In order to stem controversy, California Wildlife officials have officially banned coyote hunting contests throughout the state.
These contests offer incentives such as cash prizes and hunting gear to those who kill the most animals, which has sparked a lot of backlash. As a result, there have been many petitions to end such contests, but this ban is the first of its kind in the United States. This motion does not stop the killing altogether, hunters can still kill as many of the coyotes as they like, but it does ban giving out rewards for such killings. A fine, but important, distinction.
This decision was made on both ethical and environmental grounds. Officials in charge of the ban stated awarding prizes for killing is both unethical and could threaten natural systems. However, hunting itself was not banned due to many ranchers who need to protect their livestock. ABC reports that cattle ranchers lost more than four million dollars worth of livestock in 2010. This was mainly due to predators, and coyotes were the greatest contributor to these attacks. It was these losses that have made prize hunting so popular as of late.
These new restrictions are important, and may be the beginning of coyote hunting regulations in the state. It is a tricky subject, as officials want to help protect the animal while also allowing ranchers a way to protect their property as well. There are many ranchers who are upset at the new ban, but the lack of a bag limit on the predator is a middle ground. However, if such a limit were imposed, more controversy would most assuredly follow. Coyote populations are not endangered, which is why no bag limit exists, but with prize hunting now banned it seems there is a good chance that restrictions on no-limit hunting will most likely follow.