Nevada urban, rural areas square off over coyote hunt events
ELKO, Nev. (AP) — A debate about whether to allow organized coyote hunts in Nevada is pitting urban and rural interests against each other at the same time a state commission is considering, once again, whether to join neighboring states in enacting a ban.
“It’s a really polarized issue,” said David McNinch, a member of the Nevada Wildlife Commission, which spent four hours on the question during a recent meeting, the Elko Daily Free Press reported Sunday.
Officials also tallied about 600 emails on the subject. The nine-member panel decided March 20 to consider the topic again later this year.
“My big question, and I think it should be the big question,” Commissioner Kerstan Hubbs said: “Does the department see a biological benefit to these contests?”
Proponents of hunts blame coyotes for killing cattle and wildlife, and say hunts cull predator packs.
Opponents say wildlife killing contests do nothing to manage coyote populations.
The question in Nevada has drawn increased attention since nearby states including New Mexico, Arizona and California joined Colorado, Washington, Massachusetts and Vermont in banning coyote hunts — sometimes referred to as “calls.”
World Championship Coyote Calling Contests have in the past rotated between the Elko area of northeast Nevada and places in Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico.
“These coyote calling contests do have an economic value to the local economy,” Elko County Advisory Board to Manage Wildlife Chairman Jim Cooney told the state commission. “Gas, rooms, restaurants and the like, do have a considerable economic impact.”
The commission in 2015 and 2016 discussed prohibiting the contests, but took no action. A 2019 bill to ban coyote killing contests died in the state Legislature.
In Las Vegas, the Clark County Commission raised the issue again March 2, unanimously passing a nonbinding resolution recommending the state Division of Wildlife “take immediate action to ban all wildlife killing contests” statewide.
The Elko County Commission on March 17 took the opposite position.
“Clark County should not be allowed to dictate what is legal in the rural counties,” the Elko County measure said.
Elko County Commissioner and rancher Wilde Brough told his colleagues that a newborn calf in his herd died after being attacked by a coyote during birth. He also blamed coyotes for killing deer.
State wildlife chief Tony Wasley told the state commission that Nevada hosted about two dozen competitive coyote hunts in the last year, the Las Vegas Sun reported. Wasley said he didn’t know how many coyotes were killed.
Patrick Donnelly, Nevada state director for the Center for Biological Diversity advocacy group, called coyote hunts “barbaric and anachronistic.”
Brian Burris, a hunter, urged the commission to follow science, not emotion, “and don’t let Clark County — one small urban area — rule the state of Nevada and tell this commission what they should be doing.”
Coyotes are not protected by federal or state law, and it is not illegal to hunt coyotes in Nevada without a license.
McNinch emphasized that a ban would narrowly focus on organized, competitive hunts, the Sun reported. It would not prohibit individuals from killing coyotes to protect themselves or their property, or to harvest coyote pelts.
It also wouldn’t affect fishing or chukar wild bird derbies or big buck deer hunts.