A very misguided bill that almost passed in the state legislature, LD 814, would have set back a lot of work in this state to bring back Maine’s declining deer populations in the North Woods.

V. Paul Reynolds, Outdoors Columnist

The bill would have ended recreational coyote hunting and trapping as we know it. Coyotes kill deer. The data is clear. By definition, coyote management means population control by hunters and trappers.

A recent postmortem of the intense debate surrounding LD 814 by Gerry Lavigne in the SAM News is an eye opener.

Lavigne explains that in 2022 the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (DIFW) set out to formulate a formal coyote management strategy. The Department put together a committee comprised of a wide range of stakeholders, as well as a technical subcommittee whose mission was to evaluate the efficacy of the main committee’s recommendations. Here is part of Lavigne’s article:

The technical subcommittee was comprised of four biologists who were independent of DIFW, trappers, hound hunters, a game warden, a DIFW regional biologist, other Department staff, and two anti-hunting proponents. I was one of the independent biologists, selected for my past research and management activities while at DIFW from 1975 to 2005. I was also selected because of my coyote hunting experiences since retiring from DIFW. It seemed inexplicable to me that DIFW would invite two anti-hunting activists to help shape coyote management policy for the next decade and beyond. When I questioned this decision, I was told the agency wants to be inclusive of all viewpoints. Personally, I felt the steering committee was the place for such “inclusiveness.”

The several technical committee meetings may best be described as “contentious” at best. The two antis repeatedly derided coyote hunters and trappers, and both went on the record to say they want to see an end to all hunting and trapping of coyotes. Their alternate vision is to allow coyote populations to “self-regulate” and that people need to learn to coexist with Maine’s “Songdog.”

A good question. Why in the world would the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife include two well-known anti-hunting activists on a technical subcommittee charged with evaluating wildlife management strategies?

This seems more a political gesture, a bow to “inclusivity,” than it does a wildlife management priority. Is this not carrying the progressive concept beyond the realm of common sense? You would not invite the fox into the hen house if you were trying to develop management strategies to safeguard your livestock, would you? DIFW has no historical or constitutional obligation to get on bended knee for the anti-hunting activists.

V. Paul Reynolds is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal, an author, 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. Contact him at vpaulr@tds.net.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.