Maine voters rejected Question 1, a ballot initiative to ban sportsmen's use of bait, hounds, and traps. If passed it would have negatively affected Maine hunters and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife's ability to manage the states black bear population. But the vote was really about more than just bear hunting methods, said the Boone and Crockett Club today.
"We're living in a time when conservation and wildlife management are being challenged and the motives are not always what's best for wildlife or people," said Boone and Crockett Club President Bill Demmer. "Somewhere along the way we have lost the meaning of what conservation is and the full measure of its benefits. It has always meant wise and prudent use without waste. As Theodore Roosevelt once said, it means development as much as it does protection."
Proponents of Question 1 went all in, making all sorts of far-reaching and false claims in a well-funded campaign to sway Maine voters to vote against the successful track record of state wildlife management authority.
I commend Maine voters for seeing the forest from the trees, but our wildlife is not out of the woods yet," said Demmer.
People want wildlife, but are finding it increasingly difficult to know how to live with it. Some want to share space with bears, mountain lions, wolves and other predators. Some don't because they've seen the consequences. Some live where they don't have to make that choice, and others don't want to see wildlife managed or game killed by hunters. Those who make a living opposing hunting are capitalizing on this public unrest and uncertainty, if not creating it.
It's increasingly clear a gap exists between an emotional attachment to wildlife and what's best in the end for people and wildlife.
"I believe Roosevelt had it right and I would hope that more people would understand how conservation actually means some trees need to be cut, some habitats need to be developed, some natural systems preserved, and some wildlife needs to be managed by all best practices available, including hunting," explained Demmer. "If we can get there, we'll be doing what is best for the environment, wildlife and ourselves."