NH coyote hunting contest draws complaints but others thankful for 'varmint control'
Despite a few complaints about a coyote hunting contest being run by a Jaffrey sporting goods store, hunters and New Hampshire Fish and Game say it’s just a difference of opinion.
Pelletiers Sports Shop has held the contest for several years and a similar contest is held by Coyote Creek Outfitters in Rochester.
Frank Chase, of Milford, said those directly affected by coyotes, especially people who own livestock, are more likely to be supportive.
“I had a woman out in Rindge, she asked if I would cull coyotes at her house because they attacked her dog,” Chase said. “She called crying because she had all her chickens out, and there was female coyote and all her pups and they were running around killing her chickens.”
Patrick Tate, the fur bearer biologist for New Hampshire Fish and Game, compared the contests to any other competition.
"It's similar to a bass pool or a deer pool or winter ice fishing derby. There is a social aspect behind that," he said. "It's like March Madness.”
Tate said coyotes were first found in New Hampshire in the 1940s. By the 1970s they could be found in every town in the state.
One woman in opposition wrote a letter to the editor in the Keene Sentinel calling for the contest to be canceled.
"Gratuitously slaughtering animals for thrills and prizes is out of step with our current understanding of ecosystems and the important role each species plays," Spofford resident Cheryl Maibusch wrote.
Another, posted to Pelletiers Sport Shop's Facebook page.
"My father was a big hunter (Chuck Silver) and my brother is a big hunter (Brian Silver). I grew up with hunting and dead animals on the front yard my whole life. I strongly oppose hunting. How would you like it if someone shot you to death just for the sport?” wrote Lori Bibeau.
Another defended the shop calling the process a part of life.
"Next you'll be complaining that the dogs are coming after people because there is no food left for them due to over population. Or they've killed your birds. Scroll on if you don't like it. It's a part of life and it isn't going to ever stop," Shawna Wallace wrote.
Tate said whether or not the hunt is good or bad is a matter of perspective.
"The population of humans that are against any idea of coyote hunting, they adamantly care about wildlife from their perspective. The hunters, coyote hunters, they care about the population from their perspective,” Tate said. “For both sides, it's very ingrained that their way is the right way. It's a constant conflict between beliefs."
Chase also pointed out the pelts can be sold and can provide a large source of income for some hunters and can draw people into the state to spend dollars locally.
He said for the most part, people understand the varmint-control part of hunting.
"When we go to landowners and they ask what we are doing it for, they say, 'Oh, thank goodness,'" Chase said.
Both shops have held their individual contests for several years and provide first-, second-, and third-place prizes to hunters in relation to the weight of the coyotes killed as well as the amount. Chase said a coyote he shot weighing in at 55 pounds, 11 ounces is the largest one at the Rochester store so far this year.
Employees answering the phones at Pelletiers Sports and Coyote Creek when asked for comment referred NH1 News to people were not in the office Monday.