‘No on 1’ asks TV stations: Stop airing pro-bear referendum ‘Hounds’ ad

Manager of the No on 1 campaign, James Cote, sent a letter to television stations Tuesday morning, asking them to stop airing what he sees as a “false, misleading and deceptive” pro-bear referendum ad.

Entitled “Hounds,” the ad shows blurry footage of a pack of hunting dogs chasing a bear. Cote’s issue with the ad lies in the number of dogs shown. At one point, the ad shows eight dogs in the pack, Cote said. Maine statutes prohibit the use of “6 or more dogs” while hunting bear.

§11302. Hunting bear with dogs

1. Limit on number of dogs. A person may not, while either hunting alone or hunting with other persons, use more than 6 dogs at any one time to hunt bear. [ 2009, c. 550, §4 (AMD) .]

On Nov. 4, Question 1 will ask voters: “Do you want to ban the use of bait, dogs or traps in bear hunting except to protect property, public safety, or for research?”

“While both parties in this debate may disagree passionately about the hunting policy in Maine, neither side should be allowed to rewrite statutes and mislead the public about the current state of the law,” Cote wrote in the letter to the TV stations.

Cote then quoted a public notice from the Federal Communications Commission from Nov. 7, 1961, which states that a broadcast licensee’s “duty to protect the public from false, misleading or deceptive advertising.”

Katie Hansberry, director of YES on 1 campaign, calls the complaint “frivolous” in a letter she sent to television stations Tuesday evening in response to the letter sent by the NO on 1 campaign.

“The defenders of these cruel and unsporting practices challenge our ad showing the cruelty of bear hounding, but the only thing they could come up with was that our ad shows seven dogs tearing a bear apart rather than the six dogs,” Hansberry said in a prepared statement.

“They don’t dispute the footage showing dogs chasing a bear, treeing a bear, and a hunter shooting a terrified bear at close range in a tree,” she continued. “Nor do they challenge the truth of the footage showing dogs tearing a downed bear apart.”

The “Hounds” ad is also available online, hosted by Mainers for the Fair Bear Hunting YouTube channel.

This request directly followed a similar request made by the Yes on 1 campaign. On Monday, Katie Hansberry, director of the Yes on 1 campaign, sent a letter to Cote asking him to take down a television ad that features a woman who was attacked by a black bear in Florida earlier this year.

Cote replied to her letter and rejected her request.

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.