SEATTLE— The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission voted today to ban wildlife-killing contests, making it the seventh state to enact such a measure.
The ban prohibits any sort of hunting contest that would allow for unlimited numbers of coyotes and other wildlife to be killed. These events, such as the Washington Predator Coyote Classic and the Lind Gun Club Coyote Hunt, killed at least 1,427 coyotes between 2013 to 2018.
Winners of wildlife-killing contests often proudly post photos and videos on social media that show them posing with piles of dead coyotes and other animals. The animals are often disposed of in “carcass dumps” away from the public eye.
“I’m so grateful the commission has finally banned these cruel, unsportsmanlike competitions,” said Sophia Ressler, a staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “These wasteful contests don’t reflect the values of most Washington residents or proper, science-based wildlife management.”
Wildlife agencies and professionals across the country have expressed concerns about killing contests because they reflect poorly on responsible sportsmen and sportswomen. In the past two years alone, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission, Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board and Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission voted to prohibit these gruesome killing contests, citing the grave damage that such events could inflict on the image of hunting in their states.
Wildlife-management professionals have also noted that wildlife-killing contests conflict with modern, science-based wildlife-management principles. In 2018 more than 70 renowned conservation scientists issued a statement citing peer-reviewed science that refutes claims that indiscriminately killing coyotes permanently limits coyote populations, increases the number of deer or other game species for hunters, or reduces conflicts with humans, pets or livestock.
In fact, randomly shooting coyotes disrupts their pack structure, leading to increases in their populations and more conflicts. Nonlethal, preventive measures are most effective at reducing conflicts with wildlife.
Wildlife-killing contests are also destructive to healthy ecosystems, in which all native wildlife species play a crucial role. Coyotes and other targeted species help to control rabbit and rodent populations and restrict rodent- and tick-borne disease transmission.