Planned coyote convention and hunt draws opposition
LAS CRUCES, N.M. — A controversial convention and coyote hunt scheduled for the end of the week in Las Cruces has received opposition from local wildlife advocates.Unknown Object
Organized by Utah-based Predator Masters, hunters from throughout the country will be gathering in Las Cruces for a convention at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Museum Thursday through Saturday that includes unorganized hunting.
"We don't want to be known for putting out the welcome mat for coyote killing events like this," said Southwest Environmental Center Executive Director Kevin Bixby.
Bixby called on the Dona Ana County Board of Commissioners and Las Cruces City Council to pass resolutions stating the group is not welcome in the area.
The county passed a pro-wildlife resolution in January but did not specially mention the Utah group by name.
Bixby said hunters with the group use high-tech equipment including electronic devices to call coyotes and kill them using high-powered rifles.
Predator Masters President Jeff Mock said the use of any high-tech equipment is irrelevant as Southwest Environmental Center is using that as a reason of opposition.
"It would be a problem if you were using a hand call and a spear," Mock said.
The group has seen opposition from the center the last two years and Mock countered their points by saying the hunt is completely legal.
Since the group doesn't organize the hunt, permits are not required from the Bureau of Land Management who controls the land.
"The Bureau of Land Management themselves has concluded that this is not a contest hunt," Mock said. "It's a convention that our members enjoy."
Mock added the city has been very welcoming to the convention and hunt.
But Bixby argued the killing of coyotes is detrimental to the ecosystems and doesn't really have an impact at reducing the coyote population.
Bixby said coyote packs are territorial and more coyotes would fill the vacancy left by the animals killed.
"All it does is open up the territories by the coyotes you removed for other coyotes," he said.
Mock said he understand the group's point of view and said the group has every right to express their opposition.
A rally is scheduled against the hunters Saturday at 1 p.m., on Triviz Drive and University Avenue.
"It's being protested because they don't morally agree with the practice," Mock said.
He added group members have reached out to New Mexico State University to give them harvested coyotes for research purposes but have not heard back from them.
Bixby said he plans on speaking before city council Tuesday afternoon letting them know they do not support the group.