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Clark County commissioners consider banning varmint hunts

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Posted at 9:05 PM, Feb 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-03 02:55:24-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Clark County commissioners are considering a resolution to ban competitive predator hunts, also known as varmint hunts.

It's an issue 13 Investigates has been exposing for years. Varmint hunts are organized killing sprees where teams pay a fee to enter what they consider is a social, competitive game.

The hunters compete for prizes that go to the one who claims the most lives.

The groups are known for hunting coyotes and other animals.

13 INVESTIGATES | Read more investigative reporting in Las Vegas

Back in 2012, 13 Action News interviewed hunter Kyle Stinnett, who said at the time there was at least one varmint hunt every weekend across Nevada from September through March, though his annual September hunt was the only one in Las Vegas.

"I have as much right to do the hunting, to do the animal trapping, to do any of that that I want to do, just like anybody else has the right for gay marriage, or transgender, or anything that anybody says is not right," said Stinnett during a 2012 interview with 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears.

Hunters say there is some profit in prizes, but it's also about predator control.

"We had approximately 60-something coyotes killed total," he explained during the same interview. "The winning team had 21 coyotes."

Watch the full 2012 13 Investigates report on varmint hunting in Clark County below.

"People need to know that without these coyotes being shot, you're going to end up with them in town," said Stinnet, "eating your house dogs, on your golf courses, eating your cats."

But animal activists don't see it that way.

"Coyotes serve a really important function because they kill some of the smaller mammals that may carry disease," said Karen Layne of the Las Vegas Valley Humane Society to Spears in 2012.

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Varmints can be shot at will -- no permit or hunting license required -- and the hunts themselves are not regulated.

"I don't think it's right just because it's legal to do that," Layne said. "I think this kind of hunt is very inhumane."

Another issue is some hunters would dump carcasses. After the September 2012 hunt, for example, coyote carcasses were strewn along a dirt road in Apex.

"They [the hunters] should be prosecuted for not disposing of properly," said then-Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins of the incident in 2012.

Collins served as county commissioner from 2005 until 2015.

During the meeting tonight, Commissioner Justin Jones introduced the item by saying it was not a prohibition on hunting "in any way," rather a recommendation to let the Nevada Department of Wildlife know that the county opposes the competition hunts.

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Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick said she has multiple hunters in her family who all agreed with the resolution.

Watch the Clark County Commission discuss varmint hunts on Feb. 2, 2021. For the full agenda click here.

"We have been hunters in our family and we have friends all around us who do," Commissioner Jim Gibson agreed. "Neither one of them would even consider going out to see how many they can kill of something so they can win a prize."

"That's not what I think of when I think of hunting," Gibson added.

Jones said he would advise his staff to draft a resolution, and an ordinance is expected to be discussed in the future.

Stay with 13 Action News for developments on this story.

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