Stop coyote slaughter

Fish and Game Commission should end brutal killing contests

Needless blood sport. That’s what last weekend’s coyote hunt in Modoc County was about.

Participants who killed the most animals and the largest were awarded prizes. By the end of the bloody weekend hunt, at least 40 coyotes are said to have been slaughtered.

Those who entered this so-called contest in this sparsely populated area of far Northern California can talk all they want about predator control as some sort of justification for slaughtering dozens of coyotes. But, as science indicates, the truth is that the animals respond to killings by producing larger litters, thereby increasing their numbers.

That’s right. As you’ll read in Allan Stellar’s Newslines story this week (see “Coyote killings under review,” page 9), these contests are actually counterproductive to reducing the population.

Coyotes help maintain a balance in nature by culling the number of smaller predators, and they rarely are a threat to livestock. What’s more, there are a number of humane ways to protect domestic animals, such as using guard dogs, llamas, burros or special fencing and corralling. Lethal measures should be a last resort.

Outreach by a number of wildlife advocacy groups, including the Coyote Project and the Center for Biological Diversity, have highlighted the backwardness and brutal nature of these types of hunts. And now it’s time for some action on the part of state officials. In April, the California Fish and Game Commission will consider whether to put an end to such wildlife-killing contests, and we urge the panel to do so.