On a freezing, rainy Sunday night, cold beer flows freely at the weigh-in and judging phase of the Parlin Buck Club’s fourth Annual 24-Hour Predator Killing Contest in Barnegat, New Jersey. An undercover investigator for the Humane Society of the United States films a group of men laughing and posing in front of about 15 dead foxes hanging by their feet from a rack. Several weeks earlier and a few hundred miles away, our investigator filmed participants in the Bark at the Moon Coyote Club’s New York State Predator Hunt in Macedon near Lake Ontario, as they placed the animals they’d killed in rows outside a restaurant. About 200 animals were piled up to be counted, weighed and displayed.
These scenes of casual indifference to the suffering and death of animals are captured in our undercover investigation video of wildlife killing contests in New York state and New Jersey. The investigation was carried out in early 2018.
We’ve discussed these grisly spectacles before, where participants compete to win prizes for gathering the most animal carcasses; sadly, they happen more often than you might imagine. Our investigators’ video gives you a chance to witness for yourself what goes on at these depraved and cruel events.
The most common victims of these killing contests are native carnivores like coyotes, foxes and bobcats, but other species in the crosshairs include crows, wild pigs, squirrels, rattlesnakes, raccoons, rabbits, porcupines, badgers, skunks and even mountain lions and wolves. Countless dependent young may be orphaned during these events, left to die from starvation, predation or exposure.
While some contest organizers say the events provide a service to hunters by removing animal species that also eat deer or turkeys, there is no science to support that claim. On the contrary, it is their victims, the native carnivores they kill, who provide vital ecological services. They do so by controlling populations of other species, benefiting crop and timber growth and supporting biodiversity.
We’re making progress in our fight to stop these horrible events. In 2014, California banned contests in which cash or prizes valued at $500 or more are offered. Colorado now limits the number of animals that can be killed by wildlife killing contest participants. In 2017, Maryland placed a moratorium on cownose ray killing contests in the Chesapeake Bay. In New York, Assembly member Deborah Glick, D-Manhattan, and Senator Phil Boyle, R-Bay Shore, have introduced legislation that would end this senseless practice. In coming months, more states will put forward proposals that seek to prohibit these killing contests, and we’ll be backing them.
Last fall, we launched our toolkit, “Wildlife Killing Contests: A Guide to Ending the Blood Sport in Your Community,” which has become a valuable resource for wildlife advocates, organizations and even city governments. We have also joined with Project Coyote and 19 other like-minded local, state and national organizations to form the National Coalition to End Wildlife Killing Contests, to increase public education and to encourage policy change at the local and state levels.
To help make a difference, sign our petition calling on your state’s wildlife management agency to put an end to these cruel, pointless and counterproductive wildlife killing contests.