The Coalition’s website includes scientific facts, milestones, Coalition members, and how to take action. Click HERE to head over to the new website at Project Coyote and get started learning how to ban Wildlife Killing Contests in your area!

THE MISSION

The National Coalition (here) to End Wildlife Killing Contests (“Coalition”) is a growing alliance of national and state organizations working to permanently abolish contests that promote the killing of bobcats, coyotes, foxes, mountain lions, wolves, and other species for cash and prizes in wildlife killing contests, derbies, and tournaments in the United States. Download our mission statement here.

The Coalition’s goals are to:

  • Expose the prevalence of wildlife killing contests—organized events where participants compete for cash and prizes for killing a wide variety of wild animal species—across the United States.
  • Raise public awareness about how wildlife killing contests disrupt ecological function and health, degrade the value of individual animals, teach disrespect for wildlife, and inflict and promote cruelty to animals.
  • Inspire and promote grassroots action to end wildlife killing contests through legislation, regulatory reform, and litigation.
  • Support efforts by organizations and individuals to prohibit and end wildlife killing contests nationwide, at every jurisdictional level.
  • Advocate for responsible, humane, and ecologically sound wildlife management practices, focused on coexistence and science-based non-lethal methods of conflict resolution.
  • Promote dialogue with wildlife killing contest sponsors to encourage them to stop supporting these events, and to view wildlife as essential components of healthy ecosystems rather than as pests, vermin, or targets in competitive killing contests.

KILLING CONTESTS ARE A BLIGHT

While bloodsports like dogfighting and cockfighting have been outlawed nationwide, thousands of native carnivores and other species—including bobcats, coyotes, crows, foxes, marmots, mountain lions, prairie dogs, rabbits, and raccoons—perish every year in killing contests across the country. In these barbaric events, contestants win prizes based on certain criteria, such as killing the greatest number or the largest of the targeted species.

Baseless Myths: Participants justify their killing by adhering to an outdated prejudice against target wildlife species that is rooted in fear and misunderstanding. Animals historically viewed as vermin are common victims of killing contests because there are almost no laws protecting them.

Counterproductive to Sound Wildlife Management: Mass killing of native carnivores disregards the critical role that these species play in healthy ecosystems and creates chaos in the family structures of the targeted species, which may result in increased conflicts with livestock, pets, and people.

Cruel and Unsporting: Most sportsmen and sportswomen oppose wildlife killing contests. Countless animals are injured or orphaned during these events. The use of lures and distress calls—devices that mimic the sounds of prey or even the cries of young animals in distress—to attract target animals into shooting range for an easy kill removes any notion of the fundamental hunting ethic of “fair chase.”

Gratuitous Violence: Most of the animals killed in these contests are not used for their meat—they are merely seen as a life to kill and their carcasses are dumped after the events. A 2018 undercover investigation by the Humane Society of the United States showed wildlife killing contest participants piling up coyotes and foxes they had killed to be judged for prizes, and laughing and posing for photos in front of the dead animals. In many contests, young children are encouraged to participate, and hunting equipment and high-powered rifles—including AR-15s—are awarded as raffle prizes.

Violation of the Public Trust Doctrine: This doctrine is a foundational judicial principle mandating that governments hold natural assets, including wildlife, in trust for the general public and future generations—not for exploitation by the few.

WHAT THE SCIENCE SAYS

Wildlife killing contests are symptomatic of a broader problem of misguided wildlife governance by state agencies that fails to value the crucial ecological roles of native carnivores and other wildlife. The belief that killing unlimited numbers of native carnivores is a legitimate form of wildlife management is perpetuated by special interest groups—trophy hunters, trappers, and agricultural lobby groups—and exists largely because it is considered more expedient to kill wildlife than to implement responsible, science-based conservation and management.

Participants often justify their events with misleading claims that they will reduce conflicts with coyotes—the species most often targeted in these contests. There is no documented scientific evidence that coyote killing contests permanently reduce coyote abundance, increase populations of deer or other game species, or prevent conflicts between predators, humans and livestock.

In fact, killing contests are counterproductive to sound wildlife management. They can create instability and social chaos in the family structures of the animals who are killed, often leaving orphaned young to die and killing the experienced individuals who would pass down appropriate hunting behavior and knowledge to younger animals. Left on their own, adolescent animals are more likely to prey on livestock to survive.

Read a statement in opposition to coyote killing contests signed by more than 70 world-renowned conservation scientists here.

MILESTONES

Wildlife killing contests are legal in almost every state, but Americans are increasingly demanding an end to this bloodsport as they learn about cruel and counterproductive wildlife killing events.

  • Statewide Level: California outlawed the awarding of prizes and inducements for killing non-game mammals and furbearers (including bobcats, coyotes, foxes, and raccoons) as part of a contest, derby, or tournament in 2014, setting a precedent for the nation. Vermontbanned coyote killing contests in 2018 and Maryland passed a moratorium on cownose ray killing contests in 2017. Strong momentum is building in New Mexico and other states to end wildlife killing contests in 2019.
  • City and County Level: In 2018, the city council of Albuquerque, New Mexico, unanimously passed a resolution calling for a statewide ban on coyote killing contests and the town council of Dewey-Humboldt passed a resolution condemning wildlife killing contests. The city of Tucson and Pima County in Arizona passed similar resolutions in recent years.
  • Litigation: In response to a legal complaint filed by conservation organizations, in 2014 the Bureau of Land Management canceled a permit allowing an anti-wolf organization to conduct a multi-year “predator derby” on more than 3 million acres of public lands in Idaho. Conservation groups also shut down an annual coyote hunting contest in Oregon after hard-fought litigation.

TAKE ACTION

We need your help to end wildlife killing contests everywhere!  Here are some steps you can take:

  • Ask your state legislators (find your lawmakers here) to ban wildlife killing contests. Call, send letters, and meet with them in person. You can find a legislative information packet here.
  • Ask your state’s wildlife management agency to ban wildlife killing contests. Call, send letters (submit letters here), and meet with them in person.
  • Encourage your city or county council to pass a resolution (condemning wildlife killing contests and urging the state legislature to ban the bloodsport statewide) or an ordinance (banning wildlife killing contests in the city or county). For guidance on passing resolutions and ordinances, see an advocacy toolkit here and/or email info@projectcoyote.org.
  • Host a screening of Project Coyote’s award-winning documentary KILLING GAMES ~ Wildlife In The Crosshairs and invite stakeholders to attend.
  • Write letters to the editor of your newspaper to raise awareness about killing contests and encourage readers to express their opposition to their lawmakers. For tips and tools to writing letters to the editor click here, and for sample letters, go here.
  • Educate your friends, neighbors, colleagues, and the general public by disseminating information about wildlife killing contests and what we each can do to help end them. Use this informational postcard at tabling events and ask people to fill out this blank postcard to send to their policymakers. For sample social media posts, go here.
  • Shut down individual contests in your state by firmly, but politely, urging the event hosts and sponsors to stop supporting killing for fun and prizes. Find sample letters to hosts/sponsors here.
  • Donate your time and/or financial support to wildlife protection organizations working to end wildlife killing contests.

CONTACT US

COALITION CHAIRS:

CAMILLA H. FOX
Founder & Executive Director
Project Coyote
info@projectcoyote.org

JILL FRITZ
Director, Wildlife Protection
Humane Society of the United States
jfritz@humanesociety.org

COALITION MEMBERS:

Animal Legal Defense Fund
Animal Protection New Mexico
Animal Protection Voters (New Mexico)
Animal Welfare Institute
Atlanta Coyote Project
Born Free USA
Center for Biological Diversity
Endangered Species Coalition
Footloose Montana 
Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf & Wildlife 
Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project
The Humane Society of the United States
Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals 
Mountain Lion Foundation
National Wolfwatcher Coalition
Natural Resources Defense Council
Nevada Wildlife Alliance
New Hampshire Wildlife Coalition
Pegasus Foundation
Pettus-Crowe Foundation
Plan B to Save Wolves
Predator Defense
Project Coyote
Protect Our Wildlife Vermont
Southwest Environmental Center
Speak for Wolves 
Western Environmental Law Center
Western Wildlife Conservancy
WildEarth Guardians
Wolf Conservation Center
Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Media
Wyoming Untrapped
Wyoming Wildlife Advocates

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Featured image Russell Graves

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