It's Getting Tougher To Own Wolf Hybrids in Maine

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He came from the left, parallel to the stone wall, head down, eyes focused intently on my turkey decoys. He didn’t see me hiding behind the stonewall. About 10 feet from the decoys, he decided they weren’t real turkeys, and without breaking stride, he did a U-turn and reversed course.

The coyote’s coat was a beautiful golden color. I know some readers will ask why I didn’t shoot him. There are several reasons, including the fact I had only #4 shot in my gun, and I was working on Tom turkeys that were gobbling both in back and in front of me. And truthfully, I didn’t want to.

I understand the terrible impact the animal that Gene LeTourneau always insisted should have been called a brush wolf has had on Maine’s Whitetail deer population. But I choose not to demonize the beast, just as I choose not to demonize black bears that also have a significantly negative impact on the deer herd.

Wolves are another story. As the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, I worked hard to keep wolves out of Maine – as well as wolf hybrids. Wolf hybrids were once totally unregulated in Maine. I submitted the first legislative bill, on behalf of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, that required wolf hybrids to be registered and vaccinated against rabies.

The animals are now regulated by the Department of Agriculture and treated like domestic dogs. But they are not dogs. In fact, most of them are nearly 100 percent wolf. And wolves are dangerous animals.

Maine’s regulatory oversight of wolf hybrids took a giant leap forward last year when then-Senator Dave Trahan successfully championed a strict new law that substantially tightened up wolf-hybrid regulations and made it difficult to import and own them.

At the public hearing on his bill, Trahan distributed a list of horrible wolf hybrid attacks on children. A 4-year-old boy in Fort Walton Beach, Florida was killed by a neighbor’s recently acquired wolf hybrid that had been featured as “pet of the week,” at the local animal shelter from which it was adopted.

A two-year-old in East Orange, New Jersey, sleeping in his crib, was killed and partially consumed by the family’s wolf hybrid.

Four children in Cedar Rapids, Iowa were attacked, and one seriously wounded, by a hybrid that escaped his pen and traveled to a local school playground during recess.

A twelve-year old in Rothbury, Michigan required 7 hours of surgery to repair the damage caused by a neighbor’s hybrid that broke his chain and attacked the child while she was waiting for the school bus.

A four-week-old child in Anchorage, Alaska was killed when the child’s mother held him out to the family’s wolf hybrid and the animal grabbed the infant by the head.

This week, the owner of a Maine wolf-hybrid kennel came under intense scrutiny after game warden Joe Lefebvre and Bristol Animal Control Officer Mike Witte found a lot of problems there. You can read the story in the Lincoln County News. It’s bad.

This is also the same guy, Jim Doughty of Bristol, who caused an uproar when he proposed to establish a refuge for wolf hybrids at his home. Neighbors were alarmed and took their concerns to their Senator, David Trahan. That led to Trahan’s successful legislation. But Doughty was still able to establish his kennel, Wolf Ledge Refuge, and get it licensed for up to 18 hybrids.

Also last year one of Doughty’s wolf hybrids escaped, prowling the neighborhood, frightening neighbors, and attacking a chicken. The photo that accompanied the story on the newspaper’s website was disturbing. It showed the wolf hybrid gazing into the open door of a school bus!

In a serendipitous turn-of-events with an ironic sense of timing, just days after the Bristol investigation was reported in the news, Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife advertised proposed new rules to regulate the importation and possession of wolf hybrids and establish confinement standards. The rules would also exclude wolf hybrids from Exhibitor’s Permits and from Wildlife Propagation, and include provisions for the disposition of wolf hybrids found at large.

DIF&W is required to adopt these rules by Trahan’s law, Public Law Chapter 100. The current licensing standards and process at the Department of Agriculture will be phased out, and wolf hybrids will now be the responsibility of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. To import a wolf hybrid, a Maine resident must obtain a Wildlife Importation Permit, which demands strict standards of care and responsibility. The animals must be spayed or neutered.

While Jim Doughty now awaits his fate after being accused of many kennel law violations, I inquired what would happen to his wolf hybrids, in-as-much as there is no licensed kennel available to take them in Maine. I was told they would not be shipped out-of-state, because “no one wants them.” They may be killed.

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