Breaking news: Maryland lawmakers ban wildlife killing contests

By on April 9, 2021 with 12 Comments

Maryland legislators have just passed a bill banning wildlife killing contests—cruel events where participants compete to win cash and prizes for killing the most or the heaviest animals.

The vote comes just over a year after we did an undercover investigation of such contests in the state that targeted foxes, coyotes and raccoons. Our investigators documented participants bringing in red foxes, their mouths zip-tied shut and their tiny bodies riddled with bullets from high-powered rifles. They tossed the dead animals into piles for weighing or counting.

To lure the animals to their death, contestants used digital technology that mimics the sound of prey or even young animals in distress.

Our footage outraged Marylanders and soon after the House of Delegates passed a bill to ban these killing contests by a landslide vote. But before the Senate could take up the bill, the legislature shut down for the year due to the pandemic.

Fortunately, the bill’s author, Del. Dana Stein, quickly reintroduced it in the 2021 legislative session, with Sen. Ron Young as the Senate sponsor. The bill moved forward with lightning speed, guided by HSUS Maryland state director Jennifer Bevan-Dangel and the group Maryland Votes for Animals, and passed both chambers this week. Organizations including the Sierra Club Maryland Chapter, the Animal Welfare Institute, In Defense of Animals and Project Coyote provided support.

The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Larry Hogan. We expect he will either sign it or let it pass into law without his signature.

Maryland is on track to become the eighth state to ban wildlife killing contests in just the last seven years—the others being Vermont, New Mexico, Arizona, Massachusetts, Colorado, California and Washington. These events have increasingly come under the scrutiny of Americans after we began to expose the carnage with undercover investigations in Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Indiana and Texas.

These events, with names like “Moondog Madness Coyote Tournament” and “Good Ol’ Boys Fall Predator Tournament,” glorify wanton killing and are not that much different from dogfighting and cockfighting, which have been outlawed in all U.S. states. Children are often present and are even encouraged to participate, inuring them to the violence at a young age. In Maryland, we found children playing among the dead animals and even helping to drag them to the judging area.

Wildlife killing contests are still held in nearly all of the 43 states where they are legal, but that is changing rapidly. Americans increasingly view animals like coyotes and foxes, who have long been persecuted because of misconceptions and are typically targeted in these events, with compassion. They also recognize the important role that these native carnivores play in a healthy ecosystem, and are acknowledging the wide variety of humane, effective strategies that are available to help them coexist with our other wild neighbors. Many more states are now considering similar bills to prohibit wildlife killing contests, including New York, New Jersey and Oregon.

We are grateful to Maryland lawmakers for acting decisively to end this cruel practice. We have incredible momentum in this fight right now and we need to keep it up and end these contests wherever they exist. If you live in a state where wildlife contests are still being held, please visit and download our toolkit to learn how you can help end them.

Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    Ya es hora de que la gente se empieza a preocupar por los animalitos y no permita estás crueldades no podemos permitir más violencia

  2. Ewa Urbanski says:

    Es ist an der Zeit das unsinnige Töten all für allemal zu verbieten

  3. William H Reamy says:

    Thank you to Maryland legislators for voting to ban this despicable activity! Hopefully enforcement of this ban will be met with the same enthusiasm. Also hopefully other state politicians will take notice and grow a conscience and work towards bans in their respective states.

  4. debbie mcgee says:

    I applaud the HSUS for banning these god awful killing contests! What is so wrong with human beings who do such horrendous things to these animals!u guys are animal hero’s and my heart goes out to all of the people at HSUS and all others that are involved in stopping this madness toward our wildlife.u have always been there voice in stopping such cruelity and u never stop! GOD BLESS U!!

  5. Birta nónfjall says:

    Please stop killing and torturing innocent animal!

  6. Jim Takahashi says:

    At long last! Better late than never.

  7. Barbara Lowery says:


  8. Susan Costoff says:

    I am so saddened that we actually have something so horrible as this that is actually a thing!
    How sad for us as a race, to know that we here are people among us that are entertained by taking the life of an innocent in such horribly vile ways!
    My fervent wish is to be able to stop this way of thinking, this despicable speciesism has been the undoing of so many innocent lives!!! It must stop!!

  9. Kimberly says:

    This is a big in this state other state please follow because this is animal creulty and animals should only be hunted for food

  10. Anita-Marie Zein says:

    Thank GOD for seeing a change in this type of behavior. Hopefully, the other states will see the harm they are doing to our environment. This is so savage & needless.
    Maryland is paving the way for animals to survive, like everything in this world tries to do.


    Kitty, Thank you for all the fantastic work you do to protect the animals God placed on this Earth. Thenk you so much,

    Joanne Alderman
    Tulsa, Oklahoma

  12. Jeane Camargo da Silva says:

    Concurso de matança?! Que absurdo! Já passou da hora de darmos paz para estes seres inocentes!

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