Maine’s black bear population was between 21,000 and 23,000 in 2000, but since 2005 it has grown to more than 35,000, according to state biologists. Press Herald file photo

A petition that would have eliminated bear baiting in Maine by 2029 was unanimously voted down on Thursday by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Advisory Council. The council, which establishes fishing and hunting rules, voted 7-0 that the proposed rule ought not to pass.

No one from the public commented on the failed petition – and few commented on two other petitions regarding hunting laws that were introduced Thursday by DIF&W Commissioner Judy Camuso.

One petition that proposed restricting coyote hunting, such as with a bag limit and a shorter season, and eliminating predator-hunting contests will be heard by DIF&W biologists in a virtual public hearing on Oct. 6. A second petition that would end the trapping of coyotes will be heard by the department in a virtual public hearing on Oct. 7.

Camuso said all three petitions regarding Maine hunting laws were submitted by John Glowa of China, who did not comment during Thursday’s meeting.

The bear-baiting petition brought back into the public eye a 20-year-old debate. In 2004, a referendum aimed at ending the three common bear-hunting practices used in Maine – the use of bait, dogs and traps – was defeated at the polls by a margin of 53 percent to 47 percent. Then in 2014, a similar referendum was defeated 52 percent to 48 percent.

In a virtual public hearing on the bear-baiting petition held July 8, 13 people testified against the bear-hunting petition that sought to end the use of baiting, and four supported it, including Glowa.

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