Letters to the editor (11/07/12)

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(Editor’s note: Because the date of a controversial coyote hunt, which is sponsored by a local business, is next week, the News-Bulletin decided to publish letters regarding the issue before the event takes place.)

Coyote hunt is an unethical example
Editor:
What a beautiful time of year in Valencia County: golden yellow cottonwood trees, green and red chili, orange pumpkins sitting on adobe walls, and grey cranes flying in formation across our deep blue sky.
But look a little deeper and you will find something very ugly about our county. It’s an ugliness that effects our reputation, quality of life and home values. It is a cause of our high incidence of child, domestic and animal abuse.
It is the insidious violence and cruelty in Valencia County. And once again it has reared its head in a very public way. Gunhawk Firearms in Los Lunas is promoting a statewide body-count, coyote killing contest. The two-person team with the most carcasses will win their choice of either a semi automatic 12-gauge or two AR-15 .223 automatic rifles.
On Nov. 17 and 18, coyote killers will destroy as many coyotes as possible in an effort to win the “contest.”   This type of killing is, by definition, indiscriminate.
It is an unethical, egregious example of animal cruelty and it is perfectly legal. While stating that the contest was a “win-win” for his business, Gunhawk’s owner also claimed to be helping ranchers and hunters by protecting cattle and deer.
But according to the New Mexico Game and Fish Department, coyotes really aren’t big cattle or big game eaters. They eat rodents, rabbits and even berries.
The average weight of a coyote is about 20 to 40 pounds. According to National Agricultural Statistics Service), nationally in 2010, “Cattle and calf losses from predators (including dogs, big game, predatory birds, and coyotes)  totaled nearly 220 thousand head.”
This is about 0.2 percent of the entire 93.9 million cattle population. Coyotes often get blamed for eating deer carrion after the animal died from some other cause. Coyotes will kill the occasional cat if people live near and reap the benefits of  open space.
Even though we live next to the bosque, somehow my cats have all managed to survive. I feed my cats and have a fenced off area. And if one of them dies from a coyote kill, so be it.
Humans are the predators I fear the most. Just recently, northwest of Albuquerque,  we were out riding our horses. A man with a gun drove up to us and said he was out to shoot coyotes in the area where we were riding. That was the end of our peaceful horseback ride.
And sadly, this man and many others like him, can shoot, trap, and poison coyotes any time they want. New Mexico has no restrictions on coyote killing and a license isn’t needed for in-state residents.
Last year alone, 4,600 coyotes died in traps. Nobody knows how many were shot, poisoned or road kill because New Mexico Game and Fish does not gather those statistics on coyotes.
People from all over the world have added their voices to the local protest of the Gunhawk Firearms coyote killing contest. The “contestants,” primarily New Mexicans, will use calling techniques to bring coyotes, including pups, into range and kill them. They will be on public land and private land (with landowner permission).
“Mindless, random, body-count killing contests benefit neither nature nor livestock owners. They serve only to feed human bloodlust and ego,” said Mary Katherine Ray of the Sierra Club.
As I learned first hand from my recent interaction with a coyote killer on the prowl for coyotes, in addition to being cruel and violent to coyotes, it is a public safety issue.
I am not opposed to hunting fairly and I am not opposed to responsibly managing coyotes. But I am opposed to the unrestricted taking of coyotes as a shameless business promotion.
I ask that Valencia County residents oppose this hunt and the state of New Mexico to begin to enact laws and regulations to manage and protect coyotes from body-count killing contests.
We all have rights and it is up to all of us to use those rights with sound moral and ethical judgment.

Elisabeth Dicharry
Los Lunas

Coyote hunt is a publicity stunt; shouldn’t be allowed
Editor:
I am writing to express opposition to a coyote killing contest being sponsored by Gunhawk Firearms of Los Lunas.
It is planned for the weekend of Nov. 17-18. It is a publicity stunt sponsored by Gunhawk Firearms for its new business location in Los Lunas.
Mark Chavez, the owner of Gunhawk Firearms, and his sales manager, Pastor Joshua Waters, organized and sponsored this killing contest after Calibers Gun Shop in Albuquerque opted out of sponsoring it.
Gunhawk’s owner said that the mass killing of coyotes is a “win-win” for his business. Another Gunhawk employee said they are out to kill coyotes and have some “fun.”
Anticipating opposition to the killing contest, Gunhawk Firearms further incited events by telling its critics, in essence, to “bring it on.”
I have lived in Los Lunas since 1984.  I have horses, goats, chickens, dogs, and cats. I have fished, camped, ridden, and hiked all over the state in remote areas.
Not once have I encountered a problem with coyotes. Let me be clear: I am not anti-hunting, I am not anti-gun and I am not anti-predator control.
Gunhawk’s coyote killing contest is not about predator control. A body-count coyote killing contest with no bag or size limit has nothing in common with responsible and ethical hunting.
If images from the body count make it on to the Internet, it will be even worse. In light of the recent news stories regarding the abused horses at the Los Lunas auction and at racetracks around New Mexico, we do not need any more negative events attracting the attention of national media.
There is no upside for the village of Los Lunas or for the state of New Mexico arising out of this mass killing/business publicity stunt.
The mere idea that a statewide coyote killing contest as a business publicity stunt would be tolerated will be a sobering deterrent to people who are considering moving to New Mexico or spending tourist dollars in our state.
Also, what kind of message does this send to businesses who are considering this area? Tolerating this particular contest opens the door to anyone who wants to sponsor one of these killing contests.
We will go from the “Land of Enchantment” to the “The Land of the Killing Contest.”
If we are attempting to become a modern community, looking to attract businesses and new residents, then this “contest” is sending the wrong message.
Many people, both local and from around the country, have come forward to express their opinion on the Facebook page “Stop Gunhawk Firearms Coyote Killing Contest.”
That page was created because Gunhawk Firearms deleted comments that were critical of its proposed killing contest.  The Facebook page has links to articles and studies that call into doubt the claims made by the gun shop in promoting its killing contest.
The unfortunate decision by Mr. Chavez and Pastor Waters to sponsor the killing contest in order to generate publicity has achieved its purpose. The coyote killing contest as a business publicity event is simply bad for our community.

Guy Dicharry
Los Lunas