One should really strive to find something more depraved than a wild animal killing contest, which targets coyotes, foxes, bobcats, squirrels, raccoons, crows, and even wolves and cougars in some states, for a price that can range from cash to hunting gear. These competitions are responsible for the senseless slaughter of an inconceivable number of animals, all under the guise of sport.
Competitions like these should be relegated to the history books; instead, these events still take place in nearly all of the 42 states where wild animal killing contests are legal and result in the killing of thousands of animals each year.
Participants in these events, billed as family-friendly and often sponsored by bars, churches, fire stations and other local groups, compete for prizes for killing the biggest or smallest or most animal. large number of animals. Hundreds of animals can be slaughtered in a single competition. After the heaps of bloodied animals have been weighed, the awards ceremony and the end of the celebration, the the bodies of dead animals are often thrown away as garbage. Competitors frequently use cruel electronic calling devices to lure animals in to kill them easily, and then shoot them with high powered rifles, including AR-15s.
Referring to a custom made rifle, a competitor in the pharmacy and sporting goods vermin hunt De Leon told an investigator from my organization, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), that these guns, “they’re like a .22-250 on steroids.” He had just used the rifle to take down animals in the 9 p.m. contest that culminated in the drugstore parking lot on a January morning in Texas. The guns are “not very fur friendly,” he added as he stood over a row of bloody bodies he had killed. “I wouldn’t use something like this if you want to save the fur.” To illustrate his point, he nudged a coyote, boasting, “I shot this one here in the throat up and up and it blew up all the way down his chest.”
Other contest participants unloaded more dead animals from the trucks, which were outfitted for top-notch slaughter with raised decks, padded chairs and gun racks. A three-man team, who called themselves “Dead On,” won the event, killing five coyotes, two bobcats, a fox and a raccoon. Contest organizers awarded over $ 3,000 in prizes.
AT another murder contest in December 2020 which took place 1,000 miles north of Texas, an HSUS investigator saw firefighters help drag dead coyotes to the weigh station in the Williamsport Fire Department parking lot, in. Indiana. The grand prize went to those who killed the five heaviest coyotes, with side pots awarded to those who killed the most coyotes, the “big dog” and the “little dog” (referring to the size of coyotes). The winning team, who had all of their teammates dressed in matching jackets, killed around 16 of the roughly 60 animals lined up for display at the end of the contest. A competitor told HSUS investigators he used an AR-15 rifle with night vision, adding, “I appreciate it.”
Other secret investigations by HSUS â in Maryland, New Jersey, New York (in 2018 and 2020), Oregon and Virginia– showed similar scary images of competitions, including children playing among dead animals.
Some of these contests are high stakes. At West Texas Big Bobcat Contest in January, participants competed for $ 148,120 in prize money. The jackpot for the âmost gray foxâ killings went to a four-man team that killed 81 foxes in 23 hours.
Competitors spend thousands of dollars on equipment get an almost absurd advantage. Electronic paging devices amplified across a field by a loudspeaker attract unsuspecting animals out using the sounds of dependent young in distress. These animals can hardly be expected to compete with a team of people armed with AR-15 style searchlights and weapons outfitted with precision thermal night vision goggles that ‘troll’ habitat areas, obliterating whatever comes their way.
Murder contests have an old-fashioned cousin pigeon shootsâAnother competition based on the indiscriminate slaughter of animals. During a pigeon shooting, the birds are crammed into spring crates, pushed into the air at the shooter’s request, and then shot at close range, all for thrills and prizes. Only one state, Pennsylvania, still openly holds those pigeon shoots.
Much like pigeon shooters, participants in wild animal slaughter competitions make false claims that they are doing society a service by ridding the landscape of animals they consider like “varmints” and “harmful”. But it is a fact that these events are for fun and games and do not serve any legitimate purpose of wildlife management. The best available science shows that randomly killing animals, especially coyotes, creates problems where none previously existed.
It seems counterintuitive but killing coyotes causes them to proliferate. In an untapped coyote pack, usually only the dominant pair breeds. Kill a few members and the pack splits up to find other partners. More breeding pairs means more coyotes, and that adds yet another wrinkle. While most coyotes avoid livestock and prefer to munch on rodents, more puppies mean more mouths to feed, forcing adult coyotes to find easier targets like sheep just to survive.
It is a “paradoxical relationship” –kill more coyotes, lose more cattle. Randomly eliminate coyotes that have not been proven to threaten livestock before leaving gaps that can be filled by coyotes that are more likely to prey on livestock. Most coyotes can even serve as “guard coyotes” for breeders, keeping other carnivores at bay.
Native carnivores like coyotes and foxes provide a range of free ecological services to our communities, in particular by controlling rodent and rabbit populations, by indirectly contributing to the improvement of plant and avian biodiversity, and by recovering animal carcasses, which keeps our environment clean, and eliminating them en masse disrupts the natural balance of our ecosystems.
We can’t make wildlife management decisions based on anecdotes or hunches or respond to the misinformation that competitors use to justify their actions – we have to follow the science. National wildlife agencies recognize that ethics must also come into play. the Arizona Fishing and Hunting Commission outlaw these killing contests in 2019. While the commission was still considering the ban, its chairman, Jim Zieler, who is also a hunter, was cited by the Washington Post as saying, âThere have been a lot of social protests against this, and you can kind of see why. It’s hard to stand up and defend a practice like this. Athletes and professionals and commissioners from state wildlife agencies across the country echoed similar sentiments, and some noted that these competitions damage the reputation of hunters and jeopardize the future of the hunt. It’s a reasonable fear: Society’s values ââregarding wildlife are shifting towards greater harmony with nature.
To make matters worse, the pandemic added another element: virtual competitions where murder persists but judgment and participation are online. Applicants living anywhere in the United States can submit videos of animals they have killed nearby, and in these videos, the contestants are seen shaking the bodies of dead animals to show that they have been killed recently. These virtual competitions have also led to new award categories such as âbest video of a murderâ. People from over 40 states have joined these contest websites, including states where contests have been banned. These virtual events take place almost every weekend.
We certainly cannot let this continue without challenge, especially since many hunters share the growing contempt of the public for wild animal killing contests. They understand that no animal should be killed in this cruel manner, and like countless other Americans, they believe there are limits to what we should allow when it comes to the treatment and use of animals. .
The good news is that bills and regulations banning wild animal slaughter competitions are emerging at the federal level and status levels. The reasons for banning these events are supported by overwhelming proof, and those who oppose these contests will have more and more opportunities to record their views and beliefs about this senseless slaughter of American wildlife, in letters to Congress and state legislatures and national wildlife management agencies (contact your HSUS state manager to find out what is happening in your condition) and to their local government. Wildlife is important to everyone, and our public policies and practices should take this into account.
This article was produced by Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute.