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Our View: Coyote-killing contests may sound bad, but they serve a purpose

December 17, 2018

It’s true that the coyotes were here before settlers ever laid eyes on the land that would become Lake Havasu City. Unlike other animals, they’ve adapted surprisingly well to their relatively urban surroundings. It’s not uncommon to see a coyote

— or two or three or even more — trotting down Havasu streets in search of their next meal. That meal, often enough, is somebody’s pet.

Indeed, Havasu, like many places in Arizona, has a coyote problem. And not everyone agrees what to do about it.

Coyotes are so numerous, in fact, that Arizona considers them to be a nuisance species — not unlike an unwelcomed rodent in your kitchen. As such, hunting coyotes is legal year-round and there are occasional organized coyote hunts in which hunters are rewarded for the number of dead animals they bring back. That last part isn’t a new phenomenon by any means, but there’s a growing movement to ban such competitions from people who argue the hunts don’t offer any sporting value, nor do the hunters usually make good use meat or pelts. They say the hunts are killing for the sake of killing, and want them banned. They’re getting some traction. The Yavapai County town of Dewey-Humboldt passed a resolution last month to ban coyote-killing contests. Several people spoke out about the contests at this month’s meeting of the Arizona Game & Fish Commission. (For now, however, that seems to be a dead-end. The commission says it doesn’t have the authority to regulate such contests).

Here’s the thing: Sometimes, humans must intervene when it comes to animal populations that get out of control, and it’s not always a pretty process. The overpopulated burro herds in Mohave County are rounded up and kept penned on federal land at great expense to taxpayers. The feral pigs at the Havasu National Wildlife Federation are shot down by sharpshooters in a helicopter, also at great expense to taxpayers.

The city has toyed with the idea of hiring a professional exterminator in the past, but that also comes with a high price tag. Allowing an occasional “killing contest” may sound barbaric, but it’s a cheap and effective way of keeping a nuisance species at manageable levels.

— Today’s News-Herald

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