This week, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission voted 7 to 2 to ban wildlife killing contests statewide—making Washington the seventh state to ban the mass killing of animals such as coyotes, bobcats, crows, and foxes for sport, cash, and prizes. The new rule offers protections for animals who are often left out of other legislation. According to The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)—which has worked to end these contests through various investigations—at least 1,427 coyotes were killed as part of these contests in Washington state alone from 2013 to 2018. Prizes are awarded for killing the most animals, or the smallest ones, or often for nothing at all—for instance participants who “Can’t Shoot ‘Fer S**t” where given prizes at past events in Washington.
The contests are often justified by state officials as a form of population control, a baseless reason for killing wild animals according to HSUS President and CEO Kitty Block. “We have made it our mission to end all wildlife killing contests—gruesome events that make a game out of recklessly and indiscriminately killing animals for cash, prizes, and bragging rights,” Block said. “These competitions that feature piles of animal carcasses are not only cruel and unsporting, but they are also at odds with science. Wild carnivores like coyotes and foxes regulate their own numbers, and the mass killing of these animals does not prevent conflicts with livestock, people, or pets.”
Washington joins Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Vermont in implementing a ban on wildlife contests. HSUS recently conducted investigations in Oregon, New York, New Jersey, and Maryland in hopes that these, and all, states pass similar legislation. “We applaud the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission for passing this rule, which recognizes that the vast majority of the state’s citizens will not tolerate this reprehensible practice,” Dan Paul, Washington Senior State Director of HSUS, said. “We urge other states to follow.”