On Opening Day of Bear Hunting Season, Group Says Ehrlich is an Enemy of Animal Welfare
BALTIMORE Today, as Marylands trophy hunting season on the states recovering population of black bears officially opened in western Maryland, the Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF) announced in Baltimore that it has launched a major campaign opposing Governor Bob Ehrlichs reelection. The groupwhich opposes Ehrlich because
they say he repealed the 50-year ban on bear hunting and has an overall terrible record on animal welfare issuesbegan airing television ads today in Baltimore and the Washington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 Marylands humane valuesBob Ehrlich is an enemy of animal welfare, and is simply out of step with Marylands 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 rugsincluding 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 itvoters in all demographics, political parties, and geographic regions opposed bear hunting. The General Assemblys Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review rejected the proposal by a vote of 12-7. Ehrlich overruled the committees decision 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 years two-part season scheduled for October 23-28 and December 4-9, will allow up to 55 bears to be killed.
A bear hunt is no more likely to reduce conflicts with bears than randomly shooting people on the street cuts down on urban crime
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.
According to the HSLF, allowing the trophy hunting of bears is not the governors only black mark on animal welfare issues. The HSLF notes that Ehrlich also authorized crossbow hunting for the first time in Maryland, and lifted the 280-year-old ban on Sunday hunting. Marylands first crossbow season, in 2003, resulted in the death of a 10-year-old Baltimore County boy.
The HSLF continued with additional complaints against Ehrlich's record on animal welfare: "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."
According to the HSLF, they are a nonpartisan organization that evaluates candidates based only in a single criterion: where they stand on animal welfare. HSLF says that they do not judge candidates based on party affiliation or any other issue. A complete list of HSLFs endorsements is available online at http://www.humanevoting.com/ .
For more information from the HSLF about Ehrlichs record on animal welfare, and to watch the HSLF television ads launched today, visit http://www.fund.org/bobehrlich/ .