Critics try to ban coyote hunting contests

Jim Robertson-wolf-copyright

“They’re going to try it in every Western state,” he said. “These anti-hunters will stop at nothing.”…

by Jeff DeLong, RGJ 6:25 a.m. PST February 17, 2015

Critics of coyote hunting contests hope to ban the controversial practice in Nevada, insisting it amounts to little more than wanton slaughter of wildlife.

Hunters counter that it is a legally protected sport that may help keep in check a soaring coyote population increasingly posing threats to livestock, pets and people.

Don Molde of Reno and Fred Voltz of Carson City have petitioned the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners for regulatory changes that would outlaw contests awarding cash or other prizes for killing coyotes.

Molde, of Nevadans for Responsible Wildlife Management, moved to change Nevada regulations after a “coyote calling contest” was conducted in the North Valleys outside Reno in December, generating controversy and drawing national media attention.

“Somebody has to do something. These contests are outrageous,” Molde said. “It is the willful killing of wildlife just for the fun of it. It’s just not right.”

Across the West, the coyote is classified as an unprotected animal. They can be hunted without a license or permit, shot on sight, and there’s no limit on the number that can be killed at one time.

Last December’s coyote call in the North Valleys was a small affair, with only 10 coyotes killed, according to organizers. Others are huge. During the 2013 World Coyote Calling Championship in Elko, 110 two-person hunting teams killed more than 300 coyotes.

Jason Schroeder, a heavy equipment mechanic who organized December’s contest, called controversy over the event unjustified and predicted efforts to ban such contests in Nevada will “never fly.”

“They are entitled to their opinion, and we’re entitled to ours,” Schroeder said. “The law says you can hunt coyotes on public land and that’s what we’ve done.”

Coyotes clearly pose a mounting problem, Schroeder said, adding that three dens of coyotes are now living on his Lemmon Valley property.

“Coyotes are moving out of the wild and into town,” he said. “Coyotes are biting people right now. They are attacking people’s animals.”

But hunting contests are not an effective method of controlling coyote populations, said Camille Fox, executive director of Project Coyote, the organization that successfully petitioned the California Fish and Game Commission to ban coyote hunting contests. California law still allows hunters to shoot as many of the predators as they wish year-round but outlaws the awarding of prizes.

Fox points to studies indicating that coyote hunts have only short-lived effectiveness at best in controlling coyote populations due to the animal’s natural resiliency. Other non-lethal steps can protect livestock and other animals from coyotes, including better fencing and use of guard dogs, she said.

Hunt contests should be outlawed simply as a matter of decency, Fox said.

“Like dogfighting and cockfighting, killing contests are an archaic tradition that really should be left to the history books,” Fox said. “We’re increasingly seeing a backlash against these contests. I do think the American public is fairly outraged by this practice.”

Rick Gipson, who shot his first coyote at age 6, is observing the debate unfold from his home in Boise, Idaho. Gipson has participated in numerous coyote hunting contests over the years, including three world championships like the one held in Elko in 2013.

“The contests are getting larger and the take is getting larger but it’s not getting close to controlling them,” Gipson said, adding that the contests account for a only small percentage of coyotes being killed.

Coyotes are trapped, poisoned and shot from the air by government hunters, yet numbers continue to grow, Gipson said.

“These animals have survived persecution for 200 years and they’ve flourished,” Gipson said. “We’ve been doing this for decades and we’re not even coming close to slowing them down. They just keep coming.”

The successful ban in California and proposals now being discussed in Nevada and New Mexico are bound to be followed by other states, said Gipson, describing the effort as part of a larger anti-hunting agenda.

“They’re going to try it in every Western state,” he said. “These anti-hunters will stop at nothing.”

Fox acknowledges the proposed ban will likely face steep opposition in Nevada.

“It’s not going to be an easy process there,” she said.

Maybe so, said Molde, who said he wants the discussion to occur in any case.

“This board of wildlife commissioners is not going to get into this unless they are forced to,” Molde said. “Either way, we get them on the record.”


WHAT: Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners.

WHEN: 8:30 a.m. March 20.

WHERE: Sierra Building, Room 198, Truckee Meadows Community College, 7000 Dandini, Blvd., Reno.

Another New Contest Hunt?

First the bad news–New Coyote Derby in announced in Montana

MT contest hunt

Then the terrific News! Bill to Ban Coyote Killing Contests in New Mexico Passes First Hurdle Today!

Today SB 253, a bill sponsored by New Mexico Senator Mark Moores and Representative Jeff Steinborn to ban coyote killing contests passed out of committee with a vote of 6-3.

This contest-hunt ban effort is work that WildEarth Guardians is doing with coalition partners Animal Protection Voters, @Southwest Environmental Center, and others who are committed to improving treatment of wildlife in New Mexico through changes in state legislation.

More Coyote Killing

Coyote hunt begins Wednesday

Published: Monday, January 19, 2015 12:49 PM MST

Central Montana’s Coyote Hunt is slated to begin on Jan. 21.  The contest was initiated, when hunters saw more coyotes in the field than deer and antelope during hunting season.  The hunt has been successful in the eyes of many ranchers who have commented on previous years’ hunts. For hunters in the field this year, many noticed the coyotes seemed to be running in packs even sooner, and for many in the field it seemed as if a dent had not even been made in  the population of predators.

The cost of being on the poster and helping to fund the contest is $100. All money raised goes to the hunters who bring in their entries. The contest will be run the same as last year with the drop offs at Don’s Store and the Sport Center in Lewistown.

During last year’s contest there were hunters entering coyotes from all over Central Montana’s trade area including Harlowton, Ryegate, Jordan, Winnett, Grass Range, Big Sandy, Winifred, Geraldine, Denton, Stanford, Geyser, Hobson, Moccasin, Utica, Moore, Judith Gap and Lewistown.

No hunter or trapper is able to enter more than 50 in the contest. Each entry is given a ticket and at the end of the hunt on April 1 tickets are drawn for the prize money. Holding the drawing in this manner lets the hunter who enters once have as good a chance at the prize money as the rest of the hunters, except a hunter who shoots more coyotes gets more entries into the contest.

Sponsors this year are PJG Motorsports, Custom Cut Meats, Fleet Supply, Judith MTN Meats, Utica Rod and Gun Club, Lewistown Plumbing and Repair, Doc’s OK Corral, Yogo Inn, Lewistown Taxidermy, Big Dry Saddlery, Ace Hardware, Hilger Meats, Advanced Electric, Lewistown Propane, Lewistown Honda-Polaris-Kawasaki, Sport Center and Don’s Store. To be listed or be anonymous as a sponsor contact Dale or Charlie Pfau at Don’s Store 538-9408 or John Tognetti  at the Sport Center 535-9308.
Slaughter the Earth...

“Hunting of coyotes is pretty wide open.”


Coyote Kill Contest Draws Ire From Wildlife Groups

OPB | Jan. 16, 2015 2:09 p.m.

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A coyote hunting contest scheduled in Burns this weekend has drawn criticism from wildlife advocates.

This is the second year of the Coyote Classic which awards prizes to those who shoot the most coyotes during a three day period. Wildlife advocacy groups are protesting the event through social media.

The contest is legal under state law since coyotes are classified as an unregulated predator.

“Hunting of coyotes is pretty wide open.” says Rick Swart, spokesperson for Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Swart says coyotes can be hunted year-round, and there’s no limit.

“If people want to have a derby to hunt coyotes under current laws they’re allowed to do so,” says Swart. “At the same token we understand that not everybody buys into that.”

The organizers of the Harney County Coyote Classic could not be reached for comment.


List of all 2015 Predator hunts by State

2015 Predator Hunting Expo

2015 Predator Hunting Expo

Use this form to contact or inquire about:

2015 Predator Hunting Expo

Coulee Region Coyote Hunters will be holding our 2015 Predator Hunting Expo at Silent Outdoors in Sparta,Wi Jan. 10th and 11th.

Activities include:

Raffles- Mens, Womens and Children Raffles with all proceeds from raffles going to Wounded Warriors United.

Vendors- Come check out our vendors at this event.

Wounded Warriors Hunt- CRCH staff will be taking out some Wounded Vets during this event.

Coyote Tournament- Two divisions- Houndsmen- callers/trappers open to anyone.

Groups Denounce Eastern Oregon Coyote-Killing Contest

The second annual Harney Coyote Classic is scheduled to kick off Jan. 16, and animal rights groups and conservation organizations are fighting to stop the coyote-killing contest that takes place in Eastern Oregon near Burns. “It’s horrific, blatantly slaughtering wildlife for no reason,” says Brooks Fahy of Predator Defense. “You don’t eat coyotes.”

The contest runs Jan. 16-18, and one- to three-person teams are given prizes for the most coyotes killed in that span of time and for “heavy dog,” “light dog” and average weight. Fahy says no location is given on the flyer for the contest because in the past, contests taking place on public lands have been protested and even stopped for lack of permit.

Scott Beckstead of the Humane Society of the United States says the contest is “terrible and these killing contests evoke an era where people were encouraged to go out and slaughter wild predators.” He calls the contests “out of touch with mainstream Oregon values” and says he is looking forward to the days they’re finally banned. The California Fish and Game Commission recently banned killing predators for prizes.

Oregon Fish and Wildlife Spokesperson Michelle Dennehy tells EW, “ODFW does not have the authority to cancel the event. Coyotes are classified as predatory animals in statutes set by the Oregon State Legislature.” She cites a statute that says the State Fish and Wildlife Commission “shall not prescribe limitations on the times, places or amounts for the taking of predatory animals.”

Beckstead says he contacted Les Schwab tires, which is listed on the contest’s flyer as a sponsor, and was told, “A customer asked us to make Harney County Coyote Classic registration forms available. Les Schwab is not sponsoring the event, is not distributing forms and does not plan to participate in the event in the future.” The tire center says, “Each store aims to sponsor organizations and events that reflect the community’s interests; this includes our Burns store.”

Both Beckstead and Fahy are concerned these contests, if left unchecked, could result in deaths of Oregon’s slowly recovering wolf population. They cite the instance of a wolf that was shot last month in the Grand Canyon by a Utah hunter who said he thought it was a coyote. While wolves are protected in Oregon, there is no limit on killing coyotes.

Fahy says that “The broader issue here is, should we be killing coyotes and other predators at all?” He says there is a “huge body of science that says ‘No, we shouldn’t be killing these animals,’” and that killing them actually upsets not only the pack structure, but also the equilibrium of the ecosystem and causes damage to prey and even other predators.

The bloody contests are a “glaring example” of how out of control the killing of coyotes is, Fahy says.

No Wolves Killed in Contest Means Too Many Wolves Already Killed

Hunters here need to get a life. For over a week now, I’ve been receiving comments about the wolf/coyote contest hunt addressed in the January 2nd article, “ID Gun Nuts Start New Year With Three-Day Mass Slaughter Of Wolves And Coyotes.”   

I don’t know if it’s the insinuation that they might be “gun nuts” (I would think they’d gladly fess up to that) or what, but long after the derby has played itself out, they’re still trying to get their vitriolic comments approved. So far, over 500 of their 180,000+ viewers have left comments that will never see the light of day (except in the occasional post like this one, meant to expose just how malicious they really are).

And they really do all sound alike—believe me when I say you’d never want to sit through 500 of their repetitive statements, such as the ever-popular catch phrase:

“Smoke a pack a day!”NT wolf bumpr stickr

It wasn’t funny the day the first guy blurted it out and it just gets more tedious—and more carcinogenic—with each repeated use. However, it does point out their universal sentiment about doing away with wolves at every chance they get. With all the anti-wolf mawkishness it’s hard to imagine there are many wolves left in Idaho. Each licensed hunter there can legally kill up to five wolves per season and trap and an additional five individuals, so recovering wolves would conceivably have suffered considerable losses by now.

But these would-be commenters seem keenly concerned about controlling the wolves’ population (as if they need it) while at the same time, indifferent about their own. Here are some of their views on the subject of overpopulation:

“There is nothing wrong with the killing of these animals it’s a all in an order to control population.”

“Their numbers are unsustainable. Wolves will kill for the thrill and not just because they are hungry.”

“haha kill them all! Wolves are one of the biggest problems we have in Idaho, wyoming and Montana!”

“if we don’t thin out these packs it could turn bad for everyone they are already over populated…” 

And yet, according to post-contest articles like, “Wolf Population Unaltered By Controversial Hunt,” “Nobody even saw a track. We had fresh snow, and we were just in shock,” Alder said. “No sightings, no tracks.” He noted that there was an increase in coyote captures this year—30, compared with 21 during last year’s derby.

Not to give them credit for achieving anything whatsoever, but it would seem wolf-killers have been proactive about gettin’‘er done well before the contest’s start date.

The article goes on to say, “One team of hunters killed 12 coyotes over three days and sold their pelts to a fur buyer who attended the event. The team walked away with a $1,000 cash prize for most coyotes killed.

“Thirty coyotes were killed during the three-day hunt, and—for the second consecutive year—zero wolves.”

The derby, organized by executive director of Idaho for Wildlife Steve Alder, was created to help curb predator populations.

Considering the burgeoning human population, Alder and his ilk would do well to look in the mirror before calling any kettles black. Are they blissfully ignorant of the fact that another human is born every eight seconds in this country alone? Meanwhile, 350,000 humans are born each and every day worldwide.

How many of them will grow up to be predator hunters? Talk about “unsustainable” numbers. This isn’t just about them or their rancher buddies. This is about a world-wide loss of biodiversity—their part in the sixth mass extinction. It’s really not something to be glib over or proud of.


Hunt or be Hunted?

And the hits just keep on coming. Yet again today I find comments from hunters on the pre-coyote/wolf-kill-contest post that really seemed to get their goat, the article, was posted over a week ago, and still the hunters are coming up with (unapproved) comments such as this one from today (printed verbatim):

…”‘Hunt or be hunted’ all u tree hungers don’t understand… if we don’t thin out these packs it could turn bad for everyone they are already over populated… if we left the wolves an coyotes alone next thing u know are children’s an even adults we become hunted and killed by them it’s called animal control an besides the department of wildlife knows when they will.need to shut the hunting down all it is ‘control of the packs’”



Environmentalists Couldn’t Stop the Slaughter at Idaho’s Annual Coyote and Wolf Derby

Environmentalists Couldn’t Stop the Slaughter at Idaho’s Annual Coyote and Wolf Derby

Last year I learned that anti-predator activists were organizing a predator killing derby to take place in Salmon, Idaho – a place smack dab amidst one of the largest and most breathtakingly diverse public landscapes in the country. A few of us infiltrated the event with the aim of exposing the extent of the depravity to the public (See: VICE: How to Kill a Wolf), and hopefully aiding any litigation and legislative efforts that may follow in the future with factual support.

This year the event garnered a great deal more attention from the environmental community. Lawsuits were filed but, unfortunately, the existing state of the law has yet to secure protections that would effectively curtail this very public wanton infliction of suffering, destruction of life, and appalling disregard for the potential impacts to ecological communities inhabiting this profound public landscape.

A brilliant and courageous group of activists (including: Stephany Seay of Buffalo Field Campaign, a person whose adept insights and experience working with BFC largely provided the model and know-how for this year’s effort; Ritchie Eppink of the ACLU of Idaho, a person and organization that has ably protected Idaho citizens’ rights to practice journalism, expression, and the full suite of constitutionally protected methods of civic engagement; Lynne Stone of the Boulder White Clouds Council, who first blew the horn on last year’s derby, organized information, and whose years on the ground advocating for wolves on the landscape at issue provided invaluable support; among others) came together and committed to bear witness the events that would transpire during the derby again, this time with a very particular aim: We would counter their heavily armed violence and hate openly – with cameras, with light.

Derby participants attempt to obscure line of sight with tarp. Photo:

On the third day of the wolf-killing contest, an earthquake shook the mountains near Salmon, Idaho. “It’s Mother Earth revolting against the cruelty, the violence, the madness, of what’s happening here,” said Brian Ertz, president of the nonprofit advocacy group Wildlands Defense.

Read about the rest in VICE.  Environmentalists Couldn’t Stop the Slaughter at Idaho’s Annual Coyote and Wolf Derby – VICE Magazine – by Christopher Ketcham

January 6, 2015

On the third day of the wolf-killing contest, an earthquake shook the mountains near Salmon, Idaho. “It’s Mother Earth revolting against the cruelty, the violence, the madness, of what’s happening here,” said Brian Ertz, president of the nonprofit advocacy group Wildlands Defense. A year ago this week, Ertz and I went undercover for VICE in Salmon to infiltrate that town’s annual Coyote and Wolf Derby, an event as primitive as it sounds: Dozens of contestants compete to mow down as many coyotes and wolves as quickly as possible, piling up the cadavers in their trucks, vying for $1,000 prizes for most animals killed. Kids as young as ten are invited to join in the slaughter with their families, with special awards handed out to the children who shed the most blood.

This is not hunting for meat. It is not hunting to prevent threats to human safety. It is killing for the sake of killing. To join in the derby was an unnerving experience for me, an immersion into the ugly side of rural mountain folkways in the American West.

I had thought, quixotically, that exposure of Salmon’s atavistic blood rites in an international magazine would have helped put an end to it. After all, much of the derby hunt occurs on federal public land, which is subject to federal law and oversight by agents of the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. A year later, however, the derby was on again, and with great fanfare. Government regulators had done nothing to stop it, and environmental groups had failed to galvanize public opinion against it. The event’s organizer, the ironically named Idaho for Wildlife, had announced, proudly, that the derby would be expanded to four days from the previous year’s two. By the end of day one, derby-goers brought in 17 coyotes to a warehouse in Salmon where their bodies were measured, weighed, and skinned, the pelts sold to fur buyers on hand for the nightly bringing-in of the dead.

Not a single representative from the environmental groups that had publicly criticized the derby—and litigated unsuccessfully to shut it down—showed up to confront the bands of hunters. The sole exception was the ad hoc crew of eight hungry young activists that Ertz, 32, had organized, among them a staff member of the ACLU of Idaho, Ritchie Eppink, who joined in the mission as a legal observer, and Stephany Seay, media director of the Buffalo Field Campaign in Montana.

There was good reason to shy away from confrontation: The folks in Salmon hate environmentalists. It’s a small town, and the people, thin-lipped and narrow-eyed, easily sniff out strangers. On the first day of the derby, Thursday, Ertz stood at a gas station in Salmon when a local ranch hand approached to offer a warning. “All these people know you’re here,” said the man, according to Ertz, “and they’re gonna be looking for you. I’d keep your head down, and, if I were you, I’d get out altogether because what they’re gonna do to you ain’t good.” By Friday, one of the activists had fled a hotel in Salmon after Idaho for Wildlife organizers called the owner and warned about environmentalists holing up there.

I asked Ertz why he was taking the risk when he could’ve tried again to go undercover. Last year, disguised as hunters in camouflage, rifles on our backs, blood thirst in our mouths, we had been welcomed in Salmon. This year, he and his colleagues broke up into teams of two; armed with video cameras, they trawled the hills in their cars to document the slaughter for a future lawsuit.

“The objective,” said Ertz, “is to be very much in their face, to let them know we’re out here on patrol, looking for violations of federal law. We want to project the image that we could be anywhere, everywhere.”

A related objective was to stand in open defiance of what Ertz described as “a culture of death.” Salmon, like many small towns in the rural West, is a ranching society. Ranchers who run their cattle on the open range have historically regarded wild predators not as majestic creatures but as vermin to be exterminated. Investigative journalist Jack Olsen, writing in his 1971 Slaughter the Slaughter the Animals, Poison the Earth , concluded that the livestock industry’s hatred of predators—wolves and coyotes foremost, but also cougars, black bears, grizzlies, wolverines, lynx, bobcats, hawks, eagles, and on and on—went “so far beyond the dimensions of reality as to be almost pathological in origin.” Indeed, the desire to annihilate the enemy is not based on a rational assessment of the threat to cows and sheep. The number of rangeland livestock lost each year to carnivore depredations is insignificant—less than a half of a percent, according to the Department of Agriculture.

“These people honestly believe that sterilizing the landscape of predators will enrich their economy and preserve their culture,” says Ertz. “Events like the derby validate those who have been conditioned to believe that their way of life, or more accurately their way of death, is under assault by environmentalists. They’ve got a point. Americans in general are becoming more compassionate toward nonhuman animals, and our appreciation of ecology and the contributions of wildlife communities is growing. This awareness and compassion threatens any culture that predicates itself on wanton destruction and an appalling disregard for the suffering of sentient beings.”

By the final day, Sunday, the hunters had killed 30 coyotes, according to the event’s Facebook page. (No wolves were taken, either by trap or gunfire.) At the awards ceremony that afternoon, Ertz’s crew in separate parties attempted to enter the warehouse where the cadavers had been hung on meat hooks. One of the teams, which included Eppink of the ACLU, carried a hidden camera. They were stopped by an imperious little man in a big cowboy hat. “Are you guys entered in the contest?” he asked.

“No, we just came to see the ceremony,” said Eppink.

“Out!” said the cowboy. “There’s all kinds of animal terrorists here taking pictures and harassing us!”

When Natalie Ertz, Brian’s sister, approached to capture the spectacle of the awards with her Nikon, one of the members of Idaho for Wildlife, a woman with funny blackened teeth named Billiejo Beck, cut off her passage. “No cameras—this is private property,” she said.

“What are you hiding?” asked Natalie.

“Absolutely nothing,” said Beck.

“Where’s the property line?”

Beck pointed beyond the fencing of the parking lot, and yelled for assistance to a county sheriff who was standing nearby. So Natalie and her brother and the rest of the crew stood at the fence line. Natalie howled three times like a wolf and smiled.

When Beck again emerged, Natalie called to her: “Billiejo! I’d love to talk to you. What does wildlife mean to Idaho for Wildlife? What does wilderness mean? Wolves and coyotes are wildlife! Where’s your ethical line in killing?”

There was no response. “Why won’t you talk to me if you’re so proud of what you’re doing?”

The protesters had a partial view into the warehouse—they could spy the coyotes tossed from trucks and hung on the hooks—but Beck at last placed a bloody tarp across the doorway to obscure the line of sight.

“It’s no different from last year,” said Brian Ertz, “except in one way: This year they were forced to hide their carnival. This year they feared the cameras and scurried like cockroaches to avoid the light.”

This year, in other words, there was shame. That’s progress.

Christopher Ketcham is a contributing editor at Harper’s magazine. Write him at