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Coyote-killing contest

Photo from an undercover investigation of an Oregon wildlife-killing contest.

“I never thought that we could get lower than hounders in general. I was wrong. These coyote haters and their sick contests are the lowest of the low.” ~ Our Wisconsin, Our Wildlife/Hound Free Public Lands

“Trucks pulled into the parking lot one after the other to unload the bodies of the animals. The contestants laughed and joked about their kills as they tossed dozens of bloody carcasses from the trucks and dragged them across the parking lot so they can be weighed. One participant remarked that the snow covering the ground made it easier to track and kill the coyotes, and another pointed out, to laughter, ‘This one here got gut shot.’” An HSUS undercover investigation of an Oregon killing contest shows the animals tossed around like trash.

A bill has been authored in Oregon to ban these contests, which have taken place under the radar around the country for decades, including Wisconsin. Vermont and California have already banned them.

Now bills are being introduced to stop this travesty in Wisconsin. Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, has proposed a bill, which has just been submitted for a Senate bill number (LRB 1453/1) to ban the contests, and Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, is writing a companion bill in the Assembly.

This is the time for citizens to step up, thank Risser and Taylor for their bills, and urge legislators to cosponsor the measures, pass the bills through committee, and then vote on the floor in their favor. So far, no Republican legislators have signed on to support Risser’s bill. Nine Democrats are co-sponsors. 

Take a few minutes to contact the people listed in the action alert below. 

Madison's radio station WORT recently interviewed Camilla Fox of Project Coyote about the impacts that these killing contests have on the environment and on social, sensitive animals very much like our pet dogs. Join Project Coyote’s coalition to end these contests here.

Moondog Madness held their annual killing spree in Wisconsin over three recent weekends, and killed a record 155 coyotes. Citizens can scroll down on the group's Facebook page to see the carnage, gloating, and total disrespect for the lives of our wildlife. Most are thrown in dumpsters or dumped on public lands. Killing contests expose the folly of the myth of “fair chase.” These events are not even monitored by the Department of Natural Resources.

Since the wolf-hating Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, chairs the state Senate's “sporting heritage” (Sporting Heritage, Mining and Forestry) committee and Rep. Rob Stafsholt, R-New Richmond, a bear hunter, chairs the Assembly's comparable committee, it will take intensive public pressure to get them to hold hearings and a vote on the bills. Stafsholt’s biography states, “He is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, member of the Farm Bureau … member of the Sportsman’s Alliance, member of the Wisconsin Chapter of Safari Club International, and was a longtime member of the Board of Directors for the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association.” Looking through the committee memberships, 80 percent of members have similar backgrounds and interests.

Yale Environment 360 published “Coyote Carnage: The Gruesome Truth about Wildlife Killing Contests” in May 2018. The article by Ted Williams describes a 2014 undercover report by Christopher Ketcham, who was told by contestant named Cal: “'Gut-shoot every goddamn last one of them wolves.’ Ketcham goes on to report that Cal recommended armor-piercing bullets, explaining that gut-shooting with these rounds, rather than aiming for the heart or lungs, has two advantages: First, they’ll pass right through instead of mushrooming; so the animal will suffer, running in panic for a mile or so before it bleeds out. Second, if you’re hunting illegally (as recommended by other contestants), game wardens won’t find a bullet.”

Some 400,000 to 500,000 coyotes are killed in the United States annually. About 80,000 are killed by Wildlife Services, the federal arm of the Department of Agriculture, at a taxpayer expense of $20 million, by shooting them from the air, poisoning, trapping, killing pups in dens. The government orchestrates it. This is not in response to coyote aggression, but to facilitate livestock grazing on our public lands.

Coyotes and foxes are seasonal consumers. In summer, their scat is similar to that of a bear — full of berries and fruits. In August, it is full of grasshoppers and insects. Year-round they specialize in mice control and small mammals. Rarely, they are opportunistic eaters of fawn, deer, feral cats and small farm-animal predators.

There is zero effort by the state Department of Natural Resources to educate hunters about the vital role of natural predators and all wildlife in protecting human health by weaving together healthy ecosystems. The DNR's silence reinforces ignorance and cruelty. Responsible for orchestrating the annual carnage of thousands of bears, coyotes, foxes and bobcats, the DNR promotes irrational mismanagement and arbitrary quotas that are killing off important keystone species.

In December, as her very first act after taking office, New Mexico State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard signed an executive order  banning wildlife killing contests for coyotes and other unprotected species on state trust lands, an area of 9.5 million acres of land in 32 of 33 counties in New Mexico.

Could Gov. Tony Evers do the same?

Nicole Rivard of Friends of Animals writes on All-Creatures.org: “Wildlife species should be revered not only because they are sentient beings but because the health of our ecosystems depend on them. I learned by reading Dan Flores’ book 'Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History' that coyotes and humans are among the few mammals in the world who have evolved fission-fusion societies, the ability to live singly or communally — one of the explanations for the success of us and them.

"Flores says that in more ways than you would imagine, ‘this story is about us. The coyote is a kind of special Darwinian mirror, reflecting back insights about ourselves as fellow mammals.’”

Right now they look better than we do.


Action Alert: What you can do to ban wildlife-killing contests:

Email this column and my recent column on the same topic to legislators along with your comments, urging them to cosponsor and support Sen. Risser’s and Rep. Taylor's bills. Ask the aide to take your name and address and ask for a commitment and reply.

Email and call the following:

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Gov. Tony Evers: 608-266-1212 / EversInfo@wisconsin.gov

DNR Secretary Preston Cole: preston.cole@wisconsin.gov

Sen. Fred Risser: Sen.Risser@legis.wisconsin.gov, 608-266-1627 and thank him for his Senate bill.

Rep. Chris Taylor: Rep.Taylor@legis.wi.gov, 608-266-5342 and thank her for her Assembly companion bill.

Natural Resources Board: Laurie.Ross@wisconsin.gov

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, 608-266-5660, Sen.Fitzgerald@legis.wisconsin.gov to pressure Sen. Tom Tiffany to hold hearings and bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, 608-266-9171, Rep.Vos@legis.wisconsin.gov to urge Rep. Rob Stafsholt to support and bring this bill to hearings and a vote.

 

Patricia Randolph of Portage is a longtime activist for wildlife. madravenspeak@gmail.com or www.wiwildlifeethic.org

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