Great news! On Friday, September 15, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to prohibit wildlife-killing contests that target "unprotected" native mammal such as coyotes.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to write and testify to the Commission. Thousands of comments were submitted in support of the new rule and more than 40 people testified, either in person or remotely, at the Commission meeting near Bend. (Humane Voters Oregon was there and testified in person.)
With one absention (Commissioner King), the Commission otherwise voted unanimously to approve a new administrative rule making it "unlawful to organize, sponsor, conduct or participate in a contest that has the objective of killing unprotected mammals native to Oregon." "Unprotected mammals" include badgers, coyotes, gophers, moles, mountain beaver, yellowbellied marmots, porcupines, skunks and weasels. (Other mammals are generally protected at least by limited seasons and limits on how many can be killed.)
Believe it or not, wildlife killing contests happen in Oregon. For example, an event held each year near Burns awards prizes for killing the most coyotes. Participants kill hundreds of coyotes (and other animals) every year. While supporters say these events are needed to protect farm animals and "game" animals such as deer and elk, studies show that such intensive and indiscriminate killing probably just makes things worse by destabilizing wildlife social structures and leading predatory animals to breed more.
While we are hopeful the new rule will make a big difference, the Fish and Wildlife Commission recognized it's authority to ban wildlife-killing contests may be limited to some extent by a state law that gives landowners the right to kill "predatory" animals on private land. This potential conflict, which is not an issue on public land, will need to be worked out in the implementation and enforcement of the new rule. We plan to work with other groups to urge state agencies to apply the new rule as broadly as possible.
The Commission's action is the product of years of effort by wildlife and animal welfare groups and their supporters and is truly cause for celebration!
For detailed information about the Commission's action, see the Commission's agenda and attachments here (agenda item E).
Thank you for helping us advocate for animals!