The Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners will convene to discuss a ban on coyote hunting contests throughout the state.
In February 2015, Don Molde of Reno and Fred Voltz of Carson City petitioned the commission to ban coyote hunting contests awarding cash or other prizes. Molde, of Nevadans for Responsible Wildlife Management, said the contests are cruel and inhumane.
It is the willful killing of wildlife just for the fun of it. It’s just not right.
Nevadans for Responsible Wildlife Management drew up the petition after a December 2014 “coyote calling contest” outside Reno created controversy and drew national media attention to the practice. The organizers of the contest say no more than 10 coyotes were killed.
Calling contests use prey calls or calls mimicing the yips and howls of coyotes to lure coyotes to the hunters. Jason Schroeder, the organizer of the December contest, says coyotes pose a growing threat to people, pets, and livestock throughout the state.
“Coyotes are moving out of the wild and into town,” he told reporters. “Coyotes are biting people right now. They are attacking people’s animals.”
Schroeder claims he has three different coyote dens living on his property.
Nevada’s legislative committee discussed the encroaching coyote population during a session in February. Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton of Las Vegas relayed her constituents’ experiences and concerns about coyote behavior to the session:
We have coyotes jumping the walls, taking pets, and coming in through pet doors.
Coyote hunting in Nevada, and much of the western United States, is currently permitted without a hunting license. The number of legal coyote kills per hunter is unlimited. California became the first state to ban prize coyote contests in December 2014, and game officials in New Mexico are considering a similar ban.
People on all sides of the issue agree Nevada’s coyote overpopulation is a serious issue, and they need to address it. However, opinions on wildlife management tactics is heavily split.
Camille Fox, executive director for Project Coyote, successfully petitioned the California Fish and Game Commission to enact the first ban in the nation on organized coyote hunting contests.
“Like dogfighting and cockfighting, killing contests are an archaic tradition that really should be left to the history books,” she said. “We’re increasingly seeing a backlash against these contests. I do think the American public is fairly outraged by this practice.”
Regardless of the positions on hunting contests, coyote numbers are on the rise in Nevada and other western states. Instead of relying on unlicensed hunting to slow growth, wildlife managers need to take proactive steps to minimize human-coyote interactions.