Project Coyote: Scientific analysis of killing contests

This is a superb letter authored by 36 leading scientists, most of whom hold PhD degrees, asking for a prohibition on wildlife killing contests. Their open remarks summarizes the issue very well: “The most general reason to prohibit WKC is that hunters and wildlife managers believe, as a community, that killing an animal without an adequate reason is unjustified and unsportsmanlike. Killing an animal for a price or trophy constitutes killing without an adequate reason. Insomuch as WKC are primarily motivated by killing for a price or trophy, they are wrong.”

Click Project Coyote Coyote Killing Scientist letter for the entire letter.

Coyote killing contests: The Truth

Since Europeans first set foot on the American continent, war has been waged against predators, with bounties and other lethal programs put on their heads. But, when a predator is no longer a threat, when they have the ability to self-regulate their population, and when they are not a form of sustenance, why does the killing continue? Surely our responsibility now lies in protecting our environment and pursuing a path towards peaceful co-existence?

Instead, we see a rise in one of the most disturbing practices of humankind — killing purely for fun. Coyote killing contests are a prime example. It is an unethical, indefensible, and ecologically damaging practice. To be able to derive pleasure from killing a defenceless creature, for no reason apart from the chase, demonstrates one of the most selfish and cruel aspects of our cultures. Despite excuses made for the contests, killing coyotes for “sport” is merely for the pleasure of killing, breeding a culture of disrespect and violence towards life and nature.

In the USA popular targets include coyotes, prairie dogs and pigeons. The practice is adopted by all ages, with some competitions having “youth” divisions. To take part in a hunt you have to pay an entrance fee and subsequently receive a monetary reward for every kill you make, with the largest lump sum given to the person with the biggest kill. Prices vary tremendously.

The contests take place under the guise of ‘pest’ control, but if anything they cause more harm to the environment. Coyotes pose little if any threat to humans, and generally avoid human contact whenever possible. Contrary to hunter’s claims, coyotes are generally not a threat to deer, elk and other large prey, preferring easier meals such as mice and berries. In terms of attacks, a 10 year study of over 300 coyotes in the greater Chicago metropolitan area found that, only two had had fights with pets. Furthermore, as coyotes have no meat and very little fur value, the contests are unjustified on any moral basis.

Sandy Sisi Pups“Like any predator, coyotes self-regulate,” Camilla Fox, founder and executive director of Project Coyote in California, told me. “The best thing we can do is leave them alone because what we know through decades of research is that when we exploit coyotes we disrupt their social pack structure. This can result in an increase in pup survival, and ultimately an increase in the local population. So the message through science is leave the coyotes, wolves, and other predators alone. They don’t need to be “managed” by humans. That will help to promote peaceful coexistence.”

To read the complete story please click HERE.

Coyotes are more than targets

Nathan P. Cote, Ph.D.
Former State Representative, District 53

All of us benefit from healthy ecosystems and the priceless services they provide: clean water and air, forest regeneration, natural pest control, seed distribution, nutrient recycling, and healthy soils. A growing body of scientific research reveals just how important carnivores are to maintaining the health of these natural systems.

Take coyotes, for example. Besides entertaining us with their nocturnal singing, these wild members of the dog family help to control prey populations by consuming prodigious quantities of rodents, including some that carry human diseases such as Hantavirus and plague.

Unfortunately not everybody appreciates coyotes. They are completely unprotected under New Mexico’s wildlife laws and, in fact, are often the target of organized killing contests in which participants compete for prizes based on who can kill the most or the largest animals.

In 2013, I sponsored a bill that would have made coyote-killing contests illegal in our state. The entire idea of killing members of our wildlife population as if they are some kind of living video game has no grounding in the responsible stewardship of our lands and wildlife.

It is also a violation of a key tenet of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation adhered to by ethical hunters, which states that wildlife should only be killed for a legitimate purpose. Most New Mexicans would surely agree that using animals for live target practice in order to win prizes is not a legitimate use.

Wildlife killing contests serve no legitimate management purpose. Killing random coyotes just for fun, prizes and entertainment doesn’t eradicate them, it doesn’t help other game species in any sustained way, and it doesn’t “protect” livestock. It does alter both their pack structure and the natural ecosystem balance that keeps populations of coyotes and rodents in check.

Many studies have shown that when coyotes are removed from their natural habitat in mass they tend to breed in larger numbers to sustain their population, but that takes time. As a result younger coyotes tend to be less sophisticated in the ways of hunting and may end up eating a family pet. When allowed to attain natural population densities and pack structure, coyotes consume large quantities of rodents and rabbits; therefore, a reduced number of natural predators such as the coyote allow these components of the food chain to multiply unrestrained, and the biodiversity of our beautiful landscape plummets. Science is catching up to hysteria about coyotes, and we now know that these animals are family-oriented, with pairs staying together for life and, as they mature, develop sophisticated hunting techniques…..

Click HERE for the full story.