Sunday, September 28, 2014

Maine Gubernatorial Candidates: Please End Animal Cruelty

This November voters in Maine will vote on Question 1. Question 1 is a referendum that seeks to prohibit the use of traps, bait, and dogs to hunt bears. A similar referendum was rejected by voters in 2003. Supporters of Question 1 want to end "cruel and unsportsmanlike" practices, claiming they are unnecessary to control the bear population in Maine. Supporters of the initiative include the Humane Society of the United States, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and PETA. Maine is the only state in the USA that still allows baiting, trapping, and hounding of bears. You would think that banning such practices would be a no brainer. Think again.

Hunting in Maine is big business and restrictions on hunting are viewed with suspicion. Opponents of the measure (which include the National Rifle Association, the Maine AFL-CIO, and conservative activist/singer Ted Nugent) characterized the referendum as limiting the ability of wildlife professionals to manage bear populations. I've heard similar arguments made by Norwegians about whale hunting and Canadians on seal clubbing. Most of Maine's elected politicians and all three candidates for Governor also opposed Question 1, including the so-called progressive and independent candidate Eliot Cutler. You see, in Maine, very few politicians are willing to defy the rich and influential hunting lobby. 

This election, I will vote, but only on Question 1. I will abstain from voting for Governor. A candidate that fails to see the cruelty associated with trapping and baiting of animals is unworthy of my vote. 

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