VERMONT—Today, Vermont became the latest state to crack down on wildlife killing contests by enacting a law that prohibits contests in which competitors vie to kill coyotes for prizes.
In early May, the Humane Society of the United States released the results (PDF) of an undercover investigation into wildlife killing contests held in New York and New Jersey. The investigative video showed participants piling up and hanging the dead bodies of coyotes and foxes killed in the contests, and celebrating while prizes were awarded for the most or heaviest animals killed.
“Vermont citizens and their elected officials have spoken out loud and clear that they oppose inhumane, wasteful and unsporting coyote killing contests in our state,” said HSUS Vermont state director Barry Londeree. “We are tremendously grateful to Rep. David Deen, Rep. Jim McCullough, Sen. Chris Bray and other humane legislators, and the dedicated wildlife advocates who worked so hard on this landmark legislation.”
Introduced by Rep. Deen (D, Windham-4) in January of 2018, H.636 moved swiftly through both chambers of the Vermont legislature after public outcry over several wildlife killing contests in the state. Public protests also led to the cancellation of the 1st Annual Weston Rod and Gun Club Coyote Hunting Contest, which had been scheduled to occur in February, 2018.
Other recent Vermont wildlife killing contests include the Wile E. Coyote Hunt in Bristol February 11–12, 2017; the First Annual Winter Coyote Hunt in Orleans, March 3–4, 2018; a coyote killing contest in Franklin County, February 10–11, 2018; and a Crow Shoot in Williamstown on April 7, 2018.
“Viewing the gruesome footage of our investigation video made us even more determined to ensure that the Green Mountain State would no longer be host to this kind of pointless cruelty,” said Londeree. “We hope that Vermont is an example to other states who want to put an end to wildlife killing contests.”
California has banned all wildlife killing contests for furbearers and nongame mammals, such as coyotes, and has banned wildlife killing contests offering cash/prizes valued at $500 or more for game mammals. Colorado limits the number of animals who can be killed by wildlife killing contests. Maryland has placed a moratorium on cownose ray killing contests in the Chesapeake Bay. In New York state, legislation has been introduced that would end this senseless practice.
In the coming months, more states are expected to put forward proposals that seek to prohibit these inhumane, unsporting and ineffective wildlife killing contests.