A Wildlife Article from All-Creatures.org

405 Coyotes Slaughtered During Illinois Wildlife Killing Contest

From SpeciesUnite.com
March 2023

The winning team for “most coyotes” slaughtered was responsible for the deaths of 49 animals, while the team in second place killed 27 coyotes. The “smallest kill” of the entire contest weighed just 17 pounds, according to the investigator.

Children dead Coyotes
The bodies were piled up, dragged and hung in the presence of children. Credit: HSUS

At least 405 coyotes have been shot to death during a wildlife killing contest in Mendon, Illinois, according to an undercover investigation by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

The Nuggets Night Vision Coyote Hunt saw an estimated 86 participants compete for $15,000 in prize money over the course of a 45-hour killing period. The teams consisted of two or three hunters who paid $300 to register, as per the findings. An investigator from HSUS attended the weigh-in event that followed the killing and witnessed the hunters celebrating among piles of dead coyotes.

“Wildlife killing contests are an abomination and a disgrace,” said Marc Ayers, Illinois state director for the Humane Society of the United States. “Destroying coyotes for sadistic fun, games and cash does not reflect our state’s values. Illinois is among the 10 worst states when it comes to wildlife killing contests, with at least 28 competitions targeting coyotes, foxes, raccoons and crows taking place in the state in 2022.”

The contest awarded prizes to teams that killed the most animals, as well as the largest or the smallest kill. The winning team for “most coyotes” slaughtered was responsible for the deaths of 49 animals, while the team in second place killed 27 coyotes. The “smallest kill” of the entire contest weighed just 17 pounds, according to the investigator.

The contest was organized by Nuggets Night Vision, a manufacturer of night vision and thermal optics devices often used in these contests, stated HSUS.

Coyotes were killed across state lines in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Wisconsin, with none of the animals checked for disease. One of the dead coyotes was reportedly suffering from severe mange, a highly contagious skin infection that can spread to other wildlife, domestic dogs, and people.

dead Coyotes
A pile of dead coyotes after a killing contest in Illinois in February 2023. Credit: HSUS

The investigator reported a strong stench of decay coming from the bodies that were unloaded from trucks and hung upside down to weigh. Footage shows a young child helping to load the carcasses - at times struggling under the weight of the bodies of the animals - while other young children stood nearby and watched.

“Watching truck after truck backing into the weigh station, and coyote after coyote, dripping with blood, being weighed—it was like a factory assembly line,” said the undercover investigator for the Humane Society of the United States. “The stench of rotting flesh was so strong that people would step back when trucks with the bodies were opened. The ground was stained purple with blood and people—including children—were walking through it with total disregard for potential disease transfer."

Arizona, California, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Vermont, and Washington have already banned wildlife killing contests. In the remaining 42 states where they remain legal, the practice is condemned as cruel and inhumane by animal advocacy groups. Some hunting advocates also oppose the events for being vastly out of touch with public sentiment.

“Responsible hunters denounce this horrific blood sport and 73 percent of Illinois voters support a ban on killing contests,” said Ayers. “The Illinois Department of Natural Resources must take a stand and make our state the first in the Midwest to ban this cruel, unnecessary treatment of coyotes who provide vital balance to our ecosystem.”

Among the methods used to secure kills for the contest is the use of electronic calling devices to attract coyotes and foxes into rifle range with sounds that imitate the cry of their prey, a fellow coyote or fox or even their young in distress, according to HSUS. These wild canids, like humans, feel a strong bond to other members of their species and when they hear this cry for help, they come to investigate.

“Manipulating the natural compassion of animals to lure them in for an easy kill is a reprehensible practice condemned by hunters and non-hunters alike,” state HSUS.

At least 28 killing contests took place in cities and towns across Illinois in 2022, targeting coyotes, foxes, raccoons and crows. Nationwide, at least 730 contests took place in 2022, killing an estimated 18,000 to 110,000 coyotes, foxes, bobcats, raccoons, squirrels, rabbits, groundhogs, porcupines, armadillos, opossums, beavers, cougars and other species.

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