Organized coyote hunts are now targets, but so far not in Pennsylvania
As I put the finishing touches on this blog, a news story just aired about two attacks by coyotes in Chicago, one victim a child; the other an elderly man. One wonders how those kind of incidents — which are growing more common — will affect peoples’ opinions on the following …
A bit of research has revealed that organized coyote hunts are held in at least 45 states, but Pennsylvania — with at least 30 organized predator hunts this winter — has more than any other state. Paradoxically, unlike many other states, we have experienced very little controversy related to organized coyote hunts. But that may be about to change.
With 12 hunts planned this month, 17 slated in February and one scheduled in early March, we are all about organized coyote hunting here. All of those events are held by sportsmen’s and municipal groups as fundraisers.
The highlight of Pennsylvania’s organized coyote hunts, of course, is the Mosquito Creek Sportsmen’s contest Feb. 21-23, which is the largest coyote hunt in the United States.
Although there has been no recent criticism of the organized hunts here, the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board recently voted to ban coyote-hunting contests. That ban will prohibit hunting contests for “predators and furbearers,” which includes coyotes, bobcats, red foxes, gray foxes, weasels, minks, skunks, river otters, muskrats, beavers, fishers, raccoons and opossums.
On its website, the state agency, dubbed “MassWildlife,” wrote that the new rule “addresses public concerns that these hunting contests are unethical, contribute to the waste of animals and incentivize indiscriminate killing of wildlife.”
Interestingly, Massachusetts’ new rules also ban the “wanton waste” of birds and game animals that are legally killed during hunting seasons. That means a hunter cannot “intentionally or knowingly leave a wounded or dead animal or bird in the field or the forest without making a reasonable effort to retrieve and use it.”
California, Arizona, Vermont and New Mexico have similar bans in place, and lawmakers in New Jersey, New York and Oregon are reportedly considering some form of ban. Their efforts are responses to organized coyote hunts drawing protests from animal rights activists, who call the contests “barbaric and wasteful killing of treasured wildlife.”
The “treasured wildlife” concept will be difficult to attach to coyotes in Pennsylvania with our super strong deer-hunting heritage, given that coyotes kill many thousands of fawns here each spring. And there seems to be endless hordes of coyotes here.
Still, even among hunter ranks, a distaste for organized coyote hunts is growing.in other states. When Arizona banned coyote hunting contests, the chairman of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission said they weren’t “painting the right picture of what ethical hunting and fair chase is all about.”