Victory: Oregon Bans Barbaric Wildlife Killing Contests
We’re thrilled to celebrate a decisive victory for coyotes and other unprotected mammals in Oregon. On September 15, 2023, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission voted unanimously to ban wildlife killing contests on public lands. Most of the 40 people who testified supported the proposed ruling, despite organized opposition from wildlife killing contestants, hunters, and ranchers.
Coyotes have been the most common victims in Oregon’s wildlife killing contests, with over 1,000 coyotes killed over the last four years alone. The Harney County Coyote Classic drew 500 contestants annually to win thousands of prize dollars for killing the most animals in a short period of time. There is no excuse for these indiscriminate killing sprees and it’s also not sound science.
Studies show that killing contests don't reduce coyote populations and can increase them by disrupting pack structure. Researchers at Oregon State University found that as more coyotes were killed, more coyote pups were born, and their parents were more likely to kill sheep. Coyote killing contests thrive on outdated views of wild animals as evil or as “pests,” while modern science heralds predators as members of keystone species who maintain healthy ecosystems.
Last December, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission directed the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to work with the state’s Department of Justice to draft a rule to ban killing contests. The resulting rule makes it “unlawful to organize, sponsor, conduct or participate in a contest that has the objective of killing unprotected mammals native to Oregon.”
Although most killing contests are aimed at coyotes, other animals will benefit from the new rule. In Oregon, unprotected mammals are badgers, coyotes, gophers, certain moles (Scapanus townsendii, S. orarius, and S. latimanus), mountain beavers, yellow-bellied marmots, nutrias, opossums, porcupines, spotted skunks, striped skunks, and weasels. Currently, birds (in particular crows who are frequent victims of killing contests), fish, and reptiles are not covered by the ban, and killing contests can still be held on private land, but this is a huge victory positively affecting countless animals.
Oregon is the ninth state to ban most wildlife killing contests. This hard-won victory was due to coalition efforts between many national and local organizations. We’re on the steering committee for the National Coalition to End Wildlife Killing Contests and attend monthly meetings to strategize the end of this cruel bloodsport. So far, we’ve passed statewide bans in Arizona, California, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Vermont, and Washington.
We give huge thanks to our Oregon supporters who helped pass this ruling by providing in-person testimony and by writing to their legislators. We sent statewide requests to uphold the proposed ruling this year and urged Oregon legislators to ban wildlife killing contests in 2021. With your help, we laid the groundwork for this hard-won victory!
Please continue to support our efforts to end gruesome wildlife-killing contests nationwide by making a donation today!