New Mexico Bans Destructive Coyote-killing Contests

Governor Lujan Grisham Signs Bill Abolishing Organized Killing of Coyotes for Prizes, Entertainment

 

Two coyotes

SANTA FE, N.M.— New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham today signed bipartisan
legislation that prohibits organizing, sponsoring or participating in coyote-killing contests
in the state. Several conservation organizations praised the governor for signing the
progressive, science-based legislation into law.

During these contests, participants compete to kill the greatest number, the largest or
even the smallest coyotes for entertainment and prizes. Approximately thirty such
contests take place annually in New Mexico.

The bill, SB 76, was spearheaded by Senator Mark Moores (R-Albuquerque) and
Senator Jeff Steinborn (D-Las Cruces). The bill was carried on the House floor by
Representative Matthew McQueen (D-Galisteo).

“Killing contests are just blood sports. All they are about is killing as many animals as
you can, and not about protecting livestock or property,” said Sen. Moores. “No one is
trying to restrict landowners’ ability to kill offending coyotes, but celebrating mass killing
is just not good wildlife management.”

“With the signing of this bill, New Mexico is sending a powerful message that we value
our wildlife and humane treatment of them,” said Sen. Steinborn.

“These contests are abhorrent and unjustifiable — they are neither hunting nor wildlife
management,” said Christopher Smith, southern Rockies wildlife advocate for WildEarth
Guardians. “Banning this activity is a step towards science-based and ethical wildlife
management and we are grateful to the bill's sponsors and supporters and the
Governor.”

 

“This is a huge victory for New Mexico’s wildlife and New Mexicans,” said Amanda
Munro, communications director for the Southwest Environmental Center. “We appreciate the persistence and leadership shown by Senators Steinborn and Moores to get this bill passed once and for all. Our wildlife deserves management that reflects
broad public opinion, respects all wildlife, and is informed by modern ecological
understanding about the value of all species. This bill is a giant step in that direction for
New Mexico.”
 

Triumphant coyote

“This victory has been nearly two decades in the making, the culmination of a
homegrown campaign waged by thousands of dedicated New Mexicans appalled that
these gruesome blood sports are hosted in our state,” said Jessica Johnson, chief
legislative officer for Animal Protection Voters. “Today, we as a state are taking a giant
step toward thoughtful, humane wildlife management and basic human decency.”

“Coyotes as a species don't deserve to be vilified. They are important ecosystem
managers that regulate populations of rodents and rabbits which are significant
competitors for forage with other native herbivores and even livestock,” said Mary
Katherine Ray, wildlife chair of the Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter and long-time
resident of rural Socorro county. “The random mass killing of coyotes that occurs with
killing competitions is like targeting every cocker spaniel, a similarly sized canine, for
death because one may have behaved problematically. The governor was right to sign
the bill to stop this.”

“This law makes New Mexico a leader in following sound science in its treatment of wild
carnivores,” said Michael Robinson, senior conservation advocate with the Center for
Biological Diversity. “We celebrate for coyotes, for endangered wolves that might have
been mistakenly killed and for our children learning that humane values are New Mexico
values.”

“There is no documented scientific evidence that coyote killing contests serve any
legitimate wildlife management purpose,” said Albuquerque-based Project Coyote
Science Advisory Board member Dave Parsons, who is also a retired career wildlife
biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “We applaud Gov. Lujan Grisham for
taking a strong stance against these ethically and ecologically indefensible events.”

In January, New Mexico State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard signed an
executive order prohibiting wildlife killing contests for unprotected species on State
Trust Lands. California banned the awarding of prizes for killing furbearer and nongame
species in 2014, and Vermont banned coyote killing contests in 2018. Cities and
counties in Arizona, New Mexico, and Wisconsin have passed resolutions condemning
wildlife killing contests.
 

Background

Wildlife-killing contests occur throughout the United States. The best available science
indicates that indiscriminately killing coyotes disrupts pack social structures, which can
lead to increased depredation and compensatory breeding.