Senate Bill To Ban Coyote Killing Contests Passes NM Legislature, Advances To Governor’s Desk

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Senate Bill To Ban Coyote Killing Contests Passes NM Legislature, Advances To Governor’s Desk

SANTA FE ― Tuesday, by a vote of 37-30, the New Mexico House of Representatives passed Senate Bill (SB) 76 to prohibit coyote killing contests statewide.

Having passed the New Mexico Senate by a vote of 22-17 last month, Senate Bill 76 will advance to the desk of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Animal Protection Voters (APV) applauds the New Mexico Legislature for passing SB 76, a culmination of work to draw attention to and outlaw coyote killing contests since APV first attended and documented a carcass check-in of a contest held in 1999 in southwestern New Mexico.

Coyote killing contests are organized events in which participants compete for prizes—typically cash, firearms, and commemorative belt buckles—by attempting to kill the most coyotes over a period of time. There are at least 25 to 30 such contests known to be held throughout the state each year. There are often special prizes for the largest and smallest coyotes killed. A “small dog” winner at a recent New Mexico coyote killing contest was a 9 lb. coyote pup.

Bill sponsors Senator Mark Moores (R-Albuquerque) and Senator Jeff Steinborn (D-Doña Ana) applauded the House’s vote.

Sen. Moores said, “I’m concerned for the ability of farmers and ranchers to protect their property, but I won’t stand for a blood sport where contestants indiscriminately kill for prizes and fun.”

Sen. Steinborn said, “With the Legislature’s passage of this bill, New Mexico is poised to send a powerful message that we value our wildlife and humane treatment of them. It’s a fitting tribute on the same date Congress and the President created thirteen new wilderness areas in our beautiful state that we took this historic step.”

New Mexico hunters purport that killing contests violate conservation hunting ethics by promoting wanton, commercialized and wasteful killing. Despite false assertions made by killing contest proponents, scientific studies have concluded that random mass killing disrupts coyotes’ social order, often causing more breeding within the pack and higher likelihood of “rogue” behavior by more pack members, making human-coyote and livestock-coyote conflicts more likely.

Representative Matthew McQueen sponsored SB 76 on the House floor. He said, “Coyotes play a key ecological role in healthy ecosystems, and there is no evidence that killing contests serve any purpose other than glorifying wildlife slaughter.”

The Legislature’s passage of SB 76 follows a January 10, 2019 Executive Order issued by State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard that banned coyote killing contests on 9 million acres of state trust land. Commissioner Garcia Richard has said, “These are not hunting contests. They are animal cruelty contests. It is an inexcusable practice.”

APV celebrates tonight’s vote with other organizations who have supported and worked to pass SB 76, including: the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, Wildlife Conservation Advocacy Southwest in Valencia County, the Southwest Environmental Center in Las Cruces, WildEarth Guardians, Project Coyote, Sierra Club, Prairie Dog Pals in Albuquerque, and Sandia Mountain Bear Watch.

Jessica Johnson, APV’s Chief Legislative Officer, said, “We are grateful to New Mexico legislators for supporting greater stewardship of our state’s wildlife that is grounded in science and humane values. We hear from rural and urban New Mexicans alike that our state’s wildlife are crucial to the state’s ecosystems and economy, and their management needs an overhaul.”