Come July, organizing or taking part in coyote-killing contests in the state will be illegal, due to legislation that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law Tuesday.

“This sends a great message that our wildlife is not to be treated as shooting targets in a blood sport,” said Sen. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, co-sponsor of Senate Bill 76.

Michael Robinson, a senior conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity in Silver City, agreed. He said coyote-killing contests sometimes take the lives of endangered Mexican wolves that are mistaken for coyotes.

“This law really shows an ethic for New Mexico of valuing wildlife and not wantonly slaughtering animals,” he said. “The law obviously still lets people kill coyotes, but it takes away the festival atmosphere that such contests encourage.”

Advocates for those contests, which often involve prizes for the most kills, say they help thin out the state’s coyote population and thus save the lives of livestock and domestic animals. Critics say they encourage a wholesale slaying of coyotes that may not be as serious a threat as some believe.

The bill was one of about 60 the governor signed Tuesday. Among the others:

• House Bill 100, which replaces Columbus Day in New Mexico with Indigenous People’s Day.

• HB 303, which offers free admission to state-owned parks and museums to foster families.

• HB 322, which ensures medical coverage for autism spectrum disorders without age or dollar-amount limits.

• HB 692, which adds the Los Luceros property north of Española to New Mexico’s list of historic sites.

• SB 147, which changes the format public schools use for holding drills. Under the new law, schools must hold at least four drills in the first month of school — an active shooter drill, an evacuation drill and two fire drills. After that, each public school must hold at least four more school drills before the end of the school year.

The governor has at least another 140 bills to consider by Friday, when any unsigned bills would be automatically vetoed.

General Assignment Reporter

Robert Nott has covered education and youth issues for the Santa Fe New Mexican. He is assigned to The New Mexican's city desk where he covers a general assignment beat.

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