Do Wildlife Killing Contests Really Protect livestock?
Many Hunters Argue They Don’t.
“Varmints”, a term which includes coyotes, bobcats, foxes, raccoons, crows, wolves and rodents such as prairie dogs, may be legally killed whenever and in whatever quantity desired by the hunter and are not subject to “wanton waste” hunting regulations since they are not game. According to an article from Yale Environment 360 By Ted Williams, “Hundreds of varmint-killing competitions take place across the country with names like Southern Illinois Predator Challenge, Oklahoma’s Cast & Bang State Predator Championship…Idaho Varmint Hunters Blast from the Past…” These contests are legal in all US states except California. However, there is controversy over the role of these contests in the hunting community. Where varmint killers declare they are providing a valuable public service, helping to prevent coyotes from taking livestock and deer, traditional hunters like Carter Niemeyer, former employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services where he implemented “corrective” and “preventative” control of varmints, says these contests are “disgusting.” Niemeyer argues that “preventative” control, such as shooting any coyote from a helicopter because it might eat a sheep someday, only serves to remove the good coyotes and create a void to be filled by undesirable coyotes with interest in eating sheep. An excellent example is Georgia, where the state Department of Natural Resources sponsors the “Georgia Coyote Challenge”. The contest is intended to benefit deer; however, deer are so overpopulated in that statistic that the hunting season limit is 12 and hunters are allowed to use dogs.
In reality, having coyotes around can be beneficial to livestock and game. “When you have coyotes eating rodents and rabbits around sheep, that’s desirable,” states Niemeyer. Avid Pheasant hunter Rich Patterson published an article in 2017 where he stated that coyotes improve the pheasant population by driving off major pheasant predators such as raccoons, foxes, weasels etc. The Hunter’s Institute founder Jim Posewits had this to say about varmint contests, “I don’t think any form of hunting should be competitive. I think we need to encourage a more sensitive relationship with the animals we hunt.” To read the full article from Yale Environment 360 follow this link.
Continue reading: WMC_newsletter_may2018
Kate Keets VM2021
WMC Conservation Chair