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Coyote Killing Contests

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 as possible for cash and prizes, a position opposed by animal advocates and hunting communities alike.

Opposition to wildlife killing contests is rapidly growing. The California Fish and Game Commission banned the awarding of prizes for killing furbearing and nongame animals in 2014, and Vermont and New Mexico abolished coyote killing contests in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Also in 2019, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission proposed a rule that would prohibit using any lethal method of take during a hunting contest for predatory and fur-bearing animals.

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 killing contests are cruel and serve no wildlife management purpose. The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife itself agrees that killing contests do not manage coyote populations, game animal populations, nor do they address individual problem coyotes.
  • Coyote killing contests may orphan dependent young and create wildlife management problems by destabilizing existing coyote populations. Young coyotes may be left without adult pack members to raise and teach them, and adolescent and “loner” coyotes may produce “bounceback” (i.e., even larger) populations.

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

  • Most oppose them. The former president of the California Fish & Game Commission says, “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 says, “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.”
  • At the recent Barnstable listening session, a woman who did not oppose hunting in general said, however, that: “hunting should never be by the pound or for a prize.” Another woman explained that she comes from a hunting family but objects to killing contests because “they do not teach children to respect animals.”

For the past several years, there have been coyote killing contests in Granby and Barnstable. Due to continued public outcry, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife (MassWildlife) is now holding four public listening sessions on coyote population management, coyote hunting, and coyote hunting contests. The first session was held at Cape Cod Community College in Barnstable on April 4 and the second session was held on May 9 in Shelburne Falls at Mohawk Trail Regional High School. For others, see below.

What can I do to help stop these killing contests in Massachusetts?

You can attend a MassWildlife public listening session and testify in opposition to coyote killing contests or, if you cannot attend a listening session in person or would rather not speak publicly, you can submit testimony via email to mass.wildlife@mass.gov with the subject line “Coyote Hunting Feedback.”

The final two listening sessions:

  • June 4, 2019, 6-8 pm
    Blanchard Middle School, 14 West Street, Westford, MA 01886
     
  • June 18, 2019, 6-8pm, with the MassWildlife Board of Directors in attendance
    Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Admirals Hall, Harrington Building, 101 Academy Dr, Buzzards Bay, MA 02532

Tips for oral and written testimony:

There will be a place to sign in when you arrive. When testifying, it’s usually best to tell your story—why this issue matters to you and how it affects the animals you care about.

It’s good to try not to repeat in detail what other speakers have said, to be brief (each person will have about 2 minutes to testify), and to not read directly from your written testimony. If you practice a few times it will flow naturally.

If you cannot make the listening session, you can have someone read your testimony for you, or you can submit testimony after the hearing, either by email or USPS mail. To email your comments, send them to mass.wildlife@mass.gov with the subject line “Coyote Hunting Feedback.” Or, you can mail your comments to: MassWildlife, Attn: Coyote Hunting Feedback, 1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA 01581.

Stay informed on these events and other calls to action by joining the Animal Action Team.


Additional information and resources:

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