Several sightings of a black bear in Waterville have been reported recently. Though it's not a daily occurrence, black bear sightings aren't unusual and, in fact, are on the increase.

According to records, nuisance bear complaints amount to about 500 a year which, officials say, is up by about a hundred over ten years.

Even as the population of bears is increasing, Mainers will be asked in November to vote on an issue which, if passed, would ban the use of bait, dogs and traps when hunting the animals.

Maine has done well managing its wildlife and makes a lot of money from the bear hunts. And NO, the money derived from the sport does not trump the need preserve Maine's bear population. It just so happens that it's a win/win. Without the hunt, the bear population would be completely out of control and Maine would lose a lot of needed revenue (as hunters will just not come if baiting is discontinued).

Even if the current number of hunters came in spite of the ban on baiting (which they wouldn't), the number of bears taken would be way down as these creatures tend to hide out in Maine's rough terrain and will only come out to eat (thus the bait).

Tell the out-of-state money funding this referendum that Maine knows best how to handle its wildlife management. They're making inroads by preying on the emotions of people who know nothing about bear population management, hunting or baiting. I encourage you to vote to keep Maine's bear hunting laws as they are, allowing baiting, hounding and trapping.

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