An organized coyote hunt competition held in northern Nevada in December advertised that the hunter with the heaviest weight of coyote carcasses would take home a cash prize.
When animal rights groups in the state saw the flyer circulating for the hunt, they decided to take the issue to the Nevada Department of Wildlife. Although the hunting group didn’t do anything illegal, the animal groups still want the hunts stopped.
California recently banned such coyote hunts, and was the first state to enact such a law.
In Nevada, coyotes are an unprotected animal, which means that in order to hunt them, no permit or license is necessary. Animal welfare advocates say no matter the coyote population hunters shouldn’t be given a free for all.
Jason Schroeder, one of the hunt’s organizers who has also been a rancher, said that calves and other livestock are often the target of hungry coyotes, and have even been known to attack humans on occasion.
Trish Swain, director of Trailsafe, an animal welfare organization, said that the number of livestock injured or killed by coyotes was less than .1 percent of the total U.S. cattle population in the year 2000.
Nonetheless, coyote hunts such as this are held regularly around the state and in other western states.
Accurate population numbers of coyotes are not monitored by wildlife agencies in Nevada, so it’s hard to tell what impact the hunts are having on the population.
“There’s no real information we have on the numbers of coyotes in the state,” Swain said. “But even if there are millions of them, I don’t think that’s license to go out and kill them all.”
Schroeder said that during this particular hunt, 10 coyotes were killed.
Trish Swain, director, Trailsafe
Jason Schroeder, coyote hunt organizer