Wildlife Killing Contests

The comment period to weigh in on MassWildlife’s proposed regulations to ban wildlife killing contests is now closed. Thank you to everyone who wrote, emailed, and attended hearings in support of these regulations. We expect the Fisheries and Wildlife Board to vote on these regulations in the next month or so—stay tuned for updates!

The MSPCA opposes coyote and all wildlife killing contests because of their unsporting nature, their exploitation of wildlife, and their disregard for ecological impacts. These contests incentivize killing as many animals, or the largest, or sometimes the smallest animal, for cash and prizes. These brutal, senseless contests are out of step with modern society and are decried by animal advocates, ethical hunters, and Fish and Game Commissioners alike.

For the past several years, coyote killing contests have been held here in Massachusetts, in Granby and Barnstable. Due to continued public outcry, however, MassWildlife recently held a series of public listening sessions throughout the state on coyote population management, coyote hunting, and coyote hunting contests. In response to overwhelming public opposition to these contests, MassWildlife has proposed regulations to ban such contests.

In the proposed regulations, MassWildlife (1) prohibits killing contests of coyote, bobcat, red fox, gray fox, coyote, opossum, raccoon, weasel, fisher, mink, river otter, muskrat, beaver, and skunk; (2) prohibits wanton waste; and (3) tightens harvest reporting requirements for fox and coyote, which allows for better monitoring and enforcement of the aforementioned components. These regulations demonstrate that MassWildlife takes the public’s opposition to killing contests seriously, and that the agency is striving to be a national leader on this issue.

Opposition to wildlife killing contests has grown rapidly across the country in recent years:

  • The Arizona Game and Fish Commission voted unanimously to ban predator killing contests in June 2019.
  • New Mexico’s legislature abolished coyote killing contests 2019.
  • In 2017, Maryland placed a moratorium on cownose ray killing contests in the Chesapeake Bay; in February 2019, the Maryland Senate voted unanimously to extend this moratorium.
  • Vermont’s legislature abolished coyote killing contests in 2018.
  • The California Fish and Game Commission banned the awarding of prizes for killing furbearing and nongame animals in 2014.
  • New York and Oregon are currently contemplating laws on this matter.

More about coyote and wildlife killing contests:

  • Wildlife killing contests are blood sport events that award prizes to participants for killing the largest—or smallest—animal, and for the largest kill in total weight.
  • These contests serve no wildlife management purpose. As the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife has stated, killing contests do not manage coyote populations. Scientists and experts in wildlife management also agree that killing contests do not manage game animal populations or address individual “problem” or “nuisance” coyotes.
  • Coyote killing contests may orphan dependent young and may actually create wildlife management problems by introducing chaos into stable coyote family units.

What does the hunting community and what do Fish & Game Commissions think of wildlife killing contests?

  • Kurt Davis, Arizona Game and Fish Commissioner, stated in June 2019 that, “There are things that people from a social standpoint have a difficulty with, and commissioners listened to that.”
  • The former president of the California Fish & Game Commission has said, “Awarding prizes for wildlife killing contests is both unethical and inconsistent with our current understanding of natural systems. Such contests are an anachronism and have no place in modern wildlife management.”
  • The former director of the International Hunter Education Association has stated, “We don’t like anything that smacks of commercialization with money or prizes. Anything that doesn’t honor the animals grates on us and seems inherently wrong. These contests create very poor PR for hunters.”
  • Hunter and Chairman of the Oregon Fish & Wildlife Commission Mike Finley recently called the contests “slaughter fests” and “stomach-turning examples of wanton waste.”
  • See more examples in “State agencies and wildlife management professionals quotes on predator control.”

Additional information and resources:

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