Lawmakers Ban Coyote Killing Contests in New Mexico

Animal advocates and conservationists are celebrating a major victory in New Mexico, thanks to lawmakers who voted to make coyote killing contests illegal in the state.

These contests, which are also known as derbies or drives, reward people of all ages, including children, for killing the biggest or most animals with cash and prizes.

Sadly, coyotes who are often the target of these events are left without protection and can be killed in unlimited numbers year round. According to Project Coyote, approximately 30 events like this take place every year in New Mexico.

Fortunately, leaders in the state are working to ensure they never take place again. In January, New Mexico State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard signed an Executive Order banning wildlife killing contests on State Trust Land, which covers 9.5 million acres, and now the state is poised to make contests targeting coyotes illegal statewide.

This week lawmakers passed a bill (SB 76), which was sponsored by Senators Mark Moores and Jeff Steinborn, that will make it illegal to “organize, cause, sponsor, arrange, hold or participate in a coyote-killing contest.”

The bill still has to be signed by the governor, but its passage is a huge step towards ending these events in the state forever.

“We commend the New Mexico Legislature for joining State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard in declaring coyote killing contests as inappropriate, indefensible and something that should be banned statewide,” said Camilla Fox, founder and executive director of Project Coyote.

While these competitions are often held under the guise of wildlife management, or predator control, wildlife advocates and scientists continue to argue that they’re not only incredibly cruel and wasteful, but counter to the goal of reducing conflicts with “nuisance” animals and that the indiscriminate killing of predators ignores the valuable role they play in maintaining healthy ecosystems.

“Coyotes do not deserve to be vilified. They keep the balance of nature intact by controlling rodents and rabbit numbers leaving room for birds, pollinating insects, and other herbivores,” said Mary Katherine Ray, wildlife chair for the Rio Grande Chapter of Sierra Club. “A world without coyotes would be impoverished, more overgrazed and less biodiverse.”

It’s become abundantly clear that these events aren’t about anything but wantonly killing wildlife for fun and personal gain, while multiple undercover investigations have exposed the dangerous and indifferent attitudes they promote towards wildlife we share the landscape with.

Thankfully progress is being made towards ending these types of events. Following a victory in California in 2014, Vermont became the second state in the nation to ban wildlife killing contests last year, and hopefully New Mexico will be next to make it official.

“There is absolutely no justification for this practice—killing contests are not wildlife management and they are not hunting. They are massacres and they need to stop.” said Chris Smith, southern Rockies wildlife advocate for WildEarth Guardians. “Thankfully, New Mexico is poised to end the violence.”

Photo credit: Getty Images

120 comments

heather g
heather g3 months ago

Say no more, New Mexico's State Land Commissioner is a woman.

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Mark Donner
Mark Donner3 months ago

Coin C. "Culls" are actually criminal acts as vicious and criminal as the "wildlife contests" No cull is ever "needed" and anyone trying to promote that should be thrown in prison.

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Mark Donner
Mark Donner3 months ago

Only in three states? America is a bunch of savage criminals, including the ones in government positions.

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Angeles M
Angeles M3 months ago

Great beginning! Thank you

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Naomi Dreyer
Naomi Dreyer3 months ago

GOOD

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Chad A
Chad Anderson3 months ago

Nice.

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Anna R
Alice R3 months ago

Good

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Jennifer H
Jennifer H3 months ago

It's a start but still has to be signed? So is it in effect or not? People who participate in these things are sick-minded.

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oliver mally
oliver mally3 months ago

good start! keep on!"

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Julie D
Julie D3 months ago

Yay!

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