A coyote killing contest that took place in Modoc County Saturday and Sunday has raised questions about hunting on public lands.

Rain Brings Temporary Relief At California Wildfires
A coyote walks through a burned forest east of Lake Arrowhead, Calif. (David McNew/Getty Images)

Wildlife protection groups tried to stop the hunt, an annual event partly organized by the Adin Supply Co., partly on the grounds that it was likely to violate land use restrictions in the area.

The opponents also argued that it jeopardized California’s only known wild wolf, who might resemble a coyote to an untrained hunter.

But “0R7,” as biologists call the wolf, survived the fusillade directed at the area’s coyotes. A transmitter he wears suggests that he is currently roaming Plumas County.

Adin Supply Co. owner Steve Gagnon, pronounced the hunt a success. “It went great,” he told me. “There was an incredible amount of support, more than I could have imagined.”

About 240 people came to town for the hunt he said, nearly doubling Adin’s population of 279 for the weekend. “It went without a hitch,” he said. “It was very smooth and very legal.”

He said he didn’t know how many coyotes were killed or who won the contest, referring questions to Buck Parks, president of the Pit River Rod and Gun Club. Parks did not return my calls.

The legality of the hunt came into question in the weeks leading up to it. Opponents garnered letters from government land managers, including the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. national forests, saying that the organizers had not applied for permits to hunt on public land.

“This is not a BLM-sponsored nor permitted event on public land this year, and BLM has not issued a special recreation permit for the hunt in previous years,” said Bureau of Land Management spokesperson Mary Lou West in an email. “In general, individuals are allowed to hunt on public lands consistent with California Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations, but not as part of an organized event unless permitted through a special recreation permit.”

According to a spokesperson for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, there is no season for coyote hunting in California, or limit in the number of coyotes an individual can kill.

Gagnon interpreted the law to mean that individual participants could kill coyotes on public land as part of the hunt if the actual organization of the hunt didn’t take place on public land.

Posted rules for the hunt state that “no geographic boundaries have been made.”

“That doesn’t make sense,” Camilla Fox, executive director of Project Coyote told me.

“Our concern, as manifested in this particular hunt, is that contest sponsors far too frequently don’t obtain the necessary permits to hunt on public lands and don’t inform participants about lands that are off limits to predator hunts.”

So far I haven’t been able to reach West about the question of when a hunt is “organized,” and therefore requires a permit, and when it is not.

Update:

Shortly after I published this post, I heard back from the Bureau of Land Management. Doran Sanchez, deputy director of external affairs for California, told me the hunt took place entirely on private land. “This was a private event by private sponsors on private land,” he said. “The organizers were provided maps of adjacent public lands and they were informed that their event could not go on public lands. And that’s what happened. The participants remained on private lands.”

I asked what would happen if, as Steve Gagnon suggested, an individual involved in the contest crossed onto BLM land to shoot a coyote. He said he’d call me back.

Instead I got a call from Jeff Fontana, a BLM public affairs officer, who said any organized event where money is collected on BLM lands would require a permit from the agency — not just a hunt, but a automobile race, a footrace or any other event.

On the other hand, he said, BLM does not require any special permit for hunters who are not part of an organized group. The hunters just have to comply with state hunting laws.

I again posed the question about an individual participant in the coyote killing contest entering public land. “If someone wandered onto public lands I don’t know,” he said. “That would require a little more legal knowledge than I have.”

  • Eric Mills

    These archaic killing contests should be banned outright. They are unscientific, unethical and unacceptable. Not to mention cruel. How many wounded animals are left to suffer a lingering death? How many young are left to starve in the den?

    I can understand killing a particular depredating animal, but these unfocussed broadscope massacres should be abolished. Not so long ago, coyotes were found only West of the Mississippi. Thanks to the indiscriminate killing, they have spread and are now thriving in all the lower 48. In sum, it’s the ranchers/farmers/”sport” killers who have exacerbated the problem. Does it EVER cross a shooter’s mind that perhaps coyotes enjoy their lives just as much as do their assassins? Just sayin’.

    Here’s a suggestion: Ranchers should take better and more responsible care of their animals. If they did, then perhaps they wouldn’t feel so compelled to take part in these killing sprees. Put your livestock in the barn at night, esp. during calving and lambing season. Provide coyote-proof fencing. Make use of guard animals such as dogs, donkeys and llamas. The majority of ranchers and farmers seem to expect 100% return on their investment. Nature doesn’t work like that. It behooves us all to bear in mind, too, that the coyotes were here FIRST. We’re invading their terratory–after wiping out all the Native Americans, grizzlies and wolves, and destroying much of the environment, of course…..

    House Bill 316 (available on-line) was recently introduced in New Mexico. California and other states should follow suit. The bill would outlaw ALL such wildlife killing contests, be they for coyotes, crows, prairie dogs, rattlesnakes, etc. (excluding fish).

    ALL STATE LEGISLATORS MAY BE WRITTEN C/O THE STATE CAPITOL, SACRAMENTO, CA 95814.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ernie.jay.5 Ernie Jay

    If we look a little deeper, beyond palpable disgust, we will see a greater illness–an
    ugly stench that is infecting of our culture by promoting violence purely for violence sake.
    What kind of emotional perversion infects a person’s mind so that he/she
    happily kills as many animals of a species (coyote) as possible—coyotes that provide
    a huge ecological balance by keeping rodent populations in check? We have to assume it’s not the silly belt buckle they’re after, so that logically leads to the conclusion that only a disturbed person would engage in coyote-killing activity for enjoyment.
    We are shocked and disturbed when mass, serial, or vengeful killers take human lives or inflict despicable cruelty on pets in retaliation, but we look the other way at those who take on a mob mentality and gleefully kill as many innocent animals as possible via a horrific contest (not to mention the many who are wounded and live in pain until death takes them also).
    Modoc County is now encased in a noxious smell of death and disgrace that no public relations effort will be able to dispel. Any resident who refuses to step up to the plate to oppose these atrocities is just as guilty as those who fanned out and killed, wounded, maimed, and terrorized innocent animals this past weekend. Shame on the participants and all who condone the unnecessary slaughter for “fun.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/heather.ireland3 Ire Heather

    “Individual participants could kill coyotes on public land as part of the hunt if the actual organization of the hunt didn’t take place on public land”? What a bunch of baloney! Since when does the legal system question and write laws about where it’s legal to organize an activity such as hunting? The laws speak directly to where and when a hunt can take place, NOT to where it’s legal to “organize” a hunting party! Just ridiculous! This needs to be challenged legally!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lori-Cote/1605245816 Lori Cote

    Just so frightening, the fact there are that many people out there who either find joy in killing for no reason, or simply could not care less. What a sad sad society we live in……please do not drop the pressure, let’s see to it this does not happen again next year.

  • Susan Williamson

    If people are so enthusiastically breaking a basic moral code of refraining from killing other beings for no darn good reason, I doubt seriously they would feel any restraint to stay on private land to do their killing. Ban hunting and ban guns. Hunters are proving they can not be entrusted with the rights and responsibilities that go along with both of those “rights”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Karen-Smith/733822044 Karen Smith

    this is an outrage. as a taxpayer, i resent that this is held on public land. who is promoting a KILLING party on land that is not their own, as if THAT were legal! shame,

  • http://www.facebook.com/louise.kane.946 Louise Kane

    Ernie Jay, thank you for your comments, its hard to add to them. There is a great sickness of violence and killing that needs to be stopped by laws that prevent these kinds of massacres. This is not hunting nor is it a right to violate other beings.

  • Keli Hendricks

    I live on a cattle ranch and echo the opinions of Eric Mills. Responsible, ethical ranchers learn to live with wildlife including predators. There are many, many more ways to protect your livestock other than indiscriminate killing. Most often, people kill because they enjoy it and use protection of livestock as simply a poor excuse. Frankly hunts like the one in Adin make me ashamed to be human.

  • http://www.facebook.com/melvin.trammell.90 Melvin Trammell

    I grew on a farm and ranch and I
    have been an avid hunter and sportsman all my life. I worked for department of agriculture with
    the Soil conservation service owned my own farm a feed store. For the past 25
    years, I have been in education as an Agriculture Education, Environmental Science,
    and Biology teacher. During my life I have been personally subject to
    and intimately aware of these concerns and issues which have a profound effect
    on New Mexico and our Nation. How we feed our ever growing population, manage
    and protect our natural resources for the benefit of all people. Among those
    issues and possibly one of the most difficult to addresses is public opinion.
    Public perception of activities is primarily based on their everyday lives, but
    they can dramatic effect on things they are not familiar with.

    Public perception regarding such
    topics as: Wildlife, Forestry, Agriculture, Mismanagement of public information
    and a failure to adequately educate and inform the public by addressing these
    issues, is what has lead us to the public outcry which has regularly taken a
    spotlight in news. Most of our general public do not live on a farm or ranch
    and do not work in an industry that provides, protects, kills, and processes
    the food we all eat. They far removed from this daily but necessary activity
    which is paramount to the survival to society as we know it where people live
    in cities and don’t provide for their own food and survival and thus the
    perceived unpleasantness of life and death required killing their own chickens
    or beef, or even raise take care of and protect their own garden to get food.
    They are sheltered form these activities in their daily lives and so protected
    form the truth that every thing from plants to animals must be raised,
    protected, and killed in order for us to eat and continue to live in the
    type of society we have grown accustom to.

    It is completely understandable why
    many of the activities that are now considered inappropriate cruel and inhumane
    and were not perceived as such just not so many years ago. We were responsible
    for much more of our own food, and were more accustom to the real world where
    we were exposed reality life and death situations on a daily basis. That has
    changed, and therefore we must inform and educate the general public. We still
    have to kill everything we eat but the general public is sheltered form it. We
    need a public awareness program, if we are to effectively conserve and
    management of our natural resources and enterprises both public and private
    without the outrage of the general public.

    They are protesting this activity
    because they are not use to hearing about it. House Bill 316 has been amended
    so as to only include coyotes, this because multiple killing other animals such
    as: ducks, geese, fish, and many other game animals are familiar and accepted
    to them. Their true intent I believe is to stop all hunting, and trapping in
    New Mexico. It is specifically the lack
    of exposure and in-depth knowledge of the problems concerning these vital
    industries that results in these feelings and they almost always results in a
    claim of inhumane treatment and cruelty to animals.

    Several years ago our National
    Forests came under attack by well intentioned people both government and public
    who thought we should put out every forest fire. We should stop logging because
    it was cutting down our beautiful trees just to build homes and make a profit
    for an industry. Again the uneducated and uniformed public protested and used
    many methods to effect policy. Now we have the devastating results of
    ineffective and poorly managed forests. Over populated tree stands have led to
    uncontrolled forest fires, and small stunted trees that are not marketable as
    well as a reduced watershed and the reduction of a diverse ecosystem that will
    sustain the very habitat and natural treasure we thought we were
    protecting.

    This same type of uninformed public
    today has issues with almost every area of agriculture including cattle and
    sheep ranching, hunting and fishing horse racing and wildlife including
    coyotes. Everyone, who is informed, knows that coyotes are a very prolific
    animal that have superbly adapted to every state and part of North America.
    They are a varmint and they have a valuable place in our ecosystem. They are at
    the top of the food chain and have no natural predators except humans. They are
    also in direct competition with humans for food and space.

    Human beings have forever changed
    the natural order of things. It is only because we have agriculture we are able
    have a populated country where people live in cities. It is also because of
    agriculture coyotes do not typically die form starvation. Coyotes are extremely
    adaptable and resourceful; their survival and everlasting presence is a
    testament to that fact. Coyotes will eat the most convenient and
    plentiful food source available. Especially when over population results in a
    shortage of their natural food sources. They prefer to eat rodents, rabbits,
    and smaller game but they will obtain food form the convenient food source
    wherever is. Coyotes eat: chilies, chickens, turkeys, pecans, watermelon, pets,
    sheep, calves, and many other species as well as deer antelope and elk. Despite
    control methods coyote populations have continued to flourish. All animals thrive
    when there are fewer of them to compete for limited recourses, and coyotes are
    no exception that is why we need a continued annual effort to keep the population
    under control. Controlled coyote
    populations play a beneficial role in our ecosystem and in the environment of
    our modern day society, but they must be effectively managed. An unmanaged
    recourse will have devastating results for all of New Mexicans.

    Years ago we had some very effective
    control methods at our disposal and coyote population was kept in check. During
    that time we had a much higher deer and antelope population we had thriving
    sheep ranching industry in New Mexico. Because of public opinion some of those
    more effective predator control methods have since been deemed inhumane,
    inappropriate, and unnecessary. Consequently we have far fewer sheep deer and
    antelope on much of our State and Federal public lands.

    The recent controversy which has
    surfaced concerning hunting and killing coyotes is a good example of these
    issues. Hunting as a control method is instant and more humane many other
    control methods. There is no way to control coyote populations other than to
    kill them.

    Because a coyote calling and hunting
    contest was misrepresented by the animal rights activists, and they are
    unaccustomed to hearing and reading about it, they perceived it as a cruel,
    inhumane, inappropriate, ineffective and a unnecessary abomination of our
    coyote population. Consequently they did every thing they could to stop it,
    including calling you and many other public officials, protesting and
    advertising it as a coyote killing contest for profit.

    Our own government as well as
    private individuals and business entities have been calling, hunting, trapping,
    and poisoning coyotes for the protection and promotion of their industries
    throughout the history of this country. There have been coyote calling contests
    for as long as I can remember. Calling and hunting coyotes is a method of
    control not intended to eliminate the population just help manage it, and so
    are, the other control methods presently in place. No one is trying to eradicate
    the coyote populations.

    Their claim and fear of safety
    issues is unfounded there are few hunting accidents as a result of predator of
    any other hunting endeavor and/or sporting event. In addition, it is good for
    our economy.

    The practice of calling and hunting predators,
    including coyotes, is a multi-million dollar industry. There are several
    nationally distributed magazines dedicated solely to the sport of predator
    control. There many more who publish articles about predator hunting as part of
    their hunting publications? Several nationally televised programs dedicated to
    predator hunting, just as they do for sport fishing and hunting of species
    affected by predators. Just look at the hundreds and hundreds of YouTube videos
    of private citizens participating in predator calling predator hunting and post
    this and promote this activity as a recreational or sporting event or a
    business activity and then there are thousands and thousands more watching for
    their viewing pleasure who are unable to experience it themselves. I believe
    that the Fish and game Department has a reason for listing the coyote is an
    unprotected animal.

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