I want to respond to Carolyn Carlson’s article [“Close to Home,” Nov. 15-21]. A constant theme was reiterated throughout: Drug addicts are eyesores to the public. Carlson reported that some local politicians and residents of the International District at the Thursday, Nov. 1 meeting were disrespectful to experts speaking on behalf of the truth regarding chemically addicted humans in our community. You do not have to have an addict in your family to care about social issues. Chemically addicted humans often suffer from trauma, mental illness and homelessness. Instead of fighting for who ends up with the “burden of unsightly people and a rehab place” in the NE Heights or International District, realize that more prevention, education, treatment and access to health care will help communities as a whole.
A proactive approach readers can take is to write to UNM Hospital CEO Steve McKernan, Gov. Susana Martinez, congressional representatives and district politicians. Ask them to continue the plan to move the ASAP Program to the International District without delay and bring more preventative services and access to health care to Albuquerque and surrounding areas. Go to nmlegis.gov to access a legislator near you to voice your opinion. Help a social problem that affects not only individuals but the larger community.
Predator control is a given for New Mexico ranchers—a necessary part of the job to protect the animals in their care—and recent controversy over a Los Lunas coyote hunting contest is a frustrating reminder of how little some urban residents understand about wildlife and the livestock industry.
“People are trying to portray these animals as something they’re not. Coyotes are predators. They survive in the wild by killing what they can, including livestock and pets,” said Rex Wilson, New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) president, from Carrizozo. “The people protesting this contest have obviously never seen a calf chewed up by a coyote or watched a mama sheep try to revive a dead lamb.”
“These people, who have probably never even seen a coyote and certainly have no stake in the issue, are out there demonizing a small business owner and his customers,” he continued. “It’s not a massacre or animal cruelty, it’s a contest. If they don’t support it, they shouldn’t participate.”
Coyotes can adapt to survive anywhere, and as populations increase, they start moving closer and closer to populated areas. No coyote hunting contest, regardless of the size, will ever eradicate the species, and without some kind of control, coyotes will start causing more problems for urban residents.
Predator losses can have a big impact on a ranching operation, Wilson said. “Our livestock are our livelihoods, but it’s more than that. Ranchers spend the majority of our time caring for our livestock, and our kids grow up caring for the animals. When we find the remains of an animal killed by coyotes or other predators, we feel more than just a financial loss.”
The Gnatkowski family raised sheep on their central New Mexico operation for many years and spent those years working hard to protect their flock from coyotes. “Coyotes don’t just kill to eat. Many times they attack and kill for fun. The animals that coyotes kill are bad enough, but the ones left alive and suffering break your heart,” said Pete Gnatkowski.
“Predator control is an emotional issue. Those that oppose it do so because of their emotions,” he continued. “They fail to realize that they are the ones who benefit. It is one of the tools that livestock producers use to help provide them the cheapest, most abundant food supply in the world.”
The controversy has created a statewide issue and promoted the contest, sponsored by Gunhawk Firearms in Los Lunas and set for Nov. 17 and 18, to a wide audience. “They say that there’s no such thing as bad publicity,” Wilson said. “There are a lot of people in New Mexico that like to hunt coyotes, and by now, the whole state is aware of the hunt.”