Gov. Hochul signs historic bill to end wildlife killing contests in New York

Photo by Shelly Prevost

New York becomes 10th state to stop slaughter of wild animals for cash and prizes

Albany, New York—Today, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed critical legislation (A.2917/S.4099) ending wildlife killing contests for coyotes, foxes, bobcats, squirrels, raccoons, crows, and other species in New York. This historic new law prohibits competitive events during which contestants compete to kill the most, the heaviest, and the smallest animals for cash and prizes. Championed by Assemblymember Deborah Glick (D-Manhattan) and Sen. Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo), this legislation was approved by bipartisan majorities in both the Assembly and Senate earlier this year. New York is the 10th state to end these gruesome competitions after Oregon took action in September.

The bill was supported by leading animal protection and conservation groups, including the Animal Welfare Institute, and by thousands of New Yorkers. Hunters, farmers, veterinarians, and wildlife rehabilitators also backed the legislation.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has gone undercover at contests in 10 states, including two in New York. In 2018 and 2020, the HSUS released investigations that exposed wildlife killing contests in Wayne and Sullivan counties. The investigators documented participants hauling in bloody piles of dead foxes and coyotes to be weighed and counted for prizes. Competitors joked about the “thrill” of the kill and threw dead animals into a dumpster. More than 20 killing contests took place across the state in January and February 2023.

“After two decades of work by many people and organizations, New York has finally ended the wanton and senseless killing of various species in contests for prizes. I thank Governor Hochul for signing into law a prohibition on this abhorrent practice,” said Glick, who chairs the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee. “Wildlife killing contests may have been viewed as part of a tradition, but with time we understand that the constant stress on the natural world requires us to re-evaluate customs that are undermining healthy ecosystems. At the same time, this measure in no way prevents farmers, ranchers, or others from dispatching nuisance animals predating on livestock or companion animals, in accordance with Department of Environmental Conservation regulations. New York becomes the 10th state to eliminate these so-called contests.”

“Gov. Hochul has signed into law a critical, meaningful environmental policy, ending the wasteful use of our shared wildlife resources simply for cash and prizes,” said Brian Shapiro, New York state director for the Humane Society of the United States. “We are grateful for the governor’s action and recognize the bold leadership of Assemblymember Glick and Senator Kennedy for championing this law. These inhumane, wasteful competitions must come to an end across the country once and for all and we hope other states will follow New York.”

Hunters and wildlife management professionals across the country have called out killing contests as unethical and warned they are damaging the reputation of hunters and threatening the future of hunting. In addition to New York, the nine other states that have prohibited killing contests are California (2014); Vermont (2018); Arizona, Massachusetts, and New Mexico (2019); Colorado and Washington (2020); Maryland (2021); and Oregon (2023).

“The Adirondack Council thanks and applauds Governor Hochul for signing this legislation that will help rewild our Adirondack Park,” said Kevin Chlad, director of government relations for the Adirondack Council. “We support ethical and science-based hunting practices, as well as efforts to foster the return of keystone predators that will restore balance to our wildlands. The best available science tells us that these contests are not beneficial to Adirondack ecology. Signing this bill into law is a victory for wildlife management in the Park and statewide.”

Killing contest competitors achieve high kill numbers — sometimes hundreds of animals at a single event — by using night vision, thermal imaging, and electronic calling devices. Animals are shot with high-powered rifles that rip holes in their fur, often rendering the pelts useless for sale. After the killing is over, contestants gather to weigh and count the bodies and take pictures next to the bloody animals. Later, the animals are typically dumped like trash.

“To maximize their chances of winning cash and prizes, contest participants often use bait and electronic calling devices to attract animals with sounds that mimic prey or distress calls of wounded young, which is unethical,” said Johanna Hamburger, director and senior attorney for the terrestrial wildlife program at the Animal Welfare Institute. “This ban will save the lives of thousands of animals each year in New York who are killed in these cruel and wasteful contests.”

According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, indiscriminate killing of coyotes will not reduce their numbers, prevent conflicts with livestock, or boost populations of game species like deer. In fact, the best available science shows that random killing can increase coyote populations and increase livestock conflicts.

“Killing contests make a cruel and shameful game of inflicting misery and death on wildlife. Efforts to ban this practice through S.4099 garnered overwhelming support from New Yorkers, including animal advocates, environmental advocates, and even hunters,” said Animal Legal Defense Fund Strategic Legislative Affairs Manager Kathleen Schatzmann. “We are grateful to Governor Hochul for signing the bill into law, and the leadership of bill sponsors Assemblymember Glick and Senator Kennedy for championing this critical animal protection legislation.”

“On behalf of our 9,200 veterinary professionals nationwide and 500 in New York state, the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association applauds Governor Hochul for signing bill A.2917/S.4099 into law,” said Eileen Jefferson, DVM, the association’s New York State representative. “After years of effort on the part of animal advocates, scientific professionals, and others statewide, the entertainment and cash-based bloodsports known as wildlife killing contests will finally come to an end. Most rural residents and traditional hunters neither participated in nor supported the cruelty and disrespect for wildlife inherent in these contests.”

“We are thrilled that New York is joining the nine other states that have also banned wildlife killing contests,” said Katie Nolan, general campaigner at In Defense of Animals. “New York’s wild animals like coyotes, crows and foxes will now be given the respect they deserve.”

“We are elated that Governor Kathy Hochul has made S.4099/A.2917, the bill to ban wildlife killing contests, the law of the land!” said Anne Muller, director of The League of Humane Voters®/NY. “Wildlife killing contests are the stuff of nightmares, not only for their brutalized victims, but for those who care about New York’s environment, ecology, and individual wild animals that grace our forests and fields. We are deeply grateful to Assemblymember Deborah Glick, Senator Timothy Kennedy, and Governor Kathy Hochul for bringing this bill to a successful completion, thus allowing us to sleep well knowing that these grotesque contests are in the dustbin of history.”

“Students of Pace University’s Animal Advocacy Clinic commend Governor Hochul’s action to ban wildlife killing contests,” said Michelle Land, Pace professor of environmental law and policy, and the clinic’s chief faculty. “With biodiversity declining at an alarming rate, we are pleased today signals the end to this indiscriminate destruction of wildlife that violates sound ecological principles. The new law will protect New York State’s native wildlife from being exploited for profit and entertainment.”

“Today marks a monumental and long-awaited victory for New York's wildlife, who have been subjected for far too long to being wastefully killed for cash and other prizes,” said Renee Seacor, carnivore conservation manager at Project Coyote. “We applaud Governor Hochul for signing this critical legislation into law, making New York the 10th state to join the growing list of states rightfully putting an end to these cruel and senseless contests.”

“The SPCA Serving Erie County’s mission is to create a more humane community that nurtures the bonds between animals and people, and thanks to Governor Hochel and the choice to eliminate cruel kill contests, New York state can say that we are a more humane community for wildlife,” said Barbara Haney, director of wildlife for SPCA Serving Erie County. “Thank you, Governor Hochel and all of our community that stood up to voice their opposition to these heinous contests. May we continue to grow in kindness and compassion for wildlife and each other.”

“VFAR applauds Governor Hochul for recognizing that wildlife killing contests are an abomination, and for standing with compassionate and decent-minded New Yorkers who agree that our wildlife must be protected against horrific and senseless cruelty,” said Allie Feldman Taylor, president of Voters for Animal Rights.     

“Today is a win for every animal that was previously targeted by these cruel contests,” said Regan Downey, director of education at the Wolf Conservation Center. “We applaud Gov. Hochul’s decision to sign A.2917/S.4099 into law. New Yorkers value humane and science-based approaches to wildlife management and we are thankful to finally have a policy that reflects these values in our backyard. Killing contests have no place in the 21st century, nor do they have a place in New York.”

Media Contact Information

Marjorie Fishman, Animal Welfare Institute
[email protected], (202) 446-2128

Erica Heffner, HSUS
[email protected], (202) 770-6575

Rodi Rosensweig, HSUS
[email protected], (202) 809-8711

The Animal Welfare Institute ( is a nonprofit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people. AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere—in the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild. Follow us on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), and Instagram for updates and other important animal protection news.