Letter to the editor: Ban on coyote kill contests lauded

A passionate and persistent coalition of landowners, biologists, farmers, hunters, wildlife enthusiasts, and others overcame opposition from paid lobbyists and Vermont’s own Fish and Wildlife Department to ban coyote killing contests for prizes. Vermont will be? only the second state in the country to do so thanks to the successful passage of H.636.
Last year, Protect Our Wildlife (POW) was approached by Vermont residents who were appalled by the wastefulness and cruelty involved with ?coyote killing contests. Vermont residents wrote and called their legislators, and the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department; they signed petitions; demonstrated against the hunts and many posted their land against all hunting in protest of the contests.
In February 2017, POW helped organize a protest of a coyote-killing contest that was scheduled to be held ?in Bristol, which likely led to the contest being canceled. In December 2017, POW tenaciously opposed a statewide coyote-killing contest that was organized by a Londonderry business. That contest was also canceled.
These contests occurred throughout Vermont and often operated out of public view. They awarded prizes to those who killed the most coyotes, the biggest, the smallest, even the ugliest coyote. Prizes have included cash, guns and other items. Hunters routinely use electronic calling devices that lure these curious and? social? animals by imitating the sounds of a fellow coyote or prey in distress. They also use radio collared dogs to chase a coyote to the point of exhaustion and then either shoot the coyote or allow their dogs to descend on the injured animal.
Contest participants often toss away the bodies like trash. Social media has provided a stark view into this underworld of “hunting,” since contest participants post photos of piles of ?bloodied coyotes as they’re being weighed in at contests.
Coyotes can still be hunted 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year in Vermont. This open season results in dependent young becoming orphaned and left to die from starvation, predation, or exposure.
So there’s more work to be done but this initial victory for the animals is a great start!
Leslie Blow

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