It might be too late for an estimated 40 coyotes whose lives were taken during a recent Coyote Drive in Modoc County, but their advocates are working hard to make sure that type of barbaric wildlife killing contest never takes place in California again.
These contests – also known as drives, derbies or whatever else you want to call an event that rewards people of all ages with cash prizes and weapons for killing the biggest and most animals – need to become a thing of the past.
Fortunately, on February 5, the California Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously to consider a statewide ban on wildlife killing contests after hearing testimony from representatives of Project Coyote. Their vote means there will now be a formal rule making process to determine what happens next.
Camilla Fox, founder and executive director of Project Coyote, stated:
What’s at issue, is the wanton waste of wildlife and the awarding of prizes and inducements to kill as many individuals as possible- and the largest. This is obviously not about sport or fair-chase. Wildlife killing contests are conducted for profit, entertainment, prizes and, simply, for the ‘fun’ of killing. No evidence exists showing that such indiscriminate killing contests control problem animals or serve any beneficial management function. Moreover such contests perpetuate a culture of violence and send the message to children that life has little value and that an entire species of animals is disposable.
It’s abundantly clear that these contests are not about wildlife management or even hunting, but about glorifying the senseless killing of wild animals for amusement and personal gain.
Regardless of the species involved in these types of contests, the so-called hunters who continue to support these events are completely ignoring the inherent value of the creatures they’re so bent on destroying. Coyotes, who are a popular target, remain pitifully unprotected without even so much as a bag limit in the state to determine how many can be killed.
As Project Coyote points out, coyote populations that are left to manage themselves form stable social structures that are self-limiting. Indiscriminate killing, on the other hand, disrupts this social stability and leads to increased reproduction and greater pup survival. If those who participate in these contests were really interested in working towards balancing wildlife or protecting livestock, these contests and the mass slaughter would not be taking place.
According to Project Coyote, more contests than we care to know about continue to take place under the radar because state wildlife agencies don’t monitor them. The drive in Modoc County caused an uproar last year when Project Coyote, the Animal Welfare Institute and the Center for Biological Diversity gathered thousands of signatures opposing the hunt, not only because it’s cruel, but also because it posed a serious threat to the state’s lone wolf, OR-7. Wildlife officials stepped in and set some of the rules, but they didn’t stop the contest and their rules were blatantly ignored.
At least some wildlife officials are acknowledging that coyotes, and other predators, are vital to healthy ecosystems.
Commission President Michael Sutton was quoted as saying: “I’ve been concerned about these killing contests for some time. They seem inconsistent both with ethical standards of hunting and our current understanding of the important role predators play in ecosystems.”
Sadly, many who speak out on behalf of the wild animals who are targeted continue to be threatened and intimidated by contest supporters.
At this month’s eighth annual coyote drive in Modoc County, which was sponsored by the Pit River Rod and Gun Club and Adin Supply Outfitters, Roger Hopping, a 73-year-old conservationist, was seriously injured during an altercation with event sponsor Steve Gagnon, the owner of Adin Supply, which resulted in a compression fracture in his lower back.
Hopping’s injury and previous incidents involving intimidation, including threatening a 13-year-old girl with arrest, just add to the long list of reasons that these types of contests need to be outlawed.
California’s Fish and Game Commission will be discussing a potential ban on killing contests at a meeting in Ventura on April 16.
Please sign and share the petition asking the Fish and Game Commission to be a leader for wildlife and ensure these types of killing contests never take place in California again.
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