The Column, No. 83:

Coyotes and the Anti-Hunting Crowd

By Dr. Jim and Mary Clary

Recently a firearms store in Albuquerque, New Mexico announced that they were going to sponsor a statewide coyote hunt, with the winning team of two hunters each receiving a new rifle. The store, Calibers, caved in to anti-hunting protestors and canceled the hunt. A small store in Los Lunas, Gunhawk Firearms, owned by Mark Chavez, stepped in and decided to sponsor the event. From the protestors and local ABC News coverage, you would have thought that Mark and the hunters were engaging in the wholesale slaughter of animals and not legitimate hunting activities.

Mark and his employees at Gunhawk received multiple death threats as well as terrorist threats to blow up their store. These were turned over to law enforcement for investigation. It will be interesting to find out whether the authorities pursue these threats with the same vigor that they have done with the harassment threats pertaining to a four-star general’s girlfriend. Our thought is that they probably will not. After all, Mark is only a small business owner in a small town in a western state.>

Back to the story. Coyotes are one of the most adaptable animals on the planet, having expanded their range to every state in the continental U.S. and Canada. When I was a kid, more than a half century ago, they were restricted mostly to the western U.S. Now, coyotes are found everywhere, from Los Angeles to New York City. Coyotes are not your friendly family dog-type; they carry distemper, hepatitis, parvo virus and mange (caused by mites). In addition, they can also be infected with Rabies and tularemia that can be transmitted to other animals and humans. For those readers not familiar with tularemia, it is being studied by foreign countries as a bacterial warfare agent and efforts are underway at several facilities in the United States to develop suitable vaccines. None that are currently available are very effective. As such, given their adaptability to humans and lack of fear, if you are bitten by one, you stand a good chance of being infected with one or more nasty diseases. If that wasn’t enough to give a person pause, they commonly are loaded with mites, ticks and fleas, with all the diseases that those little bugs carry. Again, they may look something like your family dog, but they definitely are not!

Coyotes are predators and as with all predators, their populations must be kept under control or they will rapidly overrun their environment. Case in point, the alligators in the southeastern United States. At one time they were endangered, so hunting and trapping was shut down. After years of protection, their numbers exploded to the point that hunting and trapping is essential to keeping their numbers under control. The same applies to coyotes; if they are not controlled, you had better watch your pets and children, because coyotes will go after anything that appears to be a meal and they can hunt in packs. They are infamous for killing domestic dogs and cats.

While it is true that rodents and lagomorphs make up the bulk of the coyote diet, they are capable of killing prey 6-8 times their own size (they average 25-50 lbs.) under appropriate conditions. The latter includes sheep, goats and calves. Like many other predators, they frequently kill more than is necessary to fulfill their immediate needs. They are innately programmed to kill. Their skill at taking down a variety of prey depends on experience and practice. As such, it is not uncommon for them to kill more than is necessary to sustain them, since practice makes perfect. If one doubts that, just ask any sheep or goat rancher about their experience with coyotes.

In 2009, the loss of sheep and lambs to coyotes in Montana was 2,500 adult sheep and 12,100 lambs for a cost of over $1 million dollars. They can also kill full-sized cattle. The record for coyote cattle losses in the lower 48 U.S. states was in 2005, when coyotes accounted for 51% of all cattle losses due to predators. These figures are from the USDA and can be easily verified. We could go on, state-by-state, but we believe readers get the idea. Coyotes are predators, not the sweet cuddly critters that the animal rights people would have you believe.

Back to the story. The anti-hunters mounted a street protest outside Gunhawk Firearms and, as one would expect, the reporters (local and ABC national affiliates) spent more time with them than the anti-protestors down the street and inside Gunhawk.

However, the plot thickens. Enter the Deputy State Director of the Bureau of Land Management, William Merhege, who sent a letter dated 9 Nov. 2012 to Mark Chavez stating:

“in the event your planned activity includes the use of public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a Special Recreational Permit (SRP) for competitive use is required. Competitive use means any organized, sanctioned or structured use, event, or activity on public land in which two or more contestants compete and participants register, enter or complete, an application for the event (43 CFR 2932.5).”

“Special Recreation Permits are discretionary authorizations which allow for recreational use of the public lands and are issued as a means to control visitor use, protect recreational and natural resources, and provide for the health and safety of visitors. The Bureau of Land Management requires applications for SRPs be submitted at least 180 days before the date of the intended event, although under special circumstances we can authorize shorter application times. An application for an SRP for the planned event would include, at a minimum, the submission of a plan of operations, a safety plan and purchase and proof of liability insurance for the named event. Regardless, it would be impossible for our office to process an SRP application for your event on such short notice.”

Anyone with more than two brain cells knows that the regulation was intended for activities like movie operations, RV camper conclaves, etc. on a specific piece of BLM land. In our opinion, this letter was designed to intimidate Mark Chavez at Gunhawk and prevent individual hunters across the state from exercising their lawful rights. In our opinion, what we have here is a bureaucrat who is anti-hunting (and possibly anti-firearms) who took advantage of the situation, attempting to coerce and threaten with a fine, Mr. Chavez if he did not comply. Mark did not, as he was not sponsoring a BLM event. However, if individual hunters choose to lawfully hunt on BLM land, Mr. Merhege has no authority to prevent them and if he thinks he does, he should be removed from his position.

It gets better. A politician from the State of New Mexico also decided to get into the act. Mr. Ray Powell, State Land Commissioner, sent a letter to Mark on Nov 15th, two days prior to the hunt informing him that any coyote hunters that entered state trust lands would be cited for trespass. Of course, Mr. Powell blatantly ignored the fact that hunters already know that state trust lands are leased out to business enterprises, including those involved in mineral and petroleum exploration and are off limits to hunters and always have been. Mr. Powell already knows that. He was simply grandstanding to advance his personal anti-hunting views. He even went on television to espouse how the hunting of coyotes would damage their family units and cause a severe disruption of the delicate balance of the desert ecosystem. Now, that is a real serving of cow pie! As State Land Commissioner, Mr. Powell has no right to use his position and official letterhead to further his own personal agenda, by stating: “It is time to outlaw this highly destructive activity.” He must be voted out of office in the next election.

The coyote hunt was held as scheduled and was a success. For the safety of Gunhawk employees and the hunters, they were required to check in after the hunt at an undisclosed location. We have no idea as to how many coyotes were harvested and that is not our business. We would also like to point out that on the same weekend that the Gunhawk coyote hunt was undertaken, there were at least two others across the state, but the powers that be, news media and protestors ignored them. They chose to pick on Gunhawk Firearms; a small, family-owned business that they thought was an easy target.

It is our opinion that the aforementioned government officials and radical protestors have been emboldened by the re-election of one of the most anti-gun presidents in the history of this country. Their attempt to stop this coyote hunt may well be the first shot of many to follow by the anti-hunting and anti-gun crowd, as they attempt to take away the Second Amendment rights of all Americans. We wholeheartedly endorse their right not to hunt; but wish they would educate themselves before trying to take rights away from others.

We take our hats off to Mr. Mark Chavez for standing up for our rights, at the risk of his own personal safety. He deserves your business, if you live in New Mexico.

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Copyright 2012 by Dr. Jim Clary and/or All rights reserved.