Victory! New York Becomes The 10th State To Ban Cruel Wildlife Killing Contests

Today Governor Kathy Hochul signed critical legislation into law putting an end to wildlife killing contests that target coyotes, foxes, bobcats, squirrels, raccoons, crows, and other species in New York. This historic new law prohibits competitive events during which contestants compete to kill the most, the heaviest, and the smallest animals for cash and prizes. Championed by Assemblymember Deborah Glick, D-Manhattan, and Senator Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo, this legislation was approved by bipartisan majorities in both the Assembly and Senate earlier this year. New York is the tenth state to end these gruesome competitions after Oregon took action to do so in September.

The bill was supported by leading animal protection and conservation groups and by thousands of New Yorkers. Hunters, farmers, veterinarians, and wildlife rehabilitators also backed the bill.

The Humane Society of the United States has gone undercover at contests in 10 states, including two in New York. In 2018 and 2020, the HSUS released investigations that exposed wildlife killing contests in Wayne County and Sullivan County. The investigators documented participants hauling in bloody piles of dead foxes and coyotes to be weighed and counted for prizes. Competitors joked about the “thrill” of the kill and threw dead animals into a dumpster. More than 20 killing contests took place across the state in January and February 2023.

“After two decades of work by many people and organizations, New York has finally ended the wanton and senseless killing of various species in contests for prizes. I thank Governor Hochul for signing into law a prohibition on this abhorrent practice,” said Assemblymember Deborah Glick, sponsor of the legislation and chair of the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee. “Wildlife killing contests may have been viewed as part of a tradition, but with time we understand that the constant stress on the natural world requires us to re-evaluate customs that are undermining healthy ecosystems. At the same time, this measure in no way prevents farmers, ranchers or others from dispatching nuisance animals predating on livestock or companion animals, in accordance with Department of Environmental Conservation regulations. New York becomes the 10th state to eliminate these so-called contests.”

“Gov. Hochul has signed into law a critical, meaningful environmental policy, ending the wasteful use of our shared wildlife resources simply for cash and prizes,” said Brian Shapiro, New York state director for the Humane Society of the United States. “We are grateful for the governor’s action and recognize the bold leadership of Assemblymember Glick and Senator Kennedy for championing this law. These inhumane, wasteful competitions must come to an end across the country once and for all and we hope other states will follow New York.”

“Killing contests make a cruel and shameful game of inflicting misery and death on wildlife. Efforts to ban this practice through S.4099 garnered overwhelming support from New Yorkers, including animal advocates, environmental advocates, and even hunters,” said Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Strategic Legislative Affairs Manager Kathleen Schatzmann. “We are grateful to Governor Hochul for signing the bill into law, and the leadership of bill sponsors Assemblymember Glick and Senator Kennedy for championing this critical animal protection legislation.”

“To maximize their chances of winning cash and prizes, contest participants often use bait and electronic calling devices to attract animals with sounds that mimic prey or distress calls of wounded young, which is unethical,” said Johanna Hamburger, director and senior attorney for the terrestrial wildlife program at the Animal Welfare Institute. “This ban will save the lives of thousands of animals each year in New York who are killed in these cruel and wasteful contests.”

“Today is a win for every animal that was previously targeted by these cruel contests,” said Regan Downey, director of education at the Wolf Conservation Center. “We applaud Gov. Hochul’s decision to sign A.2917/S.4099 into law. Killing contests have no place in the 21st century, nor do they have a place in New York.”

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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