Bear study long overdue
To the Editor;
I think the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife canceled a request for proposals to conduct a scheduled study on the impact of human food (including baiting) on Maine’s bear population because they didn’t want to hear the results and make them public. The study RFP was cancelled for a litany of flimsy excuses, even though it has been long overdue.
Similar studies in states like Wisconsin have revealed that bear density in areas where baiting is allowed can be as much as twice as high as in areas where it is more restricted. Maine’s population has increased over the past fifteen years and the most popular way to hunt bears is over bait.
A comparison of locations where large numbers of bears are taken (mostly in the unorganized townships) and locations with a great number of registered bait sites overlap quite closely – producing large numbers of bears year after year. On the other hand, in regions where little or no baiting occurs, few or no bears are taken, sometimes for years, even though bears are present and incidents of serious human/bear conflicts fortunately are still rare.
It is the responsibility of the department to manage the state’s wildlife resources, by using the best science to benefit public priorities and safety, the wildlife, as well as sportsmen. And this requires conducting actual studies to get relevant data.