The opinion piece by Michael Sutton and John Land Le Coq (“Washington should ban wildlife killing contests,” July 12) contained the usual hyperbole and misinformation used by the anti-hunting groups that promulgate animal-rights campaigns. Banning coyote derbies has little to do with wildlife conservation or ecological destruction. Such campaigns are actually a diversion from the hard work of conserving biodiversity.
Coyotes are abundant. If there is any conservation concern with coyotes, it is their threat to vulnerable species, such as pygmy rabbit, jack rabbit, Columbian ground squirrel, greater sage-grouse, and Columbian sharp-tailed grouse, in our most imperiled ecosystems like the shrub-steppe.
The opinion piece alleges indiscriminate hunting. What does that mean? Previous anti-hunting initiatives banned cougar hunting with hounds and bait for bears, methods that allowed hunters to select their quarry. Now that these species are taken only when the opportunity arises, most predator hunting could be considered “indiscriminate.”
Coyote hunting in Washington is permitted year round with no bag limits. The proposed rule amendment sends a message to our hunting and rural communities that anti-hunting groups can chip away at the sport with well-funded campaigns having nothing to do with wildlife conservation. Hunters enjoy their sport in different ways, including competitions. All hunting in our state, including contests, is regulated to ensure no harm to wildlife populations.
Hunters were the original wildlife conservationists. We cannot turn our backs on them or rural communities when it comes to conserving biodiversity. They are important partners in the effort, too.
Kim Marie Thorburn
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