Part of the reason hunters get their way so often when it comes to “game management” decisions is that they don’t hesitate to make their wishes known to state agencies. Why should they, they’re all one in the same, right? But wildlife lawmakers are required to acknowledge all sides; the more input they get from the animals’ side, the harder it will be for them to act like hunters are the only one’s with a stake in the issues.
Here’s something posted on a hunting chat board promoting contest hunts that begs for an equal and opposite reaction from the coyote’s side…
I would like to ask all hunters to take one minute and send a short friendly message to the Washington Wildlife Commission now. You should also ask friends, family members, and members of any sporting groups you belong to do the same
Here is a sample message, add an additional point or two if desired, but keep it short and friendly:.
Send To…. firstname.lastname@example.org Subject….. I Support Coyote Hunting Contests
Dear WDFW Commissioners, I would like to express my strong support for coyote hunting contests. These contests provide a great deal of recreation for hunters across the state and much needed management of Washington’s undermanaged coyote population.
Thank you for your consideration, (your name & address here)
[Note: I chose to start this piece part way into it in order to spare the reader the gory detail of its title question.]
…After digging into the wolf-hate literature featured on Idaho for Wildlife’s website, I wondered whether the residents of Salmon were looking to kill wolves out of spite. They hated these creatures, and I wanted to understand why.
Besides killing wolves, one of the group’s core missions, according to its website, is to “fight against all legal and legislative attempts by the animal rights and anti-gun organizations who are attempting to take away our rights and freedoms under the Constitution of the United States of America.” The website also suggested that media coverage of the event was not welcome. The only way I’d be able to properly report on the derby, I figured, was to go undercover as a competing hunter. So I showed up in Salmon a few days before the event, paid the $20 sign-up fee, and officially became part of the slaughter.
The derby called for hunters to work in two-person teams. In the weeks leading up to the competition I recruited pro-wolf activists Brian Ertz and his sister Natalie Ertz, native Idahoans who have worked for local conservation groups. Rounding out our teams was Brian’s friend Bryan Walker, a gnarled former Marine and an Idaho lawyer who has studied shamanism and claims to have an ability to speak with animals.
The nice old man in the bar, whose name was Cal Black, bought the four of us a round of drinks when we told him we were in town for the derby. Cal had grown up on a ranch near town, and his thoughts on wolves reflected those of most other locals we met. Salmon is livestock country—the landscape is riddled with cows and sheep—and ranchers blame wolves for huge numbers of livestock deaths. Therefore wolves needed to be dispatched with extreme prejudice. The derby was a natural extension of this sentiment.
“Gut-shoot every goddamn last one of them wolves,” Cal told us. He wished a similar fate on “tree huggers,” who, in Cal’s view, mostly live in New York City. “You know what I’d like to see? Take the wolves and plant ’em in Central Park, ’cause they impose it on us to have these goddamn wolves! Bullshit! It’s said a wolf won’t attack you. Well, goddamn, these tree huggers don’t know what. I want wolves to eat them goddamn tree huggers. Maybe they’ll learn something!”
We all raised a glass to the tree huggers’ getting their due. I fought the urge to tell Cal that I live in New York part-time, and that in college Natalie trained as an arborist and had actually hugged trees for a living. Her brother, who is 31 and studying to be a lawyer in Boise, Idaho, had warned me about the risks of going undercover when I broached the idea over the phone. As a representative for the nonprofit Western Watersheds Project, which has lobbied for wolf protections, he’d attended numerous public meetings about “wolf management” in communities like Salmon. “Salmon is the belly of the beast,” he told me. “There is not a more hostile place. It’s Mordor.”
Brian’s former boss at the Western Watersheds Project, executive director Jon Marvel, has received death threats for speaking out in favor of wolves and against the powerful livestock industry. Larry Zuckerman, a conservation biologist for the pro-wolf environmental nonprofit Wild Love Preserve, suspects that it was pro-wolf-hunting residents from Salmon who fatally poisoned his three dogs. Many pro-wolf activists across the American West, especially those who have publicly opposed the ranching industry, have reported similar threats and acts of aggression—tires slashed, homes vandalized, windows busted out with bricks in the night. Idaho for Wildlife’s opinion on the situation is made clear on its website: “Excess predator’s [sic] and environmentalists should go first!”
Prepping for the derby, we disguised ourselves according to the local style: camo pants and jackets, wool caps, balaclavas, binoculars, and heavy boots. When he wasn’t mystically communicating with elk, Walker enjoyed hunting them. He didn’t look out of place in Salmon, carrying his M4 rifle with a 30-round magazine and a Beretta .45 on his hip. He loaned me his bolt-action .300 Win Mag with a folding bipod, while Brian carried a .30-06 with a Leupold scope. Natalie, who is tall and good-looking, was armed only with a camera and played the part of a domesticated wife “here for the party,” as she put it.
At the derby registration the night before the killing was to commence, we were so convincing that the organizers didn’t even bother to ask for our hunting licenses or wolf permits. Instead they suggested spots in the surrounding mountains where we could find wolves to shoot illegally.
From left to right: Bryan Walker, Brian Ertz, and Natalie Ertz
In Wolves and the Wolf Myth in American Literature, S. K. Robisch presents the wolf as a “mystical force in the human mind,” one that for thousands of years has been associated with the purity of bloodlust, the unhinged cruelty of nature. The wolf as mythological super-predator brings terror and chaos, devouring our young, our old, the weak, the innocent, and the foolish, operating through trickery and deceit.
From Matthew 7:15: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Little Red Riding Hood loses her grandmother to a cross-dressing wolf, and the Three Little Pigs pay the price as well. In the late Middle Ages the Roman Catholic Church declared the wolf an agent of the Devil, or possibly the shape-shifting manifestation of Satan himself. And of course the werewolf, a human turned beast by the contagion of a bite, also lived in the imagination as a demonic figure, killing for sport under the light of the full moon, indiscriminate and lunatic.
In Anglo-Saxon and the Germanic languages, certain words for wolf—warg, warc, verag—were also used to describe bandits, outlaws, and evil spirits. In Swedish, the word varg simply meant “everything that is wrong.” Even Teddy Roosevelt, the conservationist president and lover of the wilderness, referred to wolves as “the archtype of ravin [sic], the beast of waste and desolation.”
In reality, Homo sapiens shares a long and intimate relationship with Canis lupus. The gray wolf was the first animal to be domesticated out of the wild, long before the cow, horse, or goat. Its direct descendant is classified as Canis lupus familiaris, better known as the common dog, which, despite its wide subset of breeds, is almost genetically identical to the wolf. The bear, the tiger, the lion—feared predators of the human race, even today far more dangerous to man than wolves—never came out of the dark to join the fire circles of early hominids. The wolf did, though the humans in its midst became food on some occasions.
It’s theorized that wolves and humans, some 20,000 years ago, hunted the same prey—large herbivores—and, like us, wolves worked in packs. We fed at their kills, and they fed at ours. Antagonism gave way to mutualism, symbiosis, cooperation.
Around 8,000 BC, however, humans began to domesticate livestock and gather in villages. The wolf was no longer our friend, as it stalked and devoured the sheep and cows we now kept as property. Hatred of the beast was born, and it grew in proportion to our divorce from the wild.
Western man, armed with gunpowder and greedy for land, proved from the moment he arrived in the New World to be a more capable beast of waste and desolation, as predators of all kinds—the wolf, the cougar, the coyote, the black bear, the grizzly, the lynx, the wolverine—fell before his march. Wolves were shot on sight, trapped, snared, fed carcasses laced with poison or broken glass, their pups gassed or set on fire in their dens. “Such behavior amazed Native Americans,” writes wildlife journalist Ted Williams. “Their explanation for it was that, among palefaces, it was a manifestation of insanity.”
The sprawling roads, farms, towns, and cities of the young republic completed the job by systematically razing the wolf’s habitat. By 1900, wolves had disappeared east of the Mississippi. By the 1950s, they could only be found in isolated regions of the American West, with perhaps a dozen wolves remaining in the contiguous 48 states, compared with a pre-Columbian population estimated at several hundred thousand.
The point of this slaughter was not to protect human beings, although this remains the enduring perception. Only two fatal wolf attacks on Homo sapiens in North America have been reported during the past 100 years, with perhaps a few more over the course of the 19th century (the records prior to 1900 are uncertain and the stories undocumented, often embellished and tending toward the folkloric). A 2002 study conducted by the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research reviewed the history of wolf predation on humans in Europe, Asia, and the US from 1500 to the present and found that wolf attacks were “extremely rare,” that “most attacks have been by rabid wolves,” and that “humans are not part of their normal prey.” Wolves in the United States died at our hands for the most part because of the ancient grievance: They ate our cattle and sheep, representing viscerally that which could not be tamed.
Then, in 1974, wolves in the United States got a reprieve. The passage of the Endangered Species Act the previous year had cleared the path for Congress to declare the animals endangered, making it illegal to hunt them. Wolves had survived by the thousands in the forests, mountains, and prairies of western Canada, and now, protected from widespread slaughter in the US, portions of the population began a slow march of recolonization, dispersing south from Alberta and British Columbia and into Montana. In 1995, Congress expedited this process by mandating the reintroduction of captured Canadian wolves to the mountains of Idaho and Wyoming.
Thereafter, wolves thrived as never before in our recorded history, and ecologists noted with astonishment the beneficial effects on ecosystems in the West. In Yellowstone National Park, a centerpiece of this reintroduction, wolves pared the overabundant populations of elk, which had stripped the park’s trees and grasses. With fewer elk, the flora returned, and the rejuvenated landscape created habitats for dozens of other creatures: beaver in the streams, songbirds in the understory, butterflies among the flowers.
Such was the perception of success that by 2009 the US wolf population was declared fully recovered. In 2011, when Congress rescinded the wolves’ protected status, scores of biologists, ecologists, and wildlife scientists protested the decision. Critics observed that the removal of Canis lupus from the endangered species list had been accomplished mostly due to the lobbying efforts of the livestock industry. For the first time since 1974, wolves across the Northern Rocky Mountains—in Idaho, Wyoming, Montana—were legally hunted, trapped, and shot with vengeance. The winter hunting seasons decimated whole packs. At the behest of ranchers, the US government joined in the slaughter, dispatching predator-control agents from the federal Wildlife Services.
The view of wolves as vermin bent on stealing ranchers’ livelihood has carried through to the present, though little evidence supports this stigma. The number of cattle and sheep lost to wolves and other predators each year is negligible. In 2010, just 0.23 percent of cattle in the US died from “carnivore depredations” (as wolf attacks on livestock are officially categorized).
And it didn’t matter that aggressive “predator management” has no basis in ecological science. “The myth we’ve been fed is that predators like wolves need to be hunted because otherwise they’ll grow out of control, exponentially,” said Brooks Fahy, director of the nonprofit Predator Defense, in Oregon. “But no scientific study backs this up. Wolves self-regulate if left alone.” Wolf management, Fahy said, “is a form of rationalized madness.”
Proud derby contestants displaying a pair of coyotes
Hundreds of killing contests have taken place all over the USA…Here is a description of a killing contest that just happened in Michigan — This pic and the description are on a public forum.
What is a “tagged coyote”? A tagged coyote is one that was previously trapped, marked in some way and then released, and killed for a prize.
“Just a few weeks ago the “Call of the Wild” Predator Round Up was held near our cabin in Luzerne Michigan. The hunt began at 7:00 p.m. Friday night and ran till 12 noon Sunday. Seventy three (73) hunters signed up comprising 33 different teams. Several teams used coyote dogs and others worked various “sets” while calling. The hunters with the dogs had the advantage, but the first “yote” turned in was by a father and son team who called the 29.7 pound female within range of a flat shooting 223″ …..
“Ma Deeters (local bar/restaurant) was the starting point of the hunt, and the Best Hardware store was where the successful hunters displayed their success. There were around $1700.00 dollars in prizes with anyone bringing in a tagged coyote receiving a $1000.00 dollar bonus. Knight and Hale (game calls) donated many of the prizes handed out. First coyote, biggest, (41 pounds) ugliest, and longest awards were all given out at the culmination of the hunt. Two of the dog teams garnered most of the awards.
On Sunday afternoon there were eleven (11) coyote and one fox hanging on the game pole at the hardware store. There was an additional prize to any team that brought in the “trifecta” of predator hunting (a coyote, fox, and bobcat.) No one collected that award this year, but one team came close.”
Earlier this month in a remote northeastern corner of California, residents in Modoc County slaughtered at least 40 coyotes in an annual killing contest known as the Adin “Coyote Drive.” In Crane, Oregon last month, the “Eight Annual JMK Coyote Hunting Contest ” advertised no geographic restrictions for its killing contest that resulted in the death of close to 150 coyotes last year. (The number of animals killed were not disclosed this year.) In Salmon, Idaho coyotes and wolves were targeted in the “1st Annual 2 Day Coyote & Wolf Derby” where 21 coyotes were gunned down on the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) - our nation’s safety net for wildlife that brought wolves back from the brink of extinction.
What do all of these killing contests have in common? They award prizes to those who kill the most individuals and the largest (and sometimes the most females) perpetuating a culture of violence that sends a message to children that life has little value and that an entire species of animals is disposable. Despite the incomprehensible cruelty and predictable ecological destruction, hundreds of wildlife killing contests, many encouraging youth participation, take place throughout the country, resulting in countless deaths of vital predators. Project Coyote brought international attention to this issue generating thousands of emails and letters to federal and state agencies and to killing contest sponsors. In addition to exposing the brutality, Project Coyote and allies challenged the legality of the contests in court and were instrumental in ensuring that some of the events did not take place on public lands. Most significantly, at the request of Project Coyote, the California Fish & Game Commission voted unanimously to consider a statewide ban on wildlife killing contests. Project Coyote Executive Director Camilla Fox requested a ban at the February 5th Commission meeting. “We urge you to use your authority to regulate and restrict take by initiating a rule-making process to prohibit wildlife killing contests — thus modernizing predator management, conservation and stewardship statewide- and setting the trend for the rest of the nation — as we do so well here in California.” Watch Project Coyote in action here:
by Chris Clarke on February 5, 2014
California’s Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to consider a ban on hunting contests such as this weekend’s secretive coyote drive in Modoc County, with one Commissioner suggesting such contests are unethical.
The 4-0 vote launches a formal rule-making process, during which public comment will be solicited as the Commission considers a ban on such contests in California.
“This is obviously not about sport or fair-chase,” said Camilla Fox, whose wildlife group Project Coyote proposed the ban to the Commission on Wednesday. “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.”
Fish and Game Commission President Michael Sutton spoke in favor of the motion before the vote. “I’ve been concerned about these killing contests for some time,” said Sutton. They seem inconsistent both with ethical standards of hunting and our current understanding of the important role predators play in ecosystems.”
Though the focus of the discussion was on coyotes, given the looming Modoc County contest, a broad ban on wildlife hunting contests would conceivably bar events where other species are the targets as well.
Advocates contend that contests such as Modoc County’s or the others we described last month are important to keep predator populations under control.
But research into the dynamics of coyote reproduction and lifestyles over the last several decades undermines such claims. Though there will likely always be a role for direct culls in management of problem coyotes, the science indicates that more indiscriminate hunting serves only to disrupt coyote family groups in which only the “alpha” adults breed. Killing one or both of the alphas in a mid-sized family group may mean two or three times as many pairs of coyotes will be actively breeding shortly thereafter.
“Killing random predators is about as effective at protecting livestock as bailing harder is at saving a sinking boat,” said Sonoma County rancher Keli Hendricks, who testified in support of a ban before the Commission. “It might help for a short time, but the only real solution is to fix the hole in the boat. The way to fix that hole is to implement one or more of the many non-lethal livestock protection methods available to ranchers today.”
The possibility of banning wildlife hunting contests will now be placed on the agenda for a Fish and Game Commission meeting, at which public comment will be solicited. That won’t happen before Modoc County’s coyote drive this weekend, but it will almost certainly happen before next year’s.
Here is part of an article entitled “Tough on Wolves” in Spokane’s Inlander: http://www.inlander.com/spokane/tough-on-wolves/Content?oid=2256023
If the education budget is in JFAC’s custody and Medicaid expansion is off the table, what hot topics will the legislators address? My prediction: Guns and wolves will attract a fair amount of attention.
According to the Fish and Game Department, Idaho now has around 680 wolves throughout the state. In 2009, wolf hunting became legal, and the governor announced he wanted to shoot the first one.
Idaho and its predators caught the attention of the New York Times this past December, when a planned coyote and wolf shoot-to-kill derby was scheduled in Salmon. Organizers offered $2,000 to the participants who killed the most animals. The event fell flat when no wolves and only 21 coyotes were bagged by the 230 registered contestants.
Not everyone is happy with Governor Otter’s $2 million budget request to establish a special wolf control board, separate from the Department of Fish and Game. “Control” is another word for “kill.” I, for one, would rather put the $2 million in the public school pot.
The Fish and Game Commission is already actively “controlling” wolves by hiring a lone gunman to eliminate wolves in the 2,367-acre Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. The Idaho Conservation League has been remarkably tolerant on the wolf issue. But recently its Executive Director Rick Johnson asked, ” If they can’t live in the backcountry, where can they live?”
When 35 gray wolves were released in central Idaho in 1995, schoolchildren gave them names and followed their radio-relayed paths through the wilderness. As they thrived, their names disappeared and the wolves became numbers. As they multiplied, they became pests. Wolves, like coyotes, have always been pests to Idaho ranchers — and to the Idaho legislature.
It’s refreshing to learn about Oregon’s approach to a burgeoning wolf population. Oregon has developed a policy that calls for sheep and cattle outfits to use nonlethal methods to prevent wolves from snatching baby animals, especially lambs. These include simple measures such as keeping herds away from known wolf dens, employing loud noise alarms and scare devices, enlisting protective dogs and human herders, constructing barriers and building fences. Such items add costs but also avoid conflicts.
Consumers could be wooed to pay a little bit more for lambs raised in a certified, nonlethal-to-wolves environment.
The questions the reintroduction of wolves into Idaho has presented are worth pondering. Do we believe game hunting should include animals that we don’t plan to eat? Is there room in our hearts, minds and geographical space for predators other than our own species?
From Predator Defense.org:
We’re always working to stop atrocities like the one pictured below. To that end we alerted the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to a coyote-killing contest in Crane, Oregon this coming weekend, Jan. 17-19, that was expected to take place on both private and public lands. We let them know that the event was happening, and that we believed that the organizers, JMK Coyote Hunt, did not have the special use permit required for hunting on public land. JMK refused to get a permit, so their killing spree is now restricted to private land. We decry contests like this. Rewarding killing for the “fun” of it teaches children cruelty and brutality. It also increases predation on livestock and exacerbates conflicts between wildlife, ranchers and farmers. Please support our work to stop wildlife atrocities by donating today at https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/1443481.
Stop Second Coyote Hunting Contest – Dillon, Montana Action Alert from All-Creatures.org
Ann Frances January 2014
Help STOP Coyote Hunting Contest, Dillon, Montana, on January 10, 11 and 12, 2014…“Dog Days of Winter Coyote Derby”
And/or better yet, make direct contact:
INFORMATION / TALKING POINTS
Coyote Hunting Contest, Dillon, Montana, on January 10, 11 and 12, 2014. “Dog Days of Winter Coyote Derby”.
It is hosted by Rocky Mountain Supply who sells “Everything for the farmer, rancher, and traveler”. It is also being supported and advertised by The Montana Outdoor Radio Show, that also has a webpage with paragraph length articles by several writers, including by “Angela Montana”, who seems to take a special relish in the job of writing blurbs on killing coyotes, wolves and all other wildlife.
This is the 2nd Coyote Hunting Contest in Dillon, Montana. The first one was in February 2013. As described by Angela Montana, the contest was started by Tyler Linse, a college student working at Rocky Mountain Supply. “We thought it would be a fun way to spend a winter weekend and help manage the coyotes in the area”, said Linse. Ten coyotes were killed in the contest.
Dillon, Montana is in Southwest Montana. It is just 65 miles from Salmon, Idaho, who held a Wolf and Coyote Killing Contest on December 28 and 29, 2013. Both Salmon Idaho and Dillon Montana are surrounded by national forests including Yellowstone National Park. Salmon Idaho has a population of 3000, and Dillon, Montana, 4000. Of note, Great Harvest Bread Company has its headquarters in Dillon, Montana.
From an article on dogfighting in Montana [Spectating at dogfights: Still legal thanks to…rodeo?]: “Most people know by now that killing coyotes doesn’t “manage” their numbers, proving that these folks have some catching-up to do…or that it really IS all about bloodlust.”
Of note: Great Harvest Bread Company has its headquarters in Dillon, Montana thought they are not associated with this contest.
We have learned of a Coyote Killing Contest in Central Oregon over a three day period from Friday, January 17 through Sunday, January 19, 2013.
The contest offers a special one-day free entry for children under 16. Cash, belt buckles and other prizes will be awarded to the two-man team killing the most coyotes by weight, the largest individual coyote, and more.
Please contact [see below*] the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the US Forest Service (USFS) to express your concerns, which may include the following:
• Commercial activities on public federal lands require special use permits and an environmental review to determine their impact on the ecosystem and the quality of the human environment.
• Are these agencies aware of this event?
• Participants are paying a one hundred dollar fee to join the event, making it a commercial endeavor.
• Have the promoters of this event applied for and received a permit?
• An undetermined number of hunters will be involved in the organized event, likely putting the public at risk over the weekend when many families recreate on public land.
• Like other top predators, coyotes play a critical role in keeping natural areas healthy. In fact, coyotes are a keystone species, meaning that their presence or absence has a significant impact on the surrounding biological community.
• Field research demonstrates that the indiscriminate killing of coyotes actually increases conflicts and predation on livestock by causing coyote populations to dramatically increase. In order to feed more robust litters, coyotes may change their hunting habits to include unnatural and larger prey, such as livestock. Thus, increased persecution leads to larger populations and increased predation.
*Bureau of Land Management contact information:
28910 Hwy 20 W
Hines OR 97738-9424
*US Forest Service contact information:
Emigrant Creek Ranger District
265 Hwy 20 S
Hines OR 97738-9428
Blue Mountain Ranger District
PO Box 909
John Day OR 97845-0909
Prairie City Ranger District
PO Box 337
Prairie City OR 97869-0337
Check out this link for contest details:
Shooters Services Unlimited – JMK Coyote Hunt