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Coyote Carnage: The Gruesome Truth about Wildlife Killing Contests

Wildlife killing contests are legal in all U.S. states save California. The most popular targets are coyotes — “varmints,” as they’re commonly called even by some wildlife officials.

Contestants fan out into the countryside, and, with rifles often equipped with telescopic sights, methodically pick off any coyote that is flushed out by dogs or comes to investigate calls that mimic wounded prey. The most prolific killers win cash or prizes like outdoor paraphernalia and AR-15 rifles. Sometimes there’s a children’s division.

Body counts are impressive. Example: In last January’s Big Sandy American Legions’ annual “Coyote Derby” in northern Montana, 146 contestants dispatched 191 animals. Carcasses are piled or hung, photographed and, in virtually all cases, discarded.

Also targeted in coyote killing contests are other “varmints” that happen to show themselves. These can include bobcats, foxes, raccoons, crows, rodents such as prairie dogs, and even wolves.

The sponsors of the killing contests wrongly argue that these events help prevent coyotes from taking livestock and deer.

You may legally kill most “varmints” whenever you want and in any quantity you want. And, because few of these animals are officially designated as “game,” hunting regulations prohibiting “wanton waste” don’t apply — you can just let them rot where they drop. Utah, Colorado, Texas, Virginia, and South Dakota even pay coyote bounties.

Hundreds of varmint killing competitions take place across the country with names like Southern Illinois Predator Challenge, Oklahoma’s Cast & Bang State Predator Championship, Park County (Wyoming) Predator Palooza, Iowa Coyote Classic, Idaho Varmint Hunters Blast from the Past, Michigan’s Dog Down Coyote Tournament, Minnesota’s Save the Birds Coyote Hunting Tournament, and the Great Lakes Region Predator Challenge.

Read full article:  Coyote Carnage: The Gruesome Truth About Wildlife Killing Contests

Photo:  Greg Kramos/USFWS


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