I grew up unwrapping thousands of pounds of pastries to use in baits. My dad makes his living off baiting, guiding and hunting and has done so his entire life. My brother and I used to have to move drying skins out of the cellar way in order to bring wood upstairs to keep the fire going. While I personally don’t hunt, I respect people who do. Hell, they’re my family.
That said, I understand the arguments on both sides, but at the end of the day, I think there are a lot of emotions in this debate that need to be addressed and acknowledged. But first, the rational aspects
From a rational economics perspective, though, I think there are two big questions: how will you replace the loss of income to the regions of the state that are reliant on out of state hunters and the big money they bring in. Find another job isn’t an answer because of the shape of the northern and central Maine economies.
And second, how will you control the bear population? Whether you like hunting or not, the fact is that wildlife management depends on hunting to keep populations under control. Places that outlawed deer hunting soon faced the challenges of increased deer/car accidents and if you’ve ever hit a deer going 65 mph, it’s a traumatic and many times, fatal event.
What we are seeing here is conflict between two separate moralities. Those who oppose the hunt are basing their argument in what Jonathan Haidt calls the moral foundation of fairness. They see the world through the lens of what is fair. Those who support the hunt are based in the moral foundations of freedom and tradition.
The problem is that those who tend to see the world in terms of what’s fair also tend to not see the value in tradition and freedom, nor do they tend to understand why these things are fundamentally important to others. Those who tend to access more of Haidt’s moral foundations tend to not understand how people can only see fairness as the sole thing that matters. Their moralities are not your moralities – and an inability to understand someone else’s morality doesn’t always equate with people being morally defunct.
I’d be willing to bet that the two sides are probably not doing a lot of talking to each other. But what about the people in the middle, those who have decided yet on how to vote? I’m not going to tell people how to vote. That’s up to you.
But as you consider how to vote, I ask you to look outside the first order effects of what’s important to you. If you’re focused on the fairness of the hunt aspect, ask yourself what other aspects of fairness are you not considering? If you’re looking at the traditions and your freedom to hunt, what aspect of fairness are you not considering?
And beyond the moral foundations questions, I ask you to consider your neighbors either to the north or the south. Resources and jobs available in the southern part of the state are not the same further north.
You can read more in this great piece in the Boston Globe.