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Guest Post: Maine Bear Hunting Referendum – A Call to Action

July 2, 2014

Editor's Note: David Trahan is the Executive Director of the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine and formerly served in the state legislature for 12 years. 

This fall Maine hunters will face a referendum vote that could ban hunting black bears with hounds, hunting them over bait, and trapping. In part, we're facing the vote because of a decision I made last year.

In May of 2013, five Humane Society of the United States employees, including their Washington D.C. liaison, summoned me and Don Kliener, head of the Maine Professional Guides Association, to an impromptu meeting just prior to a public hearing on legislation LD 1474. It was a bill to ban hounding and trapping of bears in Maine.

They delivered this ultimatum: “We have $3 million, and polling data that says we can win a bear referendum in Maine. If the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine will support LD 1474, HSUS will not submit a referendum to ban trapping and hounding. If the Alliance doesn’t support LD 1474, HSUS will add baiting to our bill, and go to referendum, and Mainers will likely lose baiting, hounding, and trapping.” 

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Guide to America's Public Land

Click on your state in the map below.

Find the top public-land destinations in your state, including:

  • Wildlife Refuges
  • State WMAs
  • National Forests
  • Fishing Access Sites

About Open Country

Hunters and anglers across the nation consistently list one challenge as their primary obstacle to spending more time in the field: Access.

Outdoor Life's Open Country program aims to tackle that issue head on and with boots on the ground. The program highlights volunteer-driven efforts to improve access along with habitat improvements to make existing public lands even better places to hunt and fish. The program's goal is to substantially increase sportsman's access across the country by promoting events that make a difference.

Here on Open Country's blog page, contributors take a close look at access issues across the country. Some are public-policy discussions, where we investigate the nuances of public access. In other blogs, we shine a light on attempts to turn public recreation opportunities into private hunting and fishing domains. In still other blogs, we interview decision makers about access issues. Together, we fight for the ability of America's hunters and anglers to have a place to swing a gun or wet a line.

We promise the discussion is always lively, interesting, and fresh, so visit this page frequently to tune into the latest access issue.

The Open Country program culminates in grants and awards with top projects and participants being honored.

Submit a project for the Open Country Grant Award.
Nominate an individual for the Open Country Award.

Open Country

  


 


Event Calendar

  • June 1: Red Oak Planting in Gwinn Forest Management Unit
  • June 7: Pinegrass Restoration, Willamette River (Eugene, OR REMF Chapter). Contact.
  • June 7-8: Lower Deschutes River Thistle Cut (OR Foundation for North American Wild Sheep and OR Fish and Wildlife). Contact.
  • June 13-15: Prairie City Aspen Habitat Enhancement (Oregon Hunters Association, Capitol Chapter) Contact: 503-399-1234
  • June 21: Smith Ridge Meadows (Eugene, OR Chapter RMEF). Contact.

  • June 18, 2014

    HSUS Petitions For Lead Ammo Ban on Public Lands-2

    by

    Our old friends at the Humane Society of the United States are at it again.

    This time the anti-hunting organization is looking to effectively shut down hunting on public land by eliminating the use of lead-based ammunition.

    This is a tactic that has been tried before and beaten back. The Center For Biological Diversity, another anti-hunting group, had its petition to the Environmental Protection Agency requesting a ban on lead-based ammunition twice rejected.

    Some states have also dealt with – and rejected – the notion of banning lead ammo. But one state has adopted a ban: California.

    But HSUS being HSUS, they figured they might as well give it another whack and have even developed a plan of attack for getting it done (See the HSUS Lead Free Campaign).

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • June 13, 2014

    Pigeon River Country Project Kicks Off Open Country Season-0

    by

    It was both symbolic and necessary.

    More than three dozen volunteers had gathered an impressive pile of barbed-wire fence and paused for a few photos at the end of a long but productive day.

    That fence was not only an eyesore and a potential hazard for those using this 640-acre tract of the Pigeon River Country in northern Michigan, it was also some of the last remnants of a barrier that no longer belongs.

    “This is public land and removing those fences – nearly two miles of it – felt pretty good,” said Drew YoungeDyke, grassroots manager for Michigan United Conservation Clubs. “It was a lot of work. But no one complained. This is what we came here to do.”

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • June 10, 2014

    Call To Action: Help Bring The Sportsmen's Act to a Vote-3

    by

    If you enjoy hunting and fishing public lands and waters in this fine country of ours, now is the time to make democracy work for you:

    We’ve received word that the Bi-Partisan Sportsmen’s Act (read about what's in the bill here) is number three on the roster for action on the Senate Floor. That means we need a little push from you. The American hunter and angler is needed to ensure that a vote comes up on this critical piece of legislation before Congress takes its August recess.

    Two people need to hear from you:

    Senator Harry Reid, Majority Floor Leader: Contact him here.

    Senator Mitch McConnell: Minority Floor Leader: Contact him here.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • June 6, 2014

    Congress Has Chance To Pass Critical Conservation Package, Again-0

    by

    Big legislative changes don’t often come along but, 50 years ago, two of them came along at the same time.

    In 2014, we celebrate the 50th anniversaries of the Wilderness Act as well as the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Both of these landmark legislative efforts have had a tremendous impact on conservation and the public lands where we hunt and fish. And both play a pivotal role in the Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act of 2014.

    The Sportsmen’s Act has a lot of moving parts which, when considered individually,  may seem inconsequential. The sum of all parts, however, is a powerful package that will ensure future generations can enjoy Open Country and public wildlife. So check out the details of the bill below and then contact your senator to help get this thing passed, finally.

    Here’s a few highlights of the bill:

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • April 3, 2014

    Dan Ashe Q&A: The USFWS Director On Wolves, The Future of Hunting, and Open Country-1

    by
    http://ak.c.ooyala.com/h3bHZubDozn2YD8eZtHgQEP5nj6IqOGU/QCdjB5HwFOTaWQ8X4xMDoxOjA4MTsiGN

    Dan Ashe is one of those guys you ought to know but probably don't.

    What makes the guy so special? Well, for starters he heads up the agency that controls about 307 million acres of publicly-owned lands, a good chunk of which is open to hunting and fishing.

    Yeah, bet that got your attention.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • April 1, 2014

    An Access Manifesto: Trading the Places You Have For the Opportunity You Lack-1

    by

    Spoilage. Remember that word from high school economics class? Spoilage refers to the goods or services we have but couldn’t or didn’t consume before they expired: the airplane that leaves the ground with empty seats or the hotel that lets a night pass with vacant rooms. It’s waste, like brown bananas in the produce aisle.

    The access problem in the outdoors is caused by spoilage, not a lack of acres. I propose we call the problem “Latent Access,” and that we get busy fixing it.

    “Access to quality hunting and fishing ground is the most significant challenge facing the future of hunting,” says Doug Saunders, VP of Marketing for the National Wild Turkey Federation. “Organizations like ours and government agencies can only do so much. The largest impact needs to come from private individuals sharing their access.”

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • March 25, 2014

    Expert: Landowners Seldom Legally Liable for Granting Free Recreational Access-0

    by

    Would private landowners grant hunting and fishing access more readily if they weren’t legally liable for the health and safety of their gun- and rod-wielding visitors?

    In discussions of expanding access around the country, you hear this a lot: that legal liability is a big impediment to recreational access. But a review of case law indicates that it’s almost always a non-issue.

    That’s the conclusion of Dr. Brett Wright, a professor of parks, recreation, and tourism management at Clemson University. He told attendees at last month’s North American Whitetail Summit that access for hunting remains a complex issue, but that liability exposure to landowners is more “myth than reality.”

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • March 19, 2014

    As New York Looks To Limit Landowner Liability, Access Could Get Easier-0

    by

    I have often wondered what the world was like before the days of the electronic media release.

    I suspect there was much of the same with one difference: The barrage of releases cluttered up actual mailboxes instead of those of the virtual variety.

    That said, there are times when one of those releases contains information I'm actually interested in. One such release made its way to my inbox from New York City (of all places).

    The release highlighted New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's list of proposed projects designed to increase and improve public access. But the item that caught my eye might not be the one that you’d expect.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • March 18, 2014

    President Obama’s Budget is a Mixed Bag for Outdoorsmen-0

    by

    The president recently unveiled his new budget for 2015. For hunters and anglers, it’s a good-news-bad-news scenario. Some things make perfect sense while others will leave you scratching your head.

    Either way, the president’s budget is a starting place, when it comes to protecting access and investing in America’s public lands.

    The Good
    LWCF:
    The president has included full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. LWCF helps pay for fishing access sites, boat ramps, and protecting key habitat, using royalties that oil companies pay for offshore oil drilling. LWCF has given American hunters and anglers some premier spots for chasing big game. Places like the Tenderfoot Acquisition in Montana, the Silvio E. Conte National Wildlife Refuge in New England, and inholdings in the Tahoe National Forest in California.

    [ Read Full Post ]
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