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: