ATLANTA, Georgia – In a letter to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), eighteen scientists with Project Coyote condemned the state agency-sanctioned “Georgia Coyote Challenge,” stating, “This purported management tool is nothing more than a wildlife killing contest (WKC), tempting participants to kill coyotes for a chance to win a lifetime hunting license.”
The Georgia Coyote Challenge (GCC) started yesterday, and has already come under intense public criticism and scientific scrutiny. Project Coyote’s letter, written by some of the most preeminent wild canid ecologists in the country, states, “The Georgia DNR argues that the Georgia Coyote Challenge is important for achieving management objectives for other species, especially game species. There is no credible evidence that indiscriminate killing of coyotes or other predators effectively serves any genuine interest in managing other species.”
“For a state agency whose mission is to ‘sustain, enhance, protect and conserve Georgia’s natural, historic and cultural resources’ to sponsor such a program is reprehensible,” states Dr. Chris Mowry, Project Coyote Science Advisory Board member, founder of the Atlanta Coyote Project, and co-author of the letter. He adds, “The Georgia Coyote Challenge is both inhumane and unwise.”
Project Coyote scientists also point to the DNR’s contradictory position on organized coyote killing programs, citing the Georgia Deer Management Plan (2015-2024), which was prepared by the DNR and states: “Coyote bounties [are] viewed as an ineffective tool. … [Wildlife Resources Division] and [the Georgia State] General Assembly oppose coyote bounty programs.”
“Project Coyote’s science advisory board has exposed the DNR in a shameful contradiction,” stated Camilla Fox, Project Coyote Founder and Executive Director. “The DNR’s own research clearly shows that indiscriminate coyote killing is ‘ineffective’ and yet here they are promoting a statewide incentivized coyote kill fest that has no legitimate wildlife management purpose whatsoever.”
“We are also very concerned about the public safety threat the Georgia Coyote Challenge poses to people and pets,” Mowry stated. “Encouraging thousands of Georgians to shoot as many coyotes as they can—sometimes right outside of city limits—is a recipe for disaster.”
“Aside from the ecological insanity and public safety concerns of the Georgia Coyote Challenge, it is ethically indefensible,” stated Fox. “Coyote pups born this spring will be orphaned and left to die a slow and painful death when their parents are shot. This kill fest should be halted immediately.”
Project Coyote led a successful effort to end the killing of coyotes, bobcats, foxes and other animals for prizes and other inducements in California in 2014. The non-profit organization is part of a coalition in New Mexico currently pushing legislation through the state legislature that would ban coyote killing contests statewide.
READ PROJECT COYOTE’S LETTER TO THE DNR here.
WATCH PROJECT COYOTE’S FILM TRAILER “Unfair Game: Ending Wildlife Killing Contests” here
WATCH a video about coyotes in Georgia with Project Coyote Science Advisory Board member Chris Mowry here.
Project Coyote is a national non-profit organization, comprised of a coalition of scientists, educators, ranchers and citizen leaders promoting compassionate conservation and coexistence between people and wildlife through education, science and advocacy. We work to change laws and policies to protect native carnivores from abuse and mismanagement, advocating coexistence instead of killing. We seek to change negative attitudes toward coyotes, wolves and other misunderstood predators by replacing ignorance and fear with understanding, respect and appreciation.