FARMINGTON – With reports of coyote-killing contests planned for this weekend, the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office issued a statement Friday reminding residents that such events are illegal.
According to the Attorney General’s Office, they learned of a “Dogzilla Best of the Best” coyote-killing contest posted through a closed Facebook group scheduled for Saturday. “Any event such as this violates the law and will be investigated and appropriate action will be taken,” the statement said.
The contests often offer cash and other prizes for the most coyotes killed, biggest coyote and smallest coyote.
Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a law earlier this year making it a misdemeanor in New Mexico to organize a coyote-killing contest for cash prizes and a petty misdemeanor to participate in one.
New Mexico was the third state, after California and Vermont, to outlaw events where participants use decoy sounds to lure coyotes closer before shooting them.
Many ranchers and landowners argue that killing coyotes is a helpful tool to manage coyote populations that threaten their livestock.
But the recent law distinguished between contests and killing a coyote to protect a person or property and non-competition hunting of the animal – both of which remain legal.
There also is no limit on the season or the number of coyotes a hunter can kill in the state, according to New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.
In Colorado, coyotes can also be hunted year-round with an unlimited bag number, but contests for prizes are limited to five small-game animals per hunter, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
“While I support a rancher’s right to protect their livestock and land, the law does not allow the unlimited killing of animals through the use of contests for cash prizes,” Attorney General Hector Balderas said in a written statement.