Tuesday, November 27, 2012

NCWRC Sued Over Night Hunting Of Coyotes

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission is being sued by the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of Red Wolf Coalition, Defenders of Wildlife and the Animal Welfare Institute to stop night hunting of coyotes with artificial light in five eastern NC counties. A judge in Wake County Superior Court has granted a preliminary injunction stopping the hunting of coyotes in Dare, Tyrrell, Hyde, Washington and Beaufort counties.

RALEIGH, NC- Coyote hunting at night with the aid of an artificial light will be disallowed temporarily in five counties - Dare, Tyrrell, Hyde, Washington and Beaufort - pending the outcome of a lawsuit questioning the temporary rule adopted by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.

Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway issued a preliminary injunction halting coyote hunting at night with the aid of artificial light only in those five counties. The order was issued in response to a complaint filed by the Southern Environmental Law Center, on behalf of the Red Wolf Coalition, Defenders of Wildlife and the Animal Welfare Institute.

"While we accept the judge's decision, it is important to note that this is a decision on a preliminary injunction only. It is not a decision on the lawsuit," said Wildlife Commission Executive Director Gordon Myers. "We remain confident of our position and its merits."

The Wildlife Commission passed temporary rules in July allowing the taking of coyotes and feral swine by hunting on private lands at night with a light. Night hunting is one means of controlling localized populations of coyotes and feral swine, both of which are non-native to North Carolina, destructive to the landscape, and potential disease carriers. Coyotes also pose predatory threats to pets and livestock.

The preliminary injunction issued today by the Superior Court only applies to hunting coyotes at night in Washington, Beaufort, Tyrrell, Hyde and Dare counties The order does not prevent taking of wildlife, including coyotes and red wolves, while in the act of depredation. It does not affect hunting feral swine at night with the aid of a light.

The preliminary injunction will remain in effect pending the final ruling by the Superior Court on this issue. Wildlife Officers in the five-county region will work to alert hunters about today's ruling.
The plaintiffs are alleging that the rule allowing night hunting of coyotes in those counties violated the NC Administrative Procedure Act and will put the red wolf, an endangered species, at risk. A copy of the lawsuit can be found on the Animal Welfare Institute's website here.

As a North Carolinian, I am a bit worried about the use of the legal system by groups like PETA and now the Animal Welfare Institute. AWI describes their mission as:
Since its founding in 1951, AWI has sought to alleviate the suffering inflicted on animals by people. In the organization's early years, our particular emphasis was on the desperate needs of animals used for experimentation. In the decades that followed, we expanded the scope of our work to address many other areas of animal suffering.
I would think that if they were really concerned about the health of the red wolf they would be all for the hunting of a non-native invasive species that competes with the red wolf for food and habitat. Moreover, one of the biggest threats to the survival of the species is hybridization with coyotes.

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