HYANNIS — About 70 protesters lined up Saturday on the sidewalk in front of Powderhorn Outfitters on Barnstable Road to make their opinions known about the store’s coyote hunting contest.
Nearby, in the store’s parking lot, a congregation of supporters, many wearing camouflage, enjoyed a barbecue as coyote kills were logged and weighed on site.
Powderhorn, which has been in the hunting and fishing business for decades, is sponsoring its first coyote contest. The contest runs from Jan. 18 to March 12, and awards cash prizes for hunters who bring in the largest coyote, as well as the largest cumulative weight.
Coyote hunting is legal in Massachusetts — the season runs from October to March — but many of the protesters said they disagreed with a hunting for sport, as coyotes are rarely a source of food.
“It’s killing for trophies,” said Selin Nacar, with a camera around her neck, holding a sign that read “This is how real men shoot animals.”
Nacar, a Sandwich resident, said humans moved into the coyote territory.
“We’ve taken their habitation,” she said. “It’s our fault.”
A man hired to provide security at Powderhorn provided a statement from owners.
“As a staple in the Cape’s hunting, firearms, and fishing community for 40 years, Powderhorn Outfitters values the rights of nonhunters to express their views, however, we proudly support outdoorsmen in upholding the tradition of hunting,” the statement read. “We promote hunting within the rules set forth by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife and will continue to facilitate reporting and tagging as a Massachusetts official game check station.”
James Stokes, a Falmouth resident and hunter, said he doesn’t hunt coyotes, but supports people’s right to hunt as well as protesters’ right to voice their opinion.
“To each their own,” he said.
Tenley Schofield and Kevin Antonovitch, both of South Yarmouth, were at the grill outside the store. A coyote hunter herself, Schofield said she didn’t think the protesters understood hunting.
“They just don’t understand wildlife management,” she said.
Antonovitch felt the protesters misplaced their focus.. If they don’t like coyote hunting or the contest, he said, they should take it up with the state, which allows it.
Before the protest Saturday, carnivore biologist Jonathan Way was at the Hyannis Public Library speaking about the ecology and behavior of coyotes. Coyotes are territorial, and as predators, self-regulate their population in balance with their prey, he said. Any notion that hunting coyotes regulates the population is false, he said.
The real divide between the protesters and supporters was an ideological one, according to Way, who also said the real issue is with the laws concerning coyote hunting.
The protest was peaceful and calm. Extra police officers were on patrol at the two-hour protest, said Barnstable Police Chief Paul MacDonald as he walked up and down the sidewalk in front of the store.
It was the first protest for Trey Anderson, 19, and his mother, Regina Redd, of Fairhaven.
“It’s awful,” said Redd, who used to live in Cromwell Court, the apartment complex a stone’s throw away from Powderhorn. “I really have an issue with killing animals for sport.”
In Fairhaven, Redd said, she sees coyotes out and about. Coyote attacks have been in the news recently, but Redd said it’s the owners’ duty to watch their dogs.
“You just have to be responsible as a pet owner.”
After two hours, protesters started to disperse. By the end of the day, Powderhorn had six more entries in the contest.
Although they don’t hunt coyote, Jaime Bailey and her husband, Bob Bailey, stood in support of hunters who obey the law.
“They’re following all the rules,” Bob Bailey said.