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Name-calling Has No Place in Debate Over Bear Initiative

By David Trahan

Critics of this fall’s referendum are as compassionate toward Maine’s wildlife as the measure’s supporters are.


I was saddened by the Sept. 21 Maine Voices column, “Animal protection measures have fallen victim to an unholy alliance,” by Robert Fisk Jr.

In a civil society we should be able to disagree without calling each other horrible names like “unholy.” His column is a diatribe of accusatory statements directed at the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Department, legislators and conservation groups like the one I lead in an attempt to persuade the public to mistrust anyone who opposes the upcoming bear referendum.

The word “unholy” is defined (Reverso, 2014_ as “corrupt, depraved, dishonest, evil, heinous, immoral, profane, ungodly, vile, wicked … .”

Are we to believe that some sophisticated conspiracy exists among the Legislature, biologists and the thousands of conservationists across this state to intentionally harm animals?

In my life, I’ve helped animal rehabilitation centers like Avian Haven secure a grant for their facility and volunteered to transport injured birds, I assisted another facility in Vassalboro to procure a thermal imaging camera to find injured and orphaned animals.

I donate to animal shelters, and one of my proudest moments was leading an effort in the Legislature to place special state protections on the bald eagle when it was delisted as an endangered species. I stop to move turtles out of the road, and I treat pets like family members. I don’t think my compassion is much different from that of the thousands of kind Maine people Mr. Fisk implicitly called “evil.”

Conservationists believe in using professional biologists and facts to manage our wildlife. Mr. Fisk wants to use emotion as the basis of wildlife policy, and that is likely the reason he is constantly rejected.

Question 1’s supporters are good at name calling and dividing our state. We must reject his tactics – we can debate without hate.


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