On Tuesday a coalition of more than 25 wildlife and animal protection organizations, including the Humane Society of the United States, delivered letters urging Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal to cancel the "Georgia Coyote Challenge."
During the six-month period from March to August the challenge offers Georgia residents the chance to win a lifetime hunting license and a new hunting rifle.
Residents enter to win the license by providing photo evidence of having killed a coyote. Individuals are allowed to submit up to 10 entries, each representing one coyote killed.
It’s the second year that the challenge has been offered. Last year Georgia residents killed 195 coyotes.
“Scientific evidence does not support the notion that indiscriminately killing coyotes through events such as the Georgia Coyote Challenge is an effective wildlife management practice,” said Camilla Fox, executive director of Project Coyote, a national organization based in Marin County, California.
The Coyote Challenge, sponsored by Georgia’s state Department of Natural Resources, encourages the killing of coyotes between March and August.
The contest also encourages an unethical attitude, Fox said. "We are beyond killing animals for prizes and fun," she told National Public Radio. "This should be part of our history books."
Christopher Mowry, associate professor of biology at Berry College and director of the Atlanta Coyote Project, said, "Wildlife killing contests are antithetical to responsible hunting ethics."
John Bowers, chief of game management for the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, said population control is not the point of the Coyote Challenge.
“The purpose is to complement and highlight the existing lethal removal of coyotes by hunters and trappers,” he said. “They can do that year-round.”
Bowers said coyote removal is a part of game management.
“If I’m managing my property for wildlife, for deer or turkeys, and I’ve got an abundance of coyote on my property, then those coyote need to be managed, too,” Bowers said. “This is the time period. March though August is the best time period to lethally remove coyotes.”
Coyotes are seen more and more often in urban as well as rural areas.
Other states have sparked protests with similar contests, including Utah, which stages a yearly World Championship Coyote Calling Contest, in which participants try to kill as many coyotes as possible in 48 hours.
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