On Monday, August 22, 2016, Kane County Commissioners will be voting on an ordinance to allow nighttime spotlight hunting of coyotes, red foxes, striped skunks, and jack rabbits.
They will meet to vote on this ordinance on Monday, August 22, at 10 am, at the Kane County Courthouse building in Kanab, Utah.
If you will be in Kanab, Utah, on August 22, please attend this meeting if you can.
Please send an email to oppose this ordinance – see below for details.
Nighttime hunting of coyotes is a really terrible idea. First, it would cause enormous suffering to coyotes and other wildlife, but, in expressing our opposition, it’s important for us to present reasons that will be meaningful to a wide range of people. Here are some reasons that will resonate with everyone.
One) Human safety – Nighttime shooting is shooting in the dark. The hunter cannot see beyond, or to the side of, the handheld spotlight he carries. Bullets that miss their target may be life-threatening to campers and their children, to people walking their dogs at night, and to anyone out after dark, even to horses or goats in a field. It would mean that all Kane County lands would be unsafe after dark. A bullet can travel for three miles, putting human beings, pets, and wildlife within range of being hit.
Two) Economic harm to Kane County. The driving engine of Kane County’s economy is tourism – and dangerous gunfire at night may make people think twice about visiting. Right now, millions of tourists from all over the world visit Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, and our other beautiful wild canyonlands. According to the Deseret News, out-of-state tourists spend $8 billion a year in Utah, with one billion of that going to state and local revenue. If our peaceful nights are disrupted with flashing lights, loud gunshots, and a slew of gun accidents, Kane County’s reputation as one of the most spectacular tourist destinations in the country would be tarnished. If visitors were to stay away, this would harm local businesses, would cost jobs, and would be a real blow to the local economy.
Three) Liability for Kane County. It would be a very great tragedy if a human being were harmed or killed by nighttime shooting. It could also lead to lawsuits and could potentially be a very expensive liability for Kane County.
Four) Extra work and expense for law enforcement. Nighttime hunters would need to notify the Sheriff of their plans. Even with this requirement, frightening gunshots would lead to more 911 calls. There would be extra work and extra expense for the Sheriff and his deputies who would have to respond to these calls. Too many calls could lead to a delay in responding to an emergency.
Five) Increased risk of poaching. With people out shooting in the dark, it would be very hard for law enforcement to monitor who is shooting what. A dead deer on a truck would be less visible, and there could well be an increase in poaching.
Six) Road accidents. Gunshots, which are alarming to all animals, cause deer and other wildlife to panic and run. Nighttime shooting, occurring for ten months out of the year, would cause increased car crashes on roads, with a big spike in injuries and fatalities, not only among deer, but also human beings.
Seven) Unnecessary killing of wildlife. Coyotes are already being trapped and hunted in massive numbers during the daytime. Our Utah tax dollars are being used to pay a $50 bounty for every coyote killed. Yet they, and other predators, are known to self-regulate their own population and do not need to be killed. Coyotes are nature’s way of keeping a balance among the species, and we need them. When there are too few coyotes, nature is out of balance, then rabbits proliferate – along with more mice and pack rats that cause damage to our homes and car engines and may carry the deadly Hantavirus. Rodenticides and pesticides are not only cruel, they are toxic to birds of prey, to other wildlife, to our pets – and potentially to children. Coyotes, as top predators, do naturally keep the populations of these animals in check. Coyotes also keep deer and elk herds moving along so they do not stand grazing near streams, destroying young plants and saplings. Coyotes rejuvenate the wilderness, allowing the re-growth of healthy habitat and the return of small mammals, fish, and flocks of native birds. They are beneficial, and they enrich all of nature.
Eight) Spotlights cause bird deaths. In the spring, spotlights shining in the trees would startle native songbirds out of their nests. Songbirds cannot see in the dark and would not be able to return to their nests to keep their nestlings warm during the rest of the night. This would cause deaths among baby birds.
Nine) Not ethical hunting. Nighttime hunting with spotlights has nothing to do with traditional hunting. Spotlighting is banned in Utah, except where it is allowed by individual counties. There is no fair chase. Coyotes and other small animals are trapped in blinding lights. Both non-hunters and hunters can agree that this is not ethical hunting. No purpose at all is served by causing suffering and death to these animals. The repercussions to other wildlife and to people’s pets, are potentially enormous.
Ten) Harm to endangered and sensitive species. In addition, with this kind of unethical hunting, the carcasses, especially of jack rabbits, are just left in the field – which means that eagles, ravens, and other scavengers are at risk of being poisoned by the lead bullets used. This is an especially serious concern in the case of the critically endangered California condor that is a resident of Kane County. Lead poisoning is the primary source of fatalities among condors. Many Kane county birds and mammals are listed on the 2015 Utah sensitive species list, and all would be put at greater risk from shooting in the night. As well as bald eagles and condors, the sensitive species found in Kane county include short-eared owls, burrowing owls, ferruginous hawks, greater sage grouse, Lewis’s woodpeckers, long-billed curlew, Allen’s big-eared bats, fringed myotis bats, and the kit fox – a delicate animal who is the smallest fox in the Americas – and who, in the night, could easily be mistaken for a coyote. Some of these species are barely hanging on by a thread.
Eleven) Disturbance of the peace. Kanab is a small, peaceful, rural town, surrounded by public lands. These wild lands are an oasis of beauty, graced by the presence of magnificent cliffs and endearing wildlife. Nighttime shooting would be disruptive and frightening. Such activity would destroy the unique, tranquil character of this town and county.
Twelve) Nighttime coyote hunting would be very dangerous. It would be harmful to Kane County residents, visitors, and to all of nature. It would threaten human beings, as well as the beautiful wildlife and wild lands that surround us.
How to help
STEP ONE – If you are in Kane County, please attend the Kane County Commissioners meeting on Monday morning, 10 am, August 22, at the Kane County Courthouse building, 76, N. Main Street, Kanab.
STEP TWO – Wherever you live, please email your comments on nighttime coyote spotlight hunting by going to this email form. It’s very easy to fill out and send. Please state your city, state, and country. Address Commission Chairman Clayson, Commissioner Smith, and Commissioner Matson:
Link to Email Form: http://www.kane.utah.gov/contact.cfm?deptID=1
What to write in your email: Put one or two of the points above into your own words. If you feel you may be less likely to visit Kane County if there are gunshots at night, please state that, and that when you visit, you would love to see coyotes in the wild. Anything you write – it can be very brief – will be a huge help!
STEP THREE – You may also call and leave a message for
Chairman Clayson 435-644-4902
Commissioner Smith 435-644-4903
Commissioner Matson 435-644-4904
Calls re Public Lands 435-644-4901
Thank you for helping coyotes, jack rabbits, and other innocent wild animals by opposing this really dangerous ordinance!
For more information, email Wild Kane County, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Gary Kalpakoff