Maine's Coyote Control Program: Is It Working?
By V. Paul Reynolds

As you may recall, last year, in response to widespread concern about Maine's flagging deer numbers and coyote predation on deer, the state legislature, in effect, ordered the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIF&W) to take corrective action. Here is an abbreviated excerpt from IF&W's marching orders from the Maine Legislature:

* Deer Predation Advisory Group – As a result of Public Law, Chapter 381, LD 1569 An Act to Restore the White-tailed Deer Population and Improve Maine’s Wildlife Economy and Heritage, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife established a Deer Predation Advisory Group to assist with developing and implementing a program to control predation on deer. LD 1569, Section 7 speaks to “predator control and deer protection on public lands;” additional language in Section 10 is provided below.

If funding is available, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife shall develop and implement a program to control predation on deer that includes, but is not limited to:

1. Organization of an advisory group of professional guides and trappers to help develop and implement the program;

2. Utilization of both hunters and trappers for the program;

3. Utilization of animal damage control techniques and agents trained in animal damage control techniques; and

4. Increases in the funding of animal damage control efforts related to the program.

The department shall report its progress on developing and implementing the program to the Joint Standing Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife no later than February 1, 2012.

The big question on every sportsman's tongue, of course is: "Will anything concrete come out of this deer predation study group? Or will this just be another pile of paper that gathers dust, a well-meaning report that is never translated into "boots on the ground"?

Although it is early in the game, the answer to the question is a definite "Yes," it is working. Money is available to pay trappers and hunters and a coyote control program is off and running. Late this fall, MDIF&W released an interim progress report. John Pratte of MDIF&W, who has responsibility for the program, had this to say:

Please find attached an interim report for this year’s effort, primarily through the end of November.

For those following our progress it is important to note that this effort focuses on areas of known winter deer concentrations which does not equate to concentrations or even presence of coyotes. As expected, some areas had good trapping success while others did not have notable coyote sign to warrant a trapping effort.

The fall trapping effort has concluded and as soon as we have snow or deer have yarded up our hunters will take to the field with monitoring efforts and responding to coyote sign/observations in these priority areas. With a program objective to reduce the impact of predation by coyotes on wintering deer in these priority areas we’ll keep you informed when the second phase is underway. For now, the deer are enjoying a snow free start to December.

–John Pratte

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