The Humane Society of the United States has released the results of an undercover investigation into the little-seen but widely criticized culture of wildlife killing contests in the U.S. The investigator visited contest locations in Macedon, New York, and Barnegat, New Jersey and documented contest participants slinging the dead bodies of coyotes and foxes into piles, joking about the methods used to lure and kill the animals, and celebrating at an award ceremony for the New York event.
The investigation by the Humane Society of the United States documented the weighing-in and judging portions of the New York State Predator Hunt, which is sponsored by the Bark at the Moon Coyote Club, and the Parlin Buck Club’s 4th Annual 24-Hour Predator Killing Contest. At the New York event, about 200 animals were brought in and piled up to be counted, weighed and displayed in front of spectators—including young children. Attendees pointed out that they participates in the event because, “It’s just enjoyable.” In both competitions, participants vied for cash and prizes for killing the largest number of animals or the heaviest animals.
New York Assemblymember Deborah Glick and Senator Phil Boyle have introduced legislation that would end this wasteful and senseless practice.
“Wildlife killing contests are cruel, pointless and counter to the principles of fair-chase hunting and science-based wildlife management,” said Brian Shapiro, New York state director for the Humane Society of the United States. “The grisly images and the callous attitudes of the participants in the video underscore that there is no longer any place for these wildlife killing contests in modern society. Along with other wildlife protection and conservation groups, we are determined to end these gruesome spectacles in the U.S.”
California, Colorado and Maryland have passed laws or regulations in recent years to limit the types of wildlife killing contests that can be held in their states. In March, the Albuquerque City Council unanimously passed a resolution condemning coyote killing contests and calling for a statewide ban throughout New Mexico. Legislation to ban coyote killing contests, H.636, has passed the Vermont House of Representatives and now awaits a Senate floor vote.
“There is no place for inhumane and cruel wildlife killing contests in a civilized society. These activities are portrayed by some as entertainment, but they engender a heartless disrespect for humans’ relationship with nature and are disruptive to the ecosystem. I thank the Humane Society of the United States for continuing to expose these killing contests as the cruel blood sport that they truly are. We must take meaningful action to end this senseless killing in New York and pass A.4116a/S.5148a immediately,” said Assemblymember Deborah Glick (D-Manhattan).
“Our legislation would put an end to the unsportsmanlike killing of wildlife in these competitions in New York State. The participation in mass killings where the hunted have no fair chance is deeply disturbing, and hunters should be held to higher standards,” said Senator Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore).
- Native carnivores like coyote, fox, and bobcat are most often targeted in wildlife killing contests, but other species in the crosshairs can include crow, wild pig, squirrel, rattlesnake, raccoon, rabbit, porcupine, badger, skunk and even mountain lion and wolf.
- By removing species who also eat deer or turkeys, the contest organizers claim there will be more deer and turkey to be hunted—but no science supports this claim. To the contrary, those native carnivores provide vital ecological services by controlling populations of other species, benefiting crop and timber growth and supporting biodiversity.
- Research by the Humane Society of the United States and other wildlife protection groups has found wildlife killing contests being held in almost every state. Sponsors of the contests are often sportsmen’s clubs and manufacturers of hunting rifles and predator calling equipment, but can also include local bars and restaurants, municipal service organizations and agencies, and even city or county chambers of commerce.
- The Humane Society of the United States launched a toolkit (PDF), “Wildlife Killing Contests: A Guide to Ending the Blood Sport in Your Community,” which has become a valuable resource for wildlife advocates, organizations, and even city governments.
- We’ve joined with Project Coyote and other like-minded local, state and national organizations to form the National Coalition to End Wildlife Killing Contests, to increase public education and encourage policy change at the local and state level.