Judge allows coyote hunt to go forward in Oregon

Jan. 18, 2014 at 10:19 PM
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BEND, Ore., Jan. 18 (UPI) -- A judge in Oregon allowed a weekend coyote hunt to go forward but his ruling derailed organizers' plans for betting on which team killed the most coyotes.

Harney County Circuit Court Administrator Tammy Wheeler said Friday Judge William Cramer Jr. "stated the issue at hand is gambling, and that to issue a restraining order, there would have to be the threat of irreparable harm. You would have to really show that the harm could not be repaired, which was not the case here."

County resident Louann Thompson, wildlife conservation organization Project Coyote and the Animal Legal Defense Fund had sought a restraining order to block the eighth annual JMK Coyote Hunt Saturday and Sunday in the Crane area, the (Bend) Bulletin reported.

Cramer said the plaintiffs could be awarded monetary damages if betting was involved in the hunt, prompting event organizer Duane Freilino to later announce the betting was off.

"I think the judge made a fair ruling based on the law," Freilino said. "It's a good event for the community and brings people into the area at a time of year when there is very little tourism."

The Animal Legal Defense Fund said despite not winning a restraining order, the judge's ruling "had favorable overtures."

"By taking away the cash prizes -- and posing the risk of financial damages -- a favorable ruling could dramatically change the structure and incentive of the hunting contest in the future," the group said in a statement.

"I'm sorry that they didn't issue a restraining order," Thompson told the newspaper. "I don't know if I'll be involved in any future legal action, but if they need me to be, I'll be there."

Project Coyote founder and Executive Director Camilla Fox wasn't pleased with the judge's decision.

"We are very disappointed with the judge's ruling on this case and believe that if Oregon residents had the chance to weigh in on this issue through a ballot measure, they would overwhelmingly support a ban on wildlife killing contests," Fox said in an email sent to the Bulletin.

"Killing coyotes and other wildlife for fun and prizes is ethically repugnant, morally bankrupt and ecologically indefensible."

Freilino said purpose of the hunt is to reduce the coyote population to protect cattle in the area.

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