The Humane Society of the United States is calling on the Germantown Sportsman’s Club in Columbia County, New York, to cancel their upcoming Squirrel Scramble, a competition to kill the heaviest squirrels for prizes. The event is scheduled for Feb. 27.

“New York’s cruel killing contests are targeting our wildlife for nothing more than cash and prizes,” said Brian Shapiro, New York state director for the Humane Society of the United States. “Coyotes, foxes, squirrels and other animals are killed and discarded in these senseless competitions, which are banned in seven states. We are asking the Germantown Sportsman’s Club to cancel the grisly Squirrel Scramble and consider the opinions of a growing number of wildlife management professionals opposing wildlife killing contests.”

A bill prohibiting wildlife killing contests will be reintroduced this session in the New York State Legislature.

During these events, which take place across the state, participants compete to kill the most, the largest, or even the smallest animals for cash and prizes. Hundreds of animals may be killed at a single event.

Background:

  • On Feb. 15, 2021, the HSUS released an undercover investigation into two wildlife killing contests in Texas and Indiana. 
  • In March of 2020, the HSUS released an undercover investigation exposing one of New York’s largest wildlife killing contests that took place in Sullivan County. They went undercover at another contest in Macedon in 2018.
  • California, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Arizona, Washington and Colorado have banned wildlife killing contests. Proposals to crack down on wildlife killing contests are expected to move through other states, including New York, in 2021.
  • Sponsors of wildlife killing contests often include weapon, ammunition and predator calling equipment manufacturers, as well as bars, restaurants, municipal groups, volunteer fire departments, veterans’ organizations and chambers of commerce.
  • Red and gray foxes, coyotes, bobcats, racoons, squirrels, woodchucks, crows and rabbits are most often targeted in wildlife killing contests in New York State.
  • Coyotes and foxes provide vital ecological services, controlling populations of other species, benefiting crop and timber growth, supporting biodiversity, and by predating on tick-carrying rats and mice, helping to control the spread of tick-borne diseases.
  • The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has stated that, “random removal of coyotes resulting from a year-round hunting season will not: (a) control or reduce coyote populations; (b) reduce or eliminate predation on livestock; or (c) result in an increase in deer densities.” Two recent studies and statements on this have come from North Carolina researchers and the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
  • Wildlife management professionals across the country have stated that wildlife killing contests are damaging the reputation of hunters and jeopardizing the future of hunting.
  • Wild carnivore species like coyotes and foxes do not “overpopulate.” They self-regulate their own numbers based on available habitat and food sources.

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