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Editorial: Start ’15 session right, ban coyote-killing contests

It is a popular political truism that “laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.” But when it comes to banning gory coyote-killing contests, it’s important to look at both the proposed law and the practice it is designed to prevent.

The 2015 version of a ban is a narrowly crafted bipartisan proposal that protects the rights of true sportsmen, ranchers and residents by ending one thing, and one thing only: the practice of shooting as many coyotes as quickly as possible. Because that’s what coyote-killing contests are all about – killing not because the animals pose a threat, or because the pelts and meat will be used, or because there’s a trophy to be mounted, but because it’s fun to shoot a whole lot of living things.

That was nowhere more apparent than in the pile of carcasses left near the Las Cruces airport just before the New Year. After a contest, nearly 40 dead coyotes were dumped amid debris to rot in the desert, prompting an outcry from a local hunters’ group that said it epitomized “the distastefulness of killing anything for blood sport and then throwing it in the public’s face.”

Sen. Mark Moores, R-Albuquerque, and Rep. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, are partnering on legislation this session to ban these mass kills, and these mass kills only. Moores says “this bill would make it illegal to conduct coyote-hunting contests. It would still give everyone the ability to protect their property and hunt coyotes, but not turn it into a blood sport.” And Steinborn emphasizes it “preserves all management tools for the livestock sector and everything else.” Their bill would make organizing these gruesome contests a misdemeanor and participation a petty misdemeanor.

New Mexico has a long and proud history of hunting and ranching, and co-existing with nature. All require a respect for wildlife and its ecosystem. And like once-legal cockfighting before it, coyote-killing contests are about bloody death and nothing more.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in both chambers should take a close look at Moores and Steinborn’s legislation and pass it on for the governor’s signature so New Mexicans never have to look at a pile of coyote carcasses again.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.