The monthly report about it’s predation management project, issued today by Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, indicates that 136 coyotes have been killed this winter by 49 paid trappers and hunters hired to protect deer in 30 designated priority areas.
That’s $233 per coyote, a cost that is unsustainable and certain to lead to calls to abandon the program. In fact, Rep. Lizzie Dickerson of Rockland is already on that track, with her proposed “Act to Eliminate Funding to Reduce Deer Predation.”
Rep. Robert Saucier of Presque Isle may have the answer with his proposed “Act to Enhance the Deer Population by Increasing Control of Coyotes through Local Conservation Organizations.” DIF&W might get more for its money by working through local clubs, volunteers, and the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine.
DIF&W’s predation management project is part of Governor Paul LePage’s Maine Game Plan for Deer, created in 2011 to restore the state’s depleted deer herd.
Today’s report, issued by John Pratte, DIF&W’s Wildlife Management Section Supervisor, indicated that the agency has also worked with 21 volunteers who killed 156 coyotes.
Pratte, the enternal optimist, reported he is “impressed with the level of effort and commitment from many of our participants. Conditions have been very challenging this winter yet these determined hunters are constantly monitoring coyote activity and checking in with others to find opportunities to be more successful.”
“We have some that have been very good at recruiting volunteer effort to amplify their effort. And we even have one hunter that has flown his area to better understand snow conditions and where deer may be concentrated,” said Pratte.
“Wintering conditions for deer have moderated significantly this week,” he reported. “Reports from the field indicate deer continue to travel unrestricted seeking out more nutritive browse. Similarly, coyotes are benefiting and targeting easier prey such as rabbits and rodents. In some parts of the state they are now able to go ‘mousing’ in fields.
“Hunters are reporting that coyotes are not responding well to frozen bait as a result. We also have four houndsmen that have curtailed their efforts because of bare ground and crusty snow conditions,” he noted.
While the legislature appropriated $100,000 for this winter’s predation management program, DIF&W has only spent $31,732 so far. Last year the agency spent only $15,000 of a $50,000 appropriation for the project.