The Reno City Council is expected next week to consider a resolution in support of a state ban on certain wildlife hunting contests.
The resolution was proposed by Council members Naomi Duerr and Devon Reese. If passed, it will be transmitted to the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners, which voted 5-4 in March to take up a proposal to ban wildlife killing contests.
During a meeting last month, the commissioners informally surveyed attendees in an attempt to identify a middle ground between advocates of the killing contests and those opposed to them. It resulted in an impasse.
While the commission did not make any rulemaking decisions, it agreed to provide additional time to determine how to move the conversation and process forward. The commission is scheduled to meet again on Sept. 24, though the issue may or may not be taken up on that date.
Some are concerned that if the commission, which is required to have five of its nine members be people with hunting licenses, doesn’t act, the matter may end up in front of the state legislature when it reconvenes. Legislation proposing a ban was introduced by Democratic Sen. Melanie Schieble in 2019 but died without getting a hearing and was not reintroduced in 2021.
Coyote killing contests in particular have been a hot button issue in the state for years. These contests are most often organized events in which participants compete for money and other prizes for killing the most or largest animals within a certain time period. Coyotes have no species protections and can be killed by people without hunting licenses.
In January 2018, exchanges between a group of hunters gathered for a coyote killing contest and people assembled to protest it got heated outside the Wayside Bar in Lemmon Valley. Washoe County Sheriff’s deputies remained on scene throughout the protest.
Those in support of the contests claim they help manage coyote populations and prevent the animals from killing livestock and pets. Those opposed call the contests inhumane.
Several other public bodies have weighed in on this issue this year. The Clark County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution in February recommending the Nevada Department of Wildlife take immediate action to ban all wildlife killing contests in the state.
The Washoe County Advisory Board to Manage Wildlife, which serves as an advisory body to the Board of Wildlife Commissioners, discussed the issue during meetings in March and June and recommended against a ban on wildlife killing contests.
Project Coyote is an advocacy group that has been working for the last nine years to end coyote killing contests in states across the country. The contests are currently banned in eight states. The group would like to see Nevada become the ninth.
Fauna Tomlinson, a Reno-based member of Project Coyote said, “These types of killing contests damage the reputation of responsible hunters by violating fundamental hunting ethics. Killing in mass for fun and prizes is not in line with Nevada’s hunting heritage.”
She said she thanked the city council for “taking a stand against wanton waste.”
Duerr said she’s known about wildlife killing contests for several years but has heard more and more about them in recent years.
She wanted the proposed resolution to be considered prior to further action from the Board of Wildlife Commissioners and began working toward the resolution six months ago when the commission voted in March to take up the issue.
Duerr said she agrees with members of Project Coyote that the killing contests do not reflect Nevada’s hunting heritage or the general ethics of hunting.
“I will say that every single hunter I’ve spoken to supports this ban on wildlife killing contests,” she said. “They all have a different precise perspective, but, in general, they feel it undermines ethical hunting practices.”
Duerr pointed to the fact that there are existing rules and bans surrounding hunting.
In unincorporated Washoe County, for example, it is, with few exceptions, “unlawful for any person to discharge a firearm of any kind between one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise, or shine a spotlight between one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise for the purpose of hunting a wild animal.”
“There’s an ethic about how you hunt, the techniques you use,” Duerr said. “And many of those have been enshrined… You can’t just do anything you want anytime you want. There’s a process, and the process was put in place because we have to protect and preserve our wildlife. We have to have a sustainable ecosystem. I think that is what drives many of the rules.”
If passed, the resolution will be called the “Norm Harry Resolution in Support of Banning Wildlife Contests of Unprotected Species,” in honor of the late Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe member who worked to advance conservation and protect natural resources in the region.
Full text of the proposed resolution is here.
Jeri Chadwell came to Reno from rural Nevada in 2004 to study anthropology at the University of Nevada, Reno. In 2012, she returned to the university for a master’s degree in journalism. She is the former associate and news editor of the Reno News & Review and is a recipient of first-place Nevada Press Association awards for investigative and business reporting. Jeri is passionate about Nevada’s history, politics and communities.