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Wildlife Killing Contests

Wildlife killing contests banned in Massachusetts!


On December 18, 2019, after months of advocacy by Massachusetts residents, the MSPCA, and coalition partners, the Fisheries and Wildlife Board voted to prohibit wildlife killing contests in the Commonwealth. The MSPCA applauds MassWildlife and its Board for assuming this leadership role, passing forward-thinking, comprehensive regulations that are among the strongest in the nation on this issue. And thank you to all who testified, called, or emailed to help to end these barbaric killing contests in Massachusetts. These regulations were duly processed in and filed with the Secretary of the Commonwealth and are in force as of July 2020.

Check out our Advocate Spotlight on Carole Dembek, a citizen animal advocate who became an integral part of the successful campaign to end wildlife killing contests in the Commonwealth!

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 conservation science and are opposed by animal advocates, ethical hunters, and Fish and Game Commissioners alike.

For the past several years, coyote killing contests have been held in Hyannis, Granby, and Pittsfield, Massachusetts. In response to public outcry, however, MassWildlife held a series of public listening sessions throughout 2019 on coyote population management, coyote hunting, and coyote hunting contests. In response to overwhelming public opposition to these contests and in service of codifying their own hunting principles, MassWildlife proposed regulations to ban such contests in July 2019, and the Fisheries and Wildlife Board voted to approve these regulations in December 2019.

These regulations (1) prohibit hunting contests of coyote, bobcat, red fox, gray fox, opossum, raccoon, weasel, fisher, mink, river otter, muskrat, beaver, and skunk; (2) prohibit wanton waste; and (3) tighten harvest reporting requirements for fox and coyote, which allows for better monitoring and enforcement of the aforementioned components.

More about wildlife killing contests:

  • Wildlife killing contests are blood sport events that award cash and other prizes to participants for killing the largest, most, or smallest animal.
  • 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.
  • 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 in 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 fur-bearing and nongame animals in 2014.
    • Colorado banned these contests in April 2020, becoming the 6th state to do so.
    • Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission banned wildlife killing contests in September 2020, prohibiting the killing of unprotected species including coyotes, bobcats, crows, foxes and raccoons as part of a contest.
    • Maryland’s bill banning wildlife killing contests was signed into law in 2021.
    • In 2023, Oregon became the 9th state to ban these contests with a 5-0 vote of its Fish and Wildlife Commission.
    • As of September 2023, New York as passed a bill (S. 4099/A.2917) that is awaiting the Governor’s signature.

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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