Victory! Washington Becomes The Seventh State To Ban Cruel Wildlife Killing Contests

A coalition of state and national wildlife protection organizations is applauding the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission for its vote to ban cruel wildlife killing contests, in which participants compete to kill the most, the largest, or even the smallest animals for cash and prizes.

The news comes after WAN issued an Urgent Call To Action back in July, that called for Washington residents to submit comments in support of the ban throughout the state.

The new rule, put forth by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, prohibits the killing of unprotected species including: coyotes, bobcats, crows, foxes, and raccoons in a contest. Contest participants killed at least 1,427 animals in these events in Washington between 2013 and 2018.

Washington joins six other states including—Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Vermont—that 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; Arizona and Massachusetts prohibited killing contests that target predator and furbearing species in late 2019; and in April 2020, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission voted to ban wildlife killing contests for furbearing and certain small species in the state.

“The majority of Washingtonians respect and value wildlife and this step forward by our Commission is in line with those values,” said Washington Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Barbara Baker, who championed this issue with her fellow commissioners, in a statement. “As stewards of our state’s wildlife, prohibiting a practice that contravenes sound wildlife conservation, fails to increase game populations, and harms ecosystems is simply the right decision.”

“Wildlife killing contests are a bloodsport just like dogfighting and cockfighting, which have been outlawed nationwide,” said Camilla Fox, Founder and Executive Director of Project Coyote. “We commend Commissioner Baker and the entire Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission for relegating these ecologically and ethically indefensible events to the history books.”

In 2018, Project Coyote’s Science Advisory Board, together with more than 70 renowned conservation scientists, issued a statement citing peer-reviewed science that refutes claims that indiscriminately killing predators permanently limits their populations, increases the number of deer or other game species for hunters, or reduces conflicts with humans, pets and farm animals. In fact, randomly shooting coyotes and other wild carnivores can disrupt their social structures, leading to increases in their populations and more conflicts.

Nonlethal, preventive measures are most effective at reducing conflicts with wildlife. Wildlife killing contests are also destructive to healthy ecosystems, within which all wildlife species play a crucial role. For example, coyotes and other targeted species help to control rabbit and rodent populations and restrict rodent-and tick-borne disease transmission.

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