Breaking! Massachusetts Finally Bans Destructive Wildlife Killing Contests For Prizes & Entertainment

A coalition of leading wildlife protection organizations is applauding MassWildlife staff and the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board for their vote yesterday to ban wildlife killing contests in the Commonwealth.

The vote will bring an end to events like the ones recently held on Cape Cod and in Granby, in which participants competed to kill the largest, smallest, or the greatest number of animals for cash and prizes.

Winners of wildlife killing contests often proudly post photos and videos on social media that show them posing with piles of dead animals, often before disposing of the animals in “carcass dumps” away from the public eye. When proposing this ban in July 2019, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife noted growing outrage in Massachusetts about these cruel and unethical contests.

“Upon learning about these unsporting contests, Massachusetts citizens made it clear that they would not tolerate these killing competitions in their state, contacting MassWildlife by the hundreds to voice their opposition,” Elizabeth Magner, Ph.D., Animal Advocacy Specialist for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA), said in a statement. “The MSPCA is grateful that MassWildlife staff and the Fisheries and Wildlife Board treated this matter with the seriousness that it warrants, and for positioning Massachusetts as a national leader on this issue.”

“Wildlife killing contests are a bloodsport just like dogfighting and cockfighting, which have been outlawed nationwide” said Katie Stennes, programs and communications manager for Project Coyote. “We commend the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board for relegating these ecologically and ethically indefensible events to the history books.”

Wildlife agencies and professionals across the country have expressed concerns about killing contests not only because they reflect badly on responsible sportsmen and sportswomen, but because they also contravene modern, science-based wildlife management principles. In 2018, more than 70 renowned conservation scientists issued a statement citing peer-reviewed science that refutes claims that indiscriminately killing coyotes permanently limits coyote populations, increases the number of deer or other game species for hunters, or reduces conflicts with humans, pets or livestock. In fact, by disrupting coyote pack structure, randomly shooting coyotes may increase their populations and lead to more conflicts. Nonlethal, preventive measures are most effective at reducing conflicts with wildlife.

“Wild animals play an important role in their ecosystem and our environment,” shared Stephanie Harris, Senior Legislative Affairs Manager for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “The forward-thinking, science-based regulations adopted by MassWildlife and the Fisheries and Wildlife Board to prohibit senseless killing contests and wanton waste are among the nation’s strongest.”

“Participants of wildlife killing contests often use unsporting and cruel techniques –  such as calling devices that mimic the sound of prey or even pups in distress – so that they can lure shy coyotes and foxes to shoot at close range,” stated Laura Hagen, Massachusetts State Director for the Humane Society of the United States. “We thank MassWildlife for taking decisive action to ensure that the Commonwealth no longer supports such barbaric and wasteful killing of its treasured wildlife.”

In just the past five years, California, Vermont, New Mexico and Arizona have taken a stand against cruel, unsporting and wasteful wildlife killing contests. California banned the awarding of prizes for killing furbearing and nongame mammals in 2014; New Mexico and Vermont outlawed coyote killing contests in 2019 and 2018, respectively; and Arizona prohibited the events for predatory and furbearing species this year.

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