Other States That Banned Bait and Dogs
From 1993-1996, Colorado, Oregon,
Washington, and Massachusetts each
passed referendums to ban the use of
bait and dogs by bear hunters.
Consequently their bear populations have increased, often dramatically. Reports from these states say bears are raiding backyard bird feeders and garbage cans, and showing up on city streets and suburban roads, greatly increasing the chances of conflict. The number of bears killed to prevent property damage or protect public safety has increased. Bear/human conflicts have become more common, and more severe; some bear attacks have been fatal, or involved serious mauling.

● In Oregon, bear numbers have increased by over 40%. Over 300 bears are killed annually in response to conflicts, and landowners can kill bears with bait or dogs in unlimited numbers, without a permit, to prevent property damage. (If Question 1 passes, this will NOT be allowed in Maine.) Oregon has seen several bills introduced to restore the now-banned methods included in the Maine referendum.

● In Oregon and Washington, bears cause an estimated $16 million in damage annually to the timber industry.

Washington wildlife offices receive hundreds of black bear complaints each year regarding urban sightings, property damage, attacks on livestock, and bear/human confrontations. State officials say, “Black bears are the most common source of potentially dangerous complaints.”

● In Colorado, despite lengthening bear seasons, including adding a spring season, and despite making licenses more available, bear numbers have increased dramatically; a recent 2014 bear census showed twice as many bears, or a 100% increase, over previous estimates. Over 400 bears are killed annually in response to conflicts.

● In Colorado, occupied home entries by bears are so common that one county has banned levered door handles on new houses because bears have learned to open them.

● In some Colorado towns, bear complaints are the No. 1 call received by police departments. Denver now has third- generation “urbanized” bears that are completely dependent on human food, and den under porches, garages, etc.

● In Colorado, attacks on humans have increased, and one was fatal. There have already been four attacks in 2014.

● In Massachusetts, bear populations have increased 700%, and conflicts have doubled. The state of Massachusetts has stated, “There are constant complaints about bear encounters.”

Other states that have limited bear hunting severely, or stopped it altogether, have also experienced rapidly increasing bear populations and increased bear/human conflicts.

Some examples:

New Jersey
New Jersey is an excellent example of what happens when bear numbers are not controlled.

Bear hunting in New Jersey had been closed since 1971, except for a limited hunt in 2003 and 2005. In 1997, in response to the growing bear population, New Jersey wildlife biologists recommended reducing the bear population of 450-500 to 272-340. These recommendations were ignored for years as the population of bears, and the resulting nuisance complaints, continued to grow. Anti-hunting groups, led by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), used the New Jersey courts to delay a new bear hunt.

By 2010 the New Jersey bear population was over 3,200, and residents reported nearly 3,200 bear complaints and sightings. From 2006-2010 there were 223 successful home (occupied dwelling) entries by bears, 100 in 2008 alone. From 2001-2010, New Jersey officials spent $9 million on bear management and conflict resolution, while HSUS battled to keep bears protected from hunting. As bears became more brazen, close encounters with children and bears escalated; bears learned how to steal school lunches from kids, who were trained to drop their food when bears approached. One bear learned to associate the music of the ice cream truck with kids and an easy snack.
Not all black bears are black; this is a so-called “cinnamon” or blond color phase. It is rare in Maine, but not uncommon in western states. Illustration by Sharon Davis.
As HSUS battled in the courts to block a bear hunt, residents of New Jersey took the situation into their own hands. From 2006-2010, illegal kills increased by 500%, and additional bears found dead of unknown causes (possible victims of poisoning) increased by 400%.

Finally, in an act of desperation and losing public support, HSUS proposed a draconian and expensive population control initiative that included tranquilizing male bears and injecting their testicles with heavy metals to destroy their ability to reproduce. In response, New Jersey DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell said, “I fail to see how injecting an untested chemical, at speculative doses, into the testes of our majestic black bear population could possibly be considered humane. There have been no studies to determine whether this would be effective, nor to determine appropriate dose levels, nor to assess what painful or injurious effects this might have on the bears used as subjects.”

Finally, in 2010, an HSUS anti-bear hunt petition and an HSUS lawsuit were rejected by the courts, and a 6-day bear hunt, allowing bait, was instituted. It has been held annually since. The 2010 hunt removed 592 bears, and bear complaints dropped by 20%. The 2011 removed 469 bears, and complaints fell another 20%. Slightly fewer bears have been killed each year, and complaints have continued to drop.

In late September 2014, a 300-lb. male black bear killed a 22-year-old male hiker in New Jersey.


Without a legal bear hunt in Florida, the bear population has risen dramatically, from 300 in 1970 to 3,000 in 2012. In 2013 the Florida bear-complaint hotline logged an amazing 6,700 reports, the most ever. According to the Orlando Sentinel there have been 14 violent incidents involving bears since 2009 in the Seminole County region alone, all resulting in human injury. In the last six months, there have been two life-threatening maulings in the Orlando, Florida region. As a result, 12 Florida lawmakers have had enough and are calling for a new bear hunt to control marauding bears.

Bear populations, and bear problems, continue to grow nationwide. Other states that have recently proposed, or are expanding, bear hunts to control bear related problems, are: New York, Nevada, Maryland, Kentucky, Vermont, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.
David Trahan,Executive Director,
Sportsman's Alliance of Maine (SAM)
David Trahan is a lifelong Maine resident. He served 6 terms in the Maine Legislature; 4 in the House and 2 in the Senate, and was on MIFW’s Advisory Council for 2 years. He has been a self-employed logger for 30 years, and is an avid hunter and fisherman.