Maine Prohibiting Certain Bear Hunting Practices, Question 2 (2004)

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The Maine Prohibiting Certain Bear Hunting Practices Initiative, also known as Question 2, was on the November 2, 2004 ballot in Maine as an indirect initiated state statute, where it was defeated. The measure would have criminalized bear hunting with bait, traps or dogs, except to protect property, public safety or for research. Violations of the prohibitions would have been a Class D crime for a first offense and the offenders hunting license would have been suspended for at least 5 years. A second or subsequent offense would have been be a Class C crime and would have lead to permanent revocation of the offenders hunting license.[1][2]

Election results

Maine Question 2 (2004)
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No389,45553.08%
Yes 344,322 46.92%

Election results via: Maine Secretary of State, Elections Division: Referendum Election Tabulations, November 2, 2004

Text of measure

The language appeared on the ballot as:[1]

Question 2: Citizen Initiative

Do you want to make it a crime to hunt bears with bait, traps or dogs, except to protect property, public safety or for research? [3]

Summary

The following description of the intent and content of this ballot measure was provided in the Maine Citizen's Guide to the Referendum Election:

This citizen-initiated legislation would amend the laws pertaining to hunting of bear in Maine to prohibit certain practices which are currently regulated under Maine law. The amendments, if enacted, would prohibit hunters from using food as bait to attract or to hunt bear, using a dog or dogs to hunt or pursue bear, or setting a trap to hunt or capture bear. Violation of any of these new prohibitions would constitute a class D crime for the first offense, leading to a suspension of the person's hunting license for at least 5 years if convicted. A second or subsequent offense would be a class C crime and would lead to permanent revocation of the person's hunting license if convicted.

Exceptions to these prohibitions would allow bait, dogs or traps to be used by state or federal employees, acting in their official capacity, to attract or pursue a bear for the purposes of protecting livestock, domestic animals, threatened or endangered wildlife, public or private property, or public safety. Additional exceptions would allow an accredited university acting pursuant to a permit granted by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, or the Department acting on its own, to use these techniques for scientific or research purposes but not for the purpose of killing bear. Owners or operators of commercial timberland with a permit from the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife would be allowed to use bait at a feeding station for bear in order to prevent damage to their commercial timberland, but not for the purpose of killing bear.

A “YES” vote approves the initiated legislation.
A “NO” vote disapproves the initiated legislation.

[3]

Maine Secretary of State, [1]

Supporters

"Bear Hunting," a 1736 painting by Louis-Michel van Loo. The artwork depicts hunting bears with dogs, a practice that would have been made illegal in Maine if this initiative had passed
  • Main Citizens for Fair Bear Hunting
  • Hunters for Fair Bear Hunting

One of the groups supporting the initiative was Maine Citizens for Fair Bear Hunting, which raised $1,286,375 for its campaign.[4]

Donors to the group included:

Another organization, Hunters for Fair Bear Hunting, raised $12,793 in support of the measure.[5]

Opponents

  • Maine Fish & Wildlife Conservation Council
  • Sportsman Alliance of Maine PAC (SAM)
  • The Maine Professional Guides Association

The primary opposition to the initiative came from the Maine Fish and Wildlife Conservation Council. They spent $1,743,625.[6] A PAC, Sportsman Alliance of Maine (SAM), also opposed the measure. It raised $209,435.[7] The Maine Professional Guides Association, the Maine Trappers Association and other supporting sporting groups partnered with SAM.[8]

Path to the ballot

See also: Signature requirements for ballot measures in Maine and Laws governing the initiative process in Maine

A total of 97,622 petition signatures were submitted to put "An Act Prohibiting Certain Bear Hunting Practices" before the state legislature. The secretary of state certified the measure. On April 30, 2004, the legislature adjourned without enacting the measure. Governor John Elias Baldacci, therefore, proclaimed on May 10, 2004, that the measure would be referred to the people at the November election.[1]

See also

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