For immediate release: April 3, 2006

Contact: Camilla Fox, Director, Project Coyote, 415-945-3232/ 415-690-0338 (mobile)
             Geri Vistein, Conservation Biologist, Project Coyote, 207-323-9959

Project Coyote Helps Amend Bill to Protect Coyotes from
Expanded Night Hunting in Maine

Augusta, Maine- In a move hailed by wildlife advocates as a victory for coyotes in Maine, on Thursday April 2nd the Joint Standing Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife amended a hotly contested bill – LD 303 – and removed the portion of the bill that would have extended coyote night hunting in the state by three months. The move to amend the bill was in response to objections expressed by Project Coyote and other organizations that decried the proposed coyote night hunting expansion as ethically unjustifiable and ecologically unsound.

Geri Vistein, Project Coyote Conservation Biologist, who testified before the committee, pointed out that hunters can already night hunt coyotes for five months of the year and that expanding the season would do little to protect deer herds, as LD 303 proponents purported. Vistein explained that expanding the coyote night hunting season into the summer would likely increase wildlife poaching, pup orphaning, and disturbance of all wildlife as well as private landowners and summer vacationers. Moreover, she emphasized that because coyote populations are able to rebound in a short period of time after lethal reduction efforts, random killing of coyotes would do nothing to reduce their populations, rebutting arguments made by the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and other bill proponents.

“Aside from our ethical concerns with expanding coyote night hunting, this bill would do nothing to protect Maine’s deer herds as the bill’s proponents contended,” said Vistein. “A copious and growing body of literature shows that coyote population reduction efforts through lethal control are futile given the species’ resiliency and ability to biologically rebound.” When Vistein emphasized this point in her initial testimony, certain committee members expressed interest in seeing studies to corroborate this claim. Vistein provided those documents to the committee prior to Thursdays’ hearing which helped to convince certain members of the committee that expanding the night hunting season for coyotes was an ecologically unsound approach to protect Maine’s deer herds.

“Coyotes have been vilified in Maine as in other parts of the country,” said Vistein, who pointed out to committee members that coyotes can be hunted year round in the state in unlimited numbers. “Project Coyote’s voice in Maine is helping to turn the tide and people are beginning to see that the coyote has a rightful place in our state and is a species that not only provides many ecological benefits, but as a top carnivore actually helps to keep our deer herds genetically strong.”

Project Coyote seeks to create fundamental and systemic change in how coyotes and other native carnivores are viewed and treated in North America and is a fiscally sponsored project of Earth Island Institute a, 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Visit us online atwww.ProjectCoyote.org

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