Wildlife Killing Contests are organized events where the participants compete for cash, prizes or guns, by seeing who can kill the greatest number and/or the largest animal within a specified time period. Thousands of animals such as coyotes, bobcats, foxes and many others are killed in these events each year.
Participants in the contests typically register and pay a fee to enter, and are usually held over a weekend, at various times of the year. After checking in at the event, the tournament or contest will usually take place over 1-2 days of hunting. The event will end with a celebration, where the animals’ bodies are weighed and counted. Prizes can be awarded for the most animals killed, as well as the largest and/or smallest animal killed. Sponsors for these events are usually hunting outfitter companies, hunting advocacy groups, and local gun shops, which often donate hunting gear, guns and cash prizes for the winners.
Many contest organizers, hoping to increase their base, have developed youth categories, and encourage children as young as 10 to participate in these violent contests. Wildlife Killing Contests send a message that glorifies killing animals for fun and that life has little value. This makes killing competitions a public safety risk, being that there is a well-documented link between violent criminal behavior and animal cruelty. It is a fact that the FBI tracks crimes against animals alongside crimes such as murder and other felony crimes because it is a strong early predictor of human violence.
Killing competitions also contradict the fundamental hunting ethic of ‘fair chase,’ which says the hunter should not have an unfair advantage over the animal being hunted. In fact, hunting ethics are often not even mentioned in contest rules. Further, the use of electronic calling devices that imitate distress calls of coyotes or their prey is used to attract coyotes into rifle range. Coyotes have a strong bond with other members of their species, and when they hear a call of another coyote in distress, they will come closer to investigate. Luring coyotes into gun range by manipulating their feelings of compassion for each other, is reprehensible and certainly not considered ethical hunting.
Defenders of killing contests argue that they are helping wildlife management by ridding the environment of “varmints,” however, the best available science shows that carnivores like coyotes will respond to reductions in their population by quickly increasing their numbers. The fact is, these bloody competitions are merely for entertainment purposes with participants glorifying in their kill numbers, with no regard for animals or the vital role they play in a healthy ecosystem. Dependent young may also be orphaned as a result of these events and left to suffer and die from exposure, starvation or predation. Animals such as coyotes and bobcats may be skinned for the value of their pelts, but the bodies are otherwise dumped after the contests are finished and prizes awarded.
Bloodsports such as killing contests are no different from cockfighting or dogfighting, which have been condemned as barbaric and are outlawed in all 50 states. However, wildlife killing contests are legal in most states, and as of 2018, there is no comprehensive federal law prohibiting the competitions. They represent a small, bloodthirsty subculture that makes efforts to keep a low-profile to avoid negative publicity but continue to draw anger from the public, as well as ethical hunters who see them as a stain on their reputation.
Did you know?
The greatest threat to coyotes is humans; killing them with poison, traps, guns, aerial gunning, bounty hunting and killing contests. In fact, the State of Utah currently offers a $50 bounty of taxpayer money for any coyote killed and brought to UDWR. A budget of $500,000 is appropriated each year to pay for these bounties. In the U.S., an estimated half a million coyotes are slaughtered every year – one per minute. Research has shown that these killing programs do not work. They are inhumane, and there are better solutions that exist.
Join us in our fight against Wildlife Killing Contests by writing to your elected officials, joining our team of volunteers, or help by making a donation. Thank you for your support!