Maine Bear Hunting Ban Initiative, Question 1 (2014)

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Question 1
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Type:Indirect initiated state statute
Referred by:Citizens
Status:Defeated Defeatedd
2014 measures
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November 4
Question 1 Defeatedd
Question 2 Approveda
Question 3 Approveda
Question 4 Approveda
Question 5 Approveda
Question 6 Approveda
Question 7 Approveda
Local measures
The Maine Bear Hunting Ban Initiative, Question 1 was on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Maine as an indirect initiated state statute, where it was defeated. The measure, which was officially sponsored by the group Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting, asked voters whether or not certain practices of bear hunting, including use of bait, dogs and traps, should be prohibited.[1][2]

Election results

Below are the official, certified election results:

 Maine Question 1
Defeatedd No323,02453.41%
Yes 281,728 46.59%

Election results via: Maine Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions

Text of measure

Ballot title

The ballot question appeared as follows:[3]

Do you want to ban the use of bait, dogs or traps in bear hunting except to protect property, public safety, or for research?


Full text

The full text of the measure can be read here.[5]

Fiscal note

The fiscal note read as follows:[6]

Preliminary Fiscal Impact Statement
Minor cost increase - General Fund
No net revenue impact - General Fund

Correctional and Judicial Impact Statements

Establishes new Class E crimes. The number of new charges filed is expected to be insignificant. The collection of additional fines may increase General Fund revenue by minor amounts.

Fiscal Detail and Notes

This citizen initiative proposes to prohibit the use of dogs to hunt or pursue bear, the use of bait to hunt or attract bear and the setting of traps to hunt bear. Although these provisions may initially decrease certain license sales to the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, hunters currently using the methods prohibited here may choose to purchase licenses to hunt without these methods, mitigating any revenue loss from license sales. In addition, minor fine revenue from violations of the provisions would further offset any remaining decline in license sales. Overall no significant impact to General Fund revenue is anticipated. [4]


This measure would not have gone to the ballot if a legislative bill, LD 1474, sponsored by Rep. Denise Harlow (D-116), had been passed by the legislature. This bill sought to enact laws similar to those stipulated in the initiative. A similar measure appeared on the ballot and was defeated in the general election on November 2, 2004.[1]


Fair Bear Hunt: Yes on 1

The group Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting officially sponsored the measure. The Humane Society of the United States also supported the initiative and donated money to support the measure. Supporters were confident that the 2014 measure would fare better than its decade-old predecessor. Katie Hansberry, campaign director for Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting, said, "This is an issue that is still important to Mainers all around the state. Baiting bears is a problematic and reckless practice." Supporters of the measure argued that certain methods used to lure and hunt bears are inhumane.[1][7]




  • Wildlife Alliance of Maine[8]
  • Coastal Humane Society
  • Animal Refuge League
  • The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
  • Spay Maine
  • Humane Society Legislative Fund
  • Maine Friends of Animals
  • In Defense of Animals
  • Animal Welfare Society
  • Big Wildlife
  • Project Coyote
  • The Humane Society of the United States
  • International Fund for Animal Welfare
  • Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association
  • Born Free USA
  • Red Rover
  • SPCA of Hancock County
  • Great Bear Foundation
  • The Ark Animal Shelter
  • Halfway Home Pet Rescue
  • Underhound Railroad Rescue
  • Endangered Species Coalition
  • Another Chance Animal Rescue
  • GreenWays Center for Environment and Community
  • The Maine POM Project
  • Maine Citizens Against Puppy Mills
  • Kennebec Valley Humane Society
  • Maine Animal Coalition
  • Fur & Feathers Animal Rescue
  • Citizens Opposing Active Sonar Threats (COAST)
  • Living with Wildlife Foundation
  • Environmental Action
  • Justice For Wolves
  • Southwest Harbor Animal Welfare Shelter
  • Paw It Forward Foundation
  • Institute for Humane Education
  • Blixx Horses
  • Somerset County Animal Shelter
  • Center for Wildlife Ethics
  • Peace Ridge Sanctuary, Penobscot, ME
  • Animal Legal Defense Fund
  • Voice For Animals, Harrison, ME


Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting listed the following on their website as arguments in favor of Question 1:[8]

  • Baiting hooks bears on human junk food in order to lure them in for an easy trophy kill.
  • Even the opposition's numbers show baiting isn't working: the bear population has grown in Maine by 253% since 1975, when baiting became popular.
  • In Maine, baiting hasn't stabilized the bear population -- it's grown by 30% since 2004. Meanwhile, other states have taken the lead and enacted less cruel, more effective methods of stabilization.
  • Washington, Colorado, and Oregon have proven that since prohibiting baiting and hounding 20 years ago, bear populations have actually stabilized. We need to follow their lead in Maine, not continue to shun science.
  • Bear trapping is so cruel that Maine is the very last state in the country to still allow this practice. A bear’s instinct is to break free from foot snare traps, which can lead to extensive injuries to the animals. Trappers have even reported bears chewing off their own paws to free themselves. Since these traps must be checked only once per day, the bear could be suffering for hours in excruciating pain.
  • Mother bears are particularly vulnerable to baiting. When they are killed, they leave behind orphaned cubs that are frequently unable to survive on their own.
  • Bear hounding uses high-tech, unsporting equipment. There is nothing "natural" or "traditional" about packs of dogs outfitted with GPS devices forced to run down bears. Dogs trap bears in trees, allowing houndsmen to follow a GPS signal with a handheld computer to find the frightened and exhausted bear and shoot them off tree limbs at point-blank range.
  • After gaining their trust by luring them day after day to barrels full of donuts, bears are then shot at close range for an easy trophy kill.
  • Only 12% of bears killed in Maine are taken via hounding -- where packs of trained dogs fitted with GPS collars allow houndsmen to remotely follow the dogs' movement for miles on computer screens. Hounds trap the bears in trees, allowing the houndsmen to follow their GPS for easy kills at short range.
  • Baiting unnaturally concentrates bears, which leads to older males preying on cubs.
  • Hounding pits dogs against bears. If a bear is unable to escape up a tree, in exhaustion, the bear may turn and face the pack. This confrontation can result in serious or fatal injuries to either species.
  • Bear hounding, baiting, and trapping does not reflect traditional Maine hunting values. Traditional hunters prefer a fair chase during the hunt. There is no sport in using traps, bait, or packs of dogs equipped with radio collars or GPS transmitters to kill a bear. That is not hunting. Instead, it is shooting animals for a trophy and that is not the Maine way.
  • Dumping 6 million pounds of junk food into the woods, luring bears to specific sites, and then shooting them at close range has no fair chase element involved -- it isn't hunting.
  • According to Tom Beck, retired bear biologist, prohibiting baiting fosters more effective hunting techniques:

"I don't believe anyone who says you can't hunt bears in the fall when they're on berries or nuts. You can predict where they're going to be, and if you're a woodsman, all you have to do is scout those places. After we prohibited baiting, it took only two years for our hunters to get to the point where they were killing more bears than they were before."

  • Using hounds pits exhausted bears against packs of hound dogs, resulting in injuries or mortality to both the bears and the dogs.


The League of Women Voters of Maine published a nonpartisan voter's guide featuring arguments for and against the measures. Arguments for the measure include:[9]

  • Using bait, dogs, or traps to hunt is not a sport. Bears do not have a fair chance to escape.
  • Feeding bears junk food as bait causes their numbers to grow.
  • Feeding bears human food makes them less afraid of humans and more likely to approach homes in search of human food.
  • Bears can hurt dogs when they fight back.
  • Maine is the only state that allows bear trapping.
  • A bear can remain in a trap for more than 24 hours before the hunter arrives to kill it.
  • Maine people will still be able to hunt bears with bows and guns.[4]

—League of Women Voters of Maine

Campaign contributions

The group Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting raised a total of $1,760,296 in support of the measure, as of October 21, 2014.[10]

Total campaign cash Campaign Finance Ballotpedia.png
as of October 21, 2014
Category:Ballot measure endorsements Support: $1,760,296
Circle thumbs down.png Opposition: $2,351,740

PAC info:

PAC Amount raised Amount spent
Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting $1,760,296 $2,094,519
Total $1,760,296 $2,094,519

Top contributors:

Donor Amount
Humane Society of the United States $1,910,000
Humane Society Legislative Fund $638,760


Maine Wildlife Conservation Council: No on 1

The group, Save Maine’s Bear Hunt, came out as one of the measure's main opponents. David Trahan, executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and a member of Save Maine's Bear Hunt, refuted Hansberry's statement. He and his fellow opponents believe that bear hunting is an important part of the state's economy and think bear populations should continue to be managed by biologists at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.[7]




  • Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine – SAM[11]
  • United States Sportsman’s Alliance
  • Maine Professional Guides Association
  • Maine Bowhunter’s Association
  • Maine Trapper’s Association MTA
  • National Rifle Association NRA
  • IAMAW District Lodge #4
  • Maine Farm Bureau
  • Safari Club International
  • Maine Chapter Maine Forest Products Council
  • Downeast Houndsmen
  • Maine Sporting Dogs Association
  • Maine Snowmobile Association
  • Maine State Council of Machinists
  • Maine Council AFL-CIO
  • Pine Tree Coon Cat and Bear Association
  • North Maine Woods
  • Virginia Bear Hunters Association
  • Federation of Maine Dog Clubs and Responsible Owners
  • Maine Tourism Association
  • Maine Woods Coalition
  • Wisconsin Bear Hunter's Association
  • Maine Sporting Camp Association
  • National Wild Turkey Federation
  • Vermont Bear Hound Association
  • Northern Maine Development Commission
  • Pennsylvania Trappers Association
  • Vermont Trappers Association
  • Presque Isle Fish and Game Club
  • Penobscot Long Rifles
  • Penobscot County Conservation Association
  • Phippsburg Sportsmen's Association
  • Wiscasset Rod and Gun Club
  • Durham Rod and Gun Club
  • North Berwick Rod and Gun Club
  • Black Bear Rod and Gun Club
  • Falmouth Rod and Gun Club
  • Bucks Mills Rod and Gun Club
  • Norway-Paris Fish and Game Association
  • Wilton Fish and Game Club
  • Rangeley Region Guides and Sportsmen's Association
  • New London/Windham County League of Sportsman's Clubs
  • Lamoille Valley Fish and Game Club
  • Royal River Rod and Gun Club
  • Maine Elver Fisherman Association
  • The Alewife Harvesters of Maine
  • York County Fish and Game Club
  • Sullivan County Sportsmen
  • Fryeburg Fish and Game Association
  • Skowhegan Sportsman's Club
  • Barre Fish and Game Club
  • Pointer Fish and Game Club
  • Vermont Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs
  • New Hampshire Wildlife Federation
  • Windham-Gorham Rod and Gun Club
  • Northern York County Rod and Gun Club
  • Pinnacle Mountain Fish and Game Club
  • Winnipesaukee Sportsmen's Club
  • Warner Fish and Game Club
  • Boggestowe Fish and Game Club
  • Old #4 Rod Gun and Snowmobile Club
  • Belknap County Sportsmen's Association
  • Massachusetts Chapter NWTF
  • WV Bear Hunters Association
  • Kezar Falls Fish and Game Association
  • South Berwick Rod and Gun Association
  • Lisbon Fish and Game Association
  • Greencastle Sportsman's Club
  • Pine Tree Rod and Gun Club
  • Kinnicum Fish and Game Club
  • SCI New York Metro
  • Cobbosseecontee Snowmobile Club
  • Victory Sportsmen's Club
  • Stump Jumpers
  • SCI New Hampshire Chapter
  • NH Bear Hunters Association
  • SCI NY Tri-State Chapter
  • Randolph Fish and Game Club
  • Pomfret Sportsman's Club
  • Redfield Fish and Game Club
  • Vermont Bowhunter's Association
  • Androscoggin County Fish and Game Assoc.
  • West Virginia Bowhunters Association
  • National Shooting Sports Foundation


The League of Women Voters of Maine published a nonpartisan voter's guide featuring arguments for and against the measures. Arguments against the measure included:[9]

  • Banning the use of bait, dogs, or traps in bear hunting would discourage hunters from visiting Maine. Maine people would lose business and jobs.
  • The number of bears in Maine has grown by 67 percent (2/3) since 1990.
  • Hundreds of people complain about bears every year, so we need to keep their population in check.
  • Hunters already kill too few bears every year to keep the population steady.
  • The bear population would grow even more without the use of bait, dogs, or traps in hunting.[4]

—League of Women Voters of Maine

Campaign contributions

The group Maine Wildlife Conservation Council raised a total of $2,351,740 as of October 21, 2014, in opposition to the measure.[12]

PAC info:

PAC Amount raised Amount spent
Maine Wildlife Conservation Council $2,351,740 $1,919,924
Total $2,351,740 $1,919,924

Top contributors:

Donor Amount
James Harris $381,000
Friends of Maine Sportsmen $140,846
U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance $125,000
Maine Professional Guides $111,278

Media editorial positions

See also: Endorsements of Maine ballot measures, 2014


  • The Bangor Daily News said,
Maine has the largest — and most studied — black bear population in the eastern U.S. And, because most bears live where the human population is sparse, there are few conflicts between the two. This balance would be disrupted by ending the state’s bear hunt as we know it, which Question 1 would do. Voters should reject this referendum, put on the Nov. 4 ballot by Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting and the Humane Society of the United States, which is on a national campaign to limit hunting.[4]

Bangor Daily News, [13]

  • The Portland Press Herald said,
The referendum has roused deep reactions from Mainers who are offended by hunting practices that seem unfair and brutal. Unfortunately, these concerns were raised 10 years ago when this referendum was first put before Maine voters. Since then, several legislatures have avoided addressing this complicated, emotional issue, which is why it’s on the ballot again this year.

That’s not a good enough reason to pass this overbroad initiative. Mainers should vote no on Question 1, and then push their legislators to do their jobs and create a balanced wildlife management plan for the state.[4]

Portland Press Herald, [14]


Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting filed a lawsuit against the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IF&W) over its role in ads in opposition of Question 1. The lawsuit was filed in Superior Court in Portland and challenged the legality of the ads, claiming that IF&W misused public funds and taxpayer money to advocate for one side of the issue.[15]

A spokesperson for the Maine Attorney General's Office released a written statement saying:

We will defend the right of members of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and other public officials to speak out on issues of public interest within their regulatory authority and expertise, as permitted by recent case law.


In addition to the ads, the lawsuit highlighted private fundraisers attended by IF&W employees where Commissioner Chandler Woodcock urged the defeat of Question 1. The lawsuit also challenged IF&W's withholding of government records around its own campaign activities.[16]

Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting filed an emergency injunction against IF&W on October 8, 2014, to prevent employees of IF&W from using taxpayer resources to oppose Question 1. The group said the request was necessary because the state bear biologists and game wardens had not ended their campaign against the measure and had not responded to a Freedom of Access request about their campaign activities. As of October 9, 2014, a hearing on the injunction had not been scheduled.[17]

In response to the emergency injunction, IF&W announced that it would expend no "additional funds or resources" to create new videos or visual media projects relating to the measure. The organization also admitted that while "biologists and game wardens shown in the advertisements may have appeared during work further expenditures on the part of (DIF&W) would be incurred."[18]

On October 22, 2014, Justice Joyce Wheeler refused to issue the requested emergency injunction, saying that Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting did not demonstrate that the opposition expressed by IF&W caused "irreparable injury" and that the views of the department's employees were protected under the First Amendment. While Justice Wheeler ruled in their favor, she ordered IF&W to disclose records concerning its political activities. No appeal was filed.[19][20]


See also: Polls, 2014 ballot measures
Maine Question 1 (2014)
Poll Support OpposeUndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
University of New Hampshire Survey Center
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing ballot measures in Maine

Supporters of the measure were required to submit at least 57,277 valid signatures by February 3, 2014. Supporters claimed they submitted 78,528 signatures by the prescribed deadline. The secretary of state had one month to certify that the minimum number of signatures were valid. Ultimately, the secretary of state's office confirmed that 63,626 signatures, out of the 78,528 submitted, were valid. On March 18, 2014, the secretary of state transmitted the initiated legislation to the legislature. Members of the House and Senate had the option of enacting the measure into law, without amendment, or sending the question to the voters for a final determination. The legislature's choice to not enact the measure placed the question on the November 4th ballot.[7][21][22]

Related measures

See also

Suggest a link


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 George's Outdoor News, "New bear referendum coming in 2014," May 6, 2013
  2. Associated Press, "Bear baiting opponents collect 78,528 signatures, aims for referendum in Maine," February 4, 2014
  3. Maine Secretary of State, "2014 Referendum Election," accessed September 15, 2014
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  5. Maine Legislature, "Legislative Document No. 1845," March 25, 2014
  6. Maine Legislature, "LD 1845 Fiscal Impact Statement," May 23, 2014
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Portland Press Herald, "Bear baiting question may be back on Maine ballot," February 4, 2014
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting website, accessed October 29, 2014
  9. 9.0 9.1 League of Women Voters of Maine Voters Guide, "BALLOT QUESTION 1: Citizen Initiative," accessed November 2, 2014
  10. Candidate/Committee Information, "Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting," accessed November 2, 2014
  11. 11.0 11.1 Save Maine's Bear Hunt website, accessed October 29, 2014
  12. Candidate/Committee Information, "MAINE WILDLIFE CONSERVATION COUNCIL BQC," accessed November 2, 2014
  13. Bangor Daily News, "No on Question 1: The facts are on the side of baiting," October 17, 2014
  14. Portland Press Herald, "Our View: Bear-baiting case not made: We say 'no' on Questions 1," October 19, 2014
  15. Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting, "Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting v. Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife," accessed October 20, 2014
  16. MPBN News, "Group Sues over Maine Wildlife Department's Role in Bear Hunting Campaign," September 30, 2014
  17. MPBN News, "Group Seeks Emergency Intervention in Bear Hunting Referendum Lawsuit," October 8, 2014
  18. Bangor Daily News, "Maine wildlife department halts use of state money to campaign against Question 1," October 17, 2014
  19. WABI TV, "DIW Allowed to Campaign for Question One," October 23, 2014
  20. Portland Press Herald, "Judge says Maine wildlife officials allowed to oppose bear-hunt restrictions," October 22, 2014
  21. Portland Press Herald, "Maine bid to outlaw bear baiting will be in national spotlight," March 11, 2014
  22. Maine Secretary of State, "Secretary of State Matt Dunlap Releases for Public Comment the Proposed Ballot Question for the Bear Hunting Citizen Initiative," May 16, 2014