February 5, 2014
For immediate release
Contacts: Kevin Bixby 575 522-5552; Mary Katherine Ray 575-772-5655
Nine conservation organizations with thousands of members in New Mexico are calling upon New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez to remove two individuals from their positions on the New Mexico Game Commission for participating in and organizing coyote-killing contests.
In a letter dated February 3rd, the groups urged the Governor to remove Chairman Scott Bidegain and Commissioner Robert Espinosa: Bidegain for competing in a major coyote killing contest in Nevada last December, in which he and his partner killed eight coyotes and won $1300 in cash, and Espinosa for his role in organizing coyote killing contests in New Mexico while serving as executive director of the anti-predator group Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife—NM Chapter.
“By their actions, these two officials have demonstrated a callous disrespect for wildlife and betrayed the public trust placed in them to manage and conserve New Mexico’s wildlife for the benefit of all the state’s residents,” said Kevin Bixby, Executive Director of the Southwest Environmental Center. “The Governor should replace them immediately with individuals who will take their stewardship responsibility seriously.”
Coyotes help to maintain the balance of natural ecosystems by controlling populations of prey species, including rodents that sometimes carry human diseases, such as Hantavirus and plague. Research shows that indiscriminate control efforts have no effect on overall coyote numbers, but cause suffering to individual animals, disrupt family pack structure and can actually increase coyote conflicts with livestock.
“Their actions demonstrate ignorance of the important, scientifically-established role predators such as coyotes play in natural ecosystems, and indicate an extreme view of wildlife killing for mere entertainment and to win prizes which has no place on the Game Commission,” said Mary Katherine Ray, Wildlife Chair of the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club.
“That state game commissioners would condone, let alone participate in killing contests demonstrates incredible ignorance of basic wildlife science and should lead to their dismissal from public office,” said Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director for WildEarth Guardians.
The groups included: Southwest Environmental Center, Sierra Club: Rio Grande Chapter, The Rewilding Institute, Project Coyote, WildEarth Guardians, Sandia Mountain BearWatch, Conservation Voters of New Mexico, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, and the Center for Biological Diversity.