Animal advocates are celebrating a vote by California’s Fish and Game Commission that brings the state one step closer to banning barbaric wildlife killing contests for good.
In February, Project Coyote petitioned the Commission to ban events that offer rewards and prizes for killing the most, or biggest, predators. At a meeting this month, the organization presented the Commission with a letter signed by more than 35 scientists in support of a ban. Their sentiments were echoed by more than 13,000 people who sent letters to the Commission calling for an end to these events.
Thankfully, their voices were heard. At the meeting the Commission voted 3-2 in support of issuing a proposed rule that will make it illegal to offer prizes or other rewards for killing predators in contests, tournaments or derbies.
“This vote brings us one step closer to reforming how predators are managed in this state,” said Camilla Fox executive director of Project Coyote, in a statement. “Most people are shocked to learn that it is legal to kill coyotes, foxes, bobcats, and other wildlife as part of a tournament for prizes and ‘recreational fun’. They’re even more shocked to learn that thousands of such contests take place each year in the U.S. killing tens of thousands of wild animals.”
Wildlife advocates who are fighting to stop these offensive events in California, and are supporting similar efforts in New York, argue that they aren’t about wildlife management, but about senselessly killing animals for fun and personal gain.
While many supporters continue to argue that these contests are a reasonable method for controlling predator populations and protecting livestock, scientists counter that they do more harm than good and can, ironically, lead to more livestock predation. Those who target and indiscriminately kill predators also ignore the valuable role they play in maintaining healthy ecosystems. Sadly for many of the wild animals who are targeted in these events, they are left without legal protection and can be killed year round in unlimited numbers.
As Fox points out, not only will ending these contests protect wildlife from a cruel death, but it will also keep the public safer. Some who have dared to speak out against this violence have been threatened and assaulted by supporters, while a game warden who was on night patrol at a contest in El Dorado County this winter was seriously injured when he was shot in the neck.
Thankfully lawmakers are taking the problems with these reckless and unjustified events seriously. The commission’s vote means it will submit a public notice and open a public comment period that will allow people to weigh further on behalf of wildlife before a final vote in August.
Please sign and share the petition asking the Fish and Game Commission to step up and set a precedent for the rest of the country by ensuring these types of killing contests never take place in California again.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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