Media Archive

Letters to the Editor

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 166, No. 24, June 16, 2004

Something sinister behind recent bear sightings ?

To the Editor:
Recent media reports suggest a problem with bears. A local letter reported a bear killing a pig. In the city of South Portland a bear mysteriously appeared near a grade school, far from any woods, and had to be killed by police. No one knows how the massive animal got there without being noticed, so far from bear habitat.

It is curious that such events are occurring now, with a referendum question on bear baiting set for this fall.
Could the South Portland animal have been trapped and dropped off by an overly zealous proponent of bear baiting?

According to Cecil Gray, co-founder of Maine Hunters for Fair Bear Hunting, "there are people in this industry who wouldn't think twice about doing it. And believe me, it would not be a hard thing to do."

No bear has ever killed a human in the published history of Maine. Only once in Maine's history has there been a published report of a bear injuring a human: in 1997, a treed bear was shot, fell to the ground, and injured a nearby guide. Bears are naturally wary of humans and flee readily unless they have no where to run, as the bear in South Portland found himself, or they have lost their fear of humans (as baiting bears with human food may condition them to do).

Proponents of the referendum to ban bear baiting, hounding, and trapping say these techniques are cruel and unsportsmanlike, more like assassination than hunting. In the past decade Colorado, Oregon, and Washington banned bear baiting using referenda like Maine's. In these states, hunters learned to hunt without bait or dogs, and the number of bears killed by hunters did not diminish at all. Interestingly, the sales of bear hunting licenses either tripled or quadrupled. Oregon, for example, makes an additional $400,000 each year because of this. It is time to let bears be hunted fairly, like deer and other game.

Colleen Diskin

Graduation a proud, bittersweet day

June in every small town in America means graduation: finals, parties, grades, caps and gowns, valedictorians, pomp, circumstance, and teary good-bys. The good-bys are felt by the whole community. These graduates, with their polished senior photos and their formal graduation clothes, are the same kids we've known for years. They are our children's classmates, our cousins, neighbors, and best friends. They've sat in our Sunday schools, scout troops, parking lots, pizza shops, gas stations, skate parks, and living rooms.

They belong to us. We share the pride, the anticipation, and the excitement that graduation brings. We know the doubt, fear, and insecurities they will have to overcome as they move into territories unknown. But we're confident about the opportunities, the friends, the travel, the jobs and the futures that they will find.

Bittersweet. As we watch them march, shuffle, dance, and dawdle down that gymnasium aisle our heart beat to the high school band's pomp and circumstance. As they look straight ahead to the steps, stage, ceremony and diplomas, we know that
their gazes are looking beyond that. They're letting go of us, as fledglings let go of the nest, they're taking flight. This day is significant. It's a rite of passage, and with a quick glance back at teachers, friends and parents, they're stepping into adulthood. It's only human to catch your breath and clutch your hankie at times like this.

In Milo, the class was small, about 50 graduation seniors. Every single graduate looked absolutely beautiful - like a movie star. The hair was combed, the shoes shined, the cheeks flushed, and the smiles bright. The audience was lively. There were babies hollering in heat and hunger, classmates giggling in envy and awe, parents snapping photos in a desperate attempt to catch youth before it runs off, grandparents clicking canes, friends nodding in disbelief, teachers sighing with pride and relief. The Librarian was there, opening up her library to shoe bags, roses, bobbie pins, safety pins, combs and mirrors. The Principals were there. One was straightening ties while the other collected chewing gum. The Superintendent was there, beaming
from one of the front rows, and proudly handing out scholarships. The whole town was there. I was there with them.

I would suggest to anyone who has lost hope in the American dream or become lethargic about community to go grab a seat at a local graduation. You don't have to know anyone. Like any historic classroom photo from the 1900's these kids all look very familiar. There's the kid who just scraped by, the one who day-dreamed religiously, the one who raised their hand every time, the one who slouched up back and never said a word, the one who whispered and giggled continuously, the one who slipped into the bushes for a cigarette, and the one who shared their homework with the one who needed it. There's the kid who drove too fast, the one who jumped the highest, sang on key, scored the most goals, hammed up the school productions, hung around the longest, dressed the neatest or dressed the most outrageously. You'll see yourself in those bright young faces. You'll remember your hopes and dreams, and how new the world looked to a graduating senior.

These kids belong to all of us. I am as proud of those Milo kids as I am my own. I know that classes, like this one, are graduating in Dover-Foxcroft, Dexter, Guilford and all over this grand State of Maine, and it gives me great hope in our collective future. I think that kids deserve to go to school in the town they live in, and graduation day is a good day to see all the reasons why. I offer sincere congratulations. I wish that they wouldn't have to fight our battles, carry our prejudices, clean up our environmental messes, or struggle with our financial burdens. My hope would be that they walk confidently into a clean, productive, peaceful world. We'll all be right here if they need us, but we've walked with them as far as we can.

Jayne Lello

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.