Voters to Decide Future of Bear Hunting in Maine

By Patrick Whittle, The Associated Press

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine's bear hunt would change dramatically if voters approve an initiative that would ban sportsmen from hunting the animals with the use of bait, dogs and traps.

A fierce debate on the three hunting methods has raged in the state for months, frequently pitting hunters against animal rights advocates. Residents vote Tuesday on a statewide ballot initiative concerning the hunting methods. Hunting without the methods would remain legal if the measure passes.

Bait is typically sugary human food such as doughnuts and is by far the most common of the three methods. Bait accounts for about four-fifths of the state's bear hunt.

Maine's bear population of 30,000 is up about 30 percent from 10 years ago. State wildlife officials say the hunting methods are needed to control the population.