As a conservation biologist whose work focuses on introducing our Maine people to our returning and recovering carnivores, I would like to introduce a historic bill coming through our Maine Legislature this year.

L.D. 1265, An Act to Control the Means of Hunting Coyotes, sponsored by state Sen. David Miramant, is truly the Maine people’s bill. And why do I say that? Ongoing serious issues have affected our people as a result of the abuses connected with the year-round and unregulated killing of our Maine coyotes.

Many in Maine suffer from the Lyme disease epidemic, yes, the epidemic, because of the continued absence of coyotes from the landscape, and our farmers along with many of our landowners are experiencing blatant private-property rights issues. Our present culture speaks of social injustice on many fronts, and what these Mainers are experiencing is just that.

Maine is a hunting state, with a tradition that our state is proud of. But many of our traditional hunters are being affected in negative ways by the abuses that go on. It has caused landowners to post land they never have before, and that past mutual respect for each other is dwindling. That is a great loss to all of us.

So much of this is all under the radar, never seen on the news media or written about in our newspapers, but it goes on more than you would want to know. And so you ask, well, how do you know about this? My work as a biologist has taken me all over Maine and I spend time with our people, who share experiences that are painful to them, but they do not know where to go with it, and they feel they have no voice while these activities are rampant either on their land or in their community.

So what is this people’s bill proposing?


This bill will make illegal the most unethical, violent and unsafe activities, which are presently unregulated. First, it will be illegal to have hunting dogs chase coyotes to their death. Remember, this is year round, and coyotes cannot climb trees to escape from the dogs. Once the dogs catch up with the exhausted coyote, a scenario like one would observe in an illegal dog-fighting ring occurs. All the dogs attack the single coyote and, when finished, kill him or her.

Second, it will make it illegal to use bait to draw coyotes from their refuges and then shoot them. Note: Much of this bait is taken from slaughterhouse remains of farm animals. Wild carnivores are taught by their parents who their prey are. Stable coyotes seek their wild prey, When they are exposed to these bait piles of farm animal remains, they may then seek out living farm animals. This can cause great stress and economic loss to farmers who, before this, were living with a stable family of coyotes.

Lastly, this bill will make it illegal to kill coyotes at night. With all the abuse that goes on with our wildlife during the day when others see it, giving free rein to kill them at night is now opening a whole new window of abuse, not only to our wildlife, but also to our people. Many may not know that a few years back a law was passed to make it lawful to use silencers on guns, and this year, an attempt is being made to repeal the requirement to obtain a permit before hunting with a silencer. So how do you know who is on your land when you are sleeping?

My experience as a scientist is that most citizens of Maine are not aware that there are basically no regulations in reference to hunting coyotes. It is a free for all. Individuals can kill them year round, day and night, and as many as they wish – and then throw their bodies away.

Is this what we wish to pass down to our children? Or can we leave another, more enlightened legacy, one that speaks of restraint and respect?

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