It’s been 10 years since Maine’s hunters held off a statewide referendum to end bear hunting, an attempt bankrolled by the Human Society of the United States. Hunters prevailed by a narrow 53- to 47-percent margin, but the anti’s are back, this time trying a stealth route. Because they couldn’t get legislation passed last spring, they’re working on another ballot initiative to ban bear hunting over bait, with dogs and bear trapping. If they garner enough signatures, the proposal will be on the November 2014 ballot.

This time HSUS has tried to hide its presence behind a committee called “Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting.” Its Internet homepage notes the group is headquartered at P.O. Box 15367, Portland, ME. But a post-office address isn’t a real organization in many instances.

The group’s campaign finance report shows a more interesting background, namely Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting is a HSUS creation. Ninety-nine percent of MFBH’s financial support comes from HSUS, a Washington, D.C.-based group and its lobby arm, the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

MFBH already has raised nearly $85,000, according to news reports, in an effort to yank bear hunting out from under Maine’s sportsmen and women. Records show only $881 contributed to MFBH by any group or individual not affiliated with the world’s most cash-laden animal-rights outfit.

“Actual Mainers won’t be fooled,” David Trahan, executive director of the Sportsmen’s Alliance of Maine said in a news report. “They understand the real anti-hunting agenda of HSUS and its allies. Mainers don’t oppose hunting, and they want to make their own decisions free from heavy-handed lobbying campaigns from Washington, DC.”

The usual list of suspects in the anti-hunting world have joined HSUS, including Born Free USA, In Defense of Animals, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Wildlife Alliance of Maine, Maine Friends of Animals, Coastal Humane Society, Animal Refuge League and International Fund for Animal Welfare.

The fear is that with a growing disconnect between rural and urban Maine residents, plus money pouring into the state to support an anti-bear hunting proposal, the final tally may tip toward the anti-hunters.

“The Humane Society of the United States, a Washington, D.C.-based fraudulent, supposed ‘non profit’ that has no business meddling in Maine affairs, has promised to spend a minimum of $3 million dollars if they need to,” wrote Tom Remington, a blogger who is a Maine black-bear expert. “What they use this money for is what’s most important.

“One of the difficult and contrary demographics between city-dwelling totalitarians and suburban-dwelling outdoor sportsmen is that by nature, most sportsmen are non-confrontational and don’t have the time nor the desire to live in the same world as the freaks who want to rule them

“The HSUS has $3 million to spend and millions more where that came from. They hire ‘trolls’ and ‘flamers,’ and all they do is update Facebook, infiltrate forums and message boards, they ‘Tweet’ and write letters to the editor … and share, share, share. It is endless and extremely difficult to counter, especially when there isn’t the money to pay to offset the influence gained.”

Will money buy a bear hunting ban in Maine? Stay tuned.