A coyote hunting contest near Burns, Oregon, went ahead largely as planned this past weekend after a Harney County Circuit Court judge rejected a petition for a restraining order brought by wildlife conservation organization Project Coyote and the Animal Legal Defense Fund. According to the Bend Bulletin, the JKM Coyote Hunt organizer called the judge’s ruling “ineffectual,” although he reportedly called off planned betting on which team would kill the greatest number of coyotes after the judge ruled that such betting constituted unlawful gambling. Under ORS 30.780, unlawful gambling is subject to civil liability.
The killing was also restricted to private land after the Bureau of Land Management refused to allow pursuit of coyotes on federal land without a special-use permit. Commercial activities on public federal lands require special use permits and an environmental review to determine their impact on the ecosystem and the quality of the human environment. Eugene, Oregon-based Predator Defense, which alerted BLM to the planned wildlife killing contest, called the event a “wildlife atrocity.” The group noted that such a contest, which apparently offered free admission to children under 16, teaches children cruelty and brutality, increases predation on livestock, and exacerbates conflicts between wildlife, ranchers, and farmers. Media quoted the coyote hunt organizer as stating that he “wouldn’t encourage or discourage hunters from going onto public land in search of coyotes for the contest.”
The Humane Society of the United States (“HSUS”) notes that coyote calling contestants “use two basic techniques, both involving mechanical, commercially manufactured- and marketed- calls. The first is to imitate the cries of coyotes in distress, and the second includes imitating a downed prey animal, usually a deer or rabbit. Coyotes then come to investigate what they perceive to be a fellow coyote in trouble or a possible meal. Waiting for the coyotes is a two-person team of hunkered-down, camouflaged killers—a shooter with a high-powered, long-range, tripod-balanced, scope-mounted rifle, often equipped with an electronic range finder; and a spotter using powerful binoculars to search the countryside for any signs of a coyote on a mission of mercy or in search of a meal.”
HSUS also noted “ways to protect livestock from coyotes that really do work, such as electric fencing, strobe lights, and guard animals—including dogs and llamas—who integrate very well into livestock herds.” Given such options, and the ineffectual nature of predator contest killing events on population control, the JKM Coyote Hunt ruling underscores the need for a ballot measure banning wildlife killing for entertainment and prize money.
Related Wildlife Protection Resources
Dylan J. Darling, Coyote Hunt Still on for Crane, Bend Bulletin, Jan. 15, 2014.
Hhy Killing Coyotes Doesn’t Work, Humane Society of the United States