Time for Maine to turn the page on LePage

By on October 17, 2016 with 13 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

It’s quite amazing that Maine governor Paul LePage, in successive, three-way races, won two gubernatorial elections – in the conservative wave election in 2010, with 38 percent of the vote, and then in 2014, by getting 48 percent in the mid-term election. Even though he never got a majority, you’ve got to give the man credit for winning with pluralities. He’s obviously got some political talent.

But of all of the nation’s governors – Republican or Democrat – there’s no question that he gets the prize for being the most intemperate, inarticulate, and retrograde.

No governor has sent me personal letters the way LePage has – ranting about The HSUS after we conducted an undercover investigation at a laying hen confinement facility owned by the notorious Jack DeCoster, who is serving prison time for his role in the biggest egg food safety crisis in the nation’s history (related to a factory farm he owned in Iowa). In that letter, and in a subsequent letter that I received today, LePage cannot stop stewing about our role in trying to stop bear baiting and hounding and also bear trapping in Maine by ballot initiative in 2014. When the votes were counted on Question 1, we came up slightly short for the second time in 10 years, getting just shy of 50 percent of the vote both times.

During the campaign, LePage unleashed the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to actively campaign against the measure. He used state dollars to write fact sheets, appear at debates, star in television ads, and work hand-in-hand with the trophy hunters, trappers, and hunting guides who make a boatload of money by all but guaranteeing a kill of a trophy bear. Most people in the state, according to just about every survey, oppose hounding and trapping, but the citizens of Maine were not prepared to ban baiting, mainly after hearing from state fish and wildlife authorities that it was an “essential management tool.”

It was hardly a reach for us to urge a ban on baiting, since voters had outlawed it in Colorado, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington by ballot initiative (voters rejected anti-bear baiting measures in Idaho and Michigan). Putting dump sites in the woods to lure bears within shooting range flies in the face of conventional wildlife management principles, which urge no habituating of animals with human garbage and food. And it defies the conventions of sportsmen who urge fair chase, giving the animals a chance to get away. Baiting isn’t allowed for deer or moose hunting, and it seemed a basic matter of ethical consistency to forbid the practice for bear hunting, too.

LePage, who excoriated a Democratic state legislator earlier this year and challenged him to a duel, thinks it was some offense for an animal protection group with a decades-long track record to stop unsporting and inhumane hunting practices, and to campaign in a state where he happened to get elected. But I feel like we are in good company in earning his umbrage. LePage basically doesn’t talk to the press in Maine, because they’ve called him out for his racist statements, his threats of violence, and his self-dealing ways. The Washington Post, among others, called on him to resign, calling him “unhinged” after he made comments about who is involved in the drug trade in the state and “referred to blacks and Hispanics as ‘the enemy’,” adding that “the enemy right now, the overwhelming majority of people coming in, are people of color or people of Hispanic origin.”

Is it any surprise that a guy who threatens journalists and state legislators, and who wears racist views on his sleeve, is also an opponent of animal welfare? Most people who abuse animals, or embrace those types of practices, are bullies, and their targets may be animals one day but vulnerable classes of people the next.

Yes, LePage has vetoed almost every animal bill that’s made it out of the state legislature. The people of Maine, if he chooses not to resign, will have to deal with this volcanic, unpredictable political act for two more years. He can send me all the letters he wants, but his rants only have the opposite effect on me and The HSUS – inviting us to come back and work with our supporters in the state to address the unethical hunting practices that bears and bobcats are subjected to, along with other unacceptable practices like extreme confinement of laying hens in small cages.

“The mission of the HSUS is to protect all animals. Except one,” I wrote in my reply to LePage. “The only animal we don’t defend is the ‘high horse’ that certain shrill politicians ride to try and trample the good deeds of decent people.”

Farm Animals, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Diana says:

    I do not agree with Maine and my own home state when it comes to this issue but I will tell you this: Your bias is obvious. I will vote for wildlife but I will NOT vote in lockstep with the HSUS and the party that you seem to think champions animal welfare

  2. David Bernazani says:

    Nice letter, Wayne! I only wish I could see the letter this nut sent you, if only to compare your brilliant writing style to his rants.
    Anyway it’s time to get this fool out of office. The citizens of Maine should be embarrassed he was ever elected.

  3. Robert Goldman says:

    Wayne, when you and HSUS return to Maine with a citizens referendum to put an end to all trapping and hounding of wildlife, I will be there to help it succeed. Such a referendum cannot come fast enough for the besieged wildlife of this state.

  4. D. Smith says:

    Greatly appreciated the blog “Time for Maine to turn the page on LePage.” As a resident of Maine, I endured Gov. LePage’s first term, and am now the counting the days until the end of his second. In addition to being a profound embarrassment to the good people of this state, LePage has resorted to the most disgraceful, even downright illegal, methods in his efforts to undermine virtually every measure aimed at creating a more just, compassionate, and caring society–his tactics surrounding the bear-baiting initiative and his reaction to HSUS’s undercover investigation of DeCoster Egg Farms being but two cases in point. Hooray to Wayne Pacelle for standing up to LePage’s bullying. Loved the “high horse” rejoinder. Brilliant

  5. Ron says:

    Did you say Maine Hunting guides make a boat load of money? Seriously? Please find me one guide, just one who is clearing big money. Be factual, don’t play games. You’re upset because the state had a diffent view and expressed it. YOU had the cash and the out of state plants to push this. You made false claims (as you have done again). Your goal is the elimination of all Hunting and trapping. That’s not want Maine people want, but that’s not your concern. Piece by piece take a little bit away that’s the motto and everyone knows the game. Good luck and see you soon.

  6. Kitty Finnigan says:

    I’m glad you published this article, otherwise, someone like me who never has a spare minute to read and research about actual life would never know about bad people and their intentions. I’m an environmental writing student at Evergreen State College in WA. Hence, no time for a life.
    Thank you very much for doing all this work, as heartbreaking, as it is. You are a special person. I admire you for what you do. I don’t think I could do it, as I have a huge heart on the sleeve problem. So, it’s really important that there are people like you. hugs.

  7. Fran Leard says:

    This politician should be removed from office for his rants and rages. He is another Killery and too bad the people in Maine can’t see how wrong this deadbeat is.

    We need to try everything to keep this kind of idiot politician out of office.
    It just makes me sick how hard you guys work to change this brainless moron’s thinking. Wake up Maine!

  8. PJ says:

    Wayne, you clearly haven’t spent any time in the Maine woods. Our bear population cannot be controlled without baiting. I have been in the woods my whole life and have only seen a bear a handful of times. I have never seen one while hunting. If we ever ban bear baiting, we will be paying people to hunt them to control the population. That’s a fact. We’ve seen it on Peaks Island with the deer population.

  9. Jim says:

    Just stay out of Maine. With your out of state view. Maine the way life should be.

  10. Matt says:

    Your biased political rant about the governor of Maine only shows that you have far more hatred for the man than you do the actual policy of hunting over bait. In Maine we have had a long history of hunting over bait and as this does create concern to some (mostly people who do not hunt or participate in way of donation to preserve wildlife habitat) you must look at reasons why state wildlife managers are not pushing to ban it. First Maine has a large population of black bears. This is due to lack of people actively hunting them. Maine will give you a bear tag when buying a license. This does not happen in a lot of states as bear populations do not support this possible harvest amount. Secondly how often have you ventured out and saw a bear. Their recluse like attitude and love for habitat that is not easily traveled causes them to remain out of sight. This becomes a problem as bears pushed out of home ranges due to overcrowding and lack of sustainable food sources move close to human areas. Then when Joe Shmoe called the police becouse a bear is rummaging around his back yard they come and subdue said bear. It makes the news and people who openly talk about preserving bear are faced to think what they would do. Finically hunting provides more revenue to preserve and support wildlife efforts. Each license purchased does not solely make the guide rich. And you would probably be humbled to see how little a hunting guide actually makes. Each license sold in the state is a dollar towards successful wildlife management. Now you will likely not change your views and I don’t expect you too. All I ask is that when it comes to bear baiting I recommend you do more research. Like looking into southern states that hunt deer with dogs or baiting of game in western states. It does happen and there is a reason the wildlife. Iologist who has spent his life studying these animals and policies has blessed these measures.

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