Today, the New York state legislature passed a bill that ends inhumane wildlife killing contests, in which participants compete to kill the most, the heaviest and the smallest animals for cash and prizes.
In 2018 and 2020, the Humane Society of the United States released undercover investigations that exposed wildlife killing contests in New York, documenting participants hauling in bloody piles of dead foxes and coyotes to be weighed and counted for prizes. Competitors joked about the “thrill” of the kill and threw dead animals into a dumpster. More than 20 killing contests took place across the state in January and February 2023.
S.4099, sponsored by Sen. Tim Kennedy, passed by a vote of 46-15 on June 7, and A.2917, sponsored by Assemblymember Deborah Glick, passed by a vote of 86-54 on June 21. The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Gov. Hochul’s approval would make New York the ninth state to outlaw these events, following California in 2014, Vermont in 2018, New Mexico, Arizona and Massachusetts in 2019, Colorado and Washington state in 2020, and Maryland in 2021. The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission is expected to vote on a statewide ban on killing contests in September 2023.
“Most New Yorkers would be shocked to learn that dozens of horrific, unsporting contests take place each year in New York to kill the largest number of certain species of wildlife, or some other metric like the largest specimen,” said Asm. Glick. “These killing contests encourage senseless brutality, and serve absolutely no scientifically backed ecological or conservation purpose. The wildlife of the state is a natural resource for all New Yorkers to enjoy, and to allow these cruel contests to incentivize wasteful killing for cash is an insult to nature.”
"The fact that these contests and competitions are still legal in New York, and fall under the disgusting guise of 'entertainment' is not only absurd, it's inhumane," said Sen. Kennedy. "This bill takes a real, meaningful step to outlaw these cruel events, and provides new protections for our wild animals. I was proud to draft this in collaboration with the Humane Society of the United States, and fight for its passage in both houses alongside Assemblymember Glick and so many outstanding advocates for New York's wildlife."
"These historic votes in the Senate and Assembly bring New York closer to ending the scourge of wildlife killing contests, and the wasteful use of our state’s resources for nothing more than cash and prizes,” said Brian Shapiro, New York state director for the Humane Society of the United States. “Assemblymember Deborah Glick and Senator Tim Kennedy championed this bill during an exceptionally busy legislative session and deserve recognition for their determination to getting it passed prior to the end of session. We now respectfully call on Governor Kathy Hochul to immediately follow through by signing A.2917/S.4099 into law.”
“The Adirondack Council thanks and applauds Assemblymember Deborah Glick and Senator Tim Kennedy for sponsoring legislation that will help rewild our Adirondack Park,” said Kevin Chlad, director of government relations for the Adirondack Council. “The best available science tells us that contests awarding cash and prizes for the taking of wildlife, such as coyotes, furbearers and other non-game species, are not good for Adirondack ecology. We support ethical and science-based hunting practices, as well as efforts to foster the return of keystone predators that will restore balance to our wildlands. We’ve learned from the success stories of the western United States that it is time to rethink the role predators play in wildlife management.”
“By passing this bill, New York has demonstrated its commitment to the long-term protection of the state’s wildlife,” said Johanna Hamburger, director and senior staff attorney for the Animal Welfare Institute’s terrestrial wildlife program. “Wildlife killing contests can result in hundreds of animals being wiped off a landscape in a single weekend, which undermines the effective functioning of ecosystems. This bill is a victory for native wildlife that will improve the effective management of wildlife populations."
"A.2917/S.4099 is commonsense legislation to protect wildlife from needless and cruel killing contests. Wild animals in the state of New York should be cherished and conserved, not killed for cash and prizes. This bill enjoys the overwhelming support of New Yorkers, including animal and environmental advocates and even hunters. We encourage Governor Hochul to sign the bill into law as soon as possible," says Animal Legal Defense Fund Legislative Affairs manager, Brian Hackett. “We offer special thanks to the extensive list of bipartisan bill sponsors, especially Assemblymember Glick and Senator Kennedy for their leadership protecting animals.”
“Wildlife is cherished and enjoyed by all residents of our state, and passage of this bill to end wildlife killing contests is a big victory for New Yorkers,” said Allie Feldman Taylor, president of Voters for Animal Rights. “These kill for cash competitions that use wildlife like disposable pieces in a game for prizes are outdated, cruel and serve no purpose. VFAR applauds the work of Assemblymember Deborah Glick and Senator Tim Kennedy for their long-time dedication to this bill, and we respectfully call on Governor Hochul to sign this legislation into law.”
“Today's victory is not just a win for the animals, it is a triumph for humanity and an affirmation of our shared commitment to a world where coexistence and compassion are at the forefront,” said Maggie Howell, executive director of the Wolf Conservation Center in New York. “We applaud our representatives for voting 'Yes' on A.2917/S.4099, showing their commitment to a balanced, humane and science-based approach to wildlife management.”
“The heinous cruelty of killing contests has no place in our great state of New York,” said Barbara Haney, Director of Wildlife, SPCA Serving Erie County. “We wholeheartedly thank Senator Tim Kennedy and Assemblymember Deborah Glick for their support and respectfully ask Governor Hochul to sign this bill into law, and forever eliminate this heedless act of cruelty that has no scientific purpose or much less any moral ground. Please help to protect our wildlife and make our communities a little kinder for all.”
"Given the alarming decline in biodiversity globally and statewide, New York has a special duty to end this indiscriminate killing of wild animals that masquerades as wildlife conservation." said Michelle Land, Pace University professor of environmental law and policy, and chief faculty of its Animal Advocacy Clinic. “Ending the senseless slaughter from wildlife killing contests is the priority of our Clinic students, who will be pressing Governor Hochul to sign the bill into law and, we hope, personally deliver their 550 signature petition in support of the bill."
The HSUS and allies are also working to ban wildlife killing contests in other states in 2023 including New Jersey, Nevada and Oregon.
- Killing contests take place across New York including in Addison, Arcade, Bliss, Bloomfield, Brockport, Burdett, Canajoharie, Candor, Carthage, Central Nassau, Central Square, Chaffee, Charleston, Cincinnatus, Clymer, Copenhagen, Cuba, East Nassau, Fort Plain, Franklinville, Fultonville, Germantown, Hancock, Ischua, Macedon, Montour Falls, Palenville, Palmyra, Pavilion, Penn Yan, Roscoe, Sinclairville, Spencer, Van Etten, Verona Beach, West Monroe, White Sulphur Springs, Whitney Point and Wynantskill.
- At the Bark at the Moon Coyote Club’s New York State Predator Hunt in Macedon, participants told an HSUS investigator that the contests are “enjoyable” and a “thrill.” One individual killed 17 fox and one coyote.
- At least 200 animals were killed at the Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs of Sullivan County Annual Federation 3-Day Coyote Contest in 2020. The winner for the heaviest coyote received $2,000 for killing a female who he shot over bait. The cash prizes paid out to the 636 participants totaled $10,000.
- The HSUS investigator found dead coyotes thrown in the fire house’s dumpster, along with trash. One participant stated, “If it’s not useful, we throw them in the dumpster. Some of them are pretty messed up.”
- Coyotes are often pregnant when killed. Talking about a heavy female killed in the contest, a participant told our investigator, “She might be right full of babies too, you know?” He went on to tell the investigator that an obviously pregnant female coyote had been cut open at the event and “…the babies already had hair on them – they were ready ya know…”
- Competitors achieve high kill numbers by using night vision, thermal imaging and electronic calling devices. These tactics mimic sounds of dependent young or prey in distress to lure animals in for an easy kill. Animals are then gunned down with high-powered rifles which rip holes in the fur, rendering the pelts useless for sale.
- Hunters and wildlife management professionals across the U.S. have called out killing contests as unethical and warned they are damaging the reputation of hunters and threatening the future of hunting.
- New York hunters have signed on in support of the legislation, echoing concerns that participation in killing contests casts responsible hunters in a bad light.
- More than 50 New York farmers signed a letter in support of the legislation, expressing the importance of coyotes in protecting their crops by controlling rodent populations and helping to maintain a healthy ecosystem. Research also highlights the importance of foxes in controlling Lyme disease.
- The best available science shows that indiscriminate killing of coyotes will not reduce their numbers, prevent conflicts with farm animals, or boost populations of game species like deer for hunters. In fact, killing contests can increase coyote populations and conflicts by disrupting the coyote pack structure.
- Learn more about wildlife killing contests.