By Jennifer Molidor
Great news for California’s coyotes and other wildlife! We are thrilled to announce that early this morning the California Fish and Game Commission approved a motion to prohibit the financial rewards that encourage “killing contests.” The message was clear: no cash prizes for slaughtering animals. Today’s motion passed 4-1, making California the first state to deal a lethal blow to these horrific contests—and we hope other states will soon follow.
In killing contests, coyotes, bobcats, foxes, and other wildlife are indiscriminately killed over weekend-long “derbies” for substantial cash prizes that go to the team who kills the most animals, or the largest. Hundreds of animals may be killed; others are wounded and left to suffer for days until they die. At today’s meeting in Van Nuys, more than 30 people gave public testimony on the measure, the vast majority of whom spoke in favor of the ban. The testimony was passionate, and speakers nearly universally condemned wildlife killing contests as out of step with California’s progressive identity and commitment to science-based, ecosystem-aware wildlife management. Tens of thousands of people had signed a Project Coyote petition in support of cracking down on these contests.
Fish and Game Commission Vice President Jack Baylis said he hopes today’s decision will be the first step in the Commission’s exploration of new comprehensive predator management policies. He spoke about introducing bag limits for coyotes and other non-game mammals so that we can “stop the senseless slaughter of predators.”
The regulations will now read: 465. Methods General Provisions for Taking Furbearers…(2) Pursuant to Fish and Game Code Section 2003, it is unlawful to offer any prize or other inducement as a reward for the taking of furbearers in an individual contest, tournament, or derby.
In July, ALDF and Project Coyote shut down a predator killing contest in Harney County, Oregon. Just last week, the federal Bureau of Land Management finally listened to public outcry and rescinded permits for a predator killing contest on 3 million acres of public lands in Idaho. In fact, in today’s decision Commissioner Michael Sutton, president of the California Fish and Game Commission, cited the recent Bureau of Land Management decision to cancel the Idaho contest and called predator killing contests an “anachronism” necessitating statewide action.
Unfortunately, coyotes can still be killed in unlimited numbers all year long. And other states are holding killing contests—like the Coyote Calling Contest Triple Crown (in Kansas, Wyoming, and Arizona). Just last month, a Bakersfield, California killing contest led to public outrage, and in today’s meeting, ALDF attorney Kelsey Eberly pointed to the Bakersfield contests as illustration of the urgent need for stricter regulations.
California has stepped up today as a leader in humane laws and its citizens can be proud of this ban. There is more work to be done, but the tide is turning, and California is done with killing contests. These bloodbaths don’t reflect the values of our civil society or effective wildlife management.