New Bill To Ban Wildlife Killing Contests On U.S. Public Lands Has Been Introduced By The House Of Representatives

More than 16 members of the U.S. House of Representatives introduced legislation yesterday that would prohibit organizing, sponsoring, conducting, or participating in wildlife killing contests on more than 500 million acres of public lands in the U.S.

Wildlife killing contests are organized events during which participants compete for cash or prizes by killing the most, the largest, or the smallest animals over a certain period of time. Each year thousands of native carnivores and other wildlife — including coyotes, foxes, bobcats, raccoons, rabbits, prairie dogs, mountain lions, and wolves — are killed during these cruel, senseless competitions.

The Prohibit Wildlife Killing Contests Act of 2024, introduced by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and other congressional leaders, would require the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Forest Service to enact regulations banning wildlife killing contests within one year of enactment of the law.

“It’s shocking that these cruel and reckless contests are still allowed on our public lands,” said Stephanie Kurose, deputy director of government affairs at the Center for Biological Diversity. “America’s wild carnivores are so important to maintaining healthy ecosystems. They deserve better than to be targeted in these thrill-kill slaughter fests.”

Ten states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington — have already outlawed wildlife killing contests within their borders. The Humane Society of the United States conducted undercover investigations into these competitions in more than a dozen states, spurring significant public outrage against the events.

“Wildlife killing contests are cruel events that have no place in modern civil society,” said Johanna Hamburger, director and senior attorney for the Animal Welfare Institute’s Terrestrial Wildlife Program. “Participants frequently violate the fundamental hunting principle of fair chase by using bait and electronic calling devices to maximize the likelihood of winning, and animal carcasses are usually dumped once the contest is over.”

“Most people are shocked to learn that wildlife killing contests are even legal on our public lands,” said Camilla Fox, founder and executive director of Project Coyote. “Killing animals for prizes and entertainment is ethically indefensible, ecologically reckless, and anathema to sound wildlife conservation and management.”

“In addition to being unethical and unsportsmanlike, wildlife killing contests run counter to science-based wildlife management policy,” said Jennifer Eskra, director of legislative affairs for the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “This bill would end this execrable practice and protect wildlife at a national level, something that 10 states have already done.”

“Wildlife killing contests have absolutely no place in our country, including on our public lands,” said Katie Stennes, senior program manager for wildlife protection at the Humane Society of the United States. “These ‘cash for wildlife’ competitions, where native species are targeted, killed, and then piled up for photos and bragging rights, is unacceptable. These animals should be respected for their intrinsic value and their key role in healthy ecosystems. We urge Congress to end senseless, wasteful wildlife killing competitions once and for all.”

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