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Death threat part of protest against New Mexico coyote hunt

| Friday, Nov. 16, 2012, 7:00 p.m.
@photo-credit:Courtesy Photo @brief-head1:Brown bags coyote @photo-cutline:Don Brown was hunting in Casparis when he shot this coyote on the first day of deer season. The coyote weighed 50 pounds. The coyote was seen chasing two deer when it was shot.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An online petition against a planned coyote hunt New Mexico has generated tens of thousands of signatures worldwide, the FBI is investigating a death threat to the gun shop owner who is sponsoring the hunt and one protester has even vowed to dress like a coyote to trick hunters into accidentally killing a human.

But none of these episodes will likely stop the owner of Gunhawk Firearms from holding the planned two-day coyote contest this weekend, despite the international attention the idea has garnered.

“I'm not going to back down,” said Mark Chavez, 50, who has faced two weeks of angry phone calls and protests — and even a threat to his life. “This is my right to hunt and we're not breaking any laws.”

Under the terms of the contest, teams of one or two hunters have two days to shoot and kill as many coyotes as possible on private land in New Mexico.

The winning team will get its choice of a Browning Maxus 12-gauge shotgun or two AR-15 semi-automatic rifles from the Los Lunas shop, and a hired taxidermist will salvage any pelts and hides from the dead coyotes for clothing.

“I'll even give the furs to the homeless if they need it,” Chavez said.

That competition — which opponents are calling a “coyote killing contest” — has sparked thousands of angry emails, social media postings and a petition signed by activists from as far as Europe who have demanded that the hunt be called off. Last week, a small group of protesters held a rally outside of Gunhawk Firearms and waved signs denouncing the event as cruel and “bloodthirsty.”

People are upset over the idea of making a contest out of killing an animal that usually lives peacefully alongside residents, said Susan Weiss, 74, who leads the Coexist with Coyotes group in Corrales, N.M.

“There's a tremendous amount of arrogance in conducting this hunt,” Weiss said. “(Chavez) is damaging the reputation of ranchers. He is damaging the reputation of legitimate hunters.”

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