By Stephen Walls
Is it really any wonder that our planet has lost nearly 50% of its wildlife in just the last 45 years?
Not when you consider that last year, on the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, a misleadingly-named group, “Idaho for Wildlife,” held a killing contest that gives prizes for killing wildlife (including wolves and coyotes) across millions of acres of public lands in eastern Idaho. This year, on the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, that same group applied to hold the contest for five more years. More than 56,000 public comments opposing this killing derby were submitted to the Bureau of Land Management. A similar killing contest, the “Coyote Calling Contest Triple Crown,” [began on November 6\:
- The National Coyote Calling Championship is held in Wyoming’s Red Desert, Nov. 6-8. Their photo gallery displays gruesome images of the coyotes slaughtered en masse in recent years.
- The World Championship Coyote Calling Contest will be held Dec. 11-13 in Williams, Arizona. Their gruesome photos can be found here.
- The Midwest Coyote Calling Contest will be Jan. 3-4 in St. Francis, Kansas. Their “cool pictures” include piles of coyotes killed and a close-up of a coyote shot in the face.
In these “contest” massacres, participants compete to shoot as many animals, usually native predators like wolves or coyotes, as they can. Money or other prizes are awarded based on greatest number killed, largest individual killed, etc. Hundreds of animals may be killed and many others wounded. These killing contests treat sentient beings like vermin to be killed for fun. But wolves, coyotes and other native wild predators are essential to the health of entire ecosystems—by keeping other animal populations in check and keeping them healthy.
Some participants claim to be protecting the animals raised by ranchers (to be slaughtered for their meat), but these contests do nothing to protect “livestock.” Scientific studies show that the haphazard slaughter of coyotes actually increases coyote populations, and that when packs are splintered, many more coyotes breed, thus increasing the number of pups dramatically. Killing contests are ethically inconsistent with the proper management of wildlife, and even hunters frown on these killing sprees. Nonlethal predator control and more effective ways of protecting farmed animals abound. Killing contests don’t come from a love of the outdoors, a respect for nature, or wildlife management.
That’s why ALDF and Project Coyote recently successfully sued to shut down an Oregon outfit that hosted coyote killing contests for being a nuisance to its community. And we’ve teamed up again to lend support to the California Fish and Game Commission’s consideration of a state-wide ban on killing contests and predator derbies. Human beings need to learn to peacefully coexist with wildlife and ensure the humane survival of species in the natural world.