The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (SAM) hosts a Coyote Hunting and Trapping Workshop on Sept. 29 from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. at SAM’s headquarters on 205 Church Hill Road off Route 3 in Augusta. For info, please call (207)-623-4589 or check www.sportsmansallianceofMaine­.org.

SAM officials have asked participants to pre-register, and admission for the day costs $15 — pay at the door. The event includes expert instructors and hands-on experience, covering the following topics:

Trapping basics, bait and shoot, calibers, ballistics, coyote sets, calling, optics, gadgets, fur handling, coyote-chasing dogs, shooting shacks, coyote-turkey relationship, night hunting and ethics, the latter including solid advice on how to use land belonging to others.

This day helps hunters shoot coyotes more successfully, and government officials and outdoors leaders who organize and run these events feel that they are helping balance the coyote-deer ratio in such a way to benefit white-tailed deer — the state’s most popular game animal.

It’s a Biblical idea. As the old saw goes: Give a family fish, and they’ll eat a day. Teach them how to fish, and they’ll eat for a lifetime, or until the resource collapses. Teach someone how to hunt and trap coyotes better, and eventually, we may need seasons and bag limits in Maine to protect them.

That thought may seem silly, but I’m old enough to remember bounties on black bear in Maine. I also remember the growing popularity of bear baiting and dogs creating a prosperous guiding industry that interested parties worried about the bear herd collapsing. The bounty disappeared.

The increased interest in bear hunting caused plenty of hunters and guides to learn the fine points in the sport. Such excitement over the species forced wildlife managers to create regulations that led to an incredibly healthy herd, one of the hunting success stories in the last 35 years.

The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW) eliminated the spring bear hunt and quietly stopped the mid-summer hunt, decreased late summer and fall to three months, instituted three split seasons and kept the 1-bear bag limit.

Recently, IFW allowed hunters to shoot one bear annually as well as trap a second one, quite a liberal addition. Intense management made a huge difference, and the bruin herd continues to grow to kill two bears.

Two bear laws made a difference — shortening hunting over man-placed bait to one month and stopping hunting in spring though mid-summer.

One incident in the 1990s about Maine’s bear-hunting methods put a proverbial bee in my bonnet. A Maine outdoors leader proclaimed that Maine bureaucrats must make more of an effort to reduce our coyote herd significantly to save deer, which left me with a sardonic thought. CORRECT

We have instituted extremely liberal laws for killing coyotes in this state. Except for Sundays, hunters can hunt them 365 days a year and can even shoot them after dark from Dec. 16 to Aug. 31. It doesn’t end there, either. Hunters can use artificial light, predator calls, bait and dogs, and if those methods do not work, folks can trap these critters, even on Sunday.

In fact, hunters can do just about anything but use poison, trip wires hooked to firearms or explosives and fully automatic weapons. However, hunters have plenty of options to bring coyotes into gun range, but these wily canines still prevail. It’s no wonder American Indians referred to them as God’s dog.

Maine’s government officials have allowed several laws to help hunters and trappers thin our coyote populations. We’ve done just about everything but run a constant schedule of seminars or workshops to teach hunters the finer points of hunting or trapping coyotes.

In 2012, relying on the public to help solve what lots of folks perceive as a problem strikes many as such a novel idea, particularly to groups with political leanings that look to the government for every solution.

Heres one last point:

Nearly two decades ago, IFW released a report by Gerald Lavigne, a respected deer biologist, in which he wrote, “Long-term suppression of coyote populations over large areas is not biologically achievable…”

Environmental groups jumped on this quote and tried to use it to kill coyote snaring practices. In short, what’s the sense to kill one species to favor another? Many people consider such a management tool unethical.

However, the naysayers apparently missed a sentence on the following page of the report, where Lavigne wrote, “It may, however, be feasible to intensively remove enough coyotes from small areas to temporarily reduce (coyote) impact on deer.”

Lavigne was targeting IFW’s snaring program in winter deeryards. It was possible to reduce coyotes in small areas to protect woodlands where deer concentrate in winter.

Hunters interested in becoming successful at coyote hunting and endure the challenge of battling wits with a wily animal should head to the SAM building next Saturday at 8:30.

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