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WILDLIFE KILLING CONTESTS

Disgrace in the 21st Century



The competition to kill the most animals is something that, in recent years, has become a flashpoint for many of us who care about wildlife and are tired of the abuse that people put on them when life alone is tough enough.

Part of the charm of such killing contests to rural residents is that it is part of their self-image of being self-reliant. Though killing hundreds of animals only to dump them in the trash is symbolic of wanton waste, none of it reflects this desired image of self-reliance.

 

Every year in America, more than 60,000 animals, from coyotes to raccoons to prairie dogs, are slaughtered by people eager to win an often-impressive prize in terms of cash or guns, scopes, etc. The first of such contests was held in Chandler, Arizona, in 1957, with a group of local ranchers. Today, some allow night killing; others reward the heaviest animal killed, and some for the lightest. The bottom line is the winner who has used night vision, calling devices, and bait. Some sit in warmed huts elevated in trees to slaughter innocent animals that come in to feed on a carcass. In the West Texas Bobcat Tournament held every January, February, and March, teams of three compete to kill the largest bobcat, with first prize money in 2022 of $43,700 and an overall payout in excess of $400,000.



To win, your team must first kill five coyotes or foxes, and then God knows how many bobcats to get the largest. Other “contests” focus on crows and even wolves. According to Wildlife Biologist Bob Crabtree, who studied coyotes in Yellowstone for many years and recently published a paper making clear that the Integrated Patch Occupancy Model (Ipom), used for counting wolves, was entirely unreliable and overcounts to the tune of 150%, has stated if a rancher wanted to control coyotes, they would need to kill 70% of them in their range, something that is not going to happen. If not, then coyotes will build back, bigger than before.

 

The very groups that put these contests on can be churches, police departments, and sportsmen groups, and the usual method is to support some worthy charity to cut down on public outcry. The upcoming Coyote Derby in Huntly, Montana, February 15-17th is another example, with funds going to the Highway Patrol’s Hope Foundation. The Highway patrol answers to the state Attorney General, Austin Knudsen, an avowed predator hater. Some names of contests include Michigan’s Dog Down Coyote Tournament, Great Lakes Predator Challenge, Wyoming’s Predator Palooza, or Idaho’s Hunters Blast from the Past. This all promotes the destruction of vital wildlife and encourages children to be part of this blood sport.

 

The other issue with such derbies is the fact that livestock interests promote them as a means of helping cattlemen. Science shows conclusively otherwise. Others say it’s to protect deer; again, complete nonsense. In reality, these are excuses that allow many in rural communities to justify their need to kill.



What continues to be so wrong is the fact that people are making big money in this slob-hunting adventure. The reality is that TV shows and weapons are being produced are expanding the idea that such contests are cool rather than a disgrace. Hundreds of these competitions.

 

Some states have understood that this is not hunting, for there is no actual fair chase; these include Arizona, California, Colorado, Maryland, Vermont, Oregon, Washington, and New York. But here we are in 2023, and 42 states still think this is justified.

 

In rural America, the practice continues to thrive.

 

In Montana and Idaho, we have bounties, which, in effect, are wildlife-killing contests. Sponsored by the Foundation for Wildlife Management and co-paid by citizens of Idaho, this group never speaks in facts but rather wolf and predator hatred. They produce outrageous and non-scientific facts to draw a large membership of mostly slob hunters that refuse to deal with the reality that wolves and predators are not ending elk and deer; last year was proof, with record numbers of both in Montana. Groups like this, with state support, are creating welfare payments to trappers while destroying healthy populations of predators that are essential to ending Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and improving the health of the land. Such bounties are also paid in some Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario areas.

 

Many in the coyote derbies are creating new classifications to allow children to be part of this wholesale slaughter. Clearly, men in the family want their kids to inherit their bloodlust.

 

Some of these contests occur on public lands, others on private, but public pressure is the most essential tool to stop this madness. Many involved are in national sportsmen’s groups. Others look on Facebook for clues to contests that are trying to be quieter due to new laws and fringe groups that sponsor such events.



Bold Visions Conservation is working with elected officials in Montana on a slew of new bills for 2025, one of which includes a ban on wildlife killing contests. We must educate and pressure elected officials now to get them ready to support a bill called the Sportsmen Ethics Legislation.

 

What we know is that Wildlife Killing Contests need to be banned in all 50 states. But groups, like the Foundation for Wildlife Management, are pressing for grizzly delisting and will fight hard to allow this to continue because their base is solidly in the rural parts of Idaho and Montana. We can and must fight back and let our voice be heard by the Attorney General and those who think the flagrant killing of wildlife is fun. In reality, these are people devoid of soul and morality.

 

In the interim, please call and write those involved in the upcoming Coyote Derby in Huntly, Montana, below.



If you haven't heard the awful news, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has decided not to relist wolves in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. This decision is clearly driven by Senator Jon Tester's desire for re-election. Lawsuits are going forward, but Martha Williams is a complete disaster for wolves, and she needs to be fired, period. At least Washington State seems to be pro-wolf









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