Stand with Barncoat and Maine’s bear hunt? Or give Mainers the hard work they expect on vacation?

Cynthia: Here’s a question for you, Mike. Do bears fit in the woods?

Mike: They fit quite well in the woods. Managing the population helps keep them there. Unless you think we should hire them to empty dumpsters?

Cynthia: Putting able-bodied bears to work is a good idea, but I want to talk about killing bears. For a state that prides itself on hard-work and independence, it surprises me that Maine has to rely so heavily on out-of-staters to “manage” our bears. Folks from away “harvest” almost 60% of those “taken” during Bear Season. And these 1700 guys (or “hunters”) from New York, or wherever, flock here in Land Rovers and Cessnas to pay handsomely to help us. Some fork over as much as $2000, and all they get is a lousy “trophy.”

You’re smart, Mike. Check my math. I figure these out-of-staters are spending a couple million dollars a year to manage our bears. I should be grateful, but I’m not. My inner conservative thinks we should be more self-reliant.

And what’s with all the euphemisms? Bear management is a tough job for tough guys who like to kill bears. Why all the pussyfooting around?

Mike: Hey, I’m all for people coming and spending their money in Maine, whether they are killing bears, eating at restaurants, snowmobiling, or buying boats. If they want to spend a lot of money doing it, even better. I don’t hear any gripes about all the people from away who come and buy Hinkley Yachts for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

And what euphemisms are you talking about? “Managing” instead of “hounding, trapping, and baiting”? I’m just going with the language the biologists at IFW use. But we can call it whatever you want – the fact is this is the one issue that Paul LePage, Troy Jackson, Emily Cain, and Bruce Poliquin all agree on. Talk about bipartisan!

Cynthia: You’re right, Mike. Hounding, trapping and baiting bears is tourism, like yachting and dining out. I guess that explains why candidates of all stripes rally behind it here in Vacationland. But if it’s about jobs and the economy, let’s just embrace it, and stop hiding behind genteelism and pseudo-science.

“Biologists” whose jobs depend on Maine’s bear killing “adventures” should trade in their lab coats for sandwich boards. Registered Maine Guides should hike out of the woods and into call centers. The level of our success is limited only by our imagination! We can expand bear killing to the suburbs and to malls where its more convenient for tourists. “Hunters” can feed bears saltwater taffy in cages and shoot them after shopping for T-shirts and scrimshaw in Bar Harbor. Bears can be chained to docks and “managed” by the Hinkley set over martinis up and down the coast.

And there’s “opportunity” for dentists, too. Did you know state law mandates that every bear killed in Maine have a tooth extraction?

I wonder if Obamacare covers bears.

Mike: I think bears were one of the dozens of groups for which the White House magically waived away the law. But for the rest of your points, well, I must admit: I do love the smell of entrepreneurship in the morning!

Anyway, let’s face facts: this referendum is not something Mainers came up with. There is a reason a Washington, DC-based group is funding 99% of the “yes” campaign. What’s next? Hounding coyote isn’t very fair, even if they are trying to kill your chickens. “Baiting” cattle in pasture and on feedlots to kill and eat them sounds pretty mean. And trapping lobsters, only to boil them alive? The inhumanity! Life would be much more peaceful if we only ate gluten-free granola.

Cynthia: What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. If Maine wants to profit on it’s “unique” commercialization of animal brutality to lure out-of-state money, we should expect out-of-state money to fund Maine’s animal politics.

For bear “management” and politics to be kept local, we have to appeal to Maine values. Get rid of hounding, trapping, baiting and tooth extraction, and encourage “hunters” to actually hunt. You know, scout quietly in the woods for hours sporting stylish L.L. Bean gear, follow tracks, make bear calls — that sort of thing. Shooting an animal that’s been chased up a tree by menacing dogs using GPS might be “fun” for guys from New York and New Jersey, but where’s the hard-work that most Maine people expect on a vacation?

If Maine’s bear-killing tourism was more of a challenge, or at least a workout, even gluten-free women from Cape Elizabeth might ‘manage’ to do it.

Mike: I’m sure these guys spend plenty of money at Kittery Trading Post and Bean’s regardless of bears or bait. But speaking of stylish gear and Cape Elizabeth, even “Barncoat” is against this ban!

I’ll agree with you on the “fun” aspect: it isn’t my cup of tea. I would rather hunt whitetail. However, I don’t understand the fun of mixed martial arts either. That doesn’t mean I think we should pass a referendum banning people from choosing to beat the snot out of each other in a professionally-managed and controlled manner.

I’m going to stick with IFW, Paul LePage, and Eliot Cutler and say “No” to the fun police in November. Probably with blaze orange and beef jerky. Care to join me?

Cynthia: I do love blaze orange, and you might be on to something, Mike. Hounding, baiting and trapping is so old-school. The bear killing business needs an upgrade.

I say put the Manhattan masters-of-the-universe in cages with Maine bears, and let them duke it out mano-a-pawo, like mixed martial arts. Gore and blood-curdling screams could easily be captured on video, and marketed on social media…

All in a “professionally-managed and controlled manner,” of course.

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