New Mexico Newspapers Speak Out Against Coyote-Killing Contests
The coyote-killing contest organized by Gunhawk Firearms in November outraged New Mexicans the state over, including hunters and gun-owners. Two of the state's largest newspapers took a stand against this needless killing and you can read their editorials below. Then sign the petition to help stop this contests from happening in our state!
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Let’s be clear — staging a contest to see who can kill the most of any one species is not about hunting.
At its core, real hunting is about respecting wildlife and its ecosystem. It understands a species’ role in its environment and habitat. It is not about a blatant disregard for life that glorifies a weekend of blood sport for the sake of nothing more than mass killings.
And the coyote contest planned this weekend in Los Lunas is all about the latter.
The contest is not about managing a varmint population. Organizer Mark Chavez, the owner of Gunhawk Firearms, admits the science shows the species overbreeds to compensate. “When you go out and hunt coyotes,” he says, “they change their behavior and reproduce more.”
It is not about stabilizing the ecosystem. Again, mass killing of a top predator clears the way for lesser varmints to breed unchecked. Fewer coyotes in the short term means more skunks and raccoons.
It is about shooting living things dead. A lot of them. For fun. Not because the meat or pelts are needed for survival, or the animals pose a threat, or even that the head will make a nice trophy.
Just killing to kill and then killing some more, only to then dump the pile of carcasses at a secret location.
What kind of message does that send? What kind of picture does it present of our state?
It may be too late this time around — bullets start flying Saturday. But on the heels of similar coyote killing contests in Grady and Farmington, the Los Lunas event should be the last.
There was a time, not that long ago, that New Mexico allowed, even embraced, the cruel bloodsport of cockfighting. Then state lawmakers stood up and said New Mexico would no longer be a place where people torture game birds for entertainment.
They shouldn’t be able to kill animals en masse and disrupt an ecosystem in the name of sport, either. The 2013 Legislature should relegate such mass animal kills — whether there’s a prize or not — to the same page in history.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.
By The New Mexican
The notion that the Western tradition of hunting is to reward the person who brings back the most pelts is true — but only if modern hunters want to emulate the shameful example of buffalo hunting.
In that instance, 19th-century hunters took so many pelts that they nearly decimated the vast herds of buffalo that once roamed the Plains. Individual hunters killed as many as 250 of the majestic animals a day, selling their pelts and tongues but leaving edible meat to rot. From just after the Civil War to the mid-1880s, hunters managed to nearly exterminate the buffalo. From an estimated 50 million, some 2,000 animals remained as the century ended. Here in New Mexico, our native beaver population was nearly wiped to meet the needs of fashionable men for beaver felt top hats.
Wholesale slaughter is no example to follow.
The tradition of hunting in the West worth emulating was born of necessity, because people needed food or to protect people or animals. Killing in bulk, taking more than you needed, is no tradition to carry into the modern world. That’s why the notion of a contest hunt, to be hosted by a Los Lunas gun shop this weekend, is so distasteful. The idea is simple: teams of armed hunters will bring down as many coyotes as possible. In this mindset, the coyote becomes nothing less than mobile living targets.
Worldwide protests have ensued, and now, the owner of the sponsoring business, Gunhawk Firearms, has changed the name of his “coyote contest” to a “coyote management hunt.” His new spin? By felling as many coyotes as possible, participants will allow wildlife and cattle to flourish. The promoter claims the re-purposed shoot is doing the state a favor, although to our knowledge, he has presented no evidence of the need to kill coyote in his area. He is limiting the hunt to 60 teams of one or two people ($50 a pop to enter) with the winner getting a Browning Maxus 12-gauge shotgun or two AR-15 semiautomatic rifles. One bright spot: gun store owner Mark Chavez has been told by the federal Bureau of Land Management that hunters better stay out of federal property. With that the state could kick him and his shooters out as well.
New Mexico allows coyote hunting every day of the year, so the contest hunt is legal because coyotes are not classified as a game animal. However, legal and right are two different animals.
It’s time that the state of New Mexico makes these kill-all-you-see hunts illegal. If coyotes are depleting cattle stock or injuring wildlife, the state Game and Fish Department should manage the damage along with private landowners. Individuals, out for blood, should not have a license for mass kills, just because they want to. These free-for-alls are wrong for our state’s image, wrong for wild creatures and frankly, not much good for the sport of hunting. One simple solution: the state Game and Fish Commission could designate coyotes as a game animal, since some are deriving sport from their killing, and establish regulations for coyote hunting. Until then, it’s time for the state of New Mexico to stop these kill-all-you-can coyote shoots.