Recently, Maine’s new fish and wildlife commissioner, Judy Camuso, was a studio guest on Maine Calling, an interactive radio program on the National Public Radio station in Portland. She performed well as she outlined the goals and challenges of the department in the months ahead.

The control of coyote populations in the North Woods by IF&W contractors, as well as recreational hunters, was a hot topic. There was a pronounced “urban bias,” as some callers railed against coyote-population control as an institutionalized policy implemented by the department.

V. Paul Reynolds, Outdoors Columnist

Camuso, to her credit, kept her cool and explained the biological realities of deer vulnerability to coyotes in deer wintering areas. It appeared that the naysayers, who adamantly opposed coyote population management, really had no interest in the real world, that they would hold tight to their shibboleths no matter where the facts led.

Among their misguided convictions about coyotes: 1) You can’t control coyote populations; 2) coyotes eat only mice.

Neither of these are based in fact. Coyotes are being controlled in Aroostook County. In winter, studies show that venison comprises more than 80 percent of a coyote’s diet.

Camuso seemed to suggest that the department’s coordinated and funded coyote reduction program would continue in the North Woods. She was less committal when it got around to hunting coyotes with hounds in other parts of the state.

Maine’s first female commissioner conceded to the host, Cindy Han, that all of this is a balancing act. That’s an understatement.

Clear to anyone paying close attention to this program is the fact that some of the citizens of southern Maine, at least the ones who call in to radio stations, are clinging to trendy myths about wildlife that hardly reflect what goes on in the Big Woods, far from the boutiques in Freeport and the hustle bustle of Deering Avenue.

During the Maine bear referendum, when there was much at stake, IF&W’s staff rose to the occasion and implemented an effective public outreach program that went a long way toward bridging the culture and information gap between rural and urban Maine. The same needs to be done when it comes to predation on deer by both coyotes and bears.

*****

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is now accepting nominations for the 2019 Annual Lifetime Outdoor Achievement Award. This award, which is presented by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, honors individuals who are dedicated to the stewardship and wise use of our natural resources, and who have been or are active in Maine’s rich outdoor traditions.

To be eligible, nominees must have hunted, trapped and fished in Maine for a combined total of 40 years. Ideal candidates would also be active in mentoring, teaching or instructing outdoor activities.

The winners will be honored at the annual Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine annual banquet in Augusta in September.

Nominations should include the nominee’s name, address, phone number, photograph and a few paragraphs about the individual, their experience in the Maine outdoors, and an explanation of why they are a deserving candidate.

Nominations, which are due by 5 p.m. on Aug. 8, can be sent by email to Emily MacCabe at [email protected], or by mail to 284 State St, SHS 41, Augusta, Maine 04333. Nomination forms can be downloaded at www.maine.gov/ifw/docs/LifetimeOutdoorAchievementAward19.pdf

V. Paul Reynolds is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a Maine guide and host of a weekly radio program, “Maine Outdoors,” heard at 7 p.m. Sundays on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network. He has authored three books; online purchase information is available at www.maineoutdoorpublications.net.


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