WASHINGTON—Today, more than 14 members of the U.S. House of Representatives introduced legislation that would prohibit organizing, sponsoring, conducting or participating in wildlife killing contests on more than 500 million acres of U.S. public lands.

Wildlife killing contests are organized events during which participants compete for cash or prizes by killing the most, the largest or the smallest animals over a certain period of time. Each year thousands of native carnivores and other wildlife — including coyotes, foxes, bobcats, raccoons, rabbits, prairie dogs, mountain lions and wolves — are killed during these cruel, senseless competitions.

The Prohibit Wildlife Killing Contests Act of 2024, introduced by Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., and other congressional leaders, would require the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service to enact regulations banning wildlife killing contests within one year of enactment of the law.

“America’s wildlife play a special role in the natural environment and in a healthy ecosystem,” said Rep. Cohen. “Killing apex predators and other targets for what some deem ‘sport’ is both cruel and unnecessary. These contests serve no legitimate wildlife-management purpose and ending them is the right thing to do.”

“In addition to being unethical and unsportsmanlike, wildlife killing contests run counter to science-based wildlife management policy,” said Jennifer Eskra, director of legislative affairs of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “This bill would end this execrable practice and protect wildlife at a national level, something that 10 states have already done.”

“Wildlife killing contests have absolutely no place in our country including on our public lands,” said Katie Stennes, senior program manager for wildlife protection at the Humane Society of the United States. “These ‘cash for wildlife’ competitions, where native species are targeted, killed and then piled up for photos and bragging rights, are unacceptable. These animals should be respected for their intrinsic value and their key role in healthy ecosystems. We urge Congress to end senseless, wasteful wildlife killing competitions once and for all.”

Ten states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington — have already outlawed wildlife killing contests within their borders. The Humane Society of the United States conducted undercover investigations into these competitions in more than a dozen states, spurring significant public outrage against the events.

“Wildlife killing contests are cruel events that have no place in modern civil society,” said Johanna Hamburger, director and senior attorney for the Animal Welfare Institute’s Terrestrial Wildlife Program. “Participants frequently violate the fundamental hunting principle of fair chase by using bait and electronic calling devices to maximize the likelihood of winning, and animal carcasses are usually dumped once the contest is over.”

“It’s shocking that these cruel and reckless contests are still allowed on our public lands,” said Stephanie Kurose, deputy director of government affairs at the Center for Biological Diversity. “America’s wild carnivores are so important to maintaining healthy ecosystems. They deserve better than to be targeted in these thrill-kill slaughter fests.”

“Most people are shocked to learn that wildlife killing contests are even legal on our public lands,” said Camilla Fox, founder and executive director of Project Coyote. “Killing animals for prizes and entertainment is ethically indefensible, ecologically reckless, and anathema to sound wildlife conservation and management.”

Additional cosponsors of today’s legislation are Reps. Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Cori Bush (MO-01), Gerald Connolly (VA-11), Diana DeGette (CO-01), Lloyd Dogget (TX-35), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Raul Grijalva (AZ-07), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Ted Lieu (CA-36), Betty McCollum (MN-04), Grace Meng (NY-06), Jerrold Nadler (NY-12), Katie Porter (CA-45), Melanie Stansbury (NM-01), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) and Dina Titus (NV-01).

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