Humane Society condemns NY coyote hunt contest
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, N.Y. – The Humane Society of the United State has condemned the Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs of Sullivan County’s annual coyote hunting and trapping contest as being “cruel, wasteful and unsporting.”
,And it is calling on state lawmakers to follow the example of five other states who have outlawed such competitions.
The Humane Society this week put out a news release noting it had an “undercover investigator” at the event, held Feb. 7-9 in Sullivan County, The firehouse in White Sulphur Springs was used as the weigh-in station. The investigator found that participants were “piling up dozens of dead coyotes, weighing them for cash and prizes before discarding some in a trash dumpster.”
Methods used by the hunters, the society said, included leg hold traps, bait and digital calling devices to “draw (coyotes) in for easy shots." The group described the Sullivan County event as one of New York’s “largest wildlife killing contests.”
The contest was open to participants throughout the state and six counties in Pennsylvania. A total of 636 hunters participated and a record take of 118 coyotes were turned in this year, breaking the previous record of 85 set in 2017.
This year’s winner took home $2,440 for shooting a 50.3 pound female. Other top finishers in several categories were also awarded cash prizes. Each hunter who turned in a coyote won $80. A total of about $10,000 in cash and prizes were handed out.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation does not endorse such competition, nor does it condemn them. Coyote hunting is legal in New York and the season (Oct. 1 to March 29) is the longest hunting season in the state. They can be hunted day or night and there are not bag limits. The methods condemned by the society are all legal. Coyotes are not native to New York, first appearing on the state’s scene in early 1930s, according to the DEC.
Jack Danchak, president of the sportsmen’s Federation, defended the competition in an interview with the Times-Herald Record newspaper in Middletown.
“We’re helping to deplete an exploding coyote population,” he told the newspaper. “They are all over this state.”
He said coyotes, faced with a dwindling food supply, “are increasingly targeting not only wild turkeys and deer, but sheep, chickens and goats being raised by farmers.” And if given the chance, will go after small pet dogs and cats, he added.
Conflicts between humans and coyotes are common. The DEC has a page on its website dedicated to advice on how to eliminate or keep such problems at a minimum.
“The Eastern coyote is firmly established in New York,” according to the DEC. "They live in New York as an integral part of our ecosystems. People and coyotes can usually coexist if the natural fear of people that coyotes have is maintained. Pets and young children are typically most at risk."
The Humane Society contested Danchak’s argument supporting the contest.
Brian Shapiro, the group’s New York State Director, said “wildlife-killing contests are cruel, wanton waste of our wildlife resources and go counter to science-based management. New York’s wildlife belongs to all of its citizens, not just those who selfishly use and kill animals as disposable objects in a contest for cash and prizes.”
The society in its news release noted, “wildlife management professionals and scientists stress that killing coyotes in these contests will not yield more deer and turkey for hunters.” The group, citing a Pennsylvania wildlife biologist, stated that “wild carnivore species like coyote and foxes do not ‘overpopulate.’ They self-regulate their own numbers based on available habitat and food sources.”
The group asks those who are against such contests to contact state lawmakers and urge passage of legislation (A.722B/S.7542) to end wildlife killing contests in New York.
At this point, California, Vermont, New Mexico, Arizona and Massachusetts have done so.