Our WU mission embraces the importance of engagement for the younger generation and supporting their interest in conservation. A local Wyoming 7th grader reached out to us to share a disturbing family vacation experience which resulted in a petition to stop killing coyotes in Wyoming. Please read her story, and join us to support this petition which will gather signatures that will be sent to Wyoming wildlife decision-makers: our Wyoming Governor, legislators, wildlife management agencies, federal agencies, Secretary Haaland, and more. Thank you!
“I am a 7th grader who lives in Wyoming. I am doing this for a school project called “Combat the Silence.” We were asked to pick a topic that we believe needs to be changed in our society. We then need to go out in to our community and make a difference. I chose this topic because I had a personal experience that moved me to act. My family and I were on the way to Utah for our spring break 2021 when we pulled over on Highway 89 on the south side of Salt Creek Pass south of Afton, Wyoming to stretch our legs. My dad was looking at the small creek and then asked us, “Does that look like someone dumped a pile of coyotes?” I went over to look because it could not be true that someone could be that destructive. At the time, I did not know that what we witnessed was legal, or that it was happening in our state and country. Next to the pile of dead coyotes there was a cooler with a rib cage and a few steaks. Our initial thought was that they must have been poisoned because there was raw meat in a cooler next to a number of dead coyotes. We called Wyoming Game and Fish and were appalled when they told us that coyotes were predators that could be killed legally and removed by any means. A game warden was concerned about the cooler and the possibility of illegal poisoning and went to investigate. The chief concern was that other scavengers and birds could be killed if the cooler was a poison trap. A day later in the Utah desert, we got a call from the warden explaining that they had not been poisoned but possibly lured in by the meat or simply dumped there. The newspaper published this story and it was shared about 500 times across social media. While many commenters were appalled, there were many comments saying, “Go back to California” and “If you don’t like it leave”. How can we just stand still and let this happen before our own eyes? This is why I decided to bring this topic in the light. It happens every day under our noses.”
Combat the Silence - Letter to WU
Dear Wyoming Untrapped,
My name is Kylie Brown, I am currently in the 7th grade at middle school. We are doing a project called combat the silence. We were asked to pick a topic relevant in our state, country and world. I choose how coyote killing in Wyoming and in almost every other state is legal. I found this a very important topic because I had personal experience with the topic. My family and I had encountered 9 dead coyotes on the side of the road when we had stopped to stretch our legs on a road trip. I had no idea that coyotes were able to be legally removed or killed in Wyoming. I have been researching this topic for a couple of weeks now, and now the next part of the project is “Guts Factor”! I had to go out of school and do something about this topic. Because this topic is not very targeted in our state I created a petition and website in the hope to raise awareness about this topic. I have chosen to send this petition to you. I am doing this with hopes that you could possibly take the petition to a large-scaled audience! By myself I have collected 118 signatures and am still fighting for more.
I read on your website that as an organization you believe that the best way to create change around animal injustice is to advocate and educate. I understand that this is a big task and it takes a lot of commitment! Thank you so much for your time and effort to save animals!
If you have any questions you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or text/call me at 307-690-9528. Thank you for your time. Additionally, I have the website link here, https//ellstu.wixsite.com/bancoyotekills.
Sincerely, Kylie Brown
“My mission is to create justice for the predators in Wyoming and our country. Currently, there is no wrongdoing when a number of predators are killed including the coyote. My goal is to bring this sad topic into the public eye so that we can make a change to predator laws.”
According to a 2019 report,”It is perfectly legal in Wyoming to chase coyotes down on snowmobiles until they’re exhausted and defenseless, then run over them several times. It’s more eye-opening still that the people who consider this activity a “sport” scoop up the lifeless coyotes by their tails, then finish them off”. Predator killing contests aren’t particularly uncommon, and they’re legal everywhere in the U.S. except for seven states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Vermont, Washington. Most involve guns and coyotes, which some wildlife officials classify as varmints. In those contests, hunters fan out the countryside with rifles equipped with telescopic sights. Hunters pick off as many coyotes as they can.
Running over coyotes with snowmobiles is legal
THE THREAT TO LIVESTOCK
“According to a 2019 report,”It is perfectly legal in Wyoming to chase coyotes down on snowmobiles until they’re exhausted and defenseless, then run over them several times. It’s more eye-opening still that the people who consider this activity a “sport” scoop up the lifeless coyotes by their tails, then finish them off”. “Predator killing contests aren’t particularly uncommon, and they’re legal everywhere in the U.S. except California. Most involve guns and coyotes, which some wildlife officials classify as varmints. In those contests, hunters fan out the countryside with rifles equipped with telescopic sights. Hunters pick off as many coyotes as they can” (Dalbey).”
An additional study was done, “At least 400,000 coyotes are killed each year in the U.S. That’s an average of nearly 1,100 individuals a day” (The Rainforest Sight).
THE GRUESOME REALITY
“The harsh reality of coyote killing makes you want to cry. The amount of evil that takes place every day is dehumanizing. It makes me ashamed to live in a state were it is legal to kill unlimited numbers of coyotes for fun and personal enjoyment. So many innocent coyotes die each day for no reason what so ever. It is legal to shoot coyotes at anytime during the year. However in 2019 a bill was signed that you can not use the M-44 poisoning device in almost 10 million acres in Wyoming. The M-44 device is one that is filled with a gass that causes them to basically suffocate from the inside. Please help us continue to make a difference for these beautiful animals!”
THE COYOTE KILLING CONTESTS
“Coyote killing contests are not uncommon. Basically what they consist of is a large group of hunters spanning out for a certain period of time in a competition of who can kill the most coyotes or who can kill the largest. Many times there is prize money or a new rifle. Nobody thinks of how this affects the lives of coyotes. Just think about it. If someone kills a mother of a group of pups that are waiting for her to get home those pups will stave and be easy prey.”
Wyoming Coyote Pups
“With its uncanny night howls, unrivaled ingenuity, and amazing resilience, the coyote is the stuff of legends. In Indian folktales it often appears as a deceptive trickster or a sly genius. But legends don’t come close to capturing the incredible survival story of the coyote.
As soon as Americans….began ranching and herding in the West, they began working to destroy the coyote. Despite campaigns of annihilation employing poisons, gases, helicopters, and engineered epidemics, coyotes didn’t just survive, they thrived, expanding across the continent from Anchorage, Alaska, to New York’s Central Park. In the war between humans and coyotes, coyotes have won hands down.”
– Dan Flores
"Song Dogs" - Persecuted Throughout Wyoming
Experts agree that wildlife killing contests are cruel, unsporting and counterproductive to sound wildlife management. Below are a few comments from leading experts about wildlife killing contests:
“I’ve 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.”
“Awarding prizes for wildlife killing contests is both unethical and inconsistent with our current understanding of natural systems. Such contests are an anachronism and have no place in modern wildlife management.” Michael Sutton, former president, California Fish and Game Commission
“The wildlife management profession does not generally recognize the use of contests as a tool with substantial wildlife management effect.” State of Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners, August 2016
“Killing contests are not a proper way of introducing youth to the outdoors. I know, for I am an Eagle Scout. There was no killing involved in developing in me my love of nature.” Richard Rogers, former commissioner, California Fish and Game Commission
“A society that condones unlimited killing of any species for fun and prizes is morally bankrupt.” David R. Parsons, MS in Wildlife Ecology from Oregon State University, retired from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
“After decades of using predator control (such as paying bounties) with no effect, and the emergence of wildlife management as a science, the [Pennsylvania Game Commission] finally accepted the reality that predator control does not work. … Predators—whether they be hawks, owls, eagles, bears or foxes—are an important part of Penns Woods. The species don’t compete with our hunters for game.
” Pennsylvania Game Commission, 2016 statement “Shooting contests conducted in the name of killing animals for fun, money and prizes is just not consistent with the values of most people in the modern world.” Larry Shoen, farmer, commissioner on the Board of County Commissioners, Blaine County, Idaho
“I have hunted all of my adult life. Hunting is not a contest and it should never be a competitive activity about who can kill the most or the biggest animals. The supporters of these sorts of activities would no doubt claim to be great defenders of hunting, yet they go out of their way to publicly present the worst possible image of hunting. If we hunters don’t clean up our own act, someone else will do it for us and What do leading wildlife managers say?
“As ranchers who know that livestock and wildlife can coexist, we feel it’s important to do what we can to help end this unnecessary war on wildlife. … It angers us when these contests are promoted as a way to help ranchers protect their livestock. The reality is, there is no noble purpose behind a killing contest.” Keli Hendricks, rancher, member of Project Coyote Advisory Board
“The non-specific, indiscriminate killing methods used in this commercial and unrestricted coyote killing contest are not about hunting or sound land management. These contests are about personal profit, animal cruelty. … It is time to outlaw this highly destructive activity.” Ray Powell, former New Mexico Commissioner of State Lands. (HSUS)
Proponents of the killing contests euphemistically refer to the events as “calling contests,” emphasizing the skill involved in luring the prey rather than the kill. Molde says the refusal of “killing contest participants to come to the events with their cameras and leave their guns at home,” awarding prizes to the person able to call, rather than kill the most coyotes, belies their true intention. “That they won’t accept that as ‘middle ground’ tells us that it’s the killing, not the calling, that is at the heart of these events,” he said.
Don Molde, Nevada Wildlife Alliance
Photography has the power to shift our understanding of our wild Wyoming to build a healthy and thriving ecosystem that benefits the lives of everyone. Thank you to the following photographers for graciously sharing high-quality images of the coyote.
Cover: Wyoming Coyote in the Wind
© Ashleigh Scully
Local Wyoming Photographer
Wyoming Coyote Pups
© John Fandek
Coyote in the Forest
© Danielle Pahlisch