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Bear Hunting Limits Backers Say It’s Fairness; Others Call It Bad Precedent

The fight over bear hunting comes down to three simple rules, backers of Proposition 2 say.

Eliminate spring black bear hunting, the use of bait, and the use of hounds to hunt bears and the pursuit finally becomes fair.

Sportsmen see it as the beginning of an all-out assault on their right to hunt, arguing that if the bear initiative passes, the Bambi initiative won’t be far behind.

No other state allows these bear hunting methods, Idaho Coalition United for Bears argues. Hunting bears in spring often orphans cubs.

Baiting bears is unsporting and baits often get left in the woods long after the hunt, causing problems, ICUB says. The use of hounds also is criticized as unsporting.

There also are problems, proponents claim, with damage to roads from hunters driving in the spring.

A trip down any anti-hunting road is the beginning of the end for Idaho’s hunting tradition, the Sportsmen’s Heritage Defense Fund says.

It has opponents such as Lt. Gov. Butch Otter, state Treasurer Lydia Justice Edwards, a long list of state representatives and state senators, and the Idaho Fish and Game Commission.

The Fish and Game Commission opposes the measure, saying it amounts to using popular opinion rather than the best scientific information to manage wildlife.

The Sportsmen’s Heritage Defense Fund also is charging that the bear initiative is lavishly funded by radical, out-of-state hunting foes and it claims to have 124 local organizations on its side.

Campaign finance reports, however, shows the Sportsmen’s group has raised nearly five times as much money overall as ICUB.

The anti-initiative group also appears to have raised much more money from out-of-state interests than the proponents of Proposition 2.

, DataTimes