Maine's High Court Sides with Bear Hunters, Rejects HSUS Lawsuit

Maine's High Court Sides with Bear Hunters, Rejects HSUS Lawsuit

Photo credit: Courtesy of USFWS

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is no stranger to inserting itself into state-level proceedings to advance its own anti-hunter agenda. Such was the case in 2014 when the organization—through the front group "Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting"—filed a lawsuit against the state of Maine. As the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) reported on Thursday, Apr. 14, the case was dismissed in 2015 by a Superior Court justice and finally laid to rest this week by the Maine Supreme Court.

The case originated in 2014 following the defeat of Maine’s Question 1 in a citizen’s vote. Question 1 was a hunting ban initiative originally launched by the aforementioned Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting. The HSUS-sponsored legislation would have banned the use of bait, dogs and traps when bear hunting. It was opposed by state sportsmen as well as many professional wildlife managers. Following Question 1’s defeat in an open vote, Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting sued the state of Maine, alleging that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife had an inappropriate level of engagement in the campaign.

According to the USSA news release, the original lawsuit sought to remove television advertisements of the Maine Wildlife Conservation Council—which was fighting to preserve the state’s nationally recognized black-bear management program—from the air. The lawsuit alleged the ads featured state personnel talking about the dangers of Question 1.

In short, HSUS was upset that the state’s coalition of sporting and conservation organizations came out against Question 1, and was offering honest science in the face of HSUS’ attempt to have the future of bear hunting in Maine dictated by an anti-hunting-fueled vote. The case eventually reached the state’s Superior Court in 2015, where it was dismissed on grounds that it was moot.

While the Supreme Court ruling effectively ends the issue, hunters must remain vigilant as HSUS proves time and again that it will defy the scientific community in its quest to stop all hunting. In this case, at least, the good guys won the day.