Wildlife advocates are condemning a wolf/coyote killing “Derby”, scheduled this Saturday, January 9, at Twin Falls, organized by the Idaho Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife (SFW).
“This event has no place in the 21st Century", says Rich Hurry of the Boulder-White Clouds Council, a conservation group based in Central Idaho. We are urging citizens to contact event sponsors to protest this barbaric event."
Last November, a coalition of groups including Boulder-White Clouds Council and individuals asked Nikon to withdraw their sponsorship of a SWF predator derby in Pocatello. Nikon agreed. The company's name no longer appears on the Idaho SFW website. Among the businesses sponsoring the Twin Falls SFW Predator Derby are Sportsman's Warehouse, Cabela's and a local restaurant, the Grubbin' BBQ.
Grubbin’ BBQ owner Sean Cluff is listed on SFW’s site as an event contact person. Another contact is SFW Executive Director, Nate Helms, an outspoken opponent of wolves in Idaho.
For the first time, wolves will be included as one of the moving targets sought after by hunters paying $50 each to enter the event. According to the SFW website, there will be points and prizes awarded to participants for shooting the most predators. A wolf is worth three points, while coyote, fox and bobcat are worth two points. When contacted about the fact that wolves were now part of SFW's Idaho predator derby, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game said they had not heard this, but it was not illegal.
Hunters displaying dead coyotes with a Sportsman's Warehouse banner behind them, are shown of the SFW website. http://www.sfwidaho.org/SFW/Idaho_Predator_Derby.html
"Predator killing tournaments are ecologically unsound, ethically indefensible and antithetical to conservation biology and ecosystem-based science," states Camilla Fox, Founding Director of Project Coyote and Wildlife Consultant for the Animal Welfare Institute.
Jerry Black, a member of Wildlife Watchers says: "There's no fair chase in trapping or calling in wolves or coyotes, and nobody's feeding their family with wolf or coyote meat. This is a blatant example of animal cruelty, indecency and shows a total lack of respect for life. I'm surprised and disappointed that any businesses would sponsor an event that celebrates the needless pain and suffering of an animal."
Black adds, "I won’t be shopping at Cabela's or Sportsman's Warehouse again, until they stop sponsoring predator contests. And, I certainly won't be eating ribs at the Grubbin' BBQ." Hurry agrees and is urging his friends and relatives to do the same.
“Coyote killing contest are a totally ineffective management strategy given the species’ resiliency and ability to biologically rebound,” said Fox.
The groups opposing the contest say that while coyotes will prey on larger mammals, their diet consists mainly of small mammals including mice, voles, rats, ground squirrels and rabbits -- providing free rodent control services to ranchers. They also point out that progressive cattle and sheep ranchers are living with coyotes using non-lethal methods.
Hurry, a deer hunter adds: “Predator hunters might believe they are helping deer numbers to increase, but in reality there are many factors that impact deer survival. These include weather, winter range, starvation, quality of summer habitat, disease, poaching, hunting mortality, wounding and roadkill.”
He goes on to say that predators help keep elk and deer herds genetically robust by culling the weak, sick and diseased, unlike hunters who seek out the largest “trophy” bulls or bucks.
Much like wolves, generally, unexploited coyotes may live in social family groups, with only the alpha pair breeding once a year in mid-February and giving birth 63 days later. Other females, though physiologically capable of reproducing, are "behaviorally sterile." Coyotes respond to lethal control with a number of biological mechanisms, which can result in increased pup survival.
In a predator “contest”, so-called hunters slaughter coyotes (or wolves) using various techniques to attract the coyote into rifle range, including a distress call that sounds like an injured animal. Wolves and coyotes, who generally mate for life, feel a strong bond to other members of their species, and when they hear a cry for help, may come to investigate.
Coyote and wolf hunters have also been known to bait in coyotes and wolves for "sport" shooting, using livestock that have died from old age, illness, or injury.
Coyotes have no protection whatsoever under current Idaho law. Coyotes can be run over with a vehicle, including being chased to exhaustion and flattened with a snowmobile. When this happened in the Sawtooth Valley near Stanley in 1999, a photo of the pancaked coyote received widespread negative press for the state of Idaho.
Predator killing contests are being protested all over the United States, most recently in Maine, and in Fallon NV this weekend.
Read more about the Twin Falls "Derby" at: http://howlingforjustice.wordpress.com