September 20, 2018

Coyote Snaring and the Difference Between Fascism and Democracy

An opinion piece in the Bangor Daily News laments any notion that trapping of coyotes by snares should be reinstated. As the old saying goes, it might be a cold day in hell before…..But that doesn’t stop a good opportunity to opine emotional, outdated, clap-trap in hopes of influencing the public opinion poll, and for what purpose?

But this isn’t really about the pros and cons of snaring. It’s about credibility or the lack thereof, and a person’s failure, it appears to understand the difference between living in a democracy and under the ruling of fascist dictatorship.

Some may know that I’m no big fan of democratic rule and am certainly opposed to Fascism. It is always said that democracy is two wolves and one sheep deciding what’s for dinner. Fascism, in a similar regard, is one person or government forcing both the wolves and the sheep to eat what they are told to eat.

Another misconception that exists in this post-normal world is the idea that political ideology runs along a straight line, a continuum if you will. I disagree. If you follow extreme Leftism far enough, it ends up in fascism. If you follow the far Right far enough, you’ll run headlong into the Left and fascism.

In the Bangor News opinion piece, the author attempts to make the argument that the money spent killing coyotes for predator control could have been better spent, “…passing laws to protect deer yards.”

For those not intelligent enough to understand this concept, let me explain. Whether you or I like a democracy or not, there are ways to go about promoting your fascist ideals. However, some who understand a democracy realize that it is far less dictatorial to select a method of predator control to salvage a deer herd than to take land and property rights away from private landowners. Those that promote bigger, more centralized government couldn’t care less about your property rights. Those who understand the value of property ownership and property rights see such calls as a direct effort to suppress those rights…far from the democratic rule.

But to a fascist, they want what they want without any care to the private citizen, or soon to be subject-slave should such displays of fascism, promoted by totalitarians selfishly demanding their own way regardless of the cost to others. This book has been written many times throughout history.

To suggest “passing laws to protect deer yards” is to demand that a landowner should be stripped of their rights to their land. Maine has ample (far too many) fascist restrictions placed on landowners now, that it doesn’t need another prohibiting them from doing anything with their land in order to protect the whims of misguided animal perverts and environmentalists who think it’s better to allow the suffering of animals and the waste of good, natural food, because a person fails to understand the realities of taking a life to sustain another. Fascism is the author of waste.

Maine’s landowners have done a damned good job over the years doing all they can voluntarily to protect what land they can for the deer and they should be thanked instead of asked to give more while those asking do nothing but demand more and more. That’s the foundation of Fascism.

History has shown us that fascism is only a mechanism or a tool to bring a nation under the rule of communism.

Every time someone says, “There ought to be a law….” there goes your liberties and here comes their fascism. Fascism is enabled by totalitarians. Eager and ignorant useless eaters, programmed to believe centralized government forced upon everyone equitably is justice, but is but one step away from fascistic domination, forced obedience and complete control over everything.

Think about that before you open your mouth with your emotional Leftist, Progressive nonsense. I guarantee you will not like your servitude.

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Minnesota Busts Two Guys Who Must Be The World’s Worst Trappers

The mouse that roared!

Minnesota officials are claiming to have nabbed two old men, 70 and 68 years of age, illegally running traps lines. Officials state they confiscated 638 illegally-set snares. It appears officials have had these two duffers under investigation since 2014.

According to one media report, a northern Minnesota trapper, said these men were not trappers, they were “butchers.” That may be an accurate description…or not, when you consider what 638 traps yielded. If you want to call them trappers, they were extremely poor at what appears to be an illegal enterprise.

Minnesota is claiming this to be the biggest trapping bust in the state’s history. I’m guessing finding 638 traps is big for two men, but for that effort, the state officials report only confiscating one wolf, “17 foxes, five snowshoe hares, two fisher, and one deer that the poachers had illegally taken.” And I repeat all taken, I don’t think the deer was, by at least 638 traps. Astounding!

Charges ranged from not tending traps as required by regulation, unmarked traps, loops in snares sized improperly, unreported or untagged game, etc. Are we to think these two clowns intended to obey the laws after putting out 638 traps? *Note* – According to the trapping rules and regulations of Minnesota, there is no limit on the number of traps one trapper can put out. A trapper is supposed to check traps daily. I doubt two old men could tend a dozen traps each a day.

One person who left a comment at the site of the media report asked, “You spent two years and how many tax dollars following and collecting evidence on these guys and the worst they can get is a 3K fine and a year in jail? Seriously?”

One does wonder why it took 3 years to shut these two guys down.

However, never fear because the idiot wolf lovers, along with their lackeys at the newspaper, are using the event to promote the banning of all trapping to protect wolves, stating how inhumane snaring is. I always have wondered how something to do with animals is called “inHUMANe” when animals aren’t HUMAN…well, at least not in the minds of sane people.

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“Egregious” Letter to the Editor

A recent Letter to the Editor in a Portland, Maine newspaper, called hunting practices “egregious.” Egregious is defined as, “outstandingly bad; shocking.” The same can be said for letters to the editor of newspapers that are outstandingly bad at relating facts, exemplifying truth and presenting non emotional realities of real life in the forests and our backyards.

This particular letter states: “the use of dogs and snares, are cruel and unnecessary methods in hunting bear.”

Snares are as humane as it can get. The wildlife managers all across America use snares for capturing bears, and other wildlife, for wildlife research. The reason this is done is because the work and collection of data can be done without harming the animal. Non thinking people project human emotions and human feelings onto animals believing there is no difference between the two species. They have effectively been brainwashed.

I am wondering if this letter writer ever considered how bears, elk, deer, moose and many, many other species “feel” when wild dogs (wolves and coyotes) run these animals to death? Have they ever considered this reality? By their way of not thinking, shouldn’t we then propose a bill to prohibit the chasing of wild animals by wild dogs? After all, it must be inhumane. Animals are just like human beings aren’t they? And if that is so, then why isn’t their a law against inhumane killing of one animal upon another?

It must also be inhumane to allow wildlife, like bears to go untouched; allow nature, the cruel bitch that she can be, provide her “balance” by utilizing disease, starvation and cannibalism to place population densities in severe ups and downs.

The letter also states: “Time and again, any effort to improve the humane treatment of our wildlife has been thwarted by members of the Inland Wildlife and Fisheries Committee…” The author’s perverted ideas of what is “humane treatment of our wildlife” is simply balderdash of emotional nonsense never substantiated by fact.

The insanity that has gripped this nation is actually what is egregious. The very thought that humans are now programmed to go about destroying my right to self determination because of perverted religious quackery of placing human elements on animals is beyond egregious. It can only be described as hatred toward a fellow human being. And we know from whence comes hatred.

And the hatred is so intense that the blindness prohibits the reality that their insane practices results in the destruction of other wildlife as I’ve described above. It also breeds scarcity. Scarcity breeds more hate and greed, sickness, oppression and destitution. The insanity is that the truth cannot be seen and thus their destruction becomes self.

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Maine IFW Recaptures Bear “Big John”

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife(MDIFW) captured a black bear for study purposes. It turned out to be “Big John” a big bear that had been captured for study before about 4 years ago. He now weighs in at over 400 pounds. You can read the story on the Bangor Daily News website.

But what I wanted to take a minute or two to share with readers here is that the MDIFW bear biologists captured “Big John” in a foot-hold snare trap, the same kind of foot-hold snare trap that trappers use when trapping bears. “Big John” was captured and safely released. Trappers who snare bears, can, if they choose, also safely release a captured bear. Readers should not listen to the misleading rhetoric being put out by the animal rights groups attempting to ban bear hunting, baiting, trapping and hounding.

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Getting Bear Hunting and Trapping Facts Straight

Last week in the Bethel Citizen, a small hometown newspaper, the online addition carried an opinion piece in the editorial section. It was titled, “Hunt Bear Traditionally.” I don’t feel at liberty to take a publication without permission so please follow the link to read the opinion piece.

I took a few minutes of my time on Monday to compose a rebuttal to that piece. I have published it below.

Response on bear hunting
Nov 21, 2013 12:00 am

To the Editor:

In reply to the opinion piece of Sara Wright, Nov. 14, 2013, “Hunt Bear Traditionally,” there are some serious errors to claims made about black bear hunting and trapping in Maine and elsewhere that need to be addressed.

The voters of Maine are the ones who will cast the deciding ballot on this issue and it is imperative that they have truthful information in order to form their opinions.

The writer claims the use of “steel traps” and that bears sometimes “gnaw off their paws.” From the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife rulebook about bear trapping it states that: “The only trap you are allowed to use when trapping for bear is a cable trap (foot snare), and cage type live trap.”

The use of the long-fabled iron-claw trap has been outlawed for several years. A snare only restrains the bear and can be released relatively easily with no injury to the animal.

It is easy to toss out statistics, cherry picking what fits a narrative. It is much more difficult to make a telephone call and get clarification on issues. The writer makes claims about Oregon, Washington and Colorado pertaining to bear hunting and trapping. The claims made are a bit dishonest, a fete hoped for by the misleading environmentalists looking to interfere with the wildlife management of the Pine Tree State.

Cathy DeMerchant, a member of the Board of Directors for the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and immediate past chairwoman of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Advisory Council, did her homework and got the facts straight. DeMerchant says that Joel Hurtado, wildlife biologist in charge of Oregon’s Big Game Statistics division, explains what misleading figures being used by the animal rights organizations really state. He says that what appear to be increases in the number of bear tags sold, along with licenses, is the result of the state combining a bear hunting license with a big game license. Where once a separate license was required, it is now combined with a standard big game license. It therefore appears to be an increase in bear licenses but in fact it is not.

In addition, Hurtado states that bear nuisance complaints in Oregon increased 65 percent since passage of the hunting/trapping ban and in Colorado “nuisance bear complaints went through the roof.”

Here are a few more Maine bear statistics readily available to anyone wishing to actually find them:

1. Bear hunting success rate, utilizing the current methods, stands at 30 percent.

2. Bear hunting success by the proposed “traditional” spot and stalk method, yielded a harvest of 60 bears in 2012. MDIFW claims at current population numbers (30,000) a harvest of 3,000 bears is needed to keep numbers at current levels.

3. Bear population has increased in Maine 67 percent since 1990.

4. In 2012 nuisance bear complaints jumped from an average of 500 per year to 870.

(By the way, MDIW has perhaps the finest black bear management and study program in the U.S. It is the envy of most other fish and game departments.)

It is difficult to attempt to legislate hunting ethics/sportsmanship. For the most part fish and game departments establish their rules for hunting and trapping based on need for population control, public safety and social demands. Using an argument that attempts to define what is ethical and/or sportsmanlike when it comes to hunting, trapping and fishing is impossible to do and should never be included as part of any argument to ban hunting or trapping.

Maine’s wildlife managers need tools at their disposal in order to carry out their legislatively mandated jobs of managing wildlife for all. Please don’t hamstring the fish and game department preventing them from doing their jobs.

Whether signing a petition or voting next November on this issue, please get all the facts and more importantly, the truthful facts and then make your decision.

Tom Remington
Largo, Fla. and Bethel

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Open Letter to Maine Trappers, Hunters, Commissioner Woodcock and Governor LePage

*Editor’s Note:* The below letter was sent electronically to Gov. Paul LePage, MDIFW Commissioner Chandler Woodcock and several hunting industry leaders throughout Maine.

I have spent much of the last three days studying and researching the laws governing trapping, snaring and in particular the Coyote Control Program. I finished up a 30 minute session on the telephone with the Maine Law Library this morning and learned some very interesting pieces of information. I’ll try to spare all the details and provide only those of importance.

PL2003 c. 655 an act by the Legislature, effective Aug. 31, 2004, repealed all of Title 12, section 10105 subsection 3. In other words there is no longer a Coyote Control Program in Maine. Prior to the repeal, the language of 10105 sub 3 was as follows:

“3. Coyote control program. Pursuant to section 10053, subsection 8, the commissioner shall maintain a coyote control program as follows.
“A. The commissioner may employ qualified persons to serve as agents of the department for purposes of coyote control. These agents must be trained by the department in animal damage control techniques and must be utilized by the department to perform coyote control duties in areas where predation by coyotes is posing a threat to deer or other wildlife. Each agent shall execute a cooperative agreement with the department specifying the conditions and limitations of the agent’s responsibilities as an agent, including any terms for reimbursement of expenses or payment of wages.
“B. Agents must be trained in the use of snares and must be deployed in the unorganized townships to control coyotes during the winter months. All snaring must be carried out under the direction of department officials and with the knowledge of the local game warden. All areas of snaring activity must be adequately posted.
“C. Agents may be utilized for the benefit of agricultural interests as long as the department is reimbursed annually for the cost of those efforts by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources from funds specifically appropriated or otherwise made available to the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources for that purpose.”

All that exists now in Maine Statute Title 12, Section 10105 is:

3. Coyote control program.
[ 2003, c. 614, §9 (AFF); 2003, c. 655, Pt. B, §21 (RP); 2003, c. 655, Pt. B, §422 (AFF) .]

The history line across the bottom tells us the process of the elimination of the Coyote Control Program laws.

All that governs snaring in Maine is Maine Statute 12252 which bans snaring and Maine Statute Title 12, Section 10105, subsection 1:

1. Authorize taking or destruction of wildlife. Whenever the commissioner determines it necessary for the accomplishment of the commissioner’s statutory duties, the commissioner may authorize a person to assist the commissioner in the taking and destruction of any wildlife. The commissioner may place conditions or restrictions on any authorization granted under this subsection. A person who violates a condition or restriction placed on an authorization granted under this subsection invalidates that authorization and subjects that person to applicable laws under this Part.
[ 2003, c. 614, §9 (AFF); 2003, c. 655, Pt. B, §20 (AMD); 2003, c. 655, Pt. B, §422 (AFF) .]

This repeal, which by the way includes LD237 which provided the guidelines in which the IFW Commissioner could implement a snaring program, could have effectively been undertaken during the recodification process that became law in 2003. I don’t know that this happened but it is a possibility. Regardless, it is my opinion that the laws of the State of Maine and the wishes of the people have been circumvented through manipulation of the “process” in order to achieve certain goals and agendas.

So, it would appear, by law, the ONLY thing the Commissioner has a legal right to do is hire or appoint trappers/hunters to target coyotes, with limited traps due to lynx lawsuit protections or rifles, that are killing our deer herds. And with no more Coyote Control Program, in which the Legislature once many years ago and reiterated several times after, mandated that the Commissioner/IFW formulate a Control Program, does this not make Maine more susceptible to lawsuits by targeting coyotes or any other predator to save deer?

Any notions anyone has that Maine will ever implement a snaring program again should be flushed out of their minds. We can waste time blaming anyone and everyone for what has happened but it fails to change the facts.

Snaring is not supported by IFW, I don’t know if the Legislature or the Governor’s office supports it, but it will never happen and it will definitely not happen with the approval of the USFWS. So, let’s stop wasting our time and energy. It’s just NOT going to happen.

As sportsmen, who care about our opportunities to hunt for deer and fill our freezers for food for the year, how do we change 1.) the laws and support needed from the Joint Committee and the Legislature to save this industry?, and 2.) how do we change the attitudes of those at IFW who support the propagation and spread of predators, rather spend their time and efforts on non game programs and view hunting and trapping as activities that they deem as socially unacceptable activities? These attitudes have no place in a fish and game department in which I invest my hard earned money to support. This MUST change!

It’s time for IFW, the Legislature and the Governor’s office to come clean on where Maine stands in its statutes to govern trapping and snaring and move forward in an aggressive and meaningful manner to remove harmful predators and rebuild the deer herd. If this can be done, it is my belief that there will be more support from the sporting community to dig in and help.

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Maine Predator Field Report Update

This morning I posted an update to the article I published last week on Maine’s predators from trappers in the field. One of the emails contained information about coyote trapping/snaring in New Brunswick, Canada. This latest update straightens out some numbers on trappers and harvest and the methods used for taking coyotes. Follow this link to read the update.

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Maine Predator Field Report

*Scroll for an Update*

Snaring, a method of trapping using a snare instead of a leg-hold trap that quickly kills targeted animals such as coyotes, is prohibited in the state of Maine but not on Maine Indian lands. A trapper who lives in the Eastern part of the state of Maine, snares coyotes on Indian land. The below photo is of 5 coyotes snared on Indian land around deer wintering yards.

Snaring has proven an effective way of controlling coyote populations where there are problems. During winter months, coyotes, being an intelligent animal, learn where the deer go to winter. They go into these “yards” to kill and eat. Knowledgeable trappers with snares, can target coyotes around the perimeter of the yards. This keeps in check the coyote populations and helps limit the number of kills deer suffer from the predation. In areas where deer numbers are low to begin with, targeting these areas is a very effective way to prevent losses to deer herds that sometime take years to rebuild.

In addition to this report of successful snaring on Indian lands, I received another email that reported on trapping in New Brunswick, Canada. Here’s the bulk of what the email reported:

“Spent last weekend at the New Brunswick Trappers Convention. You may be interested to know they have begun a pelt incentive program for trappers on coyotes in NB. This was initiated after a very successful program in Nova Scotia. This will be the 3rd yr in NS. Last yr a little over 500 trappers harvested over 2500 coyotes (rough numbers, I will check on the final tally). It only is available if the pelt is prepared and sold. (Puts them 50yrs ahead of Maine and MIF&W’s decision to exempt Coyotes from the wanton waste laws. They are laughing at us over that). Than the Province pays a supplemental amount on the price received. In NB it will be $20. Makes most of them worth total about $50”

*Update:* January 23, 2012 I got an update email to events in New Brunswick and the number of coyotes being trapped and the methods used. This update clarifies or changes some of the figures presented above.

I just returned from some meetings in Toronto. The true numbers on The Nova Scotia coyote pelt incentive program are for 2009/10 – 268 trappers, 1736 coyotes; 2010/11 – 366 trappers, 2643 coyotes. May also be interested to know the vast majority of them were snared. In NB. snaring on bait stations is the accepted practice for harvesting all their coyotes, fox and bobcats. They also have an “endangered Lynx population” all across the northern part of the province. 10 miles away in Quebec they are harvesting Lynx which are part of that overall population. Someone needs to get their act together.

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The Future of Trapping in Maine Looking Sketchy Leaving a Lot of Unanswered Questions

With the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) recently presenting an application for incidental taking of Canada lynx to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), what most deemed a great opportunity to rectify a lot of trapping and snaring issues, is rapidly turning into a nightmare.

The Canada lynx was declared a “threatened” species in the state of Maine in 2000. In 2009, the Federal Government designated a large chunk of northern Maine as “critical lynx habitat”. In the midst of a lawsuit by animal rights/environmental extremist groups, Maine agreed to and signed a Consent Decree that would allow the state to continue with its trapping program, albeit in a limited and restricted fashion. Also in the Consent Decree, MDIFW listed Wildlife Management Districts (WMD) 1,2,3,4,5,6,8,9,10, and 11 as their own brand of critical Canada lynx habitat designation. According to the Consent Decree, within these WMDs, Maine trappers were restricted to smaller trap sizes, aimed are reducing “incidental” trapping of lynx and the use of snares for limiting coyote mortality on deer in wintering yards was banned, among other restrictive measures. Maine remains under the throes of the Consent Decree until such time as the state can obtain an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) from the Federal Government.

An ITP is an agreement reached between the state and the Feds on how to conduct a trapping plan in order to continue adequate protection of a “threatened” or “endangered” species in order that this species will not be blocked from recovery. You can view the application for an ITP for Canada lynx at this link.

I learned a few days ago, through hours of research, that Maine’s current laws on trapping are NOT what most sportsmen believe them to be. I would strongly suggest reading that article before proceeding with this one.

Most sportsmen in Maine believe that if Maine can obtain this seemingly illusive ITP, then trapping can resume as normal and that the commissioner of the MDIFW can implement snaring programs to save the deer herd. This is not the case.

To be as brief as possible, the current law governing trapping and specifically snaring in Maine can be found in Maine Statute 12252 and Maine Statute 10105, as recodified under LD 1600 signed into law on June 3, 2003 by Gov. John Baldacci. MS 12252 bans snaring in Maine with exceptions. In part, MS 10105 lists the authority the commissioner has to utilize some form of “coyote control program”, in which he can hire trained agents to implement snaring in unorganized townships during winter (this was not part of LD 237).

While the law was effectively rewritten during recodification, it must be further understood that obtaining an ITP from the USFWS will not free up the commissioner or even the Maine Legislature to use snares to kill coyotes.

First of all, the application for an ITP is nothing more than a clone of the Consent Decree signed in 2007. It bans the use of snares and still retains the restrictions on trap sizes. The application and plan is not restricted to just those WMDs that MDIFW listed. It becomes statewide.

In the very first parts of the application it states:

The Department seeks a Section 10 permit that would cover its agents and licensees from liability in the event of incidental take of Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) in Maine that may occur as the result of otherwise lawful activities.

This Consent Decree clone of an application now will stretch out and cover the entire state, or at least that is how I understand the terms of the plan as written thus far. In essence Maine rids itself of one ball and chain, Consent Decree, and replaces it with a bigger ball and chain, ITP.

In short, where currently Maine is continuing its trapping program under the Consent Decree, which I believe in conjunction with current laws, the commissioner COULD, implement a snaring program outside of the 10 WMDs listed, in unorganized townships during winter. When and if this ITP is granted, the commissioner will lose his authority to do that.

If my calculations are correct, then short of dealing with some kind of liability issue for incidentally catching and or killing a lynx (which by the way, since 2000 no lynx has been killed as the result of an incidental take), why would Maine even seek an ITP that is more restrictive than the one in place now?

Some believe that Maine then needs to apply for an ITP for snaring in Maine. You will probably witness me walking on water before that ever happens. I doubt that if you collected all those in Maine Government and the Federal Government who would support an effective snaring program, you could fit them all into the eye of a needle.

From the frying pan to the fire.

Tom Remington

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“Recodification” of Maine Statutes in 2003 Gave That State It’s Ban on Snaring

In 2003, by mandate of the Maine Constitution, laws governing the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife were “recodified”. The end result was a statewide ban, with exceptions, on the use of snares for trapping, other than underwater snares for beaver and foothold snares for bear.

If you are puzzled, join the ranks of thousands of other Maine sportsmen.

Let me present a bit of personal history to help readers understand how I got here. As a hunter, I have become concerned over what I believe to be an overgrown population of coyotes in many parts of Maine. This has contributed to a sizable reduction in the whitetail deer population there. Efforts to do something about that population have seen many hurdles and are currently mired in court orders and confusion over just what the Maine laws are. Perhaps it is intended to be this way.

Trappers using snares has proven to be an effective tool to target those coyotes who like to consider wintering deer yards as their own private 5-star restaurants. Implementation of snares around deer yards took care of a respectable number of coyotes that would kill winter-weary deer.

Use of snares was stopped and subsequent lawsuits by environmental and animal rights groups, coupled with a federal listing for protection of Canada lynx, has left Maine in a situation where, even if IFW agreed coyotes were that serious a problem, there is little they are willing or able to do to stop the demise of the deer herd.

But confusion has run deep as to what the Maine laws governing trapping and in particular snaring are. Here’s a brief history.

In 1929, the Maine Legislature passed and was signed by the governor, a law that banned the use of snares…..period. Over the years there have been minor changes to what equipment and definitions constituted a snare. I believe it was in 1983 when the Maine Legislature mandated that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) begin a program to control the population of coyotes. This, to my knowledge, was the first attempt at implementing the use of snares.

Through the 80s and 90s, it seems the Maine Legislature as a whole has been mostly supportive of controlling coyotes and have instructed MDIFW to do something about coyote control, and yet there is none.

To keep my focus where it needs to be in this article, I’ll become more directed to the events of 2003. The Maine Legislature and Gov. Baldacci, signed into law LD237, “An Act to Improve the Coyote Control Program”. Initially, LD237 was a bill to ban snaring again, even after it had shown its effectiveness. Subsequently and during debate, etc., LD237 was amended and thus the title I gave above was attached to the bill.

LD237 was not an all out ban on snaring. What remained was the authority given to the commissioner of MDIFW to use “agents” to “meet management goals established by the commissioner for deer……”. I say this with all due diligence that I firmly believe the overwhelming majority of Maine sportsmen believe this is the law that is in place today as it pertains to snaring. If this were the case, then surely the Commissioner, Chandler Woodcock, or any commissioner before him or after, could have easily put together a plan to implement a targeted snaring program for coyotes in areas of Maine most vulnerable to coyotes……if that were the law.

As the result of a lawsuit filed against Maine by the Animal Protection Institute, in 2007 a Consent Decree was activated by the Courts. In that Consent Decree, the use of snares was prohibited within those Wildlife Management Districts that had been deemed critical habitat for the Canada lynx; a species protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Because the majority of hunters and trappers (and to be honest, I think the ignorance ran deeply into MDIFW and probably the Maine Legislature) were still thinking that Maine was operating under the statute of LD237, people began asking why MDIFW didn’t implement snaring programs in areas outside critical lynx habitat. Downeast regions come to mind.

The Consent Decree was to remain in effect until such time as Maine was granted an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), for the “incidental” taking of lynx during trapping season. Once again, sportsmen waited eagerly for Maine to acquire such a permit, believing that with this ITP, the commissioner has authority under LD237 to begin a snaring program. In the meantime, the deer herd is suffering.

I was one of many in the ranks of those led astray, or poorly informed, who wrote extensively on LD237 and the commissioner’s authority granted in that bill, fully believing through many hours of research that LD237 was the snaring law we were abiding by. Nobody has attempted to clear this up that I am aware of.

So, what law is the MDIFW, trappers and the people of Maine being governed by as it pertains to the use of snares? It took me many hours of research and a lot of dead ends and frustration, before I contacted the Maine Law Library seeking information, hoping it would answer some of my many questions.

What really piqued my level of frustration came when I was reading the Application for an Incidental Take Permit. Included at the end of this application was a copy of the trapping laws and rules that govern trapping in Maine. This is where I came upon Maine Statute 12252. Reading that statute, it says that it is unlawful to “set or tend a snare…….”. I told myself that there was something seriously wrong here. This isn’t even close to LD237, the law I and many others believed to be the law governing snaring.

A very important note that needs to be made here: This is the only statute provided in the ITP application that refers to the use of snares for capturing and killing coyotes. More in a minute.

Once the fine people at the Maine Law Library helped me and sent me some 800 pages of files and documents, I have learned that LD1600, “An Act To Recodify the Laws Governing Inland Fisheries and Wildlife” is the bill that governs trapping statewide.

Before I proceed, I want you to embed into your memory that LD237 was signed into law by Governor John Baldacci on April 25, 2003.

On June 3, 2003, Governor John Baldacci signed into law LD1600. LD1600 was introduced by Senator Bruce Bryant. There were no sponsors or cosponsors. Mr. Bryant was Chairman on the Joint Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife at that time I was told by the Law Library. By law, the Joint Committee was to read LD1600 and debate all 600 pages or so and they ultimately made a unanimous recommendation to the Maine Legislature, “Ought to Pass”. According to House and Senate records there was no debate on LD1600. It passed the Legislature on May 27, 2003 and was signed into law by the governor as described above.

The Maine Constitution, Article X, Sec. 6, mandates the “recodification” of statutes every ten years beginning in 1973.

Section 6. Constitution to be arranged by Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court; Constitution to be enrolled and printed with laws; supreme law of the State. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court shall arrange the Constitution, as amended, under appropriate titles and in proper articles, parts and sections, omitting all sections, clauses and words not in force and making no other changes in the provisions or language thereof, and shall submit the same to the Legislature; and such arrangement of the Constitution shall be made and submitted to the regular session of the Legislature in 1973 and every 10 years thereafter unless sooner authorized by the Legislature; and the draft and arrangement, when approved by the Legislature, shall be enrolled on parchment and deposited in the office of the Secretary of State; and printed copies thereof shall be prefixed to the books containing the Revised Statutes of the State. And the Constitution, with the amendments made thereto, in accordance with the provisions thereof, shall be the supreme law of the State. (emphasis added)

My first knowledge about codification as it pertains to laws taught me that codification was more of a housekeeping measure. Its intent was to clear up language, redundancies, typos, grammar, etc., that sometimes made it difficult to interpret and administer the laws, but never to alter the law. Once statutes have been “codified”, which according to the Maine Constitution appears to have been in 1973, each ten-year term becomes “recodification”.

Wikipedia defines “recodification” this way:

Recodification refers to a process where existing codified statutes are reformatted and rewritten into a new codified structure. This is often necessary as, over time, the legislative process of amending statutes and the legal process of construing statutes by nature over time results in a code that contains archaic terms, superseded text, and redundant or conflicting statutes. Due to the size of a typical government code, the legislative process of recodification of a code can often take a decade or longer.

I think it becomes clear and should be a logical conclusion that the purpose of recodification isn’t to rewrite existing laws; only to clear up any confusions, etc. that make it difficult to understand the law.

And so, with the passage of LD1600 by the Maine Legislature, this is where the MDIFW came up with the statute that they provided in the application for an ITP to the USFWS that included a statewide ban on the use of snares.

As you might expect, this story doesn’t end here. In the “recodified” MDIFW trapping laws, i.e. Maine Statute 12252, Section 2, paragraph A reads: “A. Set or tend a snare for the purpose of trapping any wild animal or wild bird, except as provided in section 10105, subsection 1 and section 12259;” (emboldening added). If we examine the “recodified” MDIFW statutes under section 10105, subsection 1, we see that it tells us that the commissioner has the authority to issue permits to anyone in order to assist in the “taking and destruction of any wildlife”.

However, there is no mention in Statute 12252, of any reference to section 10105, subsection 3, “Coyote Control Program”, which I am under the impression is an attempt to recodify LD237. There exists no other place in the MDIFW statutes any law that resembles LD237 except for what is found in Statute 10105, subsection 3.

But, I’m left here with some of what I am considering serious and troubling problems with this entire procedure and the end results. First, if the purpose of recodification is to clear up confusing laws, errors, etc., one would think that during this process that Maine Statute 12252, Section 2, paragraph A. would have been changed to read: “A. Set or tend a snare for the purpose of trapping any wild animal or wild bird, except as provided in section 10105, subsection 1 and subsection 3 and section 12259;” (I emboldened what should have been added during recodification.)

As far as the laws that govern snaring, doesn’t it make sense that if a law is created that bans snaring and there were exceptions to that ban that all exceptions would be listed? Furthermore, shouldn’t it be expected that this should have been corrected during the recodification process? So was this a mistake by those undertaking the ginormous task of recodification, or something more sinister?

Second, before you answer that last question about the possibilities of something being more sinister, let me get back to something I mentioned before about the only snare-relevant statute included on the application for an ITP was 12252. Why didn’t the application also include statute 10105? The ITP application was drafted, according to dates on the draft, August 13, 2008. Gosh, the recodification and passage of LD1600 took place on June 2003.

The purpose, I am to presume, of MDIFW including the trapping statutes for Maine, is to show the USFWS what Maine’s current laws are that pertain to trapping, including snares so that USFWS officials can better determine how current laws will effect protection of the Canada lynx. The application included 12252, which “exceptions” 10105 subsection one but no mention of subsection three.

Was the omission of Statute 10105, the recodified law about coyote control and snaring an error, or something more sinister? You have permission to attempt to answer that now, however, you might want to read further.

Third, I have one more issue to discuss and bring to light. Above I provided information that I had as it pertains to codification and recodification. I think I made my case that recodification is not a tool to be used to rewrite existing laws, only to clear up discrepancies.

If that be the case, then certainly there is room for debate as to whether the recodification of the laws governing snaring were clearing up discrepancies or rewriting laws.

I am of the opinion that Maine Statute 12252 is a clear attempt at re institution of a statewide ban on snaring as was done in 1929. Maine Statutes in 1929, Chapter 331, Section 44 reads: “No person shall set a snare…..for any fur-bearing animal…”. Statute 12252 reads that it is unlawful to: “Set or tend a snare for the purpose of trapping any wild animal or wild bird”. Other than changing up some non existent and outdated terms and language, the recodification appears cut and dry.

I’m not sure the same can be said about Maine Statute 10105, Section 3, paragraphs A, B, and C. This has to be either an attempt to recodify LD237 or LD237 was stricken from Maine Statutes and this law was inserted in its place. This article is already quite lengthy but I believe it’s imperative to post the following information in order that readers can easily review and decide for themselves.

First, is LD237 passed into law on April 25, 2003:

Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:

Sec. 1. 12 MRSA §7035, sub-§3, ¶B, as amended by PL 1999, c. 636, §1, is repealed.

Sec. 2. 12 MRSA §7035, sub-§3, ¶B-1 is enacted to read:

B-1. An agent may use snares to control coyotes during winter months under the following conditions.

(1) Agents may use snares only for animal damage control purposes to help meet management goals established by the commissioner for deer, threatened or endangered species or other wildlife species or to benefit agricultural interests as described in paragraph C.
(2) Agents must be trained and certified by the department in the use of snares.
(3) Agents must be deployed by a department wildlife biologist before setting snares.
(4) Agents shall post access points to areas in which snaring activity is taking place, including, but not limited to, roads and trails for motorized vehicles, cross-country skiers or hikers or other obvious travel ways that may be used by people.
(5) An agent shall plainly label snares with the full name and address of that agent.
(6) An agent shall keep an accurate record of the number and location of snares set by that agent and must be able to account for those snares at all times.
(7) An agent shall check that agent’s snares that are equipped with relaxing locks on a daily basis.
(8) Department employees may accompany agents at any time an agent is checking snares.
(9) Agents shall report monthly to the department on forms provided by the department the coyotes and nontarget species taken by snaring during the reporting period.
(10) The commissioner shall revoke the snaring certificate of an agent who violates any provision of this paragraph.

The commissioner shall adopt policies and procedures on the use of snares as necessary to minimize the potential for taking nontarget species and to adequately protect threatened and endangered species.

And the following is Maine Statute 10105, Section 3:

3. Coyote control program. Pursuant to section 10053, subsection 8, the commissioner shall maintain a coyote control program as follows.

A. The commissioner may employ qualified persons to serve as agents of the department for purposes of coyote control. These agents must be trained by the department in animal damage control techniques and must be utilized by the department to perform coyote control duties in areas where predation by coyotes is posing a threat to deer or other wildlife. Each agent shall execute a cooperative agreement with the department specifying the conditions and limitations of the agent’s responsibilities as an agent, including any terms for reimbursement of expenses or payment of wages.

B. Agents must be trained in the use of snares and must be deployed in the unorganized townships to control coyotes during the winter months. All snaring must be carried out under the direction of department officials and with the knowledge of the local game warden. All areas of snaring activity must be adequately posted.

C. Agents may be utilized for the benefit of agricultural interests as long as the department is reimbursed annually for the cost of those efforts by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources from funds specifically appropriated or otherwise made available to the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources for that purpose.

It certainly would appear to me that certain liberties were taken in “recodifying” LD237, if that is what this is supposed to be. While at first glace it may appear that this recodified statute is the same or at least similar to LD237, there is at least one specific qualifier in this statute that does not appear in LD237 and is far more than a clarification of text or outdated language, etc.

The first sentence in subsection “B” above states: “Agents must be trained in the use of snares and must be deployed in the unorganized townships to control coyotes during the winter months. (emphasis added).

In my opinion, this far exceeds what should be considered “recodification” of existing laws. Nowhere in LD237 did it state that snaring can only take place in “unorganized townships” nor was it limited to the winter months.

Granted LD237 gave the authority to the commissioner to formulate a plan which may spell out precisely that snaring will be in unorganized townships and in winter only. However, that was not necessarily the desire of LD237 nor was it even implied, nor is it the point of this article. If the Maine Legislature had intended to ensure that snaring was only going to take place in unorganized townships during the winter, then the bill would have stated such. Whoever rewrote this took the liberty to add in language that didn’t exist in LD237.

The question should become, who authorized or took in upon themselves to rewrite the laws of the state of Maine? Unless the laws in Maine that govern the recodification process are so lenient as to provide for such action, one must be left questioning whether this in an illegal action that needs some serious attention.

It should matter not whether one thinks snaring should or shouldn’t be used. It matters not whether snaring, if used, were to be relegated to unorganized townships. It matters not whether snaring should take place in winter or summer. What should matter is whether or not the recodification process in Maine results in the rewriting of laws enacted by the people of Maine? This cannot be. There has to be some kind of better oversight here, otherwise what confidence do any of us have that every 10 years our laws will get changed and we know nothing about it.

Did the process fail the people or was the failure a result of the process, which includes certain checks and balances or lack thereof? The Maine Supreme Court, via the constitution, is responsible for this undertaking. Were there all the necessary checks and balances done here to ensure no rewriting would take place.

The recoded laws, done by whom I am not sure, then went to the Joint Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Did they read the entire revised statutes or give it a cursory nod that it must be alright? Was there a failure to perform according to the wishes of the people of Maine?

And then it went on to the Legislature in which there was no debate recorded. This should tell us nothing was read and obviously no questions asked. It all appears like a very easy and convenient way to make changes and rewrite existing laws for which most people will never be informed about until one day it might effect them personally.

While recodification may be a great idea and may help in the process of reading, understanding and applying laws, if laws are being rewritten, whether intentional or not, whether allowed by law or not, it can’t be. Something must change. This is a faulty process to say the least.

In my mind, I am left with three very important and unanswered questions:

1. Was it someone’s intent through recodification of the MDIFW statutes to actually alter the existing laws that govern snaring or was it ignorance, lack of proper skills and poor workmanship?

2. Was the omission of Maine Statute 10105 on the application for an Incidental Take Permit from USFWS an error, oversight or was it intentionally left off in order to deliberately deceive anyone reading the application?

3. And during the recodification process was it also intended to NOT make reference to Maine Statute 10105, subsection 3 when the recodification of Maine Statute 12252 was carried out?

Answers to these questions will never come about as there is no way to prove a person’s intent. I feel it is my duty and responsibility to share what I have learned and to ask questions that many of us will also be asking.

If, however, there is intent here somewhere to deliberately mislead the people of Maine through, 1). Using recodification as a tool to rewrite Maine’s laws, and/or 2). intentionally deceive the USFWS in order to achieve an ITP, then I shall have nothing to do with that. Other than exposing what I know, there is no way that I will become partner to any unethical, illegal or deceitful acts in order to obtain an objective that I feel is important.

I hope my efforts have helped some to come to better understand where we are as it pertains to snaring and trapping and its associations with Canada lynx.

Tom Remington

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