The Minnesota Division of the Izaak Walton League and the Humane Society of the United States are calling on state policymakers to prohibit the indiscriminate killing of wild animals for cash and prizes in the form of wildlife killing contests. During these events, which take place in Minnesota and across the country, participants compete to kill the most, the largest or the smallest animals for cash and prizes. Hundreds of animals, including coyotes, foxes and other native species, may be killed and discarded at a single event.
In May 2021, the Minnesota division of the Izaak Walton League passed a resolution condemning wildlife killing contests. John Rust, Minnesota division president, released the following statement:
“Wildlife killing contests, where teams of people spread out over an area to kill coyotes and foxes, can disrupt nature’s ecological balance. Wildlife killing contests are antithetical to the concept of fair chase and sportsmanship and while typically killing adult coyotes and foxes, if there are pups, they are left to starve. The Izaak Walton League of America is composed of responsible hunters, anglers, conservationists, and environmentalists. Our members have a common love of the outdoors, nature, and wildlife. The IWLA was formed in 1922, and since then we have worked tirelessly for almost 100 years to preserve and enjoy our natural heritage in a sustainable manner and to pass it on to future generations. Our motto is ’Defenders of Soil, Air, Woods, Waters, and Wildlife.’ The Minnesota Division of the IWLA passed a resolution on May 1, 2021, opposing unregulated privately-sponsored wildlife killing contests.”
Christine Coughlin, Minnesota state director for the Humane Society of the United States, released this statement:
“Minnesotans cherish our wildlife and the indiscriminate killing of as many foxes and coyotes as you can just for the thrill of it in these grisly competitions has nothing to do with traditional fair chase hunting. Eight states have prohibited wildlife killing contests in the last several years and we urge policymakers to make Minnesota next.”
A ban on wildlife killing contests would not reduce opportunities to hunt coyotes or other wildlife species, prevent farmers and landowners from using lethal control to protect livestock, pets or property, or prohibit “big buck” contests or fishing tournaments.
- Recent wildlife killing contests in Minnesota include: Hough Fur’s Annual Coyote Tournament (Feb. 4-6, 2021, and Feb. 7-8, 2020), Sacred Heart Jaycee’s 11th Annual Dog Days of Winter Coyote Hunt (Jan. 22-24, 2021), West Metro Coyote Tournament (Feb. 7-9, 2020), Coyote Hunting Contest (Feb. 7-9, 2020), Redwood County Pheasants Forever Coyote Hunt (Jan. 31, 2020), Madison VFW Predator Hunt (Jan. 24-25, 2020), Buffalo Ridge Coyote Hunting Tournament (Jan. 10-11, 2020) and Ortonville VFW Predator Hunt (Jan. 4, 2020).
- Wildlife management professionals across the country have stated that wildlife killing contests are damaging the reputation of hunters and jeopardizing the future of hunting, and that these events are unethical, unsporting and not an effective wildlife management tool.
- Arizona, California, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Vermont and Washington have banned wildlife killing contests. Proposals to crack down on wildlife killing contests are under consideration in other states—including in New Jersey, New York, Nevada and Virginia—in 2021.
- Foxes and coyotes are most often targeted in wildlife killing contests in Minnesota. These animals 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. Wild carnivore species like coyotes and foxes self-regulate their numbers based on available habitat and food sources.
- Sponsors of wildlife killing contests in the U.S. 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.
- In the last few years, the Humane Society of the United States conducted several undercover investigations at wildlife killing contests across the U.S. including in Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Texas.
Visit humanesociety.org/wildlifekillingcontests to learn more.