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.
Unanimous vote follows Dewey-Humboldt Town Council resolution
YAVAPAI COUNTY, Ariz. — The Yavapai County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously yesterday in favor of a proclamation that opposes wildlife killing contests. Arizona citizens belonging to a coalition known as I AM WOLF NATION in partnership with Project Coyote and other wildlife and animal protection organizations have been working to end wildlife killing contests in Yavapai County and other Arizona localities. Yavapai County’s proclamation follows on the heels of a similar Dewey-Humboldt Town Council resolution that passed in November.
Wildlife killing contests are cruel events in which participants compete for fun and prizes by killing the greatest number or the heaviest of the target species. Last week, dozens of coyotes were slaughtered in the Santa Slay Coyote Tournament in Yavapai County and on public lands throughout Arizona. Manufacturers and sellers of firearms, predator-calling devices, and hunting gear were among its sponsors. Though the public at large remains largely unaware of these contests, killing contest social media posts often show photos of participants piling up and posing with the corpses of wildlife they have killed.
Increasing public outrage has led to several national newspapers editorializing against wildlife killing contests. Last week, on December 14, Pulitzer Prize-nominated columnist Linda Valdez wrote in The Arizona Republic: “The wildlife in Arizona belongs to all the people of Arizona. Did anyone ask you how you feel about contests [that] put a dollar value on killing as many wild animals as possible? Is that how you want your wildlife treated?”
Yavapai County’s proclamation recognizes that coyotes and other native carnivores play a key role in maintaining healthy ecosystems—which includes controlling rabbit and rodent populations. Just as importantly, the County proclaims that wildlife killing contests serve no genuine ecological or wildlife management purpose. The County proclamation further acknowledges that wildlife killing contests threaten the safety and well-being of hikers, dog walkers, bird watchers, hunters, horseback riders, and other outdoor enthusiasts who use public lands where killing contests take place.
“We applaud the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors for taking a strong stance against wildlife killing contests in Arizona,” said Matt Francis, Prescott, Arizona resident and a Project Coyote Program Associate. “The Arizona State Legislature should recognize that Arizona citizens will no longer tolerate these barbaric contests and should ban wildlife killing contests statewide.”
“Our team recognizes and appreciates Yavapai County making a statement against killing contests, which are blood sports and should never be compared to hunting as contest proponents try to do,” said Betsy Klein, Sedona, Arizona, resident and co-founder of I AM WOLF NATION™. “As an organization, we recognize the long-standing tradition of hunters and hunting in Arizona. In fact, hunters who practice fair chase principles have called these contests ‘inhumane’ and have openly opposed them, knowing there is a distinct difference between hunting and senseless slaughter.”
Currently, there is a contest slated to take place in Flagstaff in March of 2019 that will target bobcats, coyotes, and foxes.
Coyote killing contest organizers often justify the slaughter by claiming that by reducing the coyote population they are helping to reduce conflicts with coyotes. “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,” said Dave Parsons, MS, retired career wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, former hunter, and Project Coyote Science Advisory Board Member. “Wildlife killing contests are symptomatic of a broader problem of misguided wildlife governance by state wildlife agencies that fail to recognize and value the crucial ecological roles of native predators.”
The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) itself recognizes that killing coyotes doesn’t reduce their numbers, stating on their website: “Removing coyotes from one area generally results in other coyotes moving in from surrounding areas and breeding faster.” There is no way to know the effect that wildlife killing contests have on coyote populations in Arizona because AZGFD does not monitor the contests or track the number of coyotes killed in these events.
U.S. Congressman Raúl Grijalva of the 3rd Congressional District of Arizona, who serves on the House Committee on Natural Resources, recently weighed in on the issue: “Do you want a coyote-killing contest on your public lands this Saturday? Neither do we. Neither do Arizona locals in the threatened area. Let people know this is happening.”
Earlier this year, the city council of Albuquerque, New Mexico, unanimously passed a resolution calling for a state legislative ban on killing contests. Tucson and Pima County have passed similar resolutions in recent years. Vermont and California outlawed killing contests in 2018 and 2014, respectively. The National Coalition to End Wildlife Killing Contests, a growing alliance of more than 30 state and national wildlife and animal protection groups, along with local citizens, will pursue similar policy changes at the state and local levels across the nation in 2019.
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I AM WOLF NATION — The power of the collective, working to protect the wolf and other persecuted wildlife in Arizona. For more information about joining the local effort to end wildlife killing contests, please visit our website.
Project Coyote, a national non-profit organization, is a North American coalition of scientists, educators, ranchers, and citizen leaders promoting compassionate conservation and coexistence between people and wildlife through education, science and advocacy. Visit ProjectCoyote.org for more information.
The first leg of a new, nationwide wildlife killing contest, the “United States Predator Challenge,” began this month. This gruesome competition, which bills itself as “the first contest series ever started to truly crown the first ever US champion coyote calling team,” encourages participants to slaughter coyotes in three regions and bring them to check-in points in Virginia on January 11 to 13, 2019; and in Nebraska on February 1 and 2, 2019. (The first leg of this horrific event has already taken place, with a check-in point in central Utah on December 7 and 8.) You can read more at www.uspredatorchallenge.com.
Please join wildlife advocates across the country in opposing the United States Predator Challenge!
Here’s how you can help:
Urge your state legislators to support a ban on wildlife killing contests in your state. Locate your state legislators here. Ask them to support legislation to ban cruel and unsporting wildlife killing contests in your state. Find more guidance on passing local and state bans on wildlife killing contests at this link.
Urge your city and/or county council to pass a resolution condemning wildlife killing contests and calling for a statewide legislative ban. This year, the city councils of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona, passed similar resolutions.
Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper.
a. For tips and tools about writing letters to the editor, click here.
b. Talking points (it’s important to be polite and personalize your message):
° States should follow the lead of California and Vermont and ban the killing of coyotes and other wildlife for prizes and fun.
° Wildlife killing contests are conducted for profit, entertainment, prizes, and simply for the “fun” of killing.
° No evidence exists showing that indiscriminate killing contests serve any effective wildlife management function. Coyote populations that are not hunted or trapped form stable family groups that naturally limit populations. Indiscriminate killing of coyotes disrupts this social stability, resulting in increased reproduction and pup survival. Read more here and here.
° Coyotes play an important ecological role helping to maintain healthy ecosystems and species diversity. As the top carnivore in some ecosystems, coyotes provide many benefits including providing free rodent control and regulating the number of mesocarnivores (such as skunks and raccoons), which in turn helps to boost ground and song bird abundance and biodiversity. Read more here.
° Wildlife killing contests perpetuate a culture of violence and send the message to children that life has little value and that animals are disposable.
° Wildlife killing contests put non-target wildlife, companion animals, and people at risk.
° Killing as many animals as possible conflicts with traditional fair-chase hunting values and contravenes science-based wildlife conservation principles and practices.
Post this sharegraphic on social media, accompanied by the requests above.
Help raise awareness about wildlife killing contests by distributing this educational postcard and this factsheet.
Help sponsor a screening of KILLING GAMES ~ Wildlife In The Crosshairs in your community. Contact Project Coyote at firstname.lastname@example.org about sponsorship opportunities.
For more information about wildlife killing contests, please visit the National Coalition to End Wildlife Killing Contests’ website here.
Thank you for speaking out against cruel wildlife killing contests!
March 1 marked the beginning of the annual coyote challenge. For the 2nd year in a row the state is sponsoring the co…
March 1 marked the beginning of the annual coyote challenge. For the 2nd year in a row the state is sponsoring the competition to allow the hunter who brings in the most coyotes to be entered into drawings for a chance to win a lifetime hunting license or prize of similar value.
Trapper Jason Chapman is among this year’s participants.
“This is our trapping pack basket, it’s got all of our equipment, it’s got our traps ready to go,” said Chapman is also with Predator Control Services, a company that provides wildlife removal for a wide range of animals. That day Chapman was once again in search of what he calls nuisance coyotes. “The population has just exploded in the last five years even in these urban environments and that’s just not good to have,” added Chapman.
The wooded area behind homeowner Kim Waldrop property is the focus of Chapman’s trapping expedition. The property is sandwiched between a school and a residential neighborhood and Waldrop says it isn’t uncommon to see a coyote roaming the area. “Just three or four nights ago we saw them cut across the back area in front of our storage area and into that wooded lot right there. They just trotted right around like obviously this is his home as much as it is ours, but it’s just not.
State of Georgia also recognizes the problem and say the Coyote Challenge is an effort to control the coyote population. As part of the effort citizens throughout the state can trap and kill coyotes, then send a picture of their kill to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to be entered into the drawings that will take place every two months between March and August. Champion, has already submitted a coyote to the competition and he’s hoping his latest trapping efforts will add to his submissions.
“We use live catch foot restrains which hold the animals in place, the best way to describe it is think of it as handcuffs for a coyote, it hold them until we can come remove them, it’s the safest for the animal and it’s the most humane way to handle them,” added Champion.
But not everyone is in support of the effort, “The Georgia Coyote Challenge is something that our organization has been very outspoken against, we do not agree with” said Dr. Chris Mowry a biologist from Berry College.
Mowry is also the Founder of the Atlanta Coyote Project and he says we need to find a way to co-exist with the coyotes because killing them will only have an adverse effect. “Killing coyotes often times leads to unintended consequences and that is more coyotes. It may knock the population down for a little while but what happens, is you will free up individuals to breed who weren’t breeding before.”
Mowry says as the new coyotes breed their population will soar. In addition, he adds coyotes are helping to balance the ecosystem by controlling the rodent population. But, beyond that Mowry says the process is just inhumane. He also pointed out the timing of the challenge coincides with breading season, he says in many cases parent coyotes are killed and their cubs are left to roam the area in search of food, a process that once again increases the possibility of human contact. But, for Waldrop who hire Chapman to remove the coyotes because her family is already having negative interactions with the animals and she says something has to be done. “I’m very nervous because they are just so active and all over the place .
Sentiments Chapman echoed, “There are way too many coyotes out there right now the population has just sky rocketed and when I’m pulling 10 or 15 out of a small subdivision we know we have a problem.
As of Tuesday only 17 coyote entries had been turned into the challenge.
Coyotes are back in the news following the promotion of a controversial hunting contest by Powderhorn Outfitters, a gun shop in Hyannis.
Profiled last week in the Cape’s daily newspaper after it caused a stir on social media, the contest offers prizes for the largest coyote killed and for the cumulative weight of each hunter’s harvest through the hunting season, which ends on March 12.
The contest, which is promoted on the store’s Facebook page but not on its website, quickly drew the ire of wildlife advocates such as Eastham’s Louise Kane.
Kane was featured in a report in The Cape Codder last year, when she started a Change.org petition to ban carnivore hunting in the Cape Cod National Seashore; as of this week, it had 6,630 supporters.
On Jan. 28 she posted this comment on Powderhorn’s Facebook page: “Please friends that love animals go to Powderhorn Outfitters facebook page and give them a one star rating and object to the coyote killing contest. Please take a moment for Cape Cod coyotes.”
The same day Dr. Jonathan Way, founder of Eastern Coyote/Coywolf Research, and author of “Suburban Howls: Tracking the Eastern Coyote in Urban Massachusetts,” also had harsh words for the contest, writing in his blog: “Here is the first coyote hunting contest that I am aware of in MA, and here on Cape Cod, MA. This is outrageous. Spread the word about who really gets to ‘manage’ our wildlife. Of course, MA Wildlife and local town laws do nothing to prevent this ‘tragedy of the commons.’” With it came a link to Powderhorn’s facebook page.
Way and Kane are planning an information and protest event this Saturday in Hyannis. (See details below.)
Hunters, or supporters of hunters, had their say on the gun shop’s Facebook page, too. Several decried the “one-star rating” tactic as unfair and some had choice words for “the anti-hunting leftists.”
On the Cape, Way is a leading expert for all things coyote (see easterncoyoteresearch.com). In a local magazine article two years back, he estimated there were between 200 and 250 coyotes – or coywolves, as he identifies them as a species – living on the Cape.
He puts the coywolf DNA profile at roughly 60 percent western coyote, 30 percent wolf and 10 percent dog.
The population, by his account and others, remains mostly stable from year to year, and is found in all areas of the Cape, indeed across the Commonwealth.
Dave Wattles, a biologist with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, said the Commonwealth is “pretty well saturated with coyotes.”
“They started to colonize [here] in the 1950s, and we’re now seeing the far end of that colonization. We now have coyotes in every mainland town in the state, and in relatively high densities. All available habitat is occupied by coyotes.”
Contrary to the popular image of the lone coyote howling at the moon on the open range, coyotes live in small family packs and have become established in urban and residential communities where they have access to even a small wooded area.
While coyote attacks on people are rare, they can prey on pet cats and small dogs.
“Coyotes will see small pets as potential prey items,” noted Wattles.
Gerry Tuoti contributed to this report.
Dr. Way’s advice: Ten do’s and don’ts
Regardless of whether you approve of a coyote hunting contest, the animals are widespread across the Cape and are frequently heard and sometimes seen in all of the towns. Here are some guidelines, provided by Dr. Jonathan Way’s web site (easterncoyoteresearch.com), to bear in mind when dealing with the region’s coyotes:
1. Do chase them away and make noise (bang pots and pans) if you don’t want them in your yard. Of course, if you don’t mind them then watch them from a window quietly as to not scare them away.
2. Do make noise when you are outside especially if coyotes are often in your area. They will often change their course of direction when they hear people. Bring a whistle or horn to scare them away from you.
3. Do not feed coyotes or other animals. Even if you are feeding birds or other animals coyotes will be attracted to your yard just like any other animal looking for an easy handout.
4. Do not feed your pets outside for the same reason as above.
5. Absolutely do not let your cat outside if you are truly concerned with its health. Coyotes are just one of many mortality factors for outdoor cats.
6. Do leash your dogs. Although coyotes may follow a leashed dog out of curiosity (to the concern of the person), it is extremely rare for them to actually get within contact of your pet.
7. Do not let dogs (especially small breeds) outdoors loose without constant supervision. Fences should be at least 5 feet tall and there should not be any places where coyotes can crawl underneath. While a fence does not guarantee total protection, it is a good deterrent to coyotes or humans who would snatch or harm pets left outside alone.
8. Do not leave dogs tied outdoors unsupervised in coyote-prevalent areas.
9. Do not leave dogs and cats outside for any period of time unsupervised, especially at night, even in a fenced enclosure.
10. Do enjoy their presence and the fact that having this wily predator adds to the mystique of your neighborhood.
What: A talk by Dr. Jonathan Way When: Saturday, Feb. 10, noon to 1:30 p.m. Where: Hyannis Public Library, 401 Main Street Followed by: A protest of the coyote hunting contest by Powderhorn Outfitters (2 to 4 p.m.), at 210 Barnstable Road, Hyannis. RSVP: email@example.com
• 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 220.127.116.11 (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.
DECEMBER 21, 2017 02:05 PM
State officials are offering a complimentary lifetime hunting license to those who kill one of 24 tagged coyotes in South Carolina.
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources announced Thursday that the reward is part of the state’s Coyote Harvest Incentive Program, according WSPA.
DNR officials said 16 coyotes have already been tagged and released this year, Fox Carolina reported. Another eight coyotes released in 2016 have not been caught yet either.
Hunters must save the carcass for verification to get the free hunting license, Fox Carolina reported.
Coyotes first appeared in South Carolina in the Upstate in 1978 and have spread statewide every since, WSPA reported. They impact deer and small game populations.
Legislation aimed at banning coyote-hunting competitions in New Mexico has cleared its first legislative hurdle.
Feb. 16, 2017, at 1:04 p.m.
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on wildlife bills pending in the New Mexico Legislature (all times local):
Legislation aimed at banning coyote-hunting competitions in New Mexico has cleared its first legislative hurdle.
The majority of the Senate Conservation Committee gave the bill a do-pass recommendation during a packed hearing Thursday. The measure must win approval from two more committees before reaching the Senate floor for a vote.
The bill sponsored by Democrat Sen. Jeff Steinborn of Las Cruces would outlaw coyote-killing contests after a number of recent competitions drew anger from animal rights advocates. The bill would not prevent landowners from hunting the predators on their property.
Ranchers and outfitters from around the state argued that the contests can be a tool for managing packs of coyotes that threaten cattle and sheep.
Supporters of the legislation called the practice barbaric and questioned whether there were any scientific benefits.
A Senate committee has tabled a proposal to significantly shift the mission of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.
The legislation sponsored by Democrat Sen. Jeff Steinborn of Las Cruces would give the department the authority to manage all wildlife as a public resource rather than managing game animals and fish for recreation and food as currently provided under law.
The measure also would give the gubernatorial appointees of the Game Commission authority over all wildlife rather than just game species.
The department argues that the legislation would effectively add another 6,000 species to the list of animals it’s responsible for managing, costing millions of dollars more each year.
Game and Fish Director Alexa Sandoval called the measure an unfunded mandate, noting that the department’s work is funded by sportsmen through licenses and other fees.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.