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Coyote-Killing Contest Bill Passes NM Senate

Senate Bill 268, which makes it illegal to kill coyotes as part of a contest with prizes, passed in the Senate yesterday. (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)
Senate Bill 268, which makes it illegal to kill coyotes as part of a contest with prizes, passed in the Senate yesterday. (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)
March 10, 2017

SANTA FE, N.M. - Wildlife advocates are cheering passage of a bill in the New Mexico Senate yesterday that would prohibit hunting coyotes as a contest.

Senate Bill 268 arose from outcries against groups that began organizing coyote hunts for cash and prizes several years ago, but the legislation had failed to pass twice already. Mary Katherine Ray, wildlife chair for the Sierra Club's Rio Grande chapter, called the contests "biologically unnecessary" and said she thinks they should be outlawed.

"Sometimes, they even get prizes for killing the biggest coyote, or the smallest coyote, which to me is just the worst aspect of a horrible practice," she said. "This means you get a prize for killing the smallest coyote puppy."

Shops such as Gunhawk Firearms in Las Lunas are among the places that host more than 30 of these events a year. They award prizes ranging from shotguns to semi-automatic rifles and say they make charitable contributions with their profits.

The bill would not penalize killing coyotes as a protection for humans or pets, or any other reason than to win a prize. Contestants have said they are helping ranchers with overpopulation of a nuisance animal, but Ray pointed out that coyotes actually help control populations of some animals that do need to be culled.

"These animals, in fact, are limited by their food supply," she said. "They don't overpopulate. But their food supply does - rabbits, mice, other rodents really do need predators to keep their populations in check."

Senate Bill 268 moves on to the House of Representatives, where similar bills have died before. Wildlife advocates are hoping it gets to the governor's desk before the session ends next week.

The text of SB 268 is online at nmlegis.gov.

Brett McPherson, Public News Service - NM