Colorado bans all wildlife killing contests targeting coyotes, swift foxes and other species as more western states consider similar measures

Colorado has closed a loophole in its law to end all wildlife killing contests of furbearing animals, including coyotes, bobcats, swift foxes and prairie dogs.

Although the state had already banned most such contests in 1997, a regulatory loophole permitted some events that limited the numbers of animals killed to continue. This meant that contests like the “High Desert Coyote Classic,” the “Song Dog Coyote Hunt,” a youth-centered “Prairie Dog Shoot” and the “Four Corners Predator Callers Predator Hunt,” which allowed the killing of five animals per person, could go on.

The Humane Society of the United States has made it our mission to end all wildlife killing contests and last November we joined a coalition of animal welfare and environmental groups to file a petition asking the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission to ban these contests altogether. Soon after, Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff advanced its own proposed ban, and last Thursday, members of the state Parks and Wildlife Commission voted 8-3 to approve it.

Wildlife killing contests are gruesome events, in which participants compete to kill some of the most persecuted animals on the North American continent for cash and prizes. Besides being inhumane, these contests undermine modern, science‐based wildlife management principles. Wild carnivores like coyotes and foxes regulate their own numbers according to available habitat and prey, and the random and mass killing of these animals does not prevent conflicts with livestock, people or pets. Prairie dogs, often a target of killing contests in the state, are an important keystone species in Colorado’s ecosystem.

Hundreds of such contests are held each year across the country but increasingly states are beginning to crack down on them. Colorado joins five other states that have passed similar laws in the last six years, most of them western states. In 2014, California led the way with a regulatory ban on killing contests for cash and prizes. New Mexico and Arizona both abolished wildlife killing contests in 2019.

In the Northeast, Massachusetts and Vermont have also banned such contests.

In Oregon, bills were introduced in 2019 and 2020 to ban coyote killing contests and they had strong support from legislators, the public, scientists, wildlife management professionals and hunters. Unfortunately, both bills (along with many others) were scuttled but we are already planning to return in 2021 to end coyote killing contests once and for all in Oregon.

We also expect the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission to soon propose its own a regulatory ban. In Montana and Nevada, too, we have seen growing interest in recent years for banning wildlife killing contests.

The momentum for ending these contests has built up over the years as we have exposed how horrible they are through undercover investigations in four states—Oregon, New York, New Jersey and Maryland. In March, we released our latest undercover investigation of a coyote killing contest in New York State that showed participants dumping the bodies of dozens of coyotes like garbage. The ban in Colorado is an important one, and we’re grateful to wildlife officials there and the growing numbers of their colleagues across the United States for recognizing the damage these gruesome competitions inflict on wildlife and their habitats.

The work that we are doing to fight wildlife killing contests is an example of how our efforts to continue all of our lifesaving work for animals has continued during the coronavirus crisis. Today is a day when the world is coming together to support nonprofits through the global #GivingTuesdayNow. We would be so grateful if you could show your support for the Humane Society of the United States, whether it’s our work to keep pets and people together during these difficult times, to protect wildlife, or our other efforts to fight the biggest battles that animals face today, with a special Giving Tuesday gift.

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