Idaho Statesman says "Luring bears goes against common sense"

After all the bears coming into town and the very rare shooting of a central Idaho grizzly over bait, Idaho’s biggest newspaper comes out against the continuation of bear baiting. Luring bears goes against common sense






  1. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    From the Idaho Statesman: “Idaho is one of only nine states that allows baiting bears — while prohibiting the use of bait to attract any other game animal, including deer and elk and migratory birds. Why an exception, when bears present an increased risk to humans?”

    1) Idaho Fish and Game issues permits to kill black bear over bait, thus bringing revenue to the department/state. I assume licenses to out of state hunters cost more. So it’s another method of generating revenue.

    2) Licensed Idaho guides receive money from suckers willing to pay to “hunt” black bear over bait.

    3) So you can see money plays a big part in “hunting” blacks over bait.

    4) Idaho citizens, as well as citizens of the other 8 states, don’t raise enough hell with their legislators to end this pathetic, non-fair chase practice. After all, the wildlife of Idaho belongs to ALL the citizens of Idaho, not just hunters and guides.

  2. RE Chizmar Avatar
    RE Chizmar

    My “uneducated” gut reaction about baiting bears (and use of snares) was that nothing about it was justifiable, ethical or sporting. As I’ve read the many articles and comments about this practice on this great website — even considering the (in my opinion) weak excuse that it permits bear/sow/cub identification — my convictions remain just as strong, and I truly wonder why “we” (conservation-minded people, those who truly appreciate wildlife and wild places and true ethical hunters) permit it (although Mack Bray provides a partial well-reasoned explanation). One would think that the forces of conservation, wildlife protection and hunters would actually rally together to outlaw this disdainful activity.

    Anyone know the names of the other 8 states that permit this senseless activity? Any idea what efforts have been undertaken to get the attn of various state legislators? — a quick search revealed people in Maine attempted a grassroot campaign — although I don’t know result.

    As an addendum, here in populous SE Pennsylvania, where there is a great number of deer-human-crop-vehicle contact-conflict (of course expected since all predators were eradicated), I believe the State permits a very limited bait-hunt to cull the deer population — the reason being that the deer population could not be controlled thru “fair chase” b/c of human population density. Perhaps this could reasonably “justify” baiting, but for some reason, I doubt that bear densities would ever approach that justifying a limited deer bait-hunt.

    As an aside, thanks for the great content and comments (however varied and highly disagreeable they are). I’ve certainly learned much about many issues over the years here.

  3. Linda Hunter Avatar
    Linda Hunter

    Hunters who need to bait, use dogs and electronic devices to hunt are no longer using skills that every hunter should have and practice in order to hunt. If hunters in the year 2007 have lost their skills and need to resort to high tech trickery, baiting and using dogs perhaps it is time we reevaluate hunting all together. No one needs to use bait to get a bear if they can track. Nor do they need dogs if they practice real woods skills. A good tracker can get close enough to a bear not to need a guide, a high powered rifle or bait . . what is the matter with these guys I see out there with their loaded rifles running the roads in their big trucks. . I am sorry but as I watch them go by, not even seeing me (and I don’t even wear expensive camo) in the woods as I track the animals they are looking for I wonder what on earth makes hunting a still growing sport. (actually I hope I am wrong about it growing) Linda

  4. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    RE Chizmar said “…I truly wonder why “we” (conservation-minded people, those who truly appreciate wildlife and wild places and true ethical hunters) permit it.” RE Chizmar, you make a most excellent point. Wildlife belongs to ALL the people of their respective state.

    “Any idea what efforts have been undertaken to get the attn of various state legislators?” Please review the concept below.

    As a teenager in Texas, I used to shoot deer over corn. I never felt good about it – knew deep inside that baiting was wrong. I’d never do it again.

    Linda Hunter – AMEN, GIRL…! I agree with everything you said…!

    “…I wonder what on earth makes hunting a still growing sport. (actually I hope I am wrong about it growing)” It’s not a growing sport; numbers are shrinking; please review the concept below.

    Wildlife Watchers of Wyoming

    The concept of how Wyomingites can secure better representation of their views of how the state should manage their wildlife was created by Mack P. Bray of Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Tom Mazzarisi of Madison, Yellowstone National Park. Feel free to distribute and forward this information to those you believe may be interested in executing the concept.


    Thanks to the Wyoming Constitution, all the wildlife of this state belong to all the people of this state, whether they be hunters, anglers, ski bums, hikers, the elderly, wildlife watchers, etc.

    However, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department openly admits it almost exclusively represents the interests of hunters and anglers because most of the department’s budget is derived from hunting permits and fishing licenses
    (a small percentage is received from the federal government). This fiscal relationship leads to bias against non-game wildlife, especially predators such as grizzlies and wolves.

    Now, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Department’s 2007 National survey of hunting, fishing and wildlife watchers has revealed that, in Wyoming (and many other states), there are more wildlife watchers than hunters and anglers combined. The survey can be found here:

    It can be seen that non-consumptive wildlife watchers are not being fairly represented in Wyoming, primarily because they are not helping fund the Game and Fish Department, in addition to other political factors, such as the influence of ranchers and agriculture over the state and its departments.


    Therefore, this proposal is offered:

    A non-profit entity, Wildlife Watchers of Wyoming, is to be formed with the explicit mission of representing, at the state level, all the wildlife watchers of Wyoming, whether they are bird watchers, grizzly watchers, etc.

    Membership should be always be FREE, to encourage large numbers of the public to join. To obtain membership, one would simply send a story, photograph or poem about wildlife.


    Funding would be derived from a combination of grants and private sources.

    Once sufficient members are obtained, representatives of Wildlife Watchers of Wyoming would lobby the Wyoming legislature, the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission and Game and Fish Department to obtain better representation of their interests.

    Members would be encouraged to communicate their views to their respective state and federal legislators.

    Game and Fish would be lobbied to create a Wildlife Watchers Stamp; similar to the conservation stamp the Department requires all hunters and anglers to buy for $10. The Wildlife Watchers Stamp could cost $10 and the proceeds would be dedicated to the management of species such as sage grouse, grizzlies and wolves.

    To successfully complete this project would be a major undertaking, but the results would be revolutionary.

    Additionally, Wildlife Watchers of Wyoming could be a model for wildlife watchers in other states to adopt.

    On behalf of all the wildlife of this great state, please feel free to distribute and forward this information.

    Happy wildlife watching, forever, to you and yours,

    Mack P. Bray

    Tom Mazzarisi

  5. sal Avatar

    It would be a step in the right direction toward reclaiming the title of “the equality state” back to Wyoming’s “other” state slogan.

  6. elkhunter Avatar

    Linda, Did our ancestors use dogs to hunt? I am sure that they do. I believe that the Inuits have used dogs for generations to hunt and kill polar bears. I use dogs to hunt upland birds, pheasants and quail etc. I agree with you on the electronics and baiting, but I have to diagree with you on that using dogs is not fair chase. I still hunt my butt off with my bird dogs to get my limit every day.

  7. Layton Avatar

    ” A good tracker can get close enough to a bear not to need a guide, a high powered rifle or bait .”


    Track a bear — without snow or something else to show you where it went ?? Nonsense!


  8. Cordell Avatar


    Seems like you have your mind made up but, it can be done. Tracking takes patience, a whole lot of practice and a good base of knowledge in bear behavior(or any other a critter you are tracking). It’s definately not easy but everything that moves across a landscape leaves sign. Most people don’t have the time or patience to invest in learning the skill. I’m not for or against dog hunting, I’m sure theres a lot of knowledge and skill involved there too, just saying that there is an alternate way. Baiting, besides being used in trapping, to me, seems like a lazy way to go about hunting.

  9. Layton Avatar

    Just curious, ———- Do any of you folks that are so much against baiting ever go fishing??


  10. d. Bailey Hill Avatar

    Layton— A good sense of smell can help a great deal in finding signs to track a bear.

  11. Cordell Avatar


    Sure I fish, use bait while fishing too. I haven’t seen many fish tracks. People also use lure for trapping but I do know a trapper who doesn’t need it. He knows the critter’s behavior and habits so well that he sets without lure.
    I know of people down Texas way that put out timed corn feeders for deer. The deer get habituated to the area and the time of feeding. This is all part if the deer hunt down there. So, would you do this, were it legal in your area? I know I wouldn’t, just like I wouldn’t bait a bear. I guess some people just need every advantage they can get. If it’s legal and thats the only way they can bag their critter, who am I to tell them they can’t. Just saying I wouldn’t go about it that way.

  12. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Layton, I fish – fly fish – and I suppose a fly could be consider a bait of sorts. I think the issue here is about fair chase. Who considers bear-baiting to be fair chase? How do you “fair chase” fish?

    Boone and Crockett Club’s definition of fair chase: “FAIR CHASE, as defined by the Boone and Crockett Club, is the ethical, sportsmanlike, and lawful pursuit and taking of any free-ranging wild, native North American big game animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper advantage over such animals.”

    I think sitting in a tree stand and attracting bears over a barrel of dead horse parts gives the “hunter” an improper advantage.

    As a teenager in Texas, I used to shoot deer over corn. In my gut, I felt it was wrong and I’d never do it again.

    Cordell, I think that *as a society*, we should re-examine old practices to see if they need to be retired, and bear baiting and trapping are two that should go, in my opinion.

    Let’s add grazing private livestock on AMERICA’S public lands.

  13. RE Chizmar Avatar
    RE Chizmar

    Just curious, do most anglers fish for food or do they fish for the catch and release? As a “parallel”, do most “hunters” bait bears b/c of the meat it provides or b/c of the joy of the shot? One can joyously bait, catch and release a fish, but one cannot joyously shoot a baited bear w/ a bullet and then choose to let it live. If bear baiters do not want the meat, then perhaps they should use a paint gun to achieve their joy — one could argue a fair compromise to this practice of bear baiting — a suggestion no less foolish than trying to justify bear baiting b/c some people fish.

  14. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    VERY sharp point, RE Chizmar. Well done…!

  15. Layton Avatar

    I might point out that, like catch and release fishing, one could “bait and photograph” bears, but of course you thought of that — but what about someone that does NOT catch and release a fish??

    Of course then there is the discussion about a mammal being a “sentient” being, but is a fish the same?? And then there is a discussion about “fair chasing” fish — is it different because it swims??

    C’mon folks I’m NOT going to buy that you can track a bear, unless the conditions are exactly right, and I certainly hope that you don’t expect me to believe that you can “sniff” one out over a drainage or two.

    Bait comes in a lot of forms, it can be a pile of food in the forest, it can be a tree stand on a trail to a patch of oak trees, it can be a cow call that makes a big bull think that he’s going to get laid, or it can be a fancy little bit of fur and feathers on the end of a 2X tippet — it’s ALL bait.

    It’s just in the eye of the beholder — and the “spin” of the person that likes or dislikes it.


  16. Linda Hunter Avatar
    Linda Hunter

    Layton I think you are baiting me. . . I can and do track bears without snow, mud etc. and it took me about 14 years and four intensive years living with bears in Alaska to do so, but I could show you how. . as for baiting fish. . they do leave tracks if you know what to look for and when you find them the most fun way to catch them is in your hands. If the water is cold it can get excruiating waiting from them to spook into your hands but it can be done. If you insist that you can’ t track a bear I will give you some website you should look at. You seem fixated on it so maybe you should learn to track . . it sure is fun!

  17. kim kaiser Avatar

    so does using dogs AND a gps reciever/transmitter on the dog count… ie,, waiting on the dogs gps to stop moving becuase the bear or lion is treed…and the hunters sit in the car sipping coffee.. sounds like a real thrill of a lifetime.

  18. kim kaiser Avatar

    so does using dogs AND a gps reciever/transmitter on the dog count… ie,, waiting on the dogs gps to stop moving becuase the bear or lion is treed…and the hunters sit in the car sipping coffee.. sounds like a real thrill of a lifetime.

  19. Denise Johnson Avatar
    Denise Johnson

    Mack….think you had a great concept at the beginning of this thread! I’d pay 10 bucks for a stamp for the rest of my life for the enjoyment I get from viewing wildlife.
    RE and Linda– have good insight as well to the negative input here. Keep’em comin’ your so on TRACK.
    Laytons comments don’t mean do wah ditty….as Mr. Natural would say. He sums up his own argument in his final but futtal efforts to rationalize his opinion. SPIN!!
    LIKES or DISLIKES. That’s a narrow mind for ya!

  20. be Avatar


    are you saying that baiting is acceptable fair-chase? or do you deny the standard all together?

    i’d grant fair-chase if you wore the bait.

  21. Buffaloed Avatar

    When was the last time you were attacked or your garbage ransacked by a baited fish Layton? The difference between the baiting of fish and bears is pretty striking and to compare the two is kind of a stretch. Those damned chinook salmon have sharp teeth and can really scratch your fingers if you put them in their mouth but I have never heard of anyone being seriously hurt because they are habituated to human food or because they were surprised while spawning.

    The implications of baiting are much more serious with bears and the arguments for it are rather weak considering the fact that people still mis-identify bears. The recent griz shooting is far from the first time it has occurred. Look back through Ralph’s old web-page and you will find several instances of it happening.

  22. Dante Avatar

    Interesting comments. Just thought I would let you all know that I am off to my favorite spot in the woods to set up my baits and wait for that elusive bear to come by. Someone has to help maintain balance in the bear population so it might as well be hunters.

  23. skyrim Avatar

    And we are all sufficiently impressed with your machismo…

  24. Linda Hunter Avatar
    Linda Hunter

    Actually Dante hunters interupt the balance in a bear population in several important ways. First of all, bears do not need a predator as in Alaska where they live without hunting the environment balances the population. Bears are killed in all kinds of ways by natural events and cubs only have a 50% survival rate at best. . second, hunters take older animals. . the ones with all the wisdom to teach the young bears things they need to know to successfully survive in the wilderness. . the hunters take too much of this wisdom out of the bear families and the bears resort to getting in trouble to get fed because there wasn’t an older bear to teach them what gets ripe when and where. . No I can’t see any reason to ever hunt any type of bear. . when you can go to Safeway to feed your family you don’t need bear fat and the meat is not all that good. . just to prove you have cajones? Well that can be done without killing the animal . . try just tracking them and watching them. . if you do you will discover that they are incredible cool animals with lots of personality and charm. Unlike some hunters (not all) that I know!

  25. d. Bailey Hill Avatar

    What about hunting invasive species, if a person just wants to hunt to kill?? Three and a half years ago while roadtripping in New Zealand the opossum population, non-native and nothing like the North American opossum, was out of control. So we counted roadkill on both the North and South islands. They have destroyed habitat for the Kiwi and the rest of the flightless birds. The Kiwi was close to extinction. The possum love to eat eggs. This year there was only a fraction of the roadkill. The Dept. of Conservation launched a national campaign to enlist the citizens to rid the country of those little vermine. A brewery on the south island gave a free beer to anyone who brought in 2 possum. There is another non-native called a tahr, which is a Himalayan Mountain Goat that has also caused a lot of problems for the native wildlife. I’ll just say they taste great, and there are hardly any left. The possom fur is blended with Merino wool and has got to be one of the softest things in the world. Extemely luxurious the blend is made into clothing and other things. The skins are tanned with a natural substance and made into lamp shades, pillows, and purses to name a few.

  26. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    That’s what the federal agency “Wildlife Services” should be doing, in my opinion — killing non-native animals rather than our native carnivores.

    Of course, their name, which was chosen to provide cover from public opinion, would have to be changed again.

  27. elkhunter Avatar

    They need to kill all the non-native burros and horses in the deserts of UT and AZ and NM. Way to many of them.

  28. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    “ Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. ”

    ~ Martin Luther King

  29. Layton Avatar


    If you had 14 years to devote to learning to track bears I envy you!! I had to raise a family and learning to track bears didn’t appear on my radar scope as a very good way to earn the $$ to do that.

    I’m sure that if I devoted that many years I would be better than I am at the tracking game — but — I’d still take those websites.


    I think you deliberately play the fool — bears aren’t likely to become “habituated” with a bait in the forest — first of all, if it’s done right it isn’t even associated with people!! C’mon you can surely make a better argument than that!!

    Of course then there is the “someone still killed the wrong bear” argument. Again, use your head — how many folks were baiting?? How many grizzlies were killed? Really now, is one mistake, by somebody that had probably never seen a grizzly and was obviously NOT properly prepared by a guide, indicative of the general population?? I think not.



Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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