The controversial events, in which bodies of dead coyotes are stacked like cord wood, award prizes for the most animals killed. (Nevada Department of Wildlife photo).
Disgust with Nevada’s wildlife killing contests, which attract hunters from nearby states where the practice is illegal, is not drawn along the geographic lines that divide the state’s north and south, as the Reno City Council proved Wednesday when it voted six to one in favor of a resolution to stop the competitions.
“This is an animal cruelty issue and I find it heinous,” said Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve. “I want us to be a city where people understand we will not tolerate cruelty to animals.”
“It’s a statement of principles,” said Councilwoman Naomi Duerr, who spearheaded the resolution.
The controversial events, in which bodies of dead coyotes are stacked like cord wood, award prizes for the most animals killed. Earlier this year, Clark County Commissioners passed a resolution condemning the contests and calling on the Wildlife Commission to outlaw them.
Despite several meetings and hours of public comment, the commission has failed to take action.
Opponents of a ban say the contests are about “core values” and warn a ban would be the first step toward what they fear are inevitable efforts to curb hunting rights. Proponents of the ban caution that inaction could not only curtail hunting in the long run, but also damage the state’s reputation.
“The recent, increased knowledge of wildlife killing contests in Nevada are raising public concerns, undermining the public’s view of ethical hunting, and could jeopardize the future of traditional hunting,” Nevada Lt. Gov. Kate Marshall said in a letter to the Reno City Council, supporting the resolution.
Councilwoman Bonnie Weber cast the only vote opposing the resolution.
When it comes to animal rights, like politics, the divide in Nevada is not between the north and south but rather between rural and urban areas, says Wildlife Commissioner David McNinch.
“In the state of Nevada you have two major urban cores,” McNinch said Wednesday after the vote. “As these areas grow they’re going to share more mutualistic ideas and opinions. They find interest in these types of issues. In the rurals, where they are using animals for food and clothing, you don’t have the same concern for animal rights.”
Animal activist Fred Voltz says the resolutions passed by Clark County and Reno were cast by “representatives of over 2.5 million Nevadans (out of 3.2 million total) saying to the Wildlife Commission it needs to take action on a matter of public health and safety for humans and voiceless wildlife. It is hard to convincingly assert that banning WKCs is supported by a fringe group of Nevadans with that type of overwhelming support.”
“Now we ask that the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners listen to their constituents, from Reno to Clark County, and enact a regulatory ban on these inhumane contests,” said Fauna Tomlinson of Project Coyote.
The Wildlife Commission meets September 24 and 25 in Las Vegas. The killing contest item is listed on the agenda as an informational item, meaning the public can offer comment only at the beginning or end of the meeting, not when the item is taken up by the commission.
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