This past December, MassWildlife’s Fisheries and Wildlife Board passed regulations to end wildlife killing contests in Massachusetts. This victory was achieved after months of testimony, written comments, and grassroots advocacy by Massachusetts residents and animal protection organizations. These regulations demonstrate that MassWildlife takes the public’s opposition to killing contests seriously, and that the agency strives to be a national leader on this issue.
For the past several years, coyote killing contests have been held in Granby, Hyannis, and Pittsfield. Participants of the contests compete to kill the largest, smallest, or the greatest number of animals for cash and prizes. In 2018, the MSPCA co-authored an op-ed in the Cape Cod Times with the Humane Society of the United States, denouncing the reprehensible practice. In 2019, due to continual public outcry, MassWildlife held a series of public listening sessions throughout the state on coyote population management, coyote hunting, and coyote hunting contests. The MSPCA attended these listening sessions and testified that beyond being inherently cruel, these contests serve no wildlife management purpose, and could in fact create ecological imbalances and wildlife management problems.
In response to overwhelming public opposition at the listening sessions, two public hearings, and hundreds of calls and written comments, MassWildlife proposed regulations to ban such contests, which were then passed by The Board on December 18, 2019. The now passed regulations prohibit hunting contests of not just coyotes, but all native carnivores and furbearers, including coyote, bobcat, red fox, gray fox, coyote, opossum, raccoon, weasel, fisher, mink, river otter, muskrat, beaver, and skunk. The regulations go further, prohibiting wanton waste, or “to intentionally waste something negligently or inappropriately,” of game animals taken during regulated hunting and trapping season. The contest ban and wonton waste provision go into effect sometime in February or March, once the promulgation process is complete. Lastly, these regulations tighten harvest reporting requirements for fox and coyote, which allows for better monitoring and enforcement of the aforementioned components. This reporting requirement will go into effect at the start of the fall 2020 hunting season (2020-2021).
The MSPCA applauds MassWildlife and its Board for taking a leadership role, passing scientifically-based, comprehensive regulations that are among the strongest in the nation on this issue. Massachusetts now joins many other states including Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Vermont in abolishing these types of barbaric contests. Learn more about these regulations and this issue at www.mspca.org/coyote-killing-contests.