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February 25, 2014 > Ohlone Humane Society Column: Killer CompetitionsÉjust so wrong!

Ohlone Humane Society Column: Killer CompetitionsÉjust so wrong!

By Nancy Lyon

When reading of animal killing contests that offer prizes and cash for the biggest kill and often involve kids in the festivitiesÉ it gives you pause to wonder what is so terribly wrong with these people that itÕs considered Òfamily funÓ?

Straight out of a Stephen King novel, in the quaint village of Holley, New York, the annual Squirrel Slam Day killing contest/shooting competition has scheduled its yearly blood-bath and fun day this February. They recruit children and reward winners with cash prizes after they bring in the bodies of the squirrels that are weighed to see who had the heaviest kill. While children watch, semi-automatic rifles are raffled off with the proceeds going to the fire department. ShouldnÕt encouraging children to massacre innocent animals qualify as child abuse?

Take Pennsylvania, perhaps the only remaining state that allows multiple pigeon shoots. Most are hosted by private rod and gun clubs where people - aka sociopaths - arrive in vehicles that range from pickups to luxury vehicles from all over the country for the thrill of blowing away pigeons as they are released from cages. Studies show the 70% of the birds are not killed outright but die slowly in neighboring fields and yards.

In Idaho, a highly disputed hunting contest, touted as family recreation, targets wolves and coyotes. This yearÕs fun event was apparently a disappointment to blood-seeking enthusiasts when the wolf-killing spree ended with no wolves killed and ÒonlyÓ two dozen coyotes destroyed. The death derby is promoted by ranchers, who have vetoed non-lethal options to discourage predators, and hunters that want to have more big-game, like elk, to kill. The competition, held on federal land in a national forest near the town of Salmon, also invites children as young 10 to participate in their youth division.

According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, scientific studies have been shown that ÒPredation is an essential component of biodiversity, which is the Ôvariety and variability among living organisms and the ecological complexes in which they occur.Õ And, that as predators, coyotes serve a valuable function in keeping prey populations, such as rodents, in check and keeping local ecosystems healthy.Ó

Non-lethal, non-invasive practices have greater long-term, effective results than lethal control tactics. Countless studies have demonstrated that lethal methods have actually produced counterproductive results.

Kill competitions are condemned by conservationists as cruel and unsportsmanlike, yet one hunter from Salmon is quoted as saying ÒWe'll only have agreement with environmentalists when we kill all the wolves here."

California isnÕt off the hook either. The small town of Adin, located in the remote mountains of Modoc County, has become high-profile with its annual coyote-killing competition also involving child participants.

Usually this yearÕs 40 carcasses would have been proudly lined up in front of a local store for all to admire, but because of outsider scrutiny, they were displayed behind locked gates. The scene turned violent when a 73-year-old hunt opponent photographing 50 camo-garbed participants was allegedly shoved to the ground, seriously injuring his lower spine. The store owner, who allegedly pushed the senior citizen, stated that he Òwas provoked.Ó The altercation was witnessed by a California Department of Forestry and Wildlife game warden who made a statement to Modoc County sheriff's deputies and helped the injured senior in seeking medical attention. Charges will be reviewed by the county Sheriff who is listed as a sponsor of the 2014 Coyote Derby on a commemorative t-shirt provided to participants.

Coyote advocates have stated that these aggressive actions were another reason to end such contests. "Killing wildlife en masse for fun and prizes is callous, disrespectful and violent," said Camilla Fox, director of Project CoyoteÉ We need to stop perpetuating this culture of violence by starting with a statewide ban on wildlife killing contests."

In CaliforniaÕs Central Valley informal coyote-killing contests are growing in popularity and in number. Organized team-killing in Kern and Fresno Counties, with cash prizes for the highest kill by hunters, are happening with regularity; meets are often arranged by Internet connection.

With the violence to wildlife escalating, Project Coyote reported that on February 5th, ÒÉthe California Fish & Game Commission voted unanimously (4-0) to consider a statewide ban on wildlife killing contests at the request of Project CoyoteÉ Newly elected Commission Vice President Jack Baylis put forth the motion to move forward on a formal rule making process to consider prohibiting wildlife-killing contests statewide. Commission President Michael Sutton stated he has been concerned about these killing contests for some time. They seem inconsistent both with ethical standards of hunting and our current understanding of the important role predators play in ecosystems. Ó

Lend your support: view Project CoyoteÕs petition calling for a statewide ban on wildlife killing contests at:

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