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/.
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.