A Win for Conservation: California Coyote Drive 2013 Allowed

By Barbara Baird writes Realtree Outdoor News

“I’ve seen what coyotes do to calves and lambs. They eat them alive,” said Jenifer Adams, who grew up on a ranch in northern California near where the 7th Annual Coyote Drive is slated for this coming weekend, from Feb. 8 to 10. Adams returns yearly to attend the event and to support the locals. 

Jenifer Adams and Norissa Harman, of Girls with Guns ClothingAdams is co-owner of Girls with Guns Clothing, a line of apparel that reflects a lifestyle statement for women who shoot, hunt, wakeboard and generally love and participate in an outdoor lifestyle. Adams and business partner Norissa Harman are on the road at an outdoor show in Portland this week before the event. Although Adams grew up among hunters, she did not begin hunting until her adulthood. She and Harman live in northern California. 

Now the focus of anti-hunting groups, Coyote Drive 2013 comes under intense scrutiny from groups such as Project Coyote, the Animal Welfare Institute, the Center for Biological Diversity and the mother of all anti-hunting groups, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), all banding together to demand cancellation of this fundraiser that benefits youth and women hunters in the area. Project Coyote created a petition at change.org to stop the hunt and described it as “ethically indefensible” and “ecologically reckless.” 

First, the groups purport that this hunt threatens one particular wolf known as OR-7, aka “Journey,” and other uncollared gray wolves that might be roaming in that area. The concern with OR-7, a wolf born in Oregon that dispersed from the pack and now roams in northern California, seems like a stretch. Wearing a radio collar, this wolf was last reported, in a update by the Fish & Wildlife Department, in Grasshopper Valley in northern Lassen County.

Photo courtesy of California Fish & WildlifeSecond, anti-hunters claim the drive (which they call a “contest”) is in violation of new legislation requiring the Fish and Game Commission to use "ecosystem-based management" along with science-based stewardship for California’s wildlife. 

Again, another stretch, because the drive – hosted by the Pit River Rod and Gun Club and Adin Supply Outfitter – is held in total accordance with all Department of Fish and Wildlife rules and regulations. The stated intent is to manage coyote populations in this rural area. 

The drive attracts predator hunters from not only the entire state of California, but also the West Coast. 

Said Adams, “I grew up with all the people involved in this hunt. I believe these groups, such as the Humane Society of the United States, are throwing a smokescreen by opposing this hunt, and actually trying to bully a small community into halting this fundraiser. They are trying to stop a legal hunt on Bureau of Land Management Grounds.” 

Adin and three other rural northern California communities make up the Adams and Harman are members and staunch supporters of the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance (COHA), a 501(c) 4 political advocacy organization that, according to its website, “is dedicated solely to influencing legislative, regulatory and administrative policy decisions which promote wildlife conservation and California’s outdoor heritage.” COHA, based in Sacramento, is aware of this movement in California to halt the Coyote Drive. 

 “This specific issue is an example of a complex combination of administrative and regulatory politics. Effectively dealing with issues such as this is in these forums is exactly why COHA was created,” wrote Bill Gaines, president of COHA, in an email sent earlier this week.

Adams believes if more hunters knew about COHA and supported it, that California would not be on the brink of losing more hunting privileges, such as the recent ban on hunting with hounds in the state. 

COHAGaines also wrote, “Frankly, the greatest challenge COHA … faces is how to reach out to and wake up the individuals and industry in our hunting community regarding the immediate threats we face, successfully express the urgency and to get them on board in a meaningful way.  If the hunting community won’t get engaged, I promise you we will lose our tradition during our lifetime.” 

On Wed., Feb. 6, the Fish and Wildlife Commission held a meeting in Sacramento. It opened the floor in the “Public Forum” section to comments, and as was expected, the anti-hunters showed up to protest this weekend’s fundraiser coyote hunt. 

“There was – as we expected – an overwhelming amount of testimony this morning in opposition to the coyote contest, as well as the general shooting of coyotes for management purposes. All the heavy hitters for the antis were here – including HSUS. Of course, there were also threats of legislation. The only two who testified in support of shooting coyotes for management purposes was CCA [California Cattlemen's Association] and COHA. Dozens testified in opposition,” wrote Gaines, after the meeting.  

He continued, “To their credit, following testimony, DFW said they would not seek the shutting down of the contest this year, but rather would have staff on hand to ensure proper identification of OR-7 – should he wander back in the area used for the contest. They went on to note OR-7 is 85 miles, and two counties, away from the area currently.  DFW did, however, point out all of the regulatory and statutory sections that dictate policy relating to coyote hunting – certainly laying the foundation for a future proposal which could impact coyote contests and/or management.” 

In the meantime, Adams invites hunters to attend and support the Coyote Drive this weekend in Adin, and to show force in numbers to the anti-hunters, whom she and many of us in the hunting community believe propagate an agenda of ending hunting. Learn more about Coyote Drive 2013.