FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 31, 2016

Santa Fe, N.M. – In advance of the 2017 New Mexico legislative session, a coalition of non-profit wildlife advocacy organizations are hosting the United States premiere of a new documentary film to raise awareness, debunk myths and inspire action to end the cruel and senseless slaughter of wildlife in killing contests. By showing the film in several locations across the state, opponents of wildlife killing contests hope to grow active support among New Mexico citizens for impending legislation to end the barbaric death games targeting coyotes.

The film, Unfair Game: Ending Wildlife Killing Contests, will be screened in Las Cruces, Albuquerque and Santa Fe, and features interviews with prominent scientists, ranchers, hunters, government officials and advocates who discuss the ecological importance of coyotes and shed light on false claims used to perpetuate coyote killing contests. The film, produced by Project Coyote, also highlights the importance of grassroots advocacy in the prohibition of these contests.

After each screening, the audience will learn more about the monumental effort in New Mexico to eliminate cruel killing contests from our landscape by hearing a lively panel discussion with experts like best-selling author Dan Flores (Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History), former New Mexico Land Commissioner Ray Powell, and representatives from Project Coyote, Animal Protection Voters, and the Southwest Environmental Center.

Coyote killing contests are organized events in which participants compete for prizes by attempting to kill the most coyotes over a certain time period, often featuring special awards for largest and smallest killed. Prizes often include cash and firearms. These contests occur frequently across New Mexico on both private and public lands, including U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and State Trust lands, though contest promoters rarely share with the public the locations where the contestants are shooting firearms.

Since 2013, legislation has been introduced in the New Mexico legislature to ban coyote killing contests. Supporters of this legislation—including animal and environmental advocates, and many hunters—assert that coyote killing contests are unethical, wasteful, and a violation of the fair-chase hunting principle. Further, scientific studies show indiscriminate mass killing of coyotes is an inefficient and even counter-productive population management technique.

In 2015, New Mexico became the first state where a legislative chamber passed a coyote killing contest ban bill when Senate Bill 253, sponsored by Senator Mark Moores (R-Albuquerque) and then-Representative Jeff Steinborn (D-Las Cruces) passed the Senate by a wide margin thanks to strong bipartisan support. The same legislation is expected to be reintroduced in the 2017 legislative session.

Jessica Johnson, chief legislative officer for Animal Protection Voters, said, “Coyote killing competitions send the message that New Mexicans think life is disposable and cruelty is fun—it’s beyond time to ban these baseless, destructive events that glorify killing for its own sake.”

Camilla Fox, executive director of Project Coyote and producer of the documentary, said, “Coyote killing contests are not only cruel, but also contravene the fundamental tenants of the North American Model of Wildlife Management and the Public Trust Doctrine. Like cockfighting and dog fighting that are now banned nationwide, it’s time we outlaw this unconscionable practice and move toward more ethically and eccologically sound predator conservation and stewardship practices.”

Kevin Bixby, executive director of the Southwest Environmental Center and a featured interview in the film, said, “Gratuitous killing of swaths of coyotes is perpetuating ecosystem imbalance and backfiring on New Mexico’s ranchers, and it’s time to look to science to guide our coexistence with this ecologically important species.”

The film screening locations and dates are as follows:

January 5th — Rio Grande Theater, Las Cruces   7:00pm
Post-screening panel includes: Kevin Bixby, Executive Director of SWEC, Camilla Fox and Dave Parsons of Project Coyote, New Mexico State Senator-Elect Jeff Steinborn, and hunter David Soules.

January 7th – The Guild, Albuquerque   1:00pm
Post screening panel includes: best-selling author Dan Flores (Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History), Former New Mexico State Land Commissioner Ray Powell, Camilla Fox, Dave Parsons, and Jessica Johnson from Animal Protection Voters of New Mexico.

January 8th – Jean Cocteau Cinema, Santa Fe   5:00pm
Post screening panel includes: best-selling author Dan Flores (Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History), Former New Mexico State Land Commissioner Ray Powell, Camilla Fox, Dave Parsons, and Jessica Johnson from Animal Protection Voters of New Mexico.

Interested persons can download flyers for each event, find more information and RSVP here.

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