Ban Killing Contests in Washington!
I’ve never understood what was sporting about killing a living being who can’t fight back, has not chosen to engage, and generally is not even aware a predator is after them. People killing for “sport” use guns and other high-tech equipment to dominate animals whose only defense is to try to run away.
According to Delaware Action for Animals, more than 100 million animals are reported killed by hunters in the United States each year. That number does not include the potentially millions of animals for which kill figures are not maintained by state wildlife agencies. Victims often include pregnant animals or mothers whose young are left to die. Hunting should not be characterized as sport. It is large-scale slaughter.
The harm is exacerbated by hunting contests, or rather, killing contests. Killing contests are organized events in which participants compete for prizes, (typically cash), for killing the most animals within a specified time period. Contests may also be judged by a system that allocates points for each species, by gender, or by characteristics such as “biggest ears” or “mangiest mutt.” In Washington, coyotes—cousins of puppy dogs we profess to love so much —are commonly the victims of these killing contests. They are considered the “mangiest mutts.”
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has proposed two rule changes: first, banning killing contests for certain species that do not have bag limits (WDFW imposed limits on the number of animals of a certain species that a hunter may kill), and second, making it illegal to participate in unpermitted killing contests. The rule changes would make it illegal to host or participate in killing contests for coyotes, foxes, bobcats, and other wildlife that do not have bag limits. Aside from certain bird species, most wildlife species have bag limits ranging from one kill per season to five per day. These lower bag limits make killing contests for these species impractical unlike with coyotes, for which there currently is no limit on how many a hunter can kill.
These proposed changes go a long way in limiting killing contests and they are being proposed for the right reasons. The Fish and Wildlife Commission proposed these changes after determining that hunting contests that reward killing large numbers of native wildlife are not consistent with sound wildlife management principles. “Sometimes we have to do something for social reasons and this is one of them, in my mind,” said Barbara Baker, the Washington Fish and Wildlife commissioner who requested these changes be considered.
However, even though the rule changes have been proposed, their adoption is still far from certain. The Sportmen’s Alliance and other hunting groups are sending their members action alerts to oppose the proposed changes. While these changes do not limit how many coyotes may be killed or ban killing contests altogether, they still would be a big step in the right direction for coyotes, foxes, bobcats, and other species
Right now, we need your help in getting WDFW to adopt these proposed changes. We need to make sure comments in support of these changes outnumber those submitted by hunters who wish to perpetuate these unregulated killing contests. To take action in support of these rule changes, please submit a comment to WDFW by July 14!
Not sure what to say? You can use the following template:
Subject: Adopt Rule Changes to Hunting Contests
As a Washington resident, I ask you to adopt the proposed rule changes that prohibit hunting contests for species with no bag limits and make it illegal to participate in unpermitted hunting contests. I think these changes reflect that hunting contests, or “spree killing contests,” are not consistent with sound wildlife management principles and have even been proven to be ineffective at population control. Washington needs to be able to hold participants in *all* hunting contests accountable, not just the currently permitted ones. Therefore, I ask the commission to adopt these changes.
[Your name] [City of residence], WA