A key component in Maine’s Game Plan for Deer is a reduction in coyote predation. Both coyotes and bears kill a lot of deer and are one of the three major reasons that our state’s deer population in the north country has plummeted.
Although it had budgeted $50,000 for a coyote control project last winter, Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife was only able to spend $15,000, most of that spent on travel expenses for trappers who targeted coyotes in 10 specific deer yards. That caused some (ok, me) to question how serious we are about bringing back the deer herd.
I compared Maine’s feeble effort to Utah’s $2 million annual project to control coyotes and restore the state’s mule deer population. Earlier this year Utah boosted this project with a $5 license fee increase and $750,000 from sales tax revenue.
The Maine legislature, undeterred by last year’s effort (70 coyotes killed, at a cost of $216 each), appropriated $150,000 for DIF&W’s coyote predation control program this year.
It is clear, at least to me, that Maine is unwilling and/or unable to significantly control coyote predation of deer on a statewide basis – although the agency’s program can certainly be successful in small specific areas.
That makes it imperative for sportsmen to step up to help and the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine is doing just that, along with many fish and game clubs around the state. SAM is encouraging recreational coyote hunting, something SAM Board member Gerry LaVigne says “has been gaining in popularity for some time now.”
LaVigne, retired long-time DIF&W deer biologist, is leading SAM’s deer programs and projects. While he believes winter trapping is the key to reduce coyote predation, LaVigne is also excited about the potential of coyote hunting.
“It is possible to reduce the numbers of coyotes in a given area by focusing on trapping and hunting during the fall and winter,” writes LaVigne. “Coyotes may regain their numbers the next year, but the predation pressure from annually reducing coyotes will have a positive impact on deer survival from year to year.”
SAM’s Deer Management Network “is all about educating hunters and trappers on ways to improve deer survival,” said LaVigne, “by developing predator hunting and trapping skills.”
SAM will host a coyote hunting and training workshop on Saturday, September 29, starting at 8:30 am at SAM’s Augusta headquarters. All are welcomed to participate. Hands-on workshops will be conducted by some of Maine’s top coyote hunters and trappers.
The workshop costs $15, which includes lunch, snacks, and handouts. You should pre-register by calling Becky Morrell at 207-623-4589, or by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SAM’s Executive Director Dave Trahan says topics will including all aspects of coyote hunting and trapping, including the use of hounds, night hunting techniques, and fur handling.
If you want to be part of the army of sportsmen necessary to rebuild Maine’s deer herd, this event would be a day well spent.