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class=c4subcopy <>>October 23, 2006
On Opening Day of Bear Hunting Season, Group Says Ehrlich is an Enemy of Animal Welfare
BALTIMORE — Today, as Maryland’s trophy hunting season on the state’s recovering population of black bears officially opened in western Maryland, the Humane Society Legislative Fund announced in Baltimore that it has launched a major campaign opposing Governor Bob Ehrlich’s reelection. The group—which opposes Ehrlich because he repealed the 50-year ban on bear hunting and has an overall terrible record on animal welfare issues—began airing television ads today in Baltimore and the Washington area, has sent mailings to tens of thousands of animal welfare supporters, and is canvassing door-to-door across the state.
“Bob Ehrlich is an enemy of animal welfare, and is simply out of step with Maryland’s humane values,” said Michael Markarian, president of Humane Society Legislative Fund. “His personal actions and his absolute fealty to the trophy hunting lobby resulted in dozens of bears being killed for trophies and bearskin rugs—including the first bear killed legally in Maryland in more than half a century, an 84-pound, 10-month-old, female bear cub.”
Since 1953, under eight gubernatorial administrations, bears were protected in Maryland after hunting had reduced their population to just 12 animals. In 1972, they were classified as an endangered species in the state. Gradually, their numbers have rebounded, albeit hindered by habitat loss and slow reproduction rates. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) estimated in 2005 that there are 326 bears in western Maryland.
When the DNR proposed the resumption of bear hunting in 2004, a Gonzales Marketing & Research poll indicated that 57% of Maryland voters opposed the bear hunt and 35% supported it; voters in all demographics, political parties, and geographic regions opposed bear hunting. The General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review rejected the proposal by a vote of 12-7 because it lacked any scientific basis. Ehrlich overruled the committee’s decision, ignored voter sentiment, and allowed the first bear hunt in more than half a century to go forward. In 2004, trophy hunters killed 20 bears; in 2005, they killed 40. This year’s two-part season scheduled for October 23-28 and December 4-9, will allow up to 55 bears to be killed.
HSLF says that bear problems can be solved with simple, non-lethal solutions like pepper sprays and bear-proof refuse bins. The DNR also captures and relocates, and has the authority to euthanize, problem bears. Markarian added, “Of the 40 bears killed in the last hunting season, the DNR determined that only six were nuisance bears. That means the other 34 posed no threat to western Maryland garbage cans or birdfeeders. A bear hunt is no more likely to reduce conflicts with bears than randomly shooting people on the street cuts down on urban crime.”
Allowing the trophy hunting of bears is not the governor’s only black mark on animal welfare issues. He also authorized crossbow hunting for the first time in Maryland, and lifted the 280-year-old ban on Sunday hunting. Maryland’s first crossbow season, in 2003, resulted in the death of a 10-year-old Baltimore County boy.
When he served as a member of Congress, Ehrlich voted to continue a multi-million dollar subsidy to the luxury mink coat industry; establish sport hunting and commercial trapping on National Wildlife Refuges; weaken protections for dolphins drowning in tuna fishing nets; spend U.S. tax dollars to promote the trophy hunting of African elephants; and subsidize government killing of predators with traps and poisons. During his eight years in Congress, he refused to support active efforts to fund the enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act and Humane Methods of Slaughter Act; crack down on “puppy mills” that treat dogs like production machines; protect the human food supply by banning the sale of sick and injured cattle; stop the trophy hunting of captive exotic animals trapped behind fences; and halt the poaching of bears for the trade in their gallbladders and bile.
HSLF is a nonpartisan organization that evaluates candidates based only in a single criterion: where they stand on animal welfare. HSLF does not judge candidates based on party affiliation or any other issue. A complete list of HSLF’s endorsements is available online at www.humanevoting.com.
For more information about Ehrlich’s record on animal welfare, and to watch the HSLF television ads launched today, please visit www.hslf.org/bobehrlich.
Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF) is a social welfare organization incorporated under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code. HSLF works to pass animal protection laws at the state and federal level, to educate the public about animal protection issues, and to support humane candidates for office. Contributions or gifts to HSLF are not tax deductible. Your donation may be used for lobbying to pass laws to protect animals, as well as for political purposes, such as supporting or opposing candidates. HSLF does not accept contributions from business corporations or labor organizations. On the web at www.hslf.org.
This message has been authorized and paid for by Humane Society Legislative Fund, Michael Markarian, President. This message has not been authorized or approved by any candidate.