Bear Food Study Canceled

Maine’s bear population has increased significantly in the last few years and is now estimated to be 35,000.

The Fish and Wildlife Department considered several strategies to increase the annual harvest, and discussed them with the legislatures Fish and Wildlife Committee, but any decision was postponed until next year.

The research has become important because many bear hunters use human food as bait to attract bears to their stands.

Wally Jacubas, DIFW wildlife biologist, told Associated Press reporter Patrick Whittle that they would like to know if human food is contributing to the increased bear population.

“This is a good time to put aside, reevaluate and get some opinions from some other scientists. We’re still going to make this a priority…. What we’re trying to do is minimize its growth rate so the bear population doesn’t become a real nuisance problem,” said Jacubas.

Bears have already become a problem in some areas of the state, but I think it’s going to be a real challenge for DIFW to figure out how to increase the bear harvest. One choice they’re considering is allowing each hunter to shoot two bears. I really doubt that most hunters will want to do that.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.