Bills to expand hunting for bears and coyotes drew lots of debate last week, some of it angry. Lots of animal rights groups opposed the bills.
The coyote bill drew the most concerns. Right now you can hunt coyotes almost year-round, including at night. It’s hard to believe anyone would think that coyote hunters need to hunt on Sundays, but that’s what LD 1179 called for.
DIF&W and the Guides Association opposed the bill, as did a long list of animal rights groups and individuals, including landowners. I found it interesting that only 8,000 hunters buy the required coyote hunting permit.
I am certain the committee will kill the bill when it is scheduled for work session.
The bear bill had lots more support. LD 1118 would give DIF&W’s Commissioner authority to set bear season and bag limits, both of which are currently set in law. DIF&W’s Nate Webb, Dave Trahan of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, and Don Kleiner of the Maine Professional Guides Association all testified in favor of the bill. Animal rights groups opposed it including Wildwatch Maine and Maine Animal Coalition.
It makes good sense to give this authority to DIF&W, rather than have the legislature make those decisions.