Casco committee to review policy on wild-animal control

By Dawn De Busk
Staff Writer

CASCO — For a moment, it sounded like a meeting of the wildlife-watching club: Deer, bear, beavers, fishers, raccoons and bats.

Residents and the Casco Board of Selectmen recently discussed the town’s role in helping residents deal with wild animals that pose a nuisance as well as potential rabies cases.

Currently, the town is only responsible for domesticated “loose” animals.

No vote was required for the board to create a committee to review the town’s wild animal control policy. The group will likely make recommendations of what could be done to improve the policy. The board appointed Selectman Ray Grant and Peg Dilley, who owns a local dog grooming and boarding business. A third person will be asked to sit on the committee.

At the heart of the discussion was money.

If the town contracts someone to do that job, the town will have to put money in the budget to cover those expenses, Town Manager David Morton told selectmen.

Selectman Carroll Morton said he was concerned about elderly residents who can’t afford to get rid of wild animals that are wreaking havoc on their home and property.

“Why should some person with a tiny Social Security check have to call private company to take care of problems with a coon or something,” Selectman Morton said.

The town manager said if the board wished it could allocate a fund to help residents who could use the money to pay professionals to remove the wild animals.

“If we are going to take responsibility, we must think about budgeting for that,” David Morton said.

Selectman Mary-Vienessa Fernandes had done some legwork, calling nearby town offices to get the scoop on their wild animal-control protocol.

“I talked to Mechanic Falls, and asked what their procedure is. They called the game warden who sets out live traps. There are three (animal control) agents in Oxford the town can also call. No one carries firearms,” Fernandes said. “They said everyone has the right to protect property.”

She added if the situation with a wild animal gets scary Mechanic Falls officials recommend residents call the emergency number so a first responder can be dispatched to the property.

Grant backed the idea of more information sharing and refined procedure on the town level.

“We need to be able to, at least, provide a list of numbers for homeowners to call. We should at least have a protocol,” Grant said.

“I think we need to do something. It is very evident the townspeople are at risk. We need to form a committee to study what the town could do better,” Grant said.

Fernandes said she was agreeable to the idea of Grant heading the committee to review the policy.

The topic was put on the agenda stemming from an incident in which a raccoon killed one of Dilley’s dogs. Dilley was concerned the raccoon was rabid, and other people or pets might be in danger.

Also, Dilley was frustrated with the lack of official response by state authorities. She expressed her displeasure with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. She urged the town to take a bigger role in dealing with bothersome or dangerous wild animals.

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