Reno City Council backs ban on wildlife killing competitions

RENO, Nev. (AP) – The Reno City Council is the latest to join the fight to ban wildlife killing competitions in Nevada.

The council this week passed a resolution with a 6-1 vote calling for an end to the practice. Mayor Hillary Schieve called the competitions that often target coyotes “horrible.”

The Clark County Commission in Las Vegas pushed for an immediate ban earlier this year.

The state conservation commission will discuss the issue at its September 24 meeting.

Alderman Bonnie Weber was the only voter against the Reno resolution on Wednesday, saying it shouldn’t be the city’s place to take a stance on the issue. Stretching north from Reno into more rural areas, her neighborhood includes Lemmon Valley, where a bar has sponsored past annual coyote hunts among northern Nevada’s most prominent.

The resolution passed by the council honors the late Norm Harry, a member of the Pyramid Lake Paiute tribe who protested the competitions. His daughter Autumn, whose family grew up hunting, explained why she followed in her father’s footsteps and spoke out against the coyote contests.

“It’s really inhumane to see these animals being treated,” Harry said. “As I grew up, I was always taught to be respectful of all animals and when you go hunting, you use the animal as a whole and use every piece.”

Hunters in the coyote competitions use dogs, telescopes and guns to kill most of the animals, sometimes for prizes. Unlike predators such as gray wolves or prey animals such as moose, coyotes have no species protection and can be killed without a license.

Some states like Utah and South Dakota offer bounties to coyotes to help keep their populations in check. Coyote killing contests have been banned since 2014 in at least eight states, including Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico, which have historically hosted the World Championship Coyote Calling Contest along with Nevada.

KRNV-TV reported that most of the public commentary at the city council meeting supported the resolution and urged the Nevada Department of Wildlife to ban the contests.

Fanua Tomlinson, a representative for Project Coyote, a nonprofit that advocates ending the competitions, said there is no evidence that the competitions advance conservation goals.

“Not one state department recognizes wildlife killing competitions as a viable scientific management tool. Not even NDOW,’ she said. “It’s just not an ethical hunt… It’s willful waste. Nobody uses these dead carcasses.”

State conservation commissioners admitted last month that they were losing hope of finding a solution to the issue that would appease people on both sides after questioning those in attendance at a meeting earlier this year.

The survey asked participants to rank priorities including ‘social perception of hunting’, ‘ wanton waste’ and ‘tradition/heritage’ and propelled ideas such as public notices, baggage limits or licensing.

“I was optimistic that we could get several constituencies to help us really dissect this and find where there is common ground,” chairman Tiffany East said at a committee meeting last month. “But after today, to be honest, I don’t know if we’re further along than I’d hoped.”

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