Today the Humane Society of the United States released the results of a disturbing undercover investigation of a two-day wildlife killing contest that culminated at a local fire department in Warren County, Indiana, on Dec. 6, 2020. Teams of participants gathered with dead coyotes, dragging them to be weighed—by punching holes in the animals’ legs to hang them on a scale—for cash and prizes.
Investigators from the Humane Society of the United States attended the contest weigh-in at the Williamsport fire department, where more than a dozen four-man teams competed in categories for killing the most coyotes, the heaviest coyote and the smallest coyote. The team winning the prize for the most coyotes had 16 of the approximately 60 coyotes shot for the contest.
"Wildlife killing contests have no place in Indiana,” said Samantha Morton, Indiana state director for the Humane Society of the United States. “The pointless slaughter of coyotes, who are cousins to domestic dogs, is an embarrassment to our state. There’s no sportsmanship in this depraved pastime. We urge the Indiana Natural Resources Commission to follow the lead of other states and ban these cruel wildlife killing contests."
Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said, “Killing coyotes for cash and prizes and then throwing them away like trash is barbaric. These animals are essential to a healthy ecosystem. This kind of sadistic competition needs to be banned in every state.”
A participant told investigators that he is a regular coyote hunter and killed 128 coyotes last season. He said he uses an AR-15 rifle with night vision to kill the animals, adding, “I enjoy it.”
The Williamsport killing contest was not an isolated event. Indiana killing contests in 2021 include:
- Montezuma, Indiana, coyote killing contest, Jan. 8-10
- Bargersville, Indiana, coyote killing contest, Feb. 6-7
- Greenwood, Indiana, coyote killing contest, March 13-15
Wildlife killing contest participants use devices like electronic callers that mimic sounds of dependent young or prey in distress to lure them in for an easy shot, then kill the animals using high-powered weapons that inflict significant damage on their bodies.
- At least 18 wildlife killing contests have been held in Indiana since 2015, and take place across the state including in Seymour, Paoli, Switz City, Jasper, Shipshewana, Greenfield, Rockville and Covington.
- Seven states—Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Vermont and Washington—have banned wildlife killing contests.
- Fire departments, 4-H clubs, farm bureaus, high schools and churches in states across the country have hosted the events.
- Sponsors of wildlife killing contests often include manufacturers of hunting rifles and predator calling equipment, bars, restaurants, municipal groups, veterans’ organizations and chambers of commerce.
- Coyotes and foxes are most often targeted in wildlife killing contests in Indiana. In other states, species in the crosshairs include bobcats, crows, woodchucks, squirrels, rattlesnakes, raccoons, rabbits, porcupines, badgers and skunks. In some Western states, mountain lions and wolves are killed in contests.
- Coyotes and foxes are vital to the ecosystem. They control populations of other species, benefit crop and timber growth, support biodiversity, and help control the spread of tick-borne diseases by reducing the number of tick-carrying rats and mice.
- Wildlife management professionals and scientists stress that killing coyotes in these contests will not reduce coyote numbers, reduce conflicts with farm animals, or yield more deer and turkey for hunters.
- Wild carnivore species like coyotes and foxes do not “overpopulate.” They self-regulate their own numbers based on available habitat and food sources.
- The Indiana Department of Natural Resources recognizes that coyotes and foxes are important to the state’s wildlife community and that most keep to themselves and do not cause problems. The DNR encourages nonlethal, preventative measures to avoid conflicts with wildlife.
- The Humane Society of the United States and more than 50 other organizations have formed the National Coalition to End Wildlife Killing Contests.
- Visit humanesociety.org/wildlifekillingcontests to learn more.
Indiana residents can contact the Indiana Natural Resources Commission and urge them to ban wildlife killing contests.