Much is being debated about the upcoming bear referendum. Notions like “barbaric, not fair chase, trophy killing, unsportsman-like, unfair practices, ethical hunting, irresponsible bear management practices, cruel and inhumane” are being spoken and written.

It is evident to me that this noise is coming from those who have little understanding of bears, the Maine woods and hunting ethics. My perspective is that of a lifelong hunter who has spent countless thousands of hours in the Maine woods from Kittery to Allagash. When I speak of the Maine woods, I am not speaking of worn-out hiking trails, but of terrain where a GPS, compass and topographical maps are a necessity. In my wanderings, I have met a dozen plus bears. In almost every instance, I have witnessed a black blur running into the thick stuff. As an ethical, responsible and safety-minded hunter, I would never attempt a shot at such a target. Chances of a cruel and inhumane wound are far too great!

On the other hand, the three current methods of bear hunting ”“ baiting, running hounds and trapping ”“ all offer the hunter ethical and humane choices. Each method is selective in nature and allows the hunter to judge the maturity, sex and if a female has cubs in tow. Each method allows the hunter a stationary, close and well-placed shot, and a quick, humane dispatch if he or she chooses. One could also just enjoy the show of this amazing, powerful beast, as I have done while watching a bait site.

The type of snare trap used today is commonly used to catch and release problem bears, unharmed. Some argue that using hounds is inhumane to the dogs. Anyone who has ever witnessed dogs trained to hunt bears, bobcat, coons, birds or rabbit, will tell you these dogs shiver with excitement prior to the hunt. They are living a dog’s dream and are well cared for. I have confidence in Maine’s Dept. of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and today’s hunting methods. This is simply about anti-hunting, nothing more. Maine’s bear management goals and northern economy will face huge problems if this referendum passes. A “no” vote will ensure good management of this resource into the future. and the protection of Maine’s hunting heritage.

David Ganter, Biddeford