$1.6M spent to air bear hunt referendum TV ads

Campaigns for and against Question 1 — the upcoming referendum that would ban the use of dogs, bait and traps in Maine bear hunting — have spent $1.6 million to run more than 4,000 television advertisements, according to information recently released by the Center for Public Integrity.

Photo courtesy of Sharon Fiedler

Photo courtesy of Sharon Fiedler

The analysis details spending through Oct. 20 for ads on local broadcast TV, as well as national network and national cable TV. The numbers don’t include money spent to make the ads. It also doesn’t include ads on the radio, online, through direct mail or aired on local cable systems.

The pro-ban group, Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting, has spent $860,500 to run nearly 2,200 ads. And the opposition, the Maine Wildlife Conservation Council, has spent $712,700 to run about 1,800 ads.

Overall, the groups have spent approximately $1.50 for each Maine voter.

This year, Maine ranks 13th in the country for money spent on ballot questions, according to the analysis. Spending was highest in California, where voters have been hit with more than 33,000 ballot question TV ads worth about $54 million on six ballot measures.

Recent campaign finance reports show that groups in opposition to the bear referendum have outspent the referendum proponents so far this year. Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting has raised about $1.6 million this year, while the Maine Wildlife Conservation Council has raised $1.87 million.

The vast majority of Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting’s money has come from the Washington, D.C.-based Humane Society of the United States.

In contrast, the Maine Wildlife Conservation Council is being funded by a wide variety of groups, including numerous Maine outfitters and guiding businesses. Major contributors include U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance ($60,000), Washington D.C.-based Ballot Issues Coalition ($45,000) and the Maine Professional Guides Association ($111,278).

Also of note are contributions to the No on 1 Campaign by James Harris of Vermont: $85,000 in personal contributions, $65,000 from a business he owns called Harris Enterprises, and $35,000 from its subsidiary Vermont Wholesale Granite.

Here are a few of the television ads recently aired, just in case you missed them:

No on 1 ad

Yes on 1 ad

No on 1 ad

Yes on 1 ad


Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at actoutwithaislinn.bangordailynews.com.