SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) - A bill to outlaw coyote killing contests in New Mexico passed the state Senate Thursday, but not without a lengthy debate that some lawmakers said was "rural versus urban."
The bill is sponsored by Sen. Mark Moores, R-Albuquerque, and Sen. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces.
It would outlaw the organizing, sponsoring of and participating in coyote killing contests. Lawmakers in favor the bill say these contests are purely for entertainment and need to be stopped.
"This does not in any way change the law in the management of coyotes, that is to say, in no way does it take away the ability to hunt, trap, kill coyotes for any reason, at any time, in any number," Sen. Steinborn said.
The idea met opposition as it made its way through Senate committees. It did so again on the floor Thursday when senators took a full vote on the issue.
Many senators from rural counties argued that these contests help ranchers, and that the folks from urban areas just don't understand.
"They're trying to make a living off of that land," Sen. Pat Woods, R-Broadview, said. "It's not so much that they dislike coyotes, they dislike losing their animals."
"We're willing to protect this killer, but we're not willing to protect the animals that can't protect themselves so I find that a little ironic," Sen. Cliff Pirtle, R-Roswell, said.
But several senators supported the bill, saying the contests are nothing but an ugly sport and that they give New Mexico a bad name.
Enough supported the bill that it did pass in a 26 to 15 vote. With just nine full days left in the session, the bill now heads to the House.
Similar bills have been introduced in years past. In one case, it passed in the Senate but died in the House.
In another instance, the House voted down the bill and it never even made it to the Senate.