AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A former state biologist is leading the fight to form Coyote Hunter Networks.
Gerry Lavigne spent a career trying to protect Maine's deer herd. Now retired, he is calling for deer hunters to take matters into their own hands.
Now with the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine, (SAM) Lavigne thinks the best short term method of controlling predation on deer is for hunters to go after coyotes. "I think it's time to elevate coyote to the status of a game animal and looking at improving our hunting opportunities," Lavigne told News Center.
Lavigne thinks deer populations in Norther and Eastern Maine are at 100-year lows. He notes that another reason for the decline is the change in habitat. Enormous amounts of cutting due to Spruce Budworm infestations in the 1970's caused deer populations to swell. Now the forest has changed and the deer population has waned.
However, it will not be easy to mobilize sportsmen. Maine has a great tradition of hunting deer, bear and moose. Hunting "dogs" is not a natural for many Maine sportsmen.
Sportsman's Alliance of Maine Executive Director George Smith says his organization is highly supportive of the effort. "I think a lot of people are going to get out there and do it simply for no other reason than to help deer.
A number of wildlife organizations have opposed the Coyote Hunter Network proposal. Among them is The Wildlife Alliance of Maine. Executive Director Daryl DeJoy thinks SAM will not be successful in it's effort. "It's absolutely an unscientific approach," DeJoy said. "The problem with the deer population is a loss of habitat."
Last year, the legislature extended the period during which hunters can take coyote at night into June. Another bill is in front of the legislature that would extend the season until the end of August.
Lavigne believes something must be done because "Northern and Easter deer populations are critically low. We probably haven't seen them that low in a century."
DeJoy responds that this is "indiscriminate killing of an animal. It's not the answer to the problem."