March 21, 2023

Commissioner Woodcock in Response to Open Letter

*Editor’s Note* On January 26, 2012 I sent an open letter to Maine’s Governor Paul LePage, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Chandler Woodcock and others concerning Maine’s ability through statute to control coyotes and other predators. Below is a copy of the email response I received this morning from the MDIFW commissioner’s office.

Dear Mr. Remington:

Your recent e-mail to Governor LePage has been forwarded to the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife for response. In your message you discuss coyote control as it relates to the deer population in Northern, Eastern, and Western Maine. Specifically, you mentioned concerns about the Department’s ability to control coyotes in Maine. I would point out that in statute (Title 12, Sec 10053 (and Sec 10105), Sub 8 the Commissioner is authorized to initiate predation control. When the statutes were recodified there were changes made to improve clarity and eliminate duplication. The sections that you mentioned in your email were eliminated as part of that recodification effort. However, the Statutes in place clearly grant the Commissioner the authority to implement a predator control program.

In fact, the Department has implemented a predator control program in selected Deer Wintering Areas in Northern Maine. The Department is also continuing to work on implementing its Game Plan for Deer. At the same time we are working with the USFWS to get the Incidental Take Plan approved and in place for trapping. The Governors office is supportive of our efforts to address the issues related to the deer population in Northern, Eastern and Western Maine. We have been working with the Maine Forest Products Council, the Maine Department of Transportation and the Sportsmen Alliance of Maine among others to address the issues of Deer Wintering Shelter, Feeding of Deer, Car-Deer mortality, and predation on Deer. The overall solution to the problem requires our attention to multiple issues working in concert with many partners. There aren’t any simple answers and in the end our success will be gained by good old fashioned hard work with people from all over the State who care about the wildlife habitat and resources. We encourage you to participate in the efforts undertaken by the Department and these groups as we move forward. Information can be found on our website relating to these issues. Thank you for your interest and advocacy on behalf of the Wildlife Resources of the State of Maine.

Chandler E. Woodcock

This morning I took the time to offer a response to Commissioner Woodcock:

Mr. Woodcock:

Thank you very much for taking the time to respond to my open letter. I am fully aware of the existing laws and what they allow and do not allow, although I am not a legal expert trained in law interpretation. I also am aware and have been that you, as commissioner, hold a degree of authority for animal damage control and dealing with predation issues. That is really not the point here.

The recodification and legislative appeals process, in my humble opinion, did a bit more than, “improve clarity and eliminate duplication”.

Prior to the process of recodification and the legislative repeal of “Maine Coyote Control Program” (notice this is in capitals), the commissioner had the authority in the use of snaring under the guidelines provided by statute. We are of course, restricted by the Consent Decree.

There has to be serious discussion as to how Maine went from a coyote/predator control program, including the use of snares, to an outright ban on snaring Title 12, Section 12252 and the commissioner with authority to conduct animal damage control, with limited tools available, all through the process to, “improve clarity and eliminate duplication”.

However, I believe short of an investigation into this process by the Attorney General, on all other points I am beating a dead horse. At this point it appears the only help the State of Maine can get is approval of an Incidental Take Permit for Canada lynx that does not put any more restrictions on trapping that now already exist. What is being suggested by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would so restrict trapping it would effectively eliminate it. Where would this leave our Animal Damage Control?

Hoping for the best.

Tom Remington