Stop Wildlife Killing Contests in California

by Larry on February 21, 2014

Coyote Kill

California Fish & Game Commission Votes Unanimously to Consider Statewide Ban on Wildlife Killing Contests

February 5, 2014 – Sacramento, CA – Today the California Fish & Game Commission voted unanimously 4 to 0 to consider a statewide ban on wildlife killing contests at the request of Project Coyote. After Project Coyote representatives made the case for a ban, newly elected Commission Vice President Jack Baylis put forth the motion to move forward on a formal rule making process to consider prohibiting wildlife-killing contests statewide. Speaking in favor of the motion Commission President Michael Sutton stated, “I’ve been concerned about these killing contests for some time. They seem inconsistent both with ethical standards of hunting and our current understanding of the important role predators play in ecosystems.”

The move comes two days before “Coyote Drive 2014” is to take place in Modoc County Feb. 7-9th offering prizes to the contestants who kill the most coyotes and the largest. Last year Project Coyote and allies submitted a letter to the Commission on behalf of 25 organizations representing more than one million Californians asking that wildlife-killing contest be stopped based on ecological and ethical concerns. In addition more than 20,000 letters and emails were submitted to the Commission and the Department. The groups also argued that predator killing contests posed a threat to OR-7 (aka “Journey), the lone gray wolf who at the time had been tracked in Modoc and surrounding counties.

“What’s at issue, is the wanton waste of wildlife and the awarding of prizes and inducements to kill as many individuals as possible- and the largest,” stated Camilla Fox, founder and executive director of Project Coyote. “This is obviously not about sport or fair-chase. Wildlife killing contests are conducted for profit, entertainment, prizes and, simply, for the ‘fun’ of killing. No evidence exists showing that such indiscriminate killing contests control problem animals or serve any beneficial management function. Moreover such contests perpetuate a culture of violence and send the message to children that life has little value and that an entire species of animals is disposable.”

In addition to “Coyote Drive 2014” Project Coyote has discovered a number of other wildlife killing contests throughout the state. However, the state does not monitor such contests nor the species killed. “As a scientist, I’m here today to express my support for California’s efforts to reform predator management and to bring the state’s regulations and policies inline with three standards: current science, conservation biology, and ecological principles,” said Dr. Robert Crabtree, Science Advisory Board member of Project Coyote and Chief Scientist of the Yellowstone Ecological Research Center. “As such, I believe the first and most logical step is to do away with what we know violates these standards: wildlife-killing contests.”

Chief Caleen Sisk of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe also testified in support of greater protections for coyotes, wolves and other wildlife stating that like predators, Native Americans were also persecuted and bountied in California.

“Killing random predators is about as effective at protecting livestock as bailing harder is at saving a sinking boat,” said Keli Hendricks, Petaluma-based cattle rancher and Project Coyote Advisory Board member who also testified before the Commission. “It might help for a short time, but the only real solution is to fix the hole in the boat. The way to fix that hole is to implement one or more of the many non-lethal livestock protection methods available to ranchers today. There are ranchers raising sheep and cattle successfully in challenging areas and around predators ranging from mountain lions to wolves using only non-lethal protection methods.”

Speaking for youth, 17 year-old Grant McComb, founder of One Planet One Chance stated “Wildlife killing contests that involve the mass slaughter of any animal is a blatant insult to future generations- my generation.” McComb traveled from Los Angeles to testify on the issue before the Commission.

“We urge you to use your authority to regulate and restrict take by initiating a rulemaking process to prohibit wildlife killing contests — thus modernizing predator management, conservation and stewardship statewide- and setting the trend for the rest of the nation — as we do so well here in California,” stated Fox.

As a result of today’s vote, a formal rule-making process will commence and the issue will be agendized at the April 16th Fish and Game Commission meeting in Ventura for a full public vetting before the Commission votes on whether to permanently ban wildlife killing contests statewide.

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Project Coyote (ProjectCoyote.org) is a national non-profit organization promoting compassionate conservation and coexistence between people and wildlife through education, science, and advocacy. 

View Project Coyote’s petition to prohibit wildlife-killing contests in California here.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Maria. F. February 21, 2014 at 5:42 pm

Larry, this post has been devastating for me. I simply cannot deal with so much cruelty, yet the conservation efforts of the Project Coyote people on the video has thrown hope into my heart again. My heart goes out to all these courageous men and women who will make sure this Ban on Wildlife Killing Contests law materializes and stays put!
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Larry February 21, 2014 at 7:16 pm

I totally understand your feelings Maria. I was in tears when I watched the video. My hope is that when people see what is really going on with our wildlife that it shocks them into action. These government entities react to public pressure and if enough people stand up and voice their opposition to mass slaughters like this, hopefully we can stop this kind of behavior across the country.
Larry´s last post ..Stop Wildlife Killing Contests in California

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ingrid February 22, 2014 at 1:46 pm

Larry, thanks for posting this. I’ll cross post this information at my blog.

I have such respect for Camilla and everyone at Project Coyote for the amazing work they’re doing, in engendering a more compassionate ethic toward wildlife, and toward predators like coyotes in general. They are literally changing things, community by community, educating people on peaceful coexistence with wildlife.

I don’t think most of the general public is aware of how many of these killing contests exist … or about the wanton waste and display of dead animals even outside of killing contests. For instance, there’s a crow hunting site, the name of which I won’t mention, where people post bragging rights to huge numbers of crows, with grotesque photos of their kills. Often, they lay out the bodies of the crows, forming numbers — say 48, for the number of crows they shot. People don’t even realize that crow and raven hunting is legal in places! There is, in fact, a crow season in California and in Washington.

When it comes to animals who have little legal protection, like coyotes and, of course, birds like pigeons, all bets are off. I’ve seen things that keep me from sleeping at night and I figure that’s the price I have to pay to be informed, to keep my heart in the place where it’s at — committed to the idea of compassion in wildlife policy.

Honestly, I think most people would be shocked to see and learn what transpires under the auspices of legality when it comes to wildlife. If we were to inflict on dogs and cats, the nefarious things done to wildlife, most of it legal, and most often in the field and out of view from the public, we would say it was torture. At bare minimum, we’d characterize it as unacceptable cruelty.
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