Target: New Mexico Department of Game and Fish Director Alexandra Sandoval
Goal: Stop unregulated hunting of coyotes in New Mexico.
Coyotes are an important part of any ecosystem. Their role as top predator often goes unappreciated and they’re frequently considered to be a nuisance because of livestock predation. Many states allow coyote hunting with restrictions, but New Mexico allows it with no restrictions whatsoever—any hunter may kill as many coyotes as they wish, and some businesses have run coyote-killing contests in the past, in which the hunter who kills the most coyotes wins a prize. That coyotes are unwanted pests is a popular misconception, and New Mexico needs to more strictly regulate coyote hunting before overhunting destroys the population and the ecosystem.
Coyotes are incredibly misunderstood. They’re often top predators, which means they’re responsible for keeping the populations of grazers, rodents, and other potentially destructive species in check. Rodents are a particular concern, as they may carry and spread human diseases. Despite popular misconceptions, killing top predators does not significantly diminish livestock predation—because these animals are opportunistic, they’ll feed on easy prey whenever they can. More importantly, the presence of livestock like cows and sheep may lead to trampled vegetation, disturbing the habitat of small mammals that coyotes might otherwise consume. Humans have disrupted the natural ecosystems where coyotes thrive, and coyotes have adapted to feed on livestock to make up for it. The solution is not the extermination of coyotes, nor rampant hunting—killing large sections of the population actually tends to lead to more desperate feeding acts, including livestock and family pet predation. Wildlife management is best left to those who understand what they’re doing, not hunters out looking for a prize.
New Mexico needs to deal with this concern immediately. Coyotes are a vital part of the ecosystem, and allowing hunting to go on unchecked is as much a threat to livestock as the coyotes themselves. Eight percent of New Mexico’s coyote population is hunted every year and it takes time for populations to recover from that kind of a hit. The more time we waste, the more desperate these animals become. Ask New Mexico’s Department of Game and Fish to create rules to regulate coyote hunting before it’s too late.
Dear Director Sandoval,
Coyotes are often believed to be unnecessary pests, but that’s a dangerous misconception. As top predators, coyotes keep populations of grazers, rodents, and other small mammals in check. Because these mammals can overgraze and spread disease, having a predator in place is an important part of balancing New Mexico’s ecosystem. Many people cite coyotes’ predation of livestock as a reason they ought to be hunted, but over 100 years of hunting predators has not led to a significant reduction in livestock predation—that’s because, as coyote populations decrease, they have to resort to increasingly desperate measures for food. Even if coyote populations were out of control, that control is best left to wildlife managers, not hunters participating in contests by gun shops.
Coyotes are an important part of any ecosystem and are deserving of protection. Every year, eight percent of the New Mexico coyote population is hunted—that’s a significant amount, especially considering the important role they play in population control. While their status is not threated yet in New Mexico, allowing them to be hunted indiscriminately isn’t helping anything. Please push for coyote hunting regulations before overhunting makes the situation worse for coyotes, livestock owners, and the overall ecosystem.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: marya via Wikimedia Commons