Also, not all hunters approve of this system. “It’s not hunting,” said 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. Moreover, according to him, the techniques commonly used in competitions are “unethical.” They give the hunter an unfair advantage. »
In February 2020, an undercover Humane Society investigator participated in Sullivan County’s coyote hunting and reported that they found dead coyotes in the barracks’ waste bin, including a large female who was expecting young.
Following these studies and the 2021 release of Wildlife killing competitions, a documentary produced by National Geographic explorer Filipe DeAndrade about it, the participants became extremely suspicious of undercover activists lurking in the crowds. Some of the hunters I meet wonder if I’m a “real” journalist who actually writes for national geography. At the fire station, a man told me directly 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 Association, was initially suspicious, but agreed to welcome me to 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 thought of killing coyotes,” he says, sitting in a folding chair in the barracks. But what this activist did not know was that most of the coyotes in the trash were picked up by a local fur producer, who skinned them and sold their coats (for about $ 25 apiece or about $ 24), but also their skulls to online shoppers, he adds.
In addition, he explains that the competition raises significant funds for outdoor programs for children and their families and for the restoration of habitats. “If all we did was sit and brag about how many coyotes we got and how much money we had, this competition would be pointless,” says Lindsley, who retired in 2016 after working in wildlife management. for 48 years with New York. State Department of Environmental Conservation. “In fact, if we do not catch any coyotes, I’m glad we can keep more money for our programs. He says it would be nice if people bought tickets just to eat at the banquet, but he acknowledges that most come for the game and the prizes.
Most wildlife slaughter competitions are not fundraisers. Their sole purpose is sports. Hunters defend these contests, online or in person, by arguing that participants do not break any laws: it is perfectly legal to kill many predators, including foxes, bobcats, and coyotes, often without limits. And according to them, if it is legal to kill them, then what harm is there by arranging a hunting competition? A coyote “is going to end up underground anyway,” a hunter wrote on Facebook.
The “anties” do not understand that we are actually helping nature, Kautz says. Coyotes are very numerous and they eat everything: big cats, turkeys, rabbits, squirrels, which brings imbalance into the ecosystems, the deputy sheriff adds. They also attack pets and domestic animals, and recently several ewes. “It was the first time it had happened, but it probably won’t be the last,” he said. “I think the coyote population has increased a bit. »
“Coyotes need to be checked,” declares John Van Etten, president of the sports federation, warming up at the fire station, where participants chat and admire the catches of the other candidates, listed after the hunter’s name and the prairie wolf’s weight. , on giant sheets of white paper covering cork boards. “Hunters play that role.” Otherwise, he says, coyotes would suffer from diseases such as scabies, a skin disease caused by mites or starvation.