SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- California wildlife regulators are proposing a ban on contests that reward hunters who kill coyotes and other predators.
The California Fish and Game Commission this week issued a proposed rule that would make it illegal to offer a prize, inducement or reward for killing predators, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The 3-2 vote opens a public comment period that will end Aug. 6, when the commission is expected to make a final decision on the proposal.
The commission received about 13,000 letters and emails calling for an end to the indiscriminate killing of coyotes and other predators.
"This vote brings us one step closer to reforming how predators are managed in this state," said Camilla Fox, founder and executive director of the advocacy group Project Coyote, which submitted the petition for the law. "Most people are shocked to learn that it is legal to kill coyotes, foxes, bobcats and other wildlife as part of a tournament for prizes and recreational fun."
Conservationists have been demanding action after learning about an annual three-day coyote hunt held each February in Modoc County in northeastern California.
Ranchers say they need to manage coyotes because they are responsible for the vast majority of livestock deaths.
But conservationists say hunting coyotes doesn't reduce their numbers, pointing to studies that show coyotes breed more often and have more puppies when pack leaders are killed. The leaders, or alphas, are the only males that mate in a coyote pack, but when they are killed underlings get a chance to reproduce.