SAN FRANCISCO February 1, 2013 - A coalition of more than 20 wildlife conservation organizations, representing more than a million Californians, are calling on the California Department of Wildlife and California Fish and Game Commission to stop a planned coyote-hunting contest scheduled for early February in Modoc County.
The groups, which include Project Coyote, the Animal Welfare Institute and the Center for Biological Diversity, believe the "Coyote Drive 2013" hunt poses a serious threat to wolf OR-7 (also called "Journey"), as well as any other uncollared gray wolves who, like OR-7, may have dispersed into California and be roaming the area.
"Wolves are official candidates for protection under the California Endangered Species Act, and are also protected by the federal Endangered Species Act, so state wildlife officials have a duty to do everything in their power to protect gray wolves in California," said Amaroq Weiss, a West Coast wolf organizer with the Center for Biological Diversity.
The groups also maintain that the contest hunt violates new state legislation that requires the Fish and Game Commission to use "ecosystem-based management" and the best available science in the stewardship of California's wildlife.
"Killing coyotes — or any wild animal — as part of a contest or tournament is ethically indefensible, ecologically reckless, and counter to sound science," said Camilla Fox, Project Coyote executive director and a wildlife consultant to the Animal Welfare Institute.
The conservation coalition sent letters to all state and federal wildlife-management agencies requesting that those agencies enforce permitting requirements and restrictions on predator hunting. The Bureau of Land Management confirmed that the hunt sponsors the Pit River Rod and Gun Club and Adin Supply Company — have not obtained a special recreational-use permit and therefore participants cannot legally hunt on BLM lands. The coalition also sent a letter to the hunt sponsors requesting that they cancel the coyote hunt because it could violate state and federal laws, possibly hurting or killing endangered wolves.
"There can be no biological or legal justification for setting coyote hunters loose in an area where gray wolves are mounting a return after an absence of nearly 90 years from the state," said D.J. Schubert, a wildlife biologist with the Animal Welfare Institute.
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