How Killing Wild Animals Became a Game in the United States

Not all hunters approve of this system. “It’s not hunting,” says Robert Brown, a member of the ethics committee of the Boone and Crockett Club, a nonprofit founded in 1887 by Theodore Roosevelt and other hunters to protect wildlife resources. “It’s just shooting. Also, according to him, the techniques commonly used in contests are “unethical”. They give the hunter an unfair advantage. »

In February 2020, an undercover Humane Society investigator participated in the Sullivan County coyote hunt and reported finding dead coyotes in the barracks dump, including a large female that was expecting puppies.

After these surveys and the 2021 launch of Wild Animal Killing Contests, a documentary produced by National Geographic explorer Filipe DeAndrade about this, participants were extremely suspicious of undercover activists lurking in the crowd. Some of the hunters I know wonder if I’m a “real” journalist who actually writes for National Geography. At the fire station, a man told me point-blank that I was probably working undercover for the animal rights group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).

Carl Lindsley, Administrator of the Hunters Federation, was suspicious at first but agreed to have me in the competition because he felt I really wanted to hear the hunters’ point of view. He remembers the activist who infiltrated the event in 2020. “Some people are upset at the idea of ​​killing coyotes,” he says, sitting in a folding chair in the barracks. But what this activist didn’t know was that most of the coyotes in the dump were picked up by a local fur manufacturer who skins them and sells their coats (for about $25 each, or about $24) but also their skulls for online shoppers. , he adds.

In addition, he explains that the contest raises significant funds for outdoor programs for children and their families and for habitat restoration. “If all we did was sit around and brag about how many coyotes we had and how much money we had, this contest would be useless,” says Lindsley, who retired in 2016 after working in wildlife management for 48 years with the New York Secretariat. State Environmental Conservation. “Actually, if we don’t catch any coyotes, I’m glad we can save more money for our programs. He says it would be nice if people bought tickets just to eat at the banquet, but acknowledges that most come for the game and the prizes.

Most wild animal slaughter competitions are not fundraisers. His only goal is sport. Hunters defend these competitions, online or in person, arguing that participants are not breaking any laws: it is perfectly legal to kill many predatory species, including foxes, lynx and coyotes, often without limits. And, according to them, if it’s legal to kill them, what’s the harm in organizing a hunting competition? A coyote “will end up underground anyway,” writes a hunter on Facebook.

THE ECOLOGICAL ARGUMENT

“The ‘antis’ don’t understand that we’re actually helping nature,” says Kautz. Coyotes are very numerous and eat everything: big cats, turkeys, rabbits, squirrels, which unbalances ecosystems, adds the deputy sheriff. They also prey on pets and livestock, and more recently, several mother sheep. “It was the first time this has happened, but it probably won’t be the last,” he said. “I think the coyote population has increased a little bit. »

“Coyotes need to be controlled,” agrees John Van Etten, president of the sports federation, warming up at the fire station where attendees chat and admire the other contenders’ catches, listed by the hunter’s name and the coyote’s weight, on giant sheets of paper. white paper covering corkboards. “Hunters play that role.” Otherwise, he says, coyotes would suffer from diseases such as scabies, a skin disease caused by mites or starvation.

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