Pennsylvania will host many coyote killing contests this winter. I hope that Keystone State citizens, along with those participating in, organizing and benefiting financially from these contests will further evaluate their ethics and efficacy.
I was raised in a family of hunters and anglers, who taught me what constitutes true sportsmanship — which is part of the reason I take issue with coyote killing contests. Many hunting advocates agree, such as Jim Posewitz, founder of Orion: The Hunter’s Institute, who defines ethical hunting as “the fair chase pursuit of free-roaming wildlife in a noncompetitive situation.” Coyote killing contests violate this commonly accepted ethical code for hunters.
These contests are ineffective at reducing coyote populations. According to Iowa State University, when coyotes are heavily hunted, “the number of pups that survive to adulthood can significantly increase.” And killing coyotes, even in large numbers, doesn’t increase fawn survival rates. A 2016 Outdoor Life article reported that fawn survival, although initially improved after one year of coyote removal, decreased again the following year of coyote removal. Our own Pennsylvania Game Commission recently pointed out that “… predator control does not work,” that predators don’t compete with hunters for game, and that deer habitat restoration was far more important. And Duane Diefenbach, of Penn State’s Department of Ecosystem Science and Management adds, “… available evidence indicates the simpler solution of reducing harvest of antlerless deer can compensate for increased coyote predation in most situations.”
Unethical, unscientific and ineffective coyote killing contests do not reflect Pennsylvania’s tradition of fair sportsmanship.
Katie Thorne, Smethport