Yesterday, The Science Recorder reported that more than 200 hunters entered a coyote killing competition that earned national controversy last weekend. Coyote Drive 13 was held in a sparsely populated rural area in Northern California where coyotes are notorious pests to ranchers, regularly snacking on livestock.
Animal advocates called the hunt inhumane, contradictory of wildlife management practices, and cited the nearby presence of a federally protected wolf, known as OR-7 or Journey. OR-7, a male, is believed to be the only wolf in the state since Californians hunted them to extinction in the early 20th century.
The wolf, outfitted with a radio transmitter collar, was thought be about 100 miles from the event. Activists worried that hunters could mistake the California lone wolf for a coyote, jeopardizing his survival. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the California Fish and Game Commission received more than 20,000 letters, emails, and petition signatures demanding that the contest be called off. The Animal Welfare Institute contacted several state and federal agencies urging an intervention.
Sheriff Mike Poindexter made a defiant stand in a letter to the editor of the Modoc County Recorder. Poindexter wrote that he “absolutely will not tolerate any infringement upon your liberties pertaining to accessing or legally hunting on your public lands” regardless of federal laws which regulate hunting on federal lands in the area. He advised hunters to “cooperate but stand their ground and call the Sheriff's Office” if they were detained.
State Fish and Wildlife spokesman Mike Taugher said Coyote Drive 13 was legal. The three-day-long contest has been held annually for seven years. The Animal Welfare Institute is calling for a federal investigation regarding Poindexter's decision.