A bloodbath for entertainment.
That’s how wildlife protection groups describe wildlife-killing contests, in which hunters compete to kill the most animals in a period of time.
These contests — which often involve coyotes, foxes, bobcats, rabbits, crows, woodchucks and squirrels — have no genuine environmental or wildlife management purpose. In fact, they can disrupt or even exacerbate a management problem.
They make orphans out of young dependent animals, leaving them to die from starvation, exposure or predators.
And they often lead to non-target animals being killed, such as livestock and wolves. Wolves, which are often mistaken for large coyotes, are an endangered species protected under state and federal law.
Beyond the harm to wildlife ecosystems, participants in these contests often use illegal or unethical hunting practices like fake distress calls, electronic calls, lures and baits. And when the contests are over, participants often leave the carcasses lying on the ground or discard them in dumpsters.
These contests are, to say the least, unsportsmanlike, inhumane and wasteful. And it’s why state lawmakers are looking to outlaw them.
A proposed law (A2917/S4099) would make it illegal to organize, sponsor, promote or participate in any contest in which the objective is to take wildlife.
According to the New York State Humane Association, there are currently at least 29 annual wildlife killing contests in the state, of which 17 are coyote-killing contests.
Among the hunting contests in our region, according to the association, are the Coyote Hunt in Canajoharie, the Smoke-N-Yote’s Early Season Yote Hunt in Fultonville, the Hunter Fuz’s Predator Pool Annual Predator Harvest Contest in Wynantskill (bobcat, coyote, fox) and the Rabbit Hunt in Canajoharie.
Defenders of contests to kill coyotes say they help protect deer and livestock by reducing predators. But regional studies from surrounding states and New York’s own deer-hunting statistics show that coyotes are not decimating the deer populations.
Such contests can actually spur an increase in attacks on livestock and deer. After the hunting contests, the surviving coyotes will breed more to make up for the loss of population and actually result in higher coyote populations.
If passed, New York would join eight other states that have already banned the contests and several others in which their wildlife management agencies have expressed opposition to such contests.
The state legislation would exclude contests for white-tailed deer, turkey and bear, each of which are state regulated by seasonal limits. Field trial testing for dogs also would be exempt, as would fishing derbies, as fish are not considered wildlife under this bill.
Violators would be subject to fines of between $500 and $2,000, and any kills would be forfeited to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, under the legislation.
New York has a rich hunting tradition, and this law would not affect that. It would only end the unwarranted slaughter of wildlife from these contests.
It’s time for New York to pass this law and end these inhumane killing games.