The Reno City Council has joined animal advocates and other Nevada public bodies in the condemnation of wildlife-killing contests, a long tradition in the Silver State.
“These contests are heinous, animal cruelty issues,” said Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve.” “We will not tolerate cruelty to animals..These contests are inappropriate.”
The panel Sept. 8 passed resolution to send a letter to the Nevada Wildlife Commission, supporting the ban on coyote-killing contests (RN&R, Aug. 10). The commission is expected to further discuss a statewide ban later this month. Council members Devon Reese and Naomi Duerr sponsored the resolution, which passed by a 6-to-1 vote.
Councilwoman Bonnie Weber voted against sponsoring the resolution because she said it wasn’t the council’s place to ring in on the controversy.
Rex Flowers, the only contest supporter among the speakers, told the council to “keep your politics out of wildlife” and attend to the problems that affect all city residents.
Those who enter the coyote-killing competitions are “men of like mind. We are the minority…What have you done about homelessness?” Flowers asked.
Prizes for killing canines
During the contests, hunters kill as many coyotes as they can in an allotted time period. Winners of the various categories – which include most animals killed and largest animals killed — are awarded cash prizes, belt buckles or other trophies.
The panel received 44 letters in support of banning the contests. One letter opposed ending the competitions.
Several members of the public who spoke in favor of a ban referenced the late Norman Harry, a Nevada tribal leader and former chairman of the Pyramid lake Paiute Tribe. Harry was a protector of water and wildlife.
“These coyotes are predators and should be a self-regulating species based on their food availability, territory, fecundity, and resource,” said Beverly Harry, Norman Harry’s widow.
“So indigenous people have stated, leave things alone, don’t kill just to kill. The wolf has been spotted out in the Shasta Mountains just 150 miles from here just recently. As old territories are being reclaimed by the wolf and we see that the coyote population has tripled since the 1850’s, there’s a ranking order that needs to be considered.”
Harry worked for ban
Norm Harry also had advocated for a contest ban, she noted.
“He brought a presence of respect to all living things including our Earth Mother,” Beverly Harry said. “He authentically had a great relationship with people, his brothers and sisters and the gifts of our Earth. Our brothers are regarded like the four-legged, long-tails, fish people, and insects. Our sisters are the flora, fauna, blue-green algae, currants and wild rice… If we can’t support this resolution, we should strip our name as being part of the community of Wolf Pack.”
Another argument against the contest is biological: “alpha” coyotes are often among the dead, which allows non-dominant coyotes to surface and breed, thus weakening the species population. The unrestricted killings cause many intended and unintended disruptions in pack dynamics, which are tied to a healthy ecosystem.
Jeff Dixon, representing the Humane Society of the United States. said coyote-killing contests are a reflection of a “domination mindset.”
Statewide prohibition debated
” Killing contests are a blood sport like dogfighting and cockfighting. Killing coyotes for thrills and prizes—with no respect for their intrinsic or ecological value—is senseless violence and waste. There is no scientific evidence that indiscriminately killing coyotes reduces their populations, increases populations of game animals like deer or protects livestock. Randomly killing coyotes disrupts their pack structure, which can increase their populations and increase conflicts between coyotes, humans, and domestic animals. Preventing conflicts by utilizing humane, non-lethal solutions is more effective.”— Adam Smith, Stand Up for Animals, in comments to the Reno City Council.
The Nevada Department of Wildlife has been discussing the possible ban on coyote-killing contests this summer, but kept postponing action of the issue.
The Clark County City Council also voted to support a ban, the Clark County Advisory Board to the Wildlife Commission chose to ignore it and voted in favor of continuing the competitions. The Washoe County Advisory Board to the Nevada Dept of Wildlife also voted to continue the contests.
Fauna, Tomlinson, representing Project Coyote, supported a ban, as did Leslie Mix, who also spoke during the public comment period.
“The demographics of Reno are changing,” Mix noted. “I am not against hunting. I am against killing contests; it shows disrespect for the animal itself.”