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Ban on coyote-killing contests goes to governor

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A coyote creeps through fresh snow in Eldorado, south of Santa Fe, last month. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – New Mexico would ban coyote-killing contests under legislation headed to the governor’s desk after about a half-dozen years of debate.

The state House approved the ban late Tuesday – the last step needed to send the bill to newly elected Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

“A contest that glorifies killing – that rewards mass killing – is not where we want to be as a society,” Rep. Christine Chandler, D-Los Alamos, said during the debate.

Opponents of the ban said the contests are simply one tool to help control the population of a vicious predator. They suggested lawmakers from urban areas are out of touch and too willing to infringe on private property rights.

The legislation, Senate Bill 76, would make it illegal to organize or participate in an organized competition to kill coyotes for prizes or entertainment. People could still kill coyotes to protect life or property.

Rep. Matthew McQueen, a Galisteo Democrat who presented the bill, called the contests “an ugly blood sport.” People could still hunt and shoot coyotes, he said, just not as part of contests.

Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell, a Roswell Republican who spoke against the proposal, described in gruesome detail the experience of seeing a pack of coyotes feast on livestock.

“It was one of the sickest sights I’ve ever seen,” she said.

Similar proposals have passed the Senate previously and failed in the House. Lawmakers have debated the idea off and on for at least six years.

The legislation passed the Senate last month.

The House passed the bill 37-30 about 20 minutes before midnight.

Supporters of the ban thanked lawmakers for passing the bill.

“We are grateful to New Mexico legislators for supporting greater stewardship of our state’s wildlife that is grounded in science and humane values,” said Jessica Johnson of Animal Protection Voters. “We hear from rural and urban New Mexicans alike that our state’s wildlife are crucial to the state’s ecosystems and economy, and their management needs an overhaul.”

Sen. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, and Mark Moores, R-Albuquerque, co-sponsored the bill.

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