“These contests and their impacts on public resources will be significant,”
Jackson Hole animal advocates are pushing back against coyote-killing derbies they allege are illegally taking place on federal land in Wyoming.
One contest, the $50-per-person Wyoming Coyote Classic, is set for outside of Rock Springs on Saturday.
In a letter to BLM’s Rock Springs office Combs contended that because the Coyote Classic and similar events are a commercial and competitive use of the land, they need a special recreation permit to be legal. By not requiring one, she said, the BLM is violating the code of federal regulations.
“These contests and their impacts on public resources will be significant,” Combs wrote, “and should be fully reviewed by the agency and the public prior to granting a permit.”
Kristen Lenhardt, BLM’s deputy state director for communications, stood behind unpermitted killing derbies. Contestants, she said, are no different than regular hunters.
“There is a misperception out there right now regarding these coyote hunts,” Lenhardt said. “The reason why this event does not need a special event permit is because it isn’t beginning and ending on public land and there is no designated route that ensures the public will be using BLM lands. And there’s no significant threat that shows that there will be significant damage to natural resources.”
A company that’s making money leading people on tours of BLM lands, Lenhardt said, would be an example of a commercial activity that would require a special recreation permit.
Although no such events occur in Teton County, coyote-killing derbies take place regularly in Wyoming. At least two typically happen in Sublette County each winter, there’s an annual Cheyenne event, and on Feb. 4 the “Best of the Best” coyote hunting tournament comes to Rock Springs.
The land where the 30 to 50 Wyoming Coyote Classic contestants will hunt Saturday is a checkerboard-style of private and BLM property, said Eric Adams, a longtime participant.
“So there’s as much hunting on private property as public,” he said.
The Wyoming Coyote Classic, a 15-year-running Rock Springs tradition, Adams said, is “just a bunch of guys hunting.” Coyote derbies, he said, are unfairly vilified. He pointed out that all animals killed are skinned and their furs put to use.
“Whether I’m hunting on the weekend or in a contest, whatever animal I’m going to kill, it is as ethically and humanely as possible,” Adams said. “Coyotes are so smart, and I treat them with just as much respect as I do deer or elk…(CONTINUED)