New Mexico State Representative Nate Cote (D-Organ) is looking to ban all “animal-killing contests” within the state via a proposed bill that would make the holding of any hunting contests illegal. If the bill passes, violators could be slapped with a fine of up to $1,000 and possible jail time for repeat offenders.
“I’m a hunter and a fisherman, but I’d never seen anything like that. We’ve got to be better than that,” Cote said regarding contests such as the coyote hunts in his state last fall. “They’re nothing but live target shooting.”
According to the Farmington Daily Times, opponents of the bill say that Cote is infringing on hunting and gun rights. Mark Chavez, who sponsored a coyote hunt last November, says that such contests serve to cull potentially dangerous animals and also benefit local families. However, Chavez found himself the target of a animal protection groups and media.
The controversial coyote hunt went on to receive national attention when a flurry of angry emails, social media activity and signed petitions demanded the hunt’s cancellation. Protesters even showed up outside Chavez’s gun shop, Gunhawk Firearms in Los Lunas, in a rally against the killing of coyotes for prizes. Gunhawk Firearms had announced earlier that the top coyote hunting teams would receive a Browning Maxus 12-gauge or a choice of two AR-15 rifles. Animal rights groups called the event cruel and unethical for glorifying violence.
Despite this, Chavez decided to go ahead with the contest as a matter of principle.
“To me, these contests are helpful to the community. You get rid of some mangy coyotes, plus hunters put gas in the tank and buy lunch,” Chavez said. Coyote hunts are a tradition in his area during the winter season, when coyotes often attack the livestock of local ranchers. Coyote hunting is legal in New Mexico with very few restrictions and no bag limit.
Fifty-two two-man teams showed up for Chavez’s hunt. All together the hunters harvested 60 coyotes, which fell just short of expectations. The winning team brought in 11 coyotes.
Other scheduled coyote hunts in the area had been canceled due to media pressure, which is one of the reasons that Chavez decided to go forward with his. His partner, Rick Grosse, also mentioned support from ranchers who benefit from decreased coyote activity.