House of Representatives votes against ban, 38-30
Coyote-killing contests will remain part of life in New Mexico.
The state House of Representatives on Tuesday defeated a bill to ban the events, such as one last fall in which a gun shop owner collected $50 entry fees and then gave prizes to the team that killed the most coyotes.
The House vote was 38-30 with a handful of Democrats joining Republicans in defeating the bill.
State Rep. Nate Cote, D-Organ, sponsored the measure to ban coyote-killing competitions. He said they were bad for the state’s image and that even hunters had denounced them as unsportsmanlike. Cote himself is a hunter.
During a two-hour debate, Rep. Yvette Herrell, right, R-Alamogordo, questioned how Cote could dictate what private property owners did on their land. He said many activities, such as cockfighting, are outlawed, regardless of location.
Other Republicans said holes existed in Cote’s bill, making it bad legislation that would harm well-intentioned people.
Rep. Bob Wooley, R-Roswell, said ranchers who hire cowboys to kill coyotes could have fallen under the law. Livestock owners have been known to invite cowboys to hunt coyotes and then reward the ones with the most kills, Wooley said.
Cote’s support came from fellow Democrats.
Rep. Antonio Maestas, D-Albuquerque, said coyote-killing competitions created public outrage and discouraged tourism in a state where lobos and coyotes are iconic symbols of the West.
“Coyote-killing contests are bad for business,” Maestas said.
No respectful hunter would condone the killing contests, said Rep. Miguel Garcia, D-Albuquerque.
He said his late cousin hunted coyotes for a living, selling the pelts to pay his bills. But never would he kill a pup or a sick coyote simply to pad a kill count, Garcia said.
He called coyote-killing competitions “despicable,” and said the state would be a better place without them.
Cote said mass killing of coyotes would have remained legal under his bill. Ranchers and homeowners are entitled to protect their livestock and pets, he said.
But competitions whose only purpose was killing coyotes for entertainment would have become illegal, he said.
"I'm disappointed mostly about the misinformation that was distributed about the intent of this bill," Cote said. "It's unfortunate that we will continue to send a message to our children that killing is glorified with prizes."
Opponents of the bill included the sheriff of Otero County and the state Game and Fish Department. Its director, Jim Lane, said the ban could have negatively affected predator management and license fees.
New Mexico residents can hunt coyotes and skunks anytime without a license. But, Lane said, those from out of state who hunt in New Mexico must buy a license.