By Erica Cirino
In an opinion piece for the Cape Cod Times earlier this month, Carl Safina and I wrote about coexisting with coyotes—as millions of people in fact do. We juxtaposed a Cape Cod coyote-killing contest against a San Francisco newspaper deliveryman who every morning gives a particular coyote their own paper. That coyote had been taking a paper to play with each morning from one of the driveways on the block. Giving the coyote a paper solved the problem for the deliveryman, the subscriber, and the coyote.
And now Albuquerque New Mexico agrees with the information we highlighted which shows that killing coyotes has various downsides and doesn’t even reduce coyote density. This week, Albuquerque’s City Council unanimously passed a resolution condemning coyote killing contests and asking for a statewide ban on this cruel practice. The resolution urges the New Mexico legislature to prohibit “contests organized, arranged or sponsored for the purpose of killing coyotes for prizes or entertainment.”
Coyote, Lake City, Colorado, between Slumgullion Pass and Creede. Photo: Larry1732 (Wikimedia Commons)
At the hearing, wildlife biologist Dave Parsons—who is also a science advisory board member of Project Coyote, a nonprofit which advocates for the encouraging respect for the U.S.’s native carnivore population—testified before the Albuquerque City Council. “Many respected wildlife experts agree that there is no scientific justification for coyote killing contests and no proven wildlife management benefit,” said Parsons. “These contests are antithetical to modern wildlife management principles. It is well past time to end this unethical practice.”
If the New Mexico legislature passes a bill, it would become the third U.S. state to outlaw the killing contests. California passed a ban in 2014, and Vermont just passed a ban this year. While coyotes occasionally have minor run-ins with pets, people and livestock, more often than not these animals choose not to interact with human lives.
Coyote on the McCormick Ranch Golf Course at sunrise. Photo: Dru Bloomfield (Flickr)
However, the states that allow coyote-killing contests vastly outnumber those that have prohibited the practice. One of the reasons is due to the incorrect notion that mass-killing coyotes and other so-called “nuisance” predator animals is an effective way of reducing run-ins. This notion is so engrained in the American psyche that even some wildlife managers are in support of killing contests. This year the State of Georgia opened up its own coyote-killing contest with a prize of a lifetime hunting license, calling the contest an “educational effort.”
We applaud states like California, Vermont, and—hopefully soon—New Mexico, which have recognized that the best available science shows coexisting with predator animals—rather than killing them—is the most effective, and peaceful, kind of management strategy.