PARKMAN, Maine — The suspicious death of a Parkman dog from antifreeze poisoning and the sickening of a dog and a cat in the Guilford area in December could have been from poisoned coyote bait that was left in the woods, a Wildlife Alliance of Maine official said Wednesday.
Daryl DeJoy of Penobscot, executive director of the nonprofit Bangor group, said callers have told him over the last four years that people are leaving mounds of cat food and dog food mixed with antifreeze in the woods to kill coyotes. Contrary to science and biology, there are people who believe that the coyotes in Maine have something to do with the deer population being lower in some areas, he said
“I have no doubt in my mind that is exactly what’s going on with this poisoning,” DeJoy said.
DeJoy said it is just like a lot of other things that go on in the Maine woods: It’s not easy to find unless a game warden stumbles upon it.
Deputy Jamie Kane of the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department, who has the poisonings under investigation, said DeJoy’s theory is possible.
“Anything is possible,” he said Friday. But Kane said he doesn’t find it likely because the Parkman dog roamed on his owners’ property and the cat lived in a populated area.
The Parkman dog first exhibited signs of disorientation and then lost weight rapidly and was treated by a local veterinarian before it died of ethylene glycol toxicosis, or antifreeze poisoning. Kane also learned that a cat and dog in the neighboring Guilford area become ill with similar symptoms at the same time, but the pets survived.
“It’s a pretty slow and painful death,” DeJoy said of antifreeze poisoning.
Even if local officials do not believe the dogs and cat were poisoned by tainted cat food and dog food, DeJoy wants pet owners to be aware of this practice. His organization, he said, advocates for the humane treatment of wildlife, but it is not an anti-hunting organization.
Despite the known practice, DeJoy said to his knowledge no one has been caught leaving poisoned cat and dog food in the wild in Maine.
“What goes on in the woods is very difficult to find out unless you are in the exact right place at the exact right time,” he said.
Anyone walking pets in the woods should be observant, DeJoy said, especially if they see human boot tracks in the snow leading to and from a particular spot in the woods.
DeJoy recalled that years ago people left large treble hooks baited with meat in a tree about four feet off the ground. Coyotes would jump and grab the hooked meat, impaling themselves. Then the people who baited the hooks returned and killed them, DeJoy noted. Authorities were told about use of that method, but it wasn’t until an eagle was caught in one of the hooks in Washington County that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was able to make an arrest.
“Just like with hooking, time will tell. Eventually someone is going to get caught at it,” DeJoy said of the poisoning.
Anyone who sees a pile of dog food or cat food outside in wooded areas should pick it up and report it to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.