This weekend, a hunting event targeting coyotes is planned in Lake County. As KLCC’s Brian Bull reports, some conservationists want it canceled.
The fifth annual “Lake County Coyote Calling Derby” is sponsored by a chapter of the Oregon Hunters Association and a heating and cooling company. There are prizes for hunters who bag the most coyotes. Last year saw 60 pelts collected.
Organizers promote the derby as helping control the coyote population. But six conservation groups say the event is cruel and wasteful, and may threaten endangered gray wolves if hunters aren’t careful what they’re shooting at.
Brooks Fahy is with Predator Defense, a Eugene-based group with 15,000 members.
“Hunting organizations see predators as competition for the same species that they’re trying to hunt: deer, elk," Fahy tells KLCC. "But coyotes are integral part of the food web. They actually control prey populations by selecting the weak, infirm….making animals like deer and elk stronger in the long run.”
The groups want the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to stop the event. In a joint statement, the agencies say they’ve no authority if the derby is held on private lands.
The Lake County chapter of the Oregon Hunters Association did not respond to requests for comment.