for the bear referendum.

The invoices showed $1,500 was paid for the design of four Web pages delivering messages on the referendum; $3,100 for “web hosting” for five months; $800 was paid for the design of eight slides in a bear referendum PowerPoint presentation; and $1,200 for the design and development of a “PowerPoint presentation with a focus on the opposition audience.”

“Whether or not it is legal, it is wrong and a misuse of public funds and the public trust for a state agency to spend this kind of money in an attempt to influence a statewide election,” Hansberry said.

In the fiscal year that began July 1, IFW received 7 percent of its funding from the state’s General Fund. Fifty-six percent of the department’s $38 million annual budget came from hunting and fishing licenses and outdoor sporting fees, while the rest came from the federal government (25 percent), and special revenue like conservation license plates (12 percent).

“(IFW) is an agency with close ties to the bear-baiting industry, financially conflicted because of the fees that go to the agency, and with personnel emotionally and personally invested in continuing these unsporting and inhumane practices,” Hansberry said.

The judge, Cumberland County Superior Court Justice Joyce Wheeler, ruled Wednesday that IFW employees may campaign on the bear-hunting referendum because their free speech is protected under the First Amendment. In addition, she ruled that the Mainers For Fair Bear Hunting, who sought an injunction aimed at stopping IFW from campaigning, failed to demonstrate the department’s opposition to Question 1 caused “irreparable injury.”

Commissioner Chandler Woodcock and department spokesman Mark Latti could not be reached for comment late Thursday. Johnson, the designer, and Wildlife Division Director Judy Camuso did not return calls seeking comment.