Investigation finds online wildlife killing contests are thriving during pandemic

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

By on February 16, 2021 with 30 Comments

The Humane Society of the United States has helped make significant progress in ending wildlife killing contests, in which contestants massacre large numbers of coyotes, foxes, bobcats and other wild animals for cash prizes. Seven states now ban such contests and we are working with lawmakers in other states to end them. But the pandemic has added a new, insidious dimension to this cruelty, with more and more contests being held online, where they appear to be thriving.

Our investigators have been digging into these online contests, usually publicized over social media platforms, and what they have uncovered is a bizarre world where the judging and participation are virtual, but the cruelty is very much real. The online contests are also held with much greater frequency than the in-person events. Some occur as often as weekly, with occasional “big money” challenges. Participants no longer need to travel long distances to attend; with online events, they can find a contest online nearly any weekend, and kill animals wherever they live in the United States in order to participate. All they need to do is submit videos of the animals they’ve killed to be judged for prizes.

To ensure there’s no cheating, contests require the participants to jiggle the animals’ bodies to show their kills are fresh and that rigor mortis hasn’t set in, and utter keywords given to them at the beginning of the contest. In competitions for the heaviest animal slain, participants may be asked to show the mouths and rears of the animals to prove that they didn’t stuff their victims with rocks or other materials.

As with in-person contests, cash and prizes are awarded for the most, biggest or smallest animals killed. Contestants use sophisticated technology, including electronic calling devices that mimic prey animals or dependent young in distress, to lure coyotes, foxes and other animals out into the open, before shooting them with expensive, custom-built assault guns—even AR-15s—fitted with thermal imaging night vision scopes. Some of these weapons are used to record videos of the animal being shot so participants can compete in the judging category for “best kill.”

Online wildlife killing contests also appear to be skirting the jurisdiction of state legislatures and state wildlife agencies. Our investigators found that people from at least 42 states, including those where contest killing is banned, such as Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Massachusetts and Washington, have joined online contest websites.

We urge lawmakers and officials in the seven states that already have laws ending these contests, as well as lawmakers in other states where we are now working on similar legislation, to act swiftly to halt the online cruelty as well. We are also calling on Congress to pass a federal ban on wildlife killing contests, including online contests, at the earliest. You can help, by calling your Senators and Representative and urging them to end these barbaric events for good. Allowing wildlife killing contests to go online adds a new dimension of depravity to what was already a shameful pursuit. These contests serve absolutely no purpose and should not be allowed to exist.

Sara Amundson is president of Humane Society Legislative Fund.


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  1. Jeffrey Hubbard says:

    Animals deserve better.

  2. Nina Abernathy says:

    Stop the killing. It’s senseless, cruel and unethical. These animals belong here as much as we do.

  3. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    Esta violencia tiene que acabar ya no se puede permitir que más animalitos sigan sufriendo solo por diversión ya n mas abuso ni mas violencia

    • Jane k says:

      This is horrible and must be stopped. Killing living beings must be stopped! It’s always horribly wrong.
      Karma will get back to each one who hurts living beings

  4. Ewa Urbanski says:

    Beendigen Sie endlich das Massaker .Es ist genug!!!!

  5. Mihai Rosoga says:

    Bad! Bad! Bad!

  6. Jeane Camargo da Silva says:

    Para que os animais tivessem paz de espírito e pudessem viver, a pandemia tinha era que exterminar a raça humana do planeta.

  7. Cynthia Wilson says:

    Seeing these images truly haunts me. These creatures are made from God. They didn’t ask to be here and they deserve to survive and live just as much as we think we do. I’m outraged that there are actual people out there that still live in a time where people were uneducated and barbaric. It’s cruel and heartless and completely unnecessary. No amount of money is worth the slaying of these beautiful animals that our Lord God created!!

  8. Aria says:

    This need to stop. Stop taking out your violent nature on innocent animals and then look for cash on it. Stop

  9. Trina says:

    I am so disgusted and fed up with porchers killing the beauty of wildlife such as the whales,dolphins, polar bears,wolves,tigers and lions. It is bad enough that we have taken most of there lands that God have created for them. Please find a way to end this disaster and help keep up the beauty of nature of wildlife that God has created for us to enjoy and respect.

  10. Kathy Thompson says:

    I absolutely HATE the killing. It is disgusting. These people want to make themselves feel like “big men” cause they killed a wild animal.
    This must STOP!

  11. Micaiah says:

    This is so sad and makes me sad because I’m not happy with this being entertaining and for fun . Yes it must stop soon

  12. marci florio says:

    this is Hidious,sickening,are these people crazy?????????????????

  13. Jessica Longo says:

    Please make LAWS & HEFTY FINES $5K to stop Animal abuse &unnecessary horrible things to innocent animals! Spread and teach our children love and peace in the world!!!

  14. Debra Amen says:

    This kind of killing must stop! This is inhumane! These people are killing for fun, not for food! Outrageous!!!

  15. Sherry says:

    Well I found this absolutely disgusting now I would propose that these men that love to go out and shoot for sport also then go ahead and skin them ,used to hide to make clothing are blankets and such and also to make sure they eat the animal themselves. Cuz that’s the only reason why you should Hunt is so that you can have some food to eat. And if they’re not going to eat it themselves then they should be locked up in jail and all the animals that they have shot should be prepared for them to eat while they are in jail. And yes I’ll States should outlawed this insane sickening sport.

  16. Sunny says:

    I believe in killing to eat or if necessary for a dangerous animal.i do not believe in killing for fun. Sometimes I wonder why we’re called the ” human” race.

  17. Tomisue says:

    Leave the animals alone.Its sickening. Every animal has a purpose God put them here for a reason.

  18. Veronica says:

    Discussing, get a life. How dare you. Carma is looking for you.

  19. Kathy says:

    We are killing off the natural world by the foolish pursuits we devise. People must be so bored and looking for an adrenaline rush to do something like this.

  20. Lauri Cayou says:

    These are God’s creations! They are not here to kill at will!! I think it is a sin against nature. These animals have a right to be here as much as you and I do!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. Kateryna says:

    Humans, please stop this madness!!
    These is innocent animals ! Stop this cruelty!!!!

  22. Tay Anderson says:

    This is sickening and must stop!!!!

  23. Sonia S Duffie says:

    How can we allow such barbaric, horrible, disgusting behavior! This is not right. We must respect life of all the creatures that inhabit this earth. Only because we can inflict pain and kill at will is not a ticket to doing so. This is so diabolical!
    Can we just all have the concept that we need all the creatures in this world to keep a balance and healthy co-existence?. We are killing this planet!

  24. Cathy says:

    Contact Zuckerberg. Here’s where he could do some good with his censoring.

  25. Da Muller says:

    A psychopath by any other name is still a psychopath. The lives of non-human beings should not be up for grabs by anyone whose goal is to destroy it for fun and entertainment. Nature belongs to me too, and I am angry that there are not enough laws to protect my rights. Instead those in power are more likely to punish ME(!) for being caring and compassionate to wildlife.

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