Is Maine hunting under siege? A new group fears so

Good morning from Augusta,

Things remain mostly quiet here under the dome, but yesterday, a small group of hunting advocates assembled in the Hall of Flags to launch a new group to extol the benefits of hunting on the economy. 

The group, Hunting Works for Maine — modeled after similar “Hunting Works” groups in other states —  is a coalition of groups and businesses associated with the outdoors economy, such as the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, Cabela’s and businesses such as Van Raymond Outfitters in Brewer. The Maine Chamber of Commerce also backs the effort. 

Speakers at the event said many Mainers — particularly those living in more densely populated and urban regions of the state — simply don’t understand the value hunting provides to Maine’s economy. Hunting Works for Maine will teach them, they said. 

“For some reason, the story of hunting in Maine, of all places, doesn’t seem to get told,” said Paul Reynolds, editor and co-publisher of the Maine Northwoods Sporting Journal. and a co-founder of Hunting Works for Maine. “I get disappointed when I see some of the shallow, superficial portrayals of hunting in some of our outdoor television programs. There’s more to that story than the trophy buck or trophy bear.”

More than 180,000 people hunt in Maine every year, including roughly 40,000 who come from out-of-state to do so, the group said. All told, those hunters spend about $213 million every year in Maine, supporting nearly 4,000 jobs, the group says. 

Last year, Maine voters rejected a proposed ban on the baiting, hounding and trapping of bears. The referendum was funded by the U.S. Humane Society, which found a sympathetic electorate in the more urban parts of the state. 

The group cites campaigns such as the bear-baiting referendum as its raison d’etre. In a FAQ distributed to reporters, the group wrote: “Politically motivated anti-hunting groups are growing. Many would like to limit, make more expensive and even ban hunting. These actions are eroding our heritage and damaging state economies and local businesses that depend on hunters for their livelihoods.”

David Trahan, director of the Sportsmen’s Alliance of Maine, said that as more and more Mainers migrate from the state’s rural interior to its more densely populated urban centers, and presumably skip the hunting experience altogether, the group’s work will become even more important. 

“As sportsmen, we have to continue to educate” people who don’t hunt, he said. “Understanding both sides is crucial.” 

— Mario Moretto, BDN.

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Susan Collins to push cybersecurity bill in wake of OPM breach

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, will introduce legislation today aimed at increasing the security of government computer systems and data, following the breach of more than 21.5 million personnel files for current and former government employees.

Collins — whose personnel data was among those compromised in the months-long hack — is one of the sponsors of the bipartisan legislation, which would grant the Department of Homeland Security more authority over the cybersecurity of .gov domains.

Collins has called the hack “outrageous,” and fumed at the Office of Personnel Management for failing to heed warnings about security risks stretching back to March 2014.

“Despite knowing that its files contained highly sensitive personal data such as Social Security numbers, home addresses, dates of birth, and in some cases, extensive background information, OPM officials ignored repeated warnings from its own Inspector General about the vulnerability of its computer systems,” Collins said recently, after a report revealed that OPM’s had drastically downplayed the number of employees affected by the hack .

Collins co-sponsored the new legislation — the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2015 — with fellow Republican Sens. Dan Coates of Indiana and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, and Democratic Sens. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland and Mark Warner of Virginia.

All but Mikulski are expected at a press conference in Washington today, where details of the bill will be announced.

Collins and U.S. Sen Angus King, I-Maine, have also backed legislation that would increase cooperation between government agencies and private businesses targeted by cyber attacks. — Mario Moretto, BDN.

Reading list

And now for something completely different …

A veteran of Maine’s beauty pageant circuit who was once struck by lightning is now earning headlines for wrestling sharks. For science.

Seriously. — Mario Moretto, BDN.


Mario Moretto

About Mario Moretto

Mario Moretto has been a Maine journalist, in print and online publications, since 2009. He joined the Bangor Daily News in 2012, first as a general assignment reporter in his native Hancock County and, now, in the State House. Mario left the BDN in 2015.