Nevada has no good reason to continue wildlife-killing contests

Nevada has no good reason to continue wildlife-killing contests

It looks like Nevada Department of Wildlife commission is squirming out of a decision on banning wildlife-killing contests in the state, as it signaled in a meeting last week when it polled attendees to see if there was room for compromise on the issue.

Compromise? No way, not on this matter. These contests are slaughterfests masquerading as sport, and they have no place in responsible and effective wildlife management, not to mention 21st-century society. Although regulations such as bag limits and licensing were discussed, those would just be whitewashing on an immoral, inhumane and ineffective practice. What’s an acceptable number of animals that should be sacrificed so that people can have game-show-type fun? (Tell him what else he won, Johnny!)

At least eight states have seen the light on this and passed bans since 2014, according to the Associated Press, but Nevada remains stuck in the dark ages on it.

The wildlife commission could still decide to join them, but don’t hold your breath after last week’s meeting.

“I was optimistic that we could get different constituencies in to help us really dissect this and learn where there may be some common ground,” said commission chair (and sportswoman) Tiffany East. “But after today, I’m being honest, I don’t know that we’re any further along than I had hoped.”

The meeting ended with commissioners fretting that the failure to reach a compromise could prompt the Nevada Legislature to act on the ban.

That’s hardly a great moment in leadership, but it could actually lead to a good outcome. The Legislature could certainly take up the matter, although that’s not ideal since the next session isn’t until 2023. Perhaps Gov. Steve Sisolak could step in sooner — we’re checking on that.

We’re confident that if and when the matter goes to the Legislature or Sisolak, lawmakers will join their counterparts in other states by ending these barbaric contests.

As became clear during the commission meeting, supporters of these contests aren’t budging. They instead offered overblown concerns and junk science to oppose the ban. Among their arguments (and our rebuttals):

  • The prohibition is a wedge to further restrictions on hunting. This is the same argument that gun-rights zealots use to oppose any responsible and reasonable gun-safety measures, and look what that’s gotten us — a glut of weapons and a petrifying amount of gun violence. The reality is that the ban has nothing to do with legitimate hunting — these contests are no more a form of sportsman activity than fishing with dynamite or shooting herd animals from helicopters. Doing away with them wouldn’t restrict anyone’s ability to hunt game animals, shoot predators that are attacking livestock, etc.
  • There’s no reason to pay state wildlife officials to take care of coyotes or other predators when sport hunters are willing to do it themselves for free. Wrong. De-predation is best left to professionals who understand its complexities, not by organizers of these kill-’em-all events.
  • The contests are an effective way to control coyote populations and reduce predation of livestock, pets, etc. Not true. Biologists say that when packs of coyotes are decimated, others move in to take their place and the animals speed up their reproduction cycles. At best, the contests are a temporary solution. And meanwhile, coyote packs that lose their adult members have been shown to switch from their normal prey, like rodents and rabbits, to larger animals like sheep and other livestock. So the contests are counterproductive in that regard.

Let’s cut the nonsense: The reason supporters of these contests want them to continue is rooted in recreation, not wildlife management.

There are ways to control wildlife populations and reduce predation that don’t involve hunters rounding up coyotes with dogs or using wounded-prey calls to attract the animals and then killing as many as they can with rifles fitted with high-powered scopes. Humane and environmentally responsible wildlife management in no way should include massive kill-offs in which the carcasses are weighed or counted and then tossed out like leftover meatloaf.

It only adds to the savagery that those who kill the most animals are given cash prizes and merchandise, and that in some cases there are youth divisions.

We don’t need this in Nevada, in any form. Assuming the wildlife commission doesn’t act on it, state lawmakers should be ready and eager to take it into their own hands.

This article was first published by The Las Vegas Sun on 18 August 2021. Lead Image: A coyote makes its way through the snow Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015 on a hillside near the Truckee Meadows Community College campus on the north side of Reno. Photo by Scott Sonner / AP.

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