OTISFIELD — About 90 people who came to a public forum Wednesday night at the Otisfield Community School to discuss concerns over coyotes were told they can learn to coexist with the varmints.

Eradication of coyotes in Maine is impossible, said a former Maine Game Warden and Otisfield resident Mickey Dolan. 

Reports circulated last month that a 10-year-old Appaloosa horse had died while trying to escape a pack of coyotes in Otisfield. The news spurred community-wide concern from residents, some of whom told stories of coyotes killing their farm animals, including cows. Because of increasing concern over the past few months, the Board of Selectmen decided to hold the public forum to address the issue.

Geri Vistein, a conservation biologist from Belfast and a member of Project Coyote, told the crowd that the best way to exist with coyotes is to keep the animal wild and to support the protection of coyotes by regulating hunting.

Vistein said the most important protection residents can take is to not feed coyotes.

“You never want coyotes to see you as a food source,” she said.

But some residents questioned how they could exist with coyotes that run in packs killing livestock and pets.

“We were here before the coyote. I’ll be gosh darn if I’ll give way to the coyote,” Dolan said.

A number of residents said their animals, including cows, had been victims of coyotes. Several residents said “packs” of coyotes were living throughout the town including behind the elementary school.

Maine State Game Warden Neil Wykes, who was invited by selectmen to meet with residents, said coyotes going after large animals was very unusual. Short of shooting every coyote they see, there is little game wardens can do, he said.

“I don’t believe there’s anything else we can do. It’s up to you folk,” he said referring to what he called liberal hunting laws in shooting coyote. Both he and Vistein said short of shooting coyotes, putting up electric fences or using guard animals such as dogs, llamas and donkeys is a way to keep coyotes away from animals. 

Residents were also told they were safe to go out into the woods, despite the coyote population.

“To my knowledge, there has never been a coyote attack on a person in the state of Maine,” Wykes said. “You don’t have to worry about coyotes chasing you out of the woods for a meal. It’s just not going to happen.”

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Len Adams of Raymond told residents at a community forum on coyotes that the growing coyote population “is coming to a head.”

Len Adams of Raymond told residents at a community forum on coyotes that the growing coyote population “is coming to a head.”

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