Bear and coyote hunting debated

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.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.