Mountain Pursuit's Standards for Ethical Coyote Hunting

By Mountain Pursuit

Coyote hunting for sport has become a lightning rod for anti-hunting activists in the United States.

A December, 2018 article in the Montana-based, online magazine Mountain Journal titled "A Death of Ethics: Is Hunting Destroying Itself" highlighted coyote killing contests, social media video posts showing coyotes run down by snowmobiles, and extrapolated this behavior to the broader ethics of all big and small game hunting. As the article title suggests, the author implies the questionable ethics associated with coyote hunting points to a larger ethical deficit amongst all hunting and hunters. 

In 2018, Project Coyote, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Northern California, filmed and produced an award-winning wildlife crime film, "Killing Games: Wildlife in the Crosshairs" which focuses on coyote and other predator hunting contests. 

Protecting the future of big game hunting, and standing steadfast and uncompromising on Fair Chase hunting ethics are key mandates for Mountain Pursuit.

Mountain Pursuit considers the ethical issues and disturbing coyote hunting social media, hunting contests and other images as a potential public perception threat to the future of big game hunting in the West. 



In the Western United States, coyotes are classified as predators or unprotected species, and coyote hunting regulations and restrictions are minimal. As as example, few states require any type of license, and no western state has a coyote hunting season or bag limit. See the chart below: 


1. Regulations governing coyote hunting for sport largely treat coyotes as a lower-class wildlife.

Classifications such as "unprotected predator," "unprotected species," and "unprotected furbearer," open seasons, few licensing requirements and no bag limits all add up to position coyotes as lower class wildlife inline with rodents and vermin. 

2. Most coyote hunters practice Fair Chase ethics, and are astute and sensitive in posting hunting imagery. As well, coyote hunting is a challenging hunting endeavor, and consistently successful coyote hunters have spent years in the field developing their skill set.

Many successful, experienced coyote hunters and big game hunters respect coyotes as smart, tough, adaptable wildlife and challenging prey.

3. Graphic coyote hunting videos, stacks of dead coyotes killed during coyote hunting contests, and not following Fair Chase ethical standards by a relatively few number of coyote hunters are ammo for anti-hunting activists and pose a threat to all small and big game hunting. 

4. Uncontrolled coyote populations are a proven threat to mule deer, antelope, sage grouse and other big and small game species especially during the vulnerable late Spring, early Summer birthing and hatching periods.

5. Uncontrolled coyote populations are proven to damage sheep and cattle ranching operations. In response, many Western states and counties have Predator Control Boards or similar and hire contract hunters to cull coyote populations. 


1. Coyotes should be classified as "Predators" in state regulations in relation to coyote hunting for sport.

2. A "Predator Hunting License" should be required for resident and nonresident sport coyote hunters. Requirements for general big game hunting such as required hunter's safety courses and conservation stamp purchases should also be required for coyote hunting. 

3. Running down coyotes with ATVs, snowmobiles or any other vehicle should be a wildlife violation, and outlawed.

4. Shooting coyotes from an aircraft should not allowed.

5. Electronic calls should not be allowed.

6. Baiting should not be allowed. 

7. Use of artificial light (spotlighting) to hunt coyotes should not be allowed. Hunting at night is allowable, but not with the use of artificial light. 

8. A maximum firearm shot distance of 400 yards should be set and enforced. This shot distance restriction works to keep the Fair Chase balance between hunter and prey. More HERE.

9. Coyote hunting weapons should be limited to firearms with caliber of .22 or greater including shotguns, archery gear including crossbows, and black powder weapons. Airguns should not be allowed.

10. A daily bag limit of 5 coyotes should be set and enforced. 

11. Coyote hunting contests should be banned. 

12. These standards apply to both private and public lands for coyote hunting for sport. 

Note 1:
The above restrictions do not apply to coyote population control operations set by local or state Predator Control Boards and/or Wildlife agencies to protect game species and agricultural operations. 

Note 2:
The above restrictions do not apply to coyote trapping for furbearing. State regulations should clearly separate coyote hunting for sport from coyote trapping for furbearing. Coyote trapping for fur should be covered by applicable trapping regulations. 

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  • Miles Killian
    commented 2019-11-16 20:06:45 -0700
    I feel your position on coyote hunting is hypocritical or at least contradictory. On the one hand you want to a bag limit of 5 per day but on the other hand you rightfully state that uncontrolled coyote populations are detrimental to both big game and livestock. In addition your proposed restrictions don’t apply to government predator control operations. My point is, if there are so many coyotes that the government has to hire “professional hunters” who often use aircraft to kill hundreds of coyotes in a matter of days then why should I be limited to 5 per day. Why should I not be able to employ devices and techniques to increase my harvest?
    From what I’ve read about you and your organization you are primarily a big game hunter and your primary concern is maintaining your ability to hunt big game. You appear to be willing to sacrifice coyote hunting and coyote hunters to the anti-hunting advocates in order to save big game hunting. Of course initially you are just proposing these “ethical” restrictions on coyote hunting but as soon as the anti’s want more you will gladly give in once again to save big game hunting.
    This is false and foolish logic on your part and will eventually lead to the demise of all hunting.
    I want to add that “public perception” has no place in wildlife management.
    Also, running over coyotes is animal cruelty and should be prosecuted as such. It is not “hunting” and should not be part of this discussion.
    Predator hunting contests don’t violate the North American Model either in fact or in spirit. To say that is just a way to cave into anti-hunting interests without looking like that’s exactly what you are doing. A predator hunting contest is nothing more than a wager amongst a group of people to see who is the best predator hunter. Absolutely nothing occurs during a contest that doesn’t already occur during any other day of hunting.
    It the North American Model is so sacred then why do we allow guides and outfitters. They often make their entire living by profiting from hunting. What about bass fishing tournaments, again you have an event where individuals win huge amounts of money through the taking of wildlife.
    I am going to leave it there but would be happy to engage in further dialogue.
  • Miles Killian
    followed this page 2019-11-16 19:35:11 -0700