Within Pennsylvania, hunting is a way of life. Every year, millions of residents trek into the woods to find that perfect specimen to bring home. Hunting is so ingrained in the lifeblood of Pennsylvania, many schools close for the first day of deer season.
There is a sinister side to this, however, and unfortunately, it is very prevalent in Pennsylvania (see map below), and Pennsylvania has more of these events than any other state. Wildlife Killing Contests (WKCs) are events where participants are encouraged to shoot and kill as many of a specific animal, usually an apex predator like coyotes or bobcats, and the one who kills the most wins. Participants use calling devices meant to mimic the sounds of an animal in distress to bring the animals close to them, and then shoot. During this frenzy to bag as many animals as possible, pregnant females and babies are targeted, as they can potentially be worth more points. At the end of the contest, the corpses of the animals are left to rot within a field, while the participants celebrate their efforts at an after party.
WKCs violate the tenet of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation that states wildlife may only be killed for legitimate, non-frivolous purposes. This cruel activity is not hunting, and has been decried by conservationists as well as hunting organizations who feel WKCs go against the rules of hunting. Proponents of WKCs claims that this helps with wildlife management, but there are no studies that show that to be true. In fact, it may lead to a higher population of the species after the temporary reduction. WKCs create instability and chaos in coyote family structure, which allows more coyotes to reproduce, encourages the immigration of outside coyotes seeking the space and resources and can increase conflicts with livestock.
Arizona, California, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Colorado, and Vermont have outlawed WKCs and several other states are considering similar action. Humane Action Pittsburgh (HAP) would like Pennsylvania to be next. We are teaming up with Animal Wellness Action to bring awareness of this barbaric activity to all citizens and help put a stop to this cruelty. For more about what you can do and how you can get involved, please reach out to someone at HAP, whether it be through commenting on this blog, or through our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/humaneactionpgh/.
As the world slows down to help flatten the curve in order to order to halt the spread of the Coronavirus, which leads to the disease known as COVID-19, analysts and talking heads are positing how the world moves forward once this crisis is over. One thing that is not being talked about, on a large scale, however, is how likely it is that another pandemic can happen. How, you ask? By another zoonotic transmission between the animals that humans consume. While it is one thing to point the finger at the wet markets in China that have been identified of the source of this outbreak, realizing that another outbreak could be brewing is not unrealistic.
There has been a long history of viruses borne from human interactions with animals, including, H1N1, swine flu, and now COVID-19. Similarly, outbreaks of salmonella and e. coli have been tied to consumption of animal products in the past. In the Chinese city of Wuhan, the origin of this latest version of the Coronavirus has been linked to so-called “wet markets,” where all manners of wild animals are bought and sold for human consumption.
Wet markets also exist in the United States to a smaller degree, but perhaps the greatest equivalent to the wet markets in China are large industrial-sized livestock farming operations, sometimes referred to as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations or CAFOs. These massive operations are breeding grounds for disease and cross-contamination, where animals are housed practically on top of each other. Certainly, this is problematic for the animals, but it also presents problems for humans, as detailed by the Sierra Club:
It’s clear that it is time for us to reconsider our treatment of and commodification of animals, if not only for the protection of the animals, but also for the protection of the human race and the elimination of future pandemics that could lead to more quarantine-like situations and the collapse of economic and health systems across the world.
Aimee Douglass authors the HAP blog and has been a volunteer with HAP for approximately 2 years. She is an active participant in the Compassionate Living campaign and in 2019 tabled at her first event for HAP. Aimee works in the healthcare industry and has a bachelors degree in Creative Writing from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown and a masters degree in Communications with a health care focus from Southern New Hampshire University. She lives in Penn Hills with her husband and their three dogs.