On Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to ban the killing of wildlife in contests. This makes Washington the seventh state to ban such contests with the aim to conserve wildlife. Washington now joins California, Vermont, Arizona, Colorado, Massachusetts and New Mexico in implementing a ban on hunting competitions. The successful vote means that the residents and visitors of Washington cannot kill wildlife for competitions, allowing only a limited number of coyotes and other wild animals to be hunted.
Hunting contests have proven detrimental to wildlife populations over the years. Popular hunting events, such as the Washington Predator Coyote Classic and the Lind Gun Club Coyote Hunt, have led to the deaths of thousands of animals. These two events alone led to the killing of 1,427 coyotes between 2013 and 2018. Unfortunately, these events are often celebrated and the winners crowned as heroes. To make matters worse, the ethics of the games also allow the winners to post images and videos on social media with piles of coyote carcasses.
“I’m so grateful the commission has finally banned these cruel, unsportsmanlike competitions,” Sophia Ressler, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said. “These wasteful contests don’t reflect the values of most Washington residents or proper, science-based wildlife management.”
In many states, similar contests still continue under the justification of population control. But president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Kitty Block, says the organization has a mission of stopping such games.
“We have made it our mission to end all wildlife killing contests — gruesome events that make a game out of recklessly and indiscriminately killing animals for cash, prizes, and bragging rights,” Block said. “These competitions that feature piles of animal carcasses are not only cruel and unsporting, but they are also at odds with science.”
Block argues that population regulation is not the work of humans but a natural process, and that mass culling will not help resolve human-wildlife conflicts. “Wild carnivores like coyotes and foxes regulate their own numbers, and the mass killing of these animals does not prevent conflicts with livestock, people, or pets.”
Image via U.S. Forest Service