Controversy has arisen over Oregon Coyote Contests, which are hunting contests targeting coyotes in the state. The Department of Fish and Wildlife defines coyotes as predators with virtually no legal protection, and their hunting season is year-round with no limit. Recently, the state’s Fish and Wildlife Commission rejected a petition from animal welfare groups to ban coyote hunting contests, but directed staff to look for ways to work around the current state law.
An investigative team recently visited Burns, Oregon, but found no obvious signs of the “Coyote Classic” hunting event. There were no advertisements in the weekly paper or storefront signage. However, hunting enthusiast and former contest organizer, Merle Reid, confirmed that the contest was taking place. Reid explained that they have been advertising less due to the backlash against coyote hunting and predator control. He stated that the event was an opportunity for hunting enthusiasts to participate, and people from other states, including Nevada, Idaho, and Washington, often join the hunt.
Coyote Hunting Contests
Adam Bronstein with the Western Watersheds Project claimed that it is unethical to kill coyotes for sport and blood. The Humane Society of the United States spokesperson, Katie Stennes, compared the practice to bloodsports like dogfighting or cockfighting, which are illegal in every state. However, Harney County Commissioner Kristen Shelman disagreed and stated that most ranchers in Oregon welcome the opportunity to control the predator population, which poses a threat to their livestock.
Despite the disagreements, the hunting of coyotes remains a contentious issue. Ranchers in Oregon’s southeast corner have expressed opposition to the calls for the ban on coyote contests, stating that the government cannot regulate their activities in Salem. They argue that killing coyotes is necessary for the survival of their livestock. However, animal welfare groups argue that such contests are cruel and have no place in society.
The Coyote Classic is not the only hunting contest targeted by animal welfare groups. In 2021, California passed a law banning wildlife-killing contests that awarded prizes for the most animals killed, such as coyotes, foxes, and bobcats.
The controversy over Oregon Coyote Contests is likely to continue as people on both sides of the debate hold firm to their positions. It looks like the Department of Fish and Wildlife will need to find ways to balance the needs of ranchers with healthy predator control and management.