Animal Welfare Institute: Modoc County Sheriff Goes Rogue, Vows to Defy Federal Laws During Coyote Hunt
Hunt Continues Despite Public Opposition, Concerns over California's Lone Wolf
SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 8, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Animal Welfare Institute, Project Coyote and the Center for Biological Diversity are seeking an immediate investigation of Modoc County Sheriff Mike Poindexter for his decision to defy federal laws and advocate the violation of those laws during this weekend's Coyote Drive 13, a coyote-killing contest in and near Modoc County.
A letter to the editor of the Modoc County Recorder on Feb. 7 by Sheriff Poindexter said he won't "tolerate any restriction of legal hunting on our public lands" despite federal laws prohibiting or regulating coyote hunting on federal lands in and near Modoc County. He also recommended that any hunt participant who is questioned or detained by federal enforcement officials for illegally hunting on federal lands to "cooperate but stand their ground and call the Sheriff's Office" and that sheriff deputies "absolutely will not tolerate any infringement upon your liberties pertaining to accessing or legally hunting on your public lands."
"Despite claiming to uphold the U.S. Constitution, Sheriff Poindexter has decided he will not enforce and is encouraging others to flout those federal laws which he opposes," said D.J. Schubert, wildlife biologist with the Animal Welfare Institute. "This is a blatant breach of his duty as a law enforcement officer and a violation of the Law Enforcement Code of ethics."
The groups have contacted the district attorney for Modoc County, the California Attorney General's office, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California and a number of state and federal agencies advising them of Sheriff Poindexter's comments and asking for urgent intervention.
"These laws are on the books to protect our public lands and the wildlife that live there. Not only does this coyote hunt put OR-7 and other wolves at risk, but now it's also shaping up to be some kind of Wild West misadventure where the sheriff is thumbing his nose at federal laws," said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer at the Center for Biological Diversity.
Poindexter's statement comes in the wake of public outcry that generated more than 20,000 letters, emails, and petition signatures into the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the California Fish and Game Commission calling for an end to Coyote Drive 2013 and a top-to-bottom evaluation of the state's approach to managing predators in California.
"Given the serious potential for violations of state and federal laws barring predator hunting on public lands, the threat this hunt poses to OR-7 and any un-collared wolves in the area, and the public's clear opposition to this killing contest, the state should take immediate action to call off Coyote Drive 2013 now," said Camilla Fox, Project Coyote executive director and a wildlife consultant to the Animal Welfare Institute.
SOURCE Animal Welfare Institute