Bear baiting opponents cry foul over election pamphlet

Posted: Thursday, September 23, 2004

ANCHORAGE - A group that wants to ban bear baiting claims the state election pamphlet contains lies and misinformation.

Members of Citizens United Against Bear Baiting, which backs Ballot Measure 3 banning bear baiting, said its opponents in the official pamphlet wrongly link it with radical Outside animal rights groups, overstate penalties for breaking the proposed new law and inflate the law's effect on wildlife management.

The group Tuesday asked the state to stop publication of the booklets.

Bear baiting advocates said they stand behind the wording.

The director of the Division of Elections, Laura Glaiser, said the pamphlet will not be changed. More than 300,000 pamphlets are printed and will be mailed Oct. 11.

Even with time for changes, Glaiser said, her agency cannot fact-check information provided by candidates and groups for dozens of political races and ballot measures.

"I understand their concern," Glaiser said. "All I can say is, how many people do I hire to check and recheck every candidate's statement, every birth date, every address?"

In bear baiting, hunters set out aromatic food to attract black bears.

In regions where brush is thick, hunters say it's the only way to shoot a bear. Baiting is popular among bow hunters.

In its election pamphlet statement, CUBB calls the practice unsportsmanlike, unsafe and unnecessary. The initiative would make it illegal to feed a bear for hunting, photography or viewing. As a misdemeanor, it would be punishable by up to one year in jail and a $10,000 fine.

The group also notes that all its sponsors are Alaskans. Among them are hunters, hunting guides, biologists, photographers and others.

The opponents' statement in the pamphlet says the measure was "proposed by out-of-state extremists like Greenpeace and PETA."

It goes on to say the measure "is being heavily funded by numerous national anti-hunting, anti-fishing and environmental obstructionist groups."

Jennifer Yuhas of the Alaska Outdoor Council told the Anchorage Daily News that while Greenpeace and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals may not have written the initiative, CUBB is part of a national anti-hunting community.

"To say they (national groups) don't get involved in these (Alaska) issues is a farce," she said.

Greenpeace attorney Tim Wetterer, based in Washington, D.C., said his group had nothing to do with the Alaska initiative but suspects its name was invoked purposely by U.S. Rep. Don Young, Yuhas and other opponents of the ban.

In their statement, ban opponents suggest violators could go to jail "just for having a bird feeder in their back yard that may attract a bear."

It's outrageous but true, Yuhas said. The initiative language is so broad that a person could be cited for intentionally leaving out bird seed, then photographing a marauding bear.

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