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House Bill seeks ban on wildlife killing contests on public lands

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Tulani Ngwenya
WASHINGTON D.C., United States of America – More than 16 members of the House of
Representatives have introduced a new bill that would forbid wildlife killing competitions on more than
500 million acres of public lands in the United States.

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and other congressional leaders are pushing the Prohibit Wildlife Killing Contests Act of 2024, which would require federal agencies to implement laws prohibiting these contests within a year of the law’s passage.

Wildlife killing contests are events where participants compete for prizes by killing the most, the largest,
or the smallest animals within a specified timeframe. Thousands of native carnivores and other wildlife
species, including coyotes, foxes, bobcats, raccoons, rabbits, prairie dogs, mountain lions, and wolves,
fall victim to these competitions each year.

Stephanie Kurose, deputy director of government affairs at the Center for Biological Diversity,
condemned the contests, stating, “It’s shocking that these cruel and reckless contests are still allowed on
our public lands. America’s wild carnivores are so important to maintaining healthy ecosystems. They
deserve better than to be targeted in these thrill-kill slaughter fests.”

Currently, 10 states—Arizona, California, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York,
Oregon, Vermont, and Washington—have banned wildlife killing contests. Investigations by the Humane
Society of the United States in over a dozen states have sparked significant public outrage and
highlighted the brutal nature of these events.

Johanna Hamburger, director and senior attorney for the Animal Welfare Institute’s Terrestrial Wildlife
Program, criticised the contests for violating ethical hunting principles, saying, “Wildlife killing contests
are cruel events that have no place in modern civil society.

Participants frequently violate the fundamental hunting principle of fair chase by using bait and electronic calling devices to maximise the likelihood of winning, and animal carcasses are usually dumped once the contest is over.”

Camilla Fox, founder and executive director of Project Coyote, reiterated the ethical and ecological
issues, noting, “Most people are shocked to learn that wildlife killing contests are even legal on our public
lands. Killing animals for prizes and entertainment is ethically indefensible, ecologically reckless, and
anathema to sound wildlife conservation and management.”

Jennifer Eskra, director of legislative affairs of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, argued that these
contests undermine science-based wildlife management, adding, “In addition to being unethical and
unsportsmanlike, wildlife killing contests run counter to science-based wildlife management policy. This
bill would end this execrable practice and protect wildlife at a national level, something that 10 states
have already done.”

Katie Stennes, senior programme manager for wildlife protection at the Humane Society of the United
States, called for congressional action, stating, “Wildlife killing contests have absolutely no place in our
country, including on our public lands. These ‘cash for wildlife’ competitions, where native species are
targeted, killed, and then piled up for photos and bragging rights, are unacceptable. These animals
should be respected for their intrinsic value and their key role in healthy ecosystems. We urge Congress
to end senseless, wasteful wildlife killing competitions once and for all.”

The bill, if passed, would require the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, National Park
Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Forest Service to implement regulations banning wildlife
killing contests. Additional cosponsors of the legislation include Reps. Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Cori
Bush (MO-01), Gerald Connolly (VA-11), Diana DeGette (CO-01), Lloyd Dogget (TX-35), Adriano

Espaillat (NY-06), Raul Grijalva (AZ-07), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Ted Lieu (CA-36), Betty McCollum (MN-
04), Grace Meng (NY-06), Jerrold Nadler (NY-12), Katie Porter (CA-45), Melanie Stansbury (NM-01), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), and Dina Titus (NV-01).

As public awareness and opposition to wildlife killing contests grow, this legislation represents a critical
step towards ending the practice on a national level, ensuring the protection and respect of America’s
wildlife for future generations.

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