The old mattresses and abandoned boats dumped on Valencia County’s east llano have been joined by piles of coyote carcasses.
After a friend posted pictures of what she believed to be dead dogs on Facebook, Los Lunas resident Elizabeth Dicharry went out to North El Cerro Loop to take a look.
“She thought it was a dump site from dog fighting,” Dicharry said. “But they’re coyotes.”
When she went out to the mostly uninhabited area east of Valencia High School on Wednesday, Dicharry said she found a second pile of carcasses.
One pile has about 15 to 20 small fairly fresh coyote carcasses, she said, many of which have silver duct tape wrapped around their muzzles. There is writing on the tape which she says indicates the date and time the animals were killed in a contest.
“Only one of them was skinned,” she said. “The other pile is quite deteriorated, it’s mostly bones. It looks like there was a lot more skinning of those, so maybe they were trapped.”
Late Thursday morning, on a second visit, Dicharry said there was a third pile of fresh carcasses that wasn’t there the day before, which also appear to be contest kills.
In 2012, when Gunhawk Firearms in Los Lunas sponsored a coyote bounty hunt, Dicharry became involved in the push to ban the hunts.
“This is not what hunting is about. They are an unregulated species that some consider varmints. I do not,” she said. “I do own livestock and if I, or anyone, have a predator get into my animals or on my property, I can take care of it. I can shoot it. That’s not what happens during these contests.”
Currently, coyote hunting contests are permitted on private land, but Senate Bill 76, which passed both chambers of the Legislature during this year’s session, would ban them altogether.
“(It) only prohibits contests,” Dicharry said. “You can still go hunt, you can go out and shoot them. These contests are so atrocious because they target any coyotes, anywhere, even those not causing problems.”
Dicharry said there are 25 to 30 contests in New Mexico a year, with four to five of those held in Valencia County.
“If you register and become a contestant, you can kill them anywhere you want – you can go down to the Ladrones, out to the Sandias,” she said. “It’s not like you’re protecting anybody’s ranch. I’m not a fan of fur … but they’re not even saving the fur.”
Earlier this year via executive order, New Mexico Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard banned coyote killing contests on land managed by the agency.
Because coyotes are not a protected or monitored species in New Mexico, hunters don’t need licenses to kill them and there is no established season.
Dicharry reported the piles of carcasses to Valencia County Code Enforcement on Wednesday.
Gabe Luna, the county’s interim community development director, who oversees code enforcement, said two code enforcement officers went out to the location.
“We did find the piles of coyotes, some skinned, some not,” Luna said. “We opened a case and under our ordinances, the way they are written, this is considered illegal dumping.”
Luna said that because of the number of carcasses and their proximity to the high school and residential areas they would be removed by a private contractor soon.
“We understand the public’s concerns and want to get this resolved,” he said.
As a nurse, Dicharry said she was concerned about the large number of decomposing animals so close to people.
“It’s not healthy,” she said. “And this is animal abuse. They do gut shots. It’s not ethical. When my husband hunts, he wants to take the animal down quickly, humanely. We have no idea what these coyotes went through.”
Luna said anyone with information about the dumping of carcasses can call Valencia County Code Enforcement at 866-2054.