who spent $19.95 on one of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee's
cuddly replicas of "Copper the Coyote," a mascot for the 2002
Winter Olympics, could have gotten the little guy for free. Or, at
least in exchange for gunning down a real coyote and sending its
ears to local county officials.
mascot has brought some unwelcome attention to a bounty program
sponsored by the state of Utah and its counties. A few years ago,
the Legislature authorized $100,000 in annual matching funds for
counties for the purpose of keeping Utah's coyote populations in
check. The program pays hunters $20 for each pair of coyote
"It's hypocritical for a state which is
going to welcome the world to pay people to kill its mascot
indiscriminately," says Craig Axford of the Utah Environmental
Even some state biologists criticize
the coyote hunt, saying it's unlikely to protect deer and livestock
from coyote predation. Mike Bodenchuck of the Utah Agriculture
Department's Wildlife Services points out that his agency targets
certain breeding pairs at particular times of the year. "It's very
surgical," he says.
In late January, days before
the organizing committee was about to celebrate the one-year
countdown to the Games, the Utah Environmental Congress organized a
rally outside the Utah State Capitol to protest the bounty program.
The congress' executive director, Denise Boggs, demanded that SLOC
President Mitt Romney put pressure on state leaders to stop the
Romney has not responded, and SLOC
spokeswoman Caroline Shaw argues that the coyote bounty has little
to do with the Olympics. "This is not an Olympic issue," she says.
"The mascots were created to connect children with the Olympic