“This is nothing more than a feel-good bill for my urban colleagues,” said Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger, R-Grants Pass. “They have no idea what it is like to try to live on the land.”

Samantha Hawkins

Statesman-Journal

A bill to prohibit coyote-hunting contests passed the Oregon Senate 17-12 Wednesday. 

The contests came under scrutiny after a Humane Society video showed around 60 participants dragging dead coyotes to pickup trucks during a coyote hunting tournament near Burns in December.

Prizes were given to the team who had the highest cumulative weight in dead bodies. There have been at least five of these contests in recent years, according to Senate Democrats.

Senate Bill 723, sponsored by Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, and Sen. Jeff Golden, D-Ashland, was opposed by many senators representing rural districts in a contentious debate centered around Oregon’s urban-rural divide. 

“The urban communities feel like the rural communities aren’t fit to make these decisions themselves,” said Sen. Dallas Heard, R-Roseburg, who said the national political divide is bleeding into Oregon’s state culture. 

The bill moves to the House for consideration.

Oregon has around 300,000 coyotes, which often attack and kill ranchers’ livelihood. About 4,400 sheep were killed in Oregon in 2014, the latest available data. A dead calf can cost a rancher $700-$800.

 “This is nothing more than a feel-good bill for my urban colleagues,” said Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger, R-Grants Pass. “They have no idea what it is like to try to live on the land.”

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