Phoenix, AZ - Today the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council (GRRC) unanimously approved a rule banning wildlife killing contests for predatory and furbearing species in Arizona making Arizona the 4th state in the nation ban such contests. For months a powerful coalition comprised of concerned citizens and wildlife conservation organizations has been working to ban wildlife killing contests statewide. The Arizona Fish and Game Department (AZGFD) passed the initial rule unanimously on June 21st.
Wildlife killing contests are barbaric events during which participants compete to kill the greatest number, the largest, or even the youngest of the target wildlife species for “entertainment” and prizes. Hundreds of coyotes, bobcats, cougars, foxes and other species are killed in these events every year in Arizona.
In 2018 and 2019, Dewey-Humboldt, Flagstaff, Coconino County and Yavapai County passed resolutions and proclamations condemning the events (Tucson and Pima passed similar resolutions in recent years). New Mexico and Vermont banned coyote killing contests in 2019 and 2018, respectively. California passed a wildlife killing contest regulation in 2014. Recently the Washington Post highlighted the Santa Slay Coyote Tournament, which takes place annually in Yavapai County, noting the national public outcry against these contests.
“We have been working on this campaign for quite some time and it is an incredible feeling to be here today and have the ban be put into place by the AZGFD and the GRRC. It is also heartening to know and experience first-hand the power of your own voice.” Says Betsy Klein, I AM WOLF NATION’s Executive Director. She further notes “Our work is not over as we will be watching closely for killing contests, apprising AZGFD of them and making sure the rule is enforced. If the rule is circumvented, we will be sure everyone knows so the rule is strengthened when it is reviewed.”
Concerned individuals and organizations submitted thousands of comments asking the Commission to prohibit wildlife killing contests statewide. The GRRC adopted the rule today including two recommendations by the coalition to implement the rule in 60 days.
Matt Francis, Arizona Program Associate for Project Coyote, commented: “We are grateful that the Governors Regulatory Review Council approved the Arizona Game and Fish Commission rule banning wildlife killing contests. The effort to outlaw these cruel and senseless contests began back in 1998, and today the state honored the people’s concerns. We hope the intent of the rule will be followed and that the scar of killing contests will fade into the past.”
Over 70 conservation scientists have signed a statement condemning wildlife killing contests on ecological and ethical grounds (see a factsheet here explaining why indiscriminately killing coyotes is counterproductive). The AZGFD recognizes that killing coyotes—the most frequent target of these events—doesn’t reduce their numbers, stating on their website: “Removing coyotes from one area generally results in other coyotes moving in from surrounding areas and breeding faster.”
I AM WOLF NATION® — The power of the collective, working to protect the wolf and other persecuted wildlife in Arizona. For more information about joining the local effort to end wildlife killing contests, please visit our website.
Project Coyote, a national non-profit organization, is a North American coalition of scientists, educators, ranchers, and citizen leaders promoting compassionate conservation and coexistence between people and wildlife through education, science and advocacy. Visit ProjectCoyote.org for more information.