NM bill would stop animal-killing contests

A coyote is seen in the New Mexico wild. (Photo courtesy of Jared Tarbell via Flickr under Creative Commons license. License terms below.)

A coyote is seen in the New Mexico wild. (Photo courtesy of Jared Tarbell via Flickr under Creative Commons license. License terms below.)

Renee Blake

Public News Service

SANTA FE — A bill which would put an end to animal-killing contests in New Mexico is receiving the support of the Rio Grande chapter of the Sierra Club.

House Bill 316 is the result of widespread dismay over a recent killing contest promoted by a gun store in Los Lunas. The highly publicized contest was only one of numerous such contests held around the state.

“House Bill 316 outlaws any organized competition to go out and kill large numbers of animals for a prize,” said bill sponsor Rep. Nate Cote, D- Doña Ana and Otero counties, a hunter himself. “There are penalties involved, for example, up to a $5,000 fine.”

While opposition is expected from those who use the contests to raise funds, Cote believes he will get a lot of support for the bill, not only from groups concerned about animals and the environment but also from hunters and people who fish. Animal-killing contests reflect badly on New Mexico and on sportsmen, he said, calling the contests “unethical” and charging that they counteract the balance of nature.

Ecologically speaking, said Ray Powell, commissioner of the New Mexico State Land Office, animal killing contests are “nonsensical.”

“If you have a specific predator that’s causing a problem for domesticated livestock or companion animals, you deal with that animal specifically, quickly and humanely,” he said. “That’s very different than blowing these animals up and filling your pickup truck with carcasses.”

Powell said these killing contests disrupt the natural order of things, which, in the case of coyotes, benefits from rodent control and reducing the occurrence of plague and diseases native to New Mexico. Additionally, he said, these contests create a vacuum, drawing younger coyotes to move in en masse.

Despite the spotlight turned on the coyote-killing contest held in November, Mary Katherine Ray, wildlife chairwoman for the Sierra Club chapter, mentioned a high school on the eastern plains that sponsored one to raise money for the track team. She said this is not at all unusual around the state.

“They’re actually very common. But mostly they don’t like to publicize what’s going on because I think they realize the public is pretty outraged by it. You can sometimes find allusions to them on predator Web sites.”

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