Maine -- A national coalition of wildlife advocacy and conservation organizations representing more than 70,000 Maine citizens is calling for an end to a coyote killing tournament that is currently underway in northern Maine. Sponsored by the Jackman-Moose River Region Chamber of Commerce, the killing tournament began Dec. 16 and runs through Jan. 30, 2010. Prizes are awarded to those hunters who kill both the most coyotes and the largest individuals.
"Slaughtering coyotes as part of a 'contest' is ethically indefensible, ecologically reckless, counter to sound scientific wildlife management, and has no place in the 21st century," said Camilla Fox, founding director of Project Coyote, wildlife consultant with the Animal Welfare Institute, and co-author of Coyotes in Our Midst. "Coyote killing tournaments tarnish Maine’s reputation as a state that prides itself on tourism and wildlife watching," said Fox. "It is unbelievable that a regional Chamber of Commerce is supporting this kind of scientifically unsound and unconscionable blood sport."
Project Coyote has issued a statewide alert urging concerned citizens to contact the Jackman-Moose River Region Chamber of Commerce (1-888-633-5225) and also Gov. John Baldacci (207-287-3531) to call off the coyote killing tournament in perpetuity. In 2005, Gov. Baldacci came out against a coyote contest hunt in Washington County and directed the state Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife to tell organizers to cancel the event. In Maine, coyotes can legally be hunted year-round in unlimited numbers. Coalition groups have started a citizen’s petition effort to change Maine’s laws to protect coyotes from abuse and cruelty.
"Randomly killing coyotes to supposedly boost deer populations is a sham," said Dr. Marc Bekoff, Project Coyote advisory board member, internationally recognized canid ethologist, and author and editor of more than 22 books including Coyotes: Biology, Behavior and Management. "Coyote killing tournaments are antithetical to conservation biology and ecosystem-based science, and they are a totally ineffective management strategy given the species’ resiliency and ability to biologically rebound," said Bekoff.
"Killing tournaments, disguised as either recreation or wildlife management, are a very poor commentary on those who partake in them," said Daryl DeJoy, executive director of the Wildlife Alliance of Maine. We would like to see Governor Baldacci to emulate the late, great Governor Percival Baxter who felt that Maine's wildlife's should not be wantonly destroyed for recreation or entertainment."
"These events exhibit a blatant disregard for wildlife and the integrity of ecosystems by encouraging mass killing for prizes," said Andrew Page, senior director of the Wildlife Abuse Campaign at The Humane Society of the United States. "Killing coyotes will do nothing to increase the white-tailed deer density or decrease coyote numbers - it will only advance an archaic idea that the value of animals is their dead weight."
Organizations opposing the killing tournament include Project Coyote, the Animal Welfare Institute, the Wildlife Alliance of Maine, The Humane Society of the United States, The Maine Wolf Coalition, Friends of Merrymeeting Bay, and the Wild Dog Foundation.
Camilla Fox, Project Coyote & AWI, (415) 690-0338
Marc Bekoff, University of Colorado, Boulder, Project Coyote, email@example.com (phone number through Camilla Fox)
Daryl DeJoy, Wildlife Alliance of Maine, (207) 299-2291