By Frank Connolly
I find it hard to just sit back and remain silent when there’s a threat to anything that will cost me, my family and friends the right to enjoy the outdoor gifts we now enjoy.
Though I am a flatlander — I moved to Maine from Massachusetts in 1975 — I have had a long career in the Maine outdoors. After obtaining my Maine Guide license and pilot’s license in 1978 and 1979, I started Caribou Outfitters and guided river trips on the Allagash and St. John rivers.
Having a remote camp in T11 R8 near Round Mountain in Aroostook County, I also have guided out-of-state hunters on moose hunts. And in the last few years, I have begun to guide bear hunts.
My point is that I have been involved in guiding and working for myself and others and know how much the vote on Question 1, which would ban bear baiting, hounding and trapping, would cost all of us.
Take this example: I recently worked the week guiding two Pennsylvania hunters, a father and son team who had to employ a Maine Guide because they were hunting using dogs. This was their first trip to Maine, and they booked the hunt fearing they wouldn’t be able to hunt bears with dogs or over bait in the future if the “yes” vote was successful in November.
Both hunters were successful harvesting a bear. It really was not easy, but great hounds, long hikes, great country and good luck were with us. The Maine bear population is healthy and managed by professional, dedicated people who know the allowable number of bears that can be harvested.
For this one-week hunt, the owner of the camp where these two hunters stayed had to hire a second person to help with the dogs and logistics, another person in the kitchen and a guide. For that, he collected fees from the hunters for their stay.
On their way to camp, the hunters stopped in Scarborough at Cabela’s to pick up licenses and outdoor clothing, at L.L.Bean where they completed their Christmas shopping and Two Rivers Canoe in Medway. Add in meal stops and gas along the way.
Before even getting to camp, these hunters have left more than a couple of dollars in Maine. Then, after a successful hunt and tagging their bears at Abol Bridge in Millinocket, they brought the hides and skulls to Proudlove’s Taxidermy in Enfield. Although it will be a year before they get their mounts back, both plan on returning to enjoy some spring fishing.
Why would anyone vote to stop a tradition that is managed by professionals and provides business income, jobs and the experience of a lifetime to people who enjoy our state.
It’s really an easy choice for me. After living in Maine for almost 40 years, I’m still a flatlander, but I have spent many hours in our northern Maine woods, and I don’t want anyone from outside our state to call the shots for me, my family and friends.
Voting no is a vote of confidence in the professionals who watch over our fish and wildlife. I trust that they care as much for our wildlife as much as I do.
Let’s maintain what we have and vote with the professionals who maintain our wildlife, along with the businesses, guides, outfitters, camp cooks and support staff who benefit from our bear hunting tradition.
We all benefit from our natural resources.