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New Mexico coyote hunt this weekend sparks public outcry

November 17, 2012|By John Glionna
  • Gun store owner Mark Chavez says teams of one or two hunters have two days to shoot and kill as many coyotes as possible on private land in New Mexico in a competitive hunt.
Gun store owner Mark Chavez says teams of one or two hunters have two days… (Jason Wambsgans / Chicago…)

A New Mexico gun store owner’s plan to hold a competitive two-day coyote hunt this weekend has been blasted by critics and generated protests from as far away as Europe.

Store owner Mark Chavez says teams of one or two hunters have two days to shoot and kill as many coyotes as possible on private land in New Mexico. Winners get a choice of a Browning Maxus 12-gauge shotgun or two AR-15 semiautomatic rifles from his Gunhawk Firearms shop in the town of Los Lunas. A taxidermist will salvage any pelts and hides for clothing.

“I'll even give the furs to the homeless if they need it,” Chavez told the Associated Press.

The uproar has been so fierce that Chavez has received at least one death threat. An online petition against the event has generated tens of thousands of signatures. One protester has vowed to dress like a coyote to trick hunters into accidentally shooting a human. Activists have also rallied outside the gun store waving signs denouncing the event as cruel and “bloodthirsty.”

The argument over the event has moved onto the gun store’s website. One critic called the event “a slaughtering rampage that has no place in the modern world.” A defender countered: “I will be in the contest and I support your business. Hang in there, ignore the busy bodies sticking their noses in everybody’s business.”

There are an estimated 300,000 coyotes in New Mexico. The creatures are blamed for thousands of deaths of calves annually and aren't protected under federal or state laws.  Chavez says the hunt will include 60 teams that will hunt on land owned by willing ranchers.

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john.glionna@latimes.com

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