Randomly killing coyotes won’t prevent conflicts with people, pets or livestock, critics say
Published Oct 27, 2019 at 10:51 PM | Updated at 10:51 PM EDT on Oct 27, 2019
Contests that involve the hunting of predator or furbearing animals like coyotes would be banned under a proposal being considered by Massachusetts wildlife officials.
Critics of the contests say they’re cruel and that randomly killing coyotes won’t prevent conflicts with people, pets or livestock.
The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife is planning to hold a hearing Tuesday evening at the Richard Cronin Building in Westborough to hear from the public.
Wildlife officials say the current level of coyote hunting doesn’t reduce the population, nor would hunting have an appreciable impact on coyote populations. They say despite the presence of coyotes, deer populations are thriving in Massachusetts.
Supporters of the ban, including the Humane Society of the United States, note that California, Vermont, New Mexico and Arizona have similar bans.
PHOENIX (AP) – Arizona has banned organized contests where hunters try to kill the most coyotes or other wildlife predators for prizes such as cash or hunting equipment.
The Governor’s Regulatory Review Council voted 6-0 Wednesday to approve a rule initiated by the Arizona Game and Fish Commission.
The measure will take effect in 60 days.
The commission voted unanimously in June to ban contests that require registration and a fee and award prizes for killing the most coyotes or other fur-bearing animals or predators.
The Arizona ban doesn’t apply to lawful hunting of predators or other fur-bearing animals.
Wildlife-killing contests have drawn the ire of activists in recent years.
New Mexico banned the contests in April and several other states reportedly are considering similar rules or legislation.
Does Mother Nature have a sense of irony?
To answer that question, look no further than the lone star tick. Although the tick’s traditional range in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic includes the eastern half of the Lone Star State of Texas, it gets its name from a white, star-like “splotch” on its back. But thanks to climate change, this nettlesome little critter is on the move. It’s moving into the Northeast as far as Maine. And it’s gone well past its usual bailiwick in the Ohio Valley to make its way into the upper Midwest and into Wisconsin.
It’s not surprising that ticks, like half of all species, are moving with the changing climate. What is surprising is what the lone star tick brings with it. No, it’s not Lyme disease, although warming-catalyzed deer ticks arespreading that debilitating malady into new areas. Instead, the lone star tick carries another little-known disease—alpha-gal syndrome.
That’s because alpha-gal syndrome often expresses itself hours after the infected person eats a big, juicy steak. Or pork chops. Or a cheeseburger. Yup, the lone star tick is spreading a meat allergy. It’s severe, too. One unfortunate victim profiled in Mosaic cannot risk eating the “meat of mammals and everything else that comes from them: dairy products, wool and fibre, gelatine from their hooves, char from their bones.” Alpha-gal’s delayed trigger also makes it hard to diagnose. People often don’t connect their symptoms with eating a meal they’ve eaten without consequence throughout their whole lives.
That’s a big deal in the U.S., where meat is king and it’s cheap and plentiful, thanks in no small part to industrial-grade agriculture. In 2018, Americans broke their previous record for meat consumption, gobbling down 222.2 pounds of meat and poultry per person, according a United States Department of Agriculture estimate. Americans’ beef consumption is four times higher than the world average, according to the World Resources Institute. The consumption of dairy was also on track to hit an all-time high in 2018.
To meet this insatiable demand for meat, Big Ag deploys heavily subsidized, industrial-grade agriculture with massive feedlots that gobble up megatons of grains. These factory farms also suck up huge amounts of water. They generate epic amounts of ecosystem-denuding, water-contaminating runoff. And they produce billowing gigatons of greenhouse gases — both carbon dioxide (CO2) from the industrial complexities it takes to fuel these factory farms and methane from the noxious flatulence produced by many millions of animals. Then those animals are transported to die on increasingly mechanized slaughter-lines that whirl along at faster and faster speeds. Their carcasses get chilled or frozen and then shipped out by fleets of fossil-fueled trucks on their way to energy-sucking processing factories, to suburban supermarkets and to fast-food chains, where people often sit in running cars awaiting their share of the U.S.’s seemingly endless bovine bounty.
So, here’s where Mother Nature steps in.
Industrial agriculture — and meat production in particular — is a significant source of greenhouse gases. Americans trail only Uruguay and Argentina in per capita beef consumption, and the U.S. is by far the leader in climate-disrupting factory farming practices that, in turn, stoke anthropogenic climate change. But the changing climate across North America is catalyzing the expansion of tick populations. And now tick populations are spreading diseases like the alpha-gal red meat allergy to meat-gorging Americans.
How’s that for putting some irony in our diets?
The “Capitalism One” Credit Card
For most scientists, that’s a bridge too far. They’d understandably reject assigning “Mother Nature” with an anthropomorphic trait like a sense of irony. But this planet’s macro-ecological system does have an undeniable sense of accounting … and it keeps a running tally. From alpha-gal syndrome to herbicide resistance, from rising seas to superstorms, we’re watching Mother Nature’s accounting system repeatedly expose the fatal flaw driving economic growth during the Anthropocene era. That flaw is the fallacy of externalities.
The simple Wikipedia definition of an “externality” is a “cost or benefit that affects a party who did not choose to incur that cost or benefit.” Up to now, we’ve thought we were only imposing it — externalization, that is — to other human beings. Usually, externalities impact those who are too politically or economically powerless to fight back. That’s why they’re targeted. Whether through offshoring polluting factories; or dumping toxic waste into the commons like the rivers, lakes, the seas or the air; or locating poisonous industries in political and financially disempowered neighborhoods and towns, externalization is a quick, easy and profitable way to take the true cost of doing a business and make someone else pay for it.
Aren’t humans grand?
The idea of “externalities” doesn’t just reflect our willingness to abuse others for profit. It also reflects a collective delusion held by those with power — the belief that they can exempt themselves from the closed loop that is Earth’s accounting system.
In the case of climate change, think of it like a CO2 credit card. Let’s call it the “Capitalism One” card. We’ve been charging our skyrocketing carbon emissions to that card for many decades. Every car purchased, every plane ride taken, every Amazon Prime Delivery selected and every Big Mac picked up at the drive-through has externalized the true cost of that purchase. Missing are the greenhouse gases that never get calculated into the purchase price of anything. Instead, we charge that cost onto our collective Capitalism One card.
Just consider lone star ticks to be one of nature’s little bill collectors. Alpha-gal is the cost, with interest. The same goes for the earthquakes and contaminated water that come from fracking reinjection wells. We use hydraulic fracturing to forcefully break open natural subterranean formations, to release oil and gas that we blithely burn into climate-altering CO2 while also leaking climate-altering methane. Then, in an externality twofer, we take the wastewater from the process, which can become radioactive, and we “dispose” of it by re-injecting it into the ground through wells, which, in turn, Mother Nature “bills us” with contaminated water, earthquakesand health problems.
All the while our mantra remains “out of sight, out of mind and onto our Capitalism One card.”
Now think of the many trillions of dollars of wealth that has been charged on that card since the start of the Anthropocene era and, more directly, throughout the great acceleration of the industrial age. We’ve voraciously taken — and taken for granted — resources from the Earth and processed them to our own ends. Thanks to a toxic combination of convenient ignorance and willful, short-sighted indifference, we’ve simply loaded the true costs of those processes right back onto our de facto credit card, a.k.a. into the land, the air and the water.
Welcome to the Due Date
Have you heard of balloon payments? That’s kind of what bomb cyclonesare — big, one-time payments on a long-deferred account. These extreme, climate-fueled events also exhibited a tragic symmetry with the alpha-gal allergy when this spring’s bomb-cyclone-stoked flooding inflicted up to $3 billion worth of damage on livestock and farmland in the Midwest. This year saw two bomb cyclones — previously thought to be extremely “rare” weather events — within a few weeks’ time. They affected 25 states around the Midwest, the Great Plains and the Mountain West.
An AccuWeather analysis estimates the total cost of all the flooding will rise to $12.5 billion. It also led to government resource-draining “state of emergency” declarations in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska, with the last two being hit particularly hard. Beef Magazinecalled the bomb cyclone “devastating” because the “timing couldn’t be worse as many [farmers] are in the middle of calving season.” Some in Nebraska compared the devastation to the Dust Bowl, which, not coincidentally, happened to be a human-made disaster.
And that’s just the tip of a rapidly melting iceberg. The 2018 Pacific typhoon season hammered nations around Asia to the tune of $18.4 billion in damage. In 2018, natural disasters generated $80 billion in insured losses, which is “well above the inflation-adjusted average for the last 30 years of $41 billion,” according to the Munich Reinsurance Co. In 2017, the Munich Reinsurance Co. also found that insurance claims spiked to a record $135 billion due to the combination of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria with the wildfires in California, which also “created overall economic losses” of $330 billion. The U.S. Air Force is struggling with a $4 billion shortfall as it struggles to find the $5 billionit needs to remediate the massive damage done by 2018’s Hurricane Michael and this year’s bomb-cyclone-fueled flooding. New Orleans is now facing a $14 billion bill to counter the combo of rising sea levels and sinking levees that were rebuilt by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after Hurricane Katrina wiped them out in 2005.
Even more dauntingly, researchers at the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business at Lancaster University in the United Kingdom estimated that the “climate-change-driven feedbacks in the Arctic” currently driving up the rate of warming could add “nearly $70 trillion to the overall costs of climate change — even if the world meets the Paris Agreement climate targets,” according to a report in National Geographic. To put that in perspective, global GDP in 2017 was $80 trillion.
Even the staid Bank of England recently warned of a “sudden and severe” loss of up to $20 trillion if and when “stranded assets” like “unburnable carbon” become worthless during the peak of the climate crisis. In other words, all the investments in hydrocarbons could be zeroed out by the maelstrom of climate change. The Bank of Canada recently echoed this warning and predicted both “fire sales” of these stranded assets and “transition risks” from climate-stoked decarbonization. The Bank of England also said climate change will trigger a “disorderly transition” to the new economic reality of a climate-altered world should the finance sector fail to “change investment and business practices to meet the needs of lower environmental impact,” according to a report in The Telegraph.
How’s that for a bill coming due?
Then in February of this year, analysts at Morgan Stanley said they expect climate change to “negatively affect dozens of industries like agriculture and oil-and-gas production in the short-term — and real estate, leisure and consumer retail in the long-term.” As Risk & Insurancereported, climate change is already “affecting food supply chains for products like chocolate, vanilla, avocados, coffee and wine, changing how fine art is protected, and transforming the energy industry.”
Consumers and markets are adjusting, too. Even as ticks spread the alpha-gal meat allergy, Burger King is responding to growing demand for the plant-based Impossible Burger. It’s being “spread” nationwide, not by ticks but by franchisees, after a smashing test run in St. Louis. At the same time, Carl’s Jr. is featuring Beyond Meat’s plant-based meat-alternative. That success fueled its new initial public offering (IPO) to the tune of a $3 billion valuation. Essentially, IPOs are Wall Street’s first chance to render judgment on the viability of newly public business. In the case of Beyond Meat, it’s been dubbed the most successful IPO of 2019thus far. It even surpassed the much-anticipated IPOs of CO2-generatingrideshare companies Uber and Lyft. In fact, meat alternatives are becoming so popular that the meat industry is working at the state level to outlaw the use of the word “meat” on meat-alternative packaging.
That’s a sure sign tastes are changing.
Still, these are not the kind of shock-to-the-system changes some see as the only hope for averting the catastrophe predicted by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change if humanity does not meet the Paris Accord target of limiting global temperature increase to between 1.5 and 2°C. That, according to a report in Nature, would mean reducing our collective carbon emissions by almost half by 2030 and then achieving “carbon neutrality by 2050 to meet this target.”
But it is also not insignificant that elemental behaviors like eating are beginning to change, particularly as the people in the U.S. have finally crossed the tipping point from climate skepticism to climate dread. Like all human beings, Americans are starting to see, feel and pay for the impacts of our prolonged, supposedly externalized overuse of hydrocarbons.
Sadly, the distribution of the cost of human activity doesn’t always bend toward symmetry … or justice. This year, Mozambique suffered through two deadly cyclones — Idai and Kenneth — that left entire citiesunderwater, left many thousands stranded and racked-up billions in damage. In Mozambique and the Philippines and in climate-exposed places like Bangladesh, people who have contributed the least to the climate credit card often bear the brunt of our Capitalism One card’s unsettled account. They literally cannot afford it, either. It’s yet another example of the all-too-human cost of externalization.
The upshot, though, is that nature doesn’t just punish bad behavior with a huge bill. It pays dividends if and when we’re willing to settle our accounts. Mother Nature tends toward an ecologically balanced budget. The problem is that we are not just deeply in arrears, but, as Earth Overshoot Dayshows us each year, we are wantonly piling on even more debt. That’s the day when humanity “overshoots” what the planet can provide to us in one calendar year. Everything consumed after that threshold is crossed cannot be replenished and we are officially “in the red.” Last year, that day was August 1, the earliest ever. Those are debts we may never be able to repay. But that also means it is imperative that we begin paying as we go. We have to stop relying on our Capitalism One card to defer the true cost of what we exploit and consume.
And if not? Mother Nature will keep on tabulating the cost of our appetites and evolving new ways to collect on our debts. One way or another, our collective account will be settled because there are no externalities in nature.
A bill to ban coyote-hunting contests in Oregon has reignited conflict between conservationists and ranchers.
The battle dates back decades. Conservationists say mass coyote killings throw off ecosystem balance and violate hunting ethics. Ranchers say exterminating the predators is an act of preservation because coyotes attack their livestock.
The contests received renewed scrutiny this year after an undercover video shot by the Humane Society of the United States in January showed hunters at a competition in Burns, Ore., piling dozens of dead and bloody coyotes into the beds of pickup trucks.
So state lawmakers aimed to put a stop to such contests. Sens. Michael Dembrow (D-Portland) and Jeff Golden (D-Ashland) sponsored Senate Bill 723, which would outlaw “organizing, sponsoring, promoting, conducting or participating in contest, competition, tournament or derby that has objective of taking wildlife for prizes or other inducement or for entertainment.”
But that last clause—entertainment—has created an unexpected roadblock for the bill.
The Oregon Hunters Association argues that SB 723 violates its members’ First Amendment rights.
“Just because someone doesn’t like something,” association legislative chairman Paul Donheffner says, “doesn’t mean it can be prohibited.”
Donheffner’s legal argument is straightforward: The bill doesn’t ban coyote hunting, or even limit it. It merely outlaws contests for entertainment.
And Oregon’s free speech laws offer broad protection for entertainment—thanks to a court ruling that protects strip clubs and adult video stores.
In 1987, in the case of State v. Henry, the Oregon Supreme Court decided under Article 1 Section 8 of the state constitution that state law could not criminalize forms of entertainment deemed socially unacceptable. That ruling enshrined legal protections for nudity at strip clubs in Oregon.
Lake Perriguey, a Portland lawyer with expertise in constitutional law, says, “Oregon’s constitution limits what the government can regulate.”
He adds: “The broad language has been interpreted to mean things people find unsavory. That’s why you can have a porn shop across the street from an elementary school.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, which typically defends free speech cases, declined to comment on the bill.
Several lawmakers are trying to change the bill. The Senate Judiciary Committee, controlled by Democrats, is offering an amendment that removes the word “entertainment” from the bill’s language.
Meanwhile, Sen. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer) penned her own amendment, which would change the penalty of participating in a wildlife-killing contest from a misdemeanor to a violation.
Portland conservation group Oregon Wild supports SB 723. Arran Robertson, the group’s communication manager, says, “Killing derbies go against what the vast majority of the hunting community considers to be fair. They’re cruel and unnecessary.”
Legislative testimony—signed by the Humane Society, Oregon Wild and 14 other statewide conservation groups—adds another argument: “Persecution of coyotes disrupts their social structure, which, ironically, encourages more breeding and migration, and ultimately results in more coyotes.”
But the bill applies only to contests. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations say it’s legal to hunt and kill coyotes year-round with an appropriate furtaker’s license.
Donheffner says there are over 25 Oregon Hunters Association chapters with more than 10,000 members statewide and that coyote-hunting contests have been their tradition for “years and years.”
“It’s nothing like the mass murder that’s been described,” Donheffner says, referring to the Humane Society videos.
Ranchers say the contests help them make ends meet. “I’ve had tough times when work was slow or I was injured and unable to work,” wrote Seth Franklin, a rancher in Harney County who opposes the bill, in Senate testimony. “But one thing that’s kept me afloat time and time again is fur, particularly coyotes.”
Calling animal killing contests “brutal, barbaric and inhumane,” new State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard banned the practice on state trust land Thursday.
She made the prohibition by executive order, signed at a news conference.
“If you want to hold a contest to see who can accumulate the most coyote carcasses … from today forward, you will not be able to do that on state trust land,” Garcia Richard, who took office Jan. 1, said to a small group of staff and advocates.
Her office oversees more than 9 million surface acres of state trust land. Much of it is checkerboarded among private property and other government agencies, which will likely present a challenge for enforcing the ban. Garcia Richard said the office’s legal team can file action against those who violate the ban. She told reporters she’s also considered implementing a fee structure for hunters who are caught participating in the contests. Any new criminal penalities would likely have to be adopted by the state Legislature.
The ban impacts “unregulated” species like coyotes, and does not impact animals which hunters need a permit to pursue. Those hunters fall under the purview of the state Department of Game and Fish and its officers.
Animal advocates with Animal Protection Voters, Project Coyote, WildEarth Guardians, the Sierra Club and others applauded the order. Many members stood behind the land commissioner as she made the announcement.
“She knows that healthy ecosystems and sustainable land use rely on robust interconnected wildlife populations,” said Jessica Johnson of Animal Protection Voters.
“This is not to say that NMSLO does not support hunters; hunters who hunt ethically, hunters who use practices that follow the law and include fair chase, hunters who use what they kill,” Garcia Richard said during the news conference. “This is not to say that our 3,000 agricultural lessees are going to be dissuaded from humanely combating depredation on their land to livestock and other companion animals. That’s not what today is about.”
Tiger Espinoza, vice president of the New Mexico chapter of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, tells SFR the group has purposely avoided taking a stance on political issues like the contests.
“We don’t either support or not support this ban,” he says over the phone from Farmington. “I will say that Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife 100 percent supports predator control. And if that involves killing a few coyotes, then that’s what it involves.”
The lifelong hunter says there are “thousands upon thousands” of coyotes in the state and that sometimes the public misunderstands their place in the food chain. “People think that they are not little baby deer, fawn killers. In all reality they are. I have seen that with my own eyes. It’s not just mountain lions. I’ve seen coyotes take down a buck deer with my own eyes.”
Opponents of the contest agree with people like Espinoza, who says the events don’t put a dent in coyote populations.
“There is no documented scientific evidence that coyote killing contests permanently reduce coyote abundance, increase populations of deer or other game species, or prevent conflicts between predators, humans and livestock,” Dave Parsons of Project Coyote said in a statement Thursday.
The anti-contest group plans to hold screenings of “Killing Games: Wildlife in the Crosshairs” tonight in Las Cruces and Saturday afternoon at the South Broadway Cultural Center in Albuquerque. Both shows have panel discussions planned after the film.
The order isn’t the first such ban on state trust lands. Former commissioners Ray Powell and Jim Baca also implemented such a prohibition during their terms.
A Vermont hunting club has cancelled its crow shooting competition set for next month after a social media outcry.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont hunting club has cancelled its crow shooting competition after a social media outcry.
Mark McCarthy, president of the Boonie Club in Williamstown, told the Burlington Free Press it will not be sponsoring the April 7 crow shoot, in which teams of hunters would have competed to win prizes by shooting the most birds. Critics of the shoot say they understand “hunting for food” but are against “wanton killing.”
Crow shoots are legal as long as they’re within the hunting season for crows. Scott Darling, wildlife program manager for Vermont Fish and Wildlife, says while there is a role for crow hunting to fend off damage to crops, he does not support crow shoots like the one the club had planned.
Information from: The Burlington Free Press, http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com
On April 7, 2018, bloody bodies will rain from the sky. The Boonie Club of Williamstown, Vermont, has scheduled a barbaric crow shoot. In a disgusting show of pure blood lust, teams of four will compete to see who can kill the most crows, with actual cash prizes being awarded to the top killers. This horrific contest is repulsive and archaic, and we can’t let it happen.
Competitions like this only further serve to marginalize birds, who are often considered by thoughtless humans to be nothing more than flying, pooping, and noisemaking creatures, somehow not worthy of their lives. The fact is crows, and all birds, are far more than that.
Crows, like many animals, are far more intelligent than many would like us to believe. For example, crows form complex social structures and are known as the smartest of all birds. They not only use tools, but they make them too — something scientists and others had once mistakenly thought only humans could do. Crows are also capable of problem solving and complex reasoning.
Crows have been called the “most family-oriented birds in the world.” In fact, older siblings may even help their parents raise newborn chicks. This dedication and teamwork goes beyond newborn chicks and often continues with a sort of “nest assistance” type of relationship that can go on for more than half a decade.
The deep connections of crows exist beyond direct family. Neighbors have been known to hold funerals for nearby birds, while hundreds of crows have been known to attend these funerals. As with humans, attendees don’t scavenge the dead body, and crows may avoid areas near the dead crow afterwards, even if the food there is plentiful. This is especially the case if the crow died in such a way that indicates a danger to other crows, such as if the dead crow was a shooting victim.
Additionally, crows have excellent memories, recognizing other animals they have met including humans. Shooting these amazing animals is brutal and inexcusable.
We have less than a month to ensure that this hunt never comes to fruition, but it will require us to call and send letters and to share this alert widely.
Please contact Mark McCarthy, owner of Lenny’s Shoe and Apparel, who is also the president of the Boonie Club, to express your distress at such a heartless contest. Please be polite when you cite your reasons for objecting to the crow shoot. If you shop at Lenny’s in person or online, please be sure to mention it.
Please call Mark either on his personal number or at the store he owns:
Call other members of the Boonie Club while you’re at it, if you’re so inclined, but please be polite, and understand this is a hunting club, so arguments that have to do with no-one eating crows will probably carry more weight than ones against all hunting, though of course we oppose the hunting of all animals.
Send our letter to Mark.
- Mark McCarthy, President, Lenny’s Shoe and Apparel
• You can kill as many non-game animals – porcupines, prairie dogs, rabbits, ground squirrels, Himalayan tahrs, skunks, feral hogs, bobcats and coyotes – as you like without a permit, sometimes for cash and fabulous prizes.
Just what does this say about our state?
New Mexico’s government-sponsored animal cruelty came to light again this week when a Placitas man released a fox from a foot-hold trap. The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish told Gary Miles, the founder and owner of Placitas Animal Rescue, who responded to a runner’s call about the fox, that he could be arrested for being in possession of the fox.
Miles said the fox “escaped” after “it healed up real nice.”
State statute 18.104.22.168 (C) says, in part, “It shall be illegal to destroy, disturb or remove any trap, snare or trapped wildlife belonging to a licensed trapper without permission of the owner of the trap or snare.” It raises the question why, in 2018, New Mexico endorses the use of leg-hold and other traps on public land, devices that were invented in the 1800s and have been banned in more than 80 countries, and banned or severely restricted in at least eight states.
They were banned because they are archaic, cruel and indiscriminate.
The fox story came to light around a week after an Albuquerque gun shop sponsored a coyote-killing contest outside Bernalillo County. And while that contest was on private land, the arguments that the shooters are removing a predatory threat or gathering pelts and meat or a trophy are used to disguise the real intent: killing for killing’s sake. Many times, the carcasses are piled up and left to rot.
Coyotes, like bobcats, are keystone species and compensatory breeders; kill too many, and they not only will make more to fill the gap, but in the interim the rodent population explodes.
But hey, that’s just what wildlife biologists say. Why let science get in the way of blood sport?
The New Mexico Legislature stepped up and banned cockfighting because lawmakers saw it for what it is: barbaric cruelty that has no place in our state’s proud cultures.
They need to do the same for trapping and killing contests.