Letter to the editor: Coyote hunts are example of ‘gratuitous violence’

In a 21st century society, coyote killing contests, often known as “canned hunts,” are an outdated and cruel source of “entertainment.” In exchange for cash or other prizes, these “contests” allow coyote hunters to kill in a variety of categories, including largest, smallest, “ugliest” and others; there is no limit to the number that may be killed in the contest.
The chilling and inhumane message these events send is that killing and gratuitous violence are fun, life is cheap and wild animals are disposable. They serve no ecological purpose. These events are, sadly, still allowed by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. Coyotes are social, pack animals that are apex predators vital to the predator/prey ecological balance.
In Vermont, they may be hunted at any time during the year and there is no limit on the number that may be killed. This “open season” is ineffective at population control, leading to disruption in the pack’s structure, orphaned pups left to starve and bodies left to rot where they die.
As coyote populations drop, rodent populations increase, resulting in an increased threat of rodent-borne disease. The continuous striving to reduce their numbers is counter-productive to ecosystem-based management and at odds with principles of conservation biology. 
The people of Vermont have proved that they support fairness and humane treatment for all animals. In this light, therefore, the cruel and indefensible killing of coyotes in “contests” must be stopped and a science-based, regulated season employed for the purpose of their management.
Anne Jameson

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