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Wildlife-killing contests violate the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation

posted Dec 30, 2016, 7:26 PM by Scott Slocum   [ updated Dec 30, 2016, 7:29 PM ]

This blog entry provides material to accompany the Petition to Prohibit Wildlife-Killing Contests in Minnesota.

Definitions.

Definition: sportsmen.

Hunters, anglers, and trappers.

Yes, the words "sportsmen," "sportsmanship," and "sportsmanlike" used to have larger meanings than this. They referred to men and women with active lifestyles, to the ethics of competitive sports and adversarial interactions, etc.; but those meanings seem mostly historical now. The word "sportsmen" has been used for so long by promoters of hunting, angling, and trapping, that it's largely been appropriated by them.

Definition: conservation.

Protecting nature from unnecessary exploitation.

Although there's been an effort by the sportsmen's lobby to redefine "conservation" as "game management," they don't seem to have prevailed. A broad spectrum of people continue to use the term with its universal meaning, and have thus prevented its appropriation by a special interest.

Definition: North American Model of Wildlife Conservation (NAMWC).

Principles for the lawful regulation of hunting, angling, and trapping that are widely accepted among sportsmen. A 2014 technical review (Wildlife Society, 2014) listed seven principles paraphrased here as follows:

    1. Wildlife resources are managed in the Public Trust.
    2. Markets for game are eliminated.
    3. Allocation of wildlife is by law.
    4. Wildlife may be killed only for legitimate purposes.
    5. Wildlife resources are managed internationally.
    6. Wildlife resources are managed based on best-available science.
    7. Allocation of wildlife is democratic.

The NAMWC doesn't have any one author, regulating body, or copyright, so it's vulnerable to marketing spin. For example, sportsmen tend to see it as a bill of rights for sportsmen, not inclusive of the rights of other groups with different and sometimes conflicting interests in wildlife (e.g. non-consumptive outdoor recreationists, defined below).

For example, the Arizona Game & Fish Department has taken it upon itself to replace principle #4 ("Wildlife may be killed only for legitimate purposes") with the marketing slogan "Hunters and anglers fund conservation" (AZGFD, 2016). Their motivation is apparently to promote the exclusive funding of game-management programs through hunting and fishing license fees, and to steer clear of general funds.

Operating from hunting and fishing license fees seems to be the general preference of State game & fish agencies, because it keeps the control of game management firmly in the hands of sportsmen--and out of the hands of non-consumptive outdoor recreationists who might otherwise try to shift it more toward ecosystem-based management (Fahy, 2014; Jordan, 2014; Simeo, 2016; Strong 2014a).

There's a lot of controversy about how to make up for declining game & fish revenues (Fahy, 2014; Strong, 2014b), but the arrangement can work out (State of Oregon, 2012; State of MN, 1988; State of MN, 2009), as long as clear boundaries are set, or conservationists in general are comfortable with--or not fully aware of--how the funds are being spent.

Definition: non-consumptive outdoor recreation.

All of the things people do outdoors without "taking" (i.e. "harvesting" or killing) natural resources, or otherwise diminishing them (beyond the minimal impact that any outdoors activity has on nature).

Non-consumptive outdoor recreation includes things as simple as exercise and group activities, and things as complex as spiritual renewal and scientific and artistic studies. It includes people who simply like to "get out in nature. " It includes people who don't get out in nature as much as they'd like, but who do need to know that clean air and water, habitat, and wildlife are being protected.

Conservationists come in all shapes and sizes, including the vast majority of the population who engage in non-consumptive outdoor recreation. Although much has been made of the contributions of sportsmen to "conservation" (Duda, Jones, Beppler, 2016) when it's defined as "game management," the reality is that in the bigger picture, the non-consumptive majority of the population provides the majority of funding for conservation (in the basic meaning of the word "conservation") including federal and State protections for clean air and water; local, regional, State and National Parks and other public lands; private-sector wildlife trusts, etc. (Smith and Molde, 2014).

In the State of Minnesota, for example, conservation funding from the general population comes from income taxes, sales taxes including the Minnesota Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment (State of MN, 2009), lottery revenue including the Minnesota Environment & Natural Resources Fund (State of MN, 1988), and Minnesota's share of nationwide revenue from income taxes, excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment (U.S.A., 1937), boats (U.S.A., 1950), off-road vehicle and boating fuel (U.S.A., 1950), park and trail fees, and individual contributions to conservation organizations (in the basic meaning of the word "conservation"). This is a large and complex subject that can't be adequately addressed here; but a few links to further information have been provided in the blog entry "Who are the MN DNR's primary clients? Sources of funds in the MN DNR budget" (Slocum, 2014).

Definition: consumptive outdoor recreation.

All of the things people do outdoors, including the "taking" (i.e. "harvesting" or killing) of wildlife.

Consumptive outdoor recreation adds another layer of activity (and impact) to non-consumptive outdoor recreation. Sportsmen engage in all the activities of non-consumptive outdoor recreation; plus they hunt, fish, and trap.

In managed seasons, sportsmen "take" (i.e. "harvest" or kill) game animals for meat, organs, fur, display, and other uses. Outside of the managed seasons, sportsmen improve habitat (to improve game production).

Sportsmen can be very effective fundraisers, promoters, and supporters of conservation (including conservation in the basic meaning of the word). In Minnesota, sportsmen were the initial group around which a much larger coalition formed to promote and pass the Minnesota Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment (Weiner, 2008)

Violations of the NAMWC by wildlife-killing contests.

Wildlife-killing contests bend and/or break the rules of good sportsmanship; including the following principles of the NAMWC:

  • Principle: Wildlife resources are managed in the Public Trust.

    • Violation: in wildlife-killing contests, the interests of those who want wildlife to live free are ignored, dismissed, and/or ridiculed. That's not a proper or respectful way to treat resources in the Public Trust--which, by definition, belong to everyone, and should be managed in everyone's interest.

  • Principle: Markets for game are eliminated.

    • Violation: in wildlife-killing contests, cash and merchandise are awarded for the killing of wildlife. This and the raffles and other forms of gambling that are often associated with wildlife-killing contests are only one step removed from the "markets" or "commerce" prohibited by the NAMWC. A step in the wrong direction: gambling and "charitable gambling" should be at least as highly regulated as commerce, and are usually more regulated because of their greater potential to exploit human behavior.

  • Principle: Allocation of wildlife is by law.

    • Violation: in wildlife-killing contests, participants allocate as much as they can to themselves, and leave as little as possible to others. Where the take of "non-game," "unprotected wildlife," and "predators," etc. is unlimited (as it is for coyotes in Minnesota: State of MN, 1986), the allocation of wildlife is not done by law, but by free-for-all.

  • Principle: Wildlife may be killed only for legitimate purposes.

    • Violation: in wildlife-killing contests, wildlife are killed for "fun" and prizes. The carcasses generally go unused, and the fur (damaged by shotgun blasts or high-velocity bullet wounds from long-distance shots) either goes unused (Villagran, 2015) or is processed at minimal value. At such low values, it's apparent that the fur taken in contests is processed only to support the claim of "legitimate purposes."

  • Principle: Wildlife resources are managed based on best-available science.

    • Violation: in wildlife-killing contests, predator removal is falsely equated with wildlife management ("Save the Birds," 2017; Slocum, 2016c). To the contrary, the best-available science of wildlife management (and, in particular, of ground-nesting game-bird management) calls for habitat improvement, while leaving predators and other elements of the ecosystem intact in high-quality habitat (Amundson et al. 2013; Hart, 2016; Kennamer, 2016; Petrie, 2003; Pheasants Forever, 2016).

How to prohibit violations of the NAMWC by wildlife-killing contests.

The following principles are implicit in the NAMWC. They should be made explicit:

  • Wildlife resources are managed in the Public Trust--and the Public Trust includes everyone, including all types of conservationists, who have special interests in it, and expertise in its management.

  • Wildlife includes native wild animals that are classified as "non-game," "unprotected wildlife," "predators," etc. (or misclassified as "vermin," etc.).

The following principles should be added to the NAMWC:

  • All native wildlife are protected to at least the same extent as game animals.

  • Ecosystem-based management is prioritized at or above the level of game management.

  • Hunting contests are regulated by hunting-contest regulations (and the same for angling and trapping contests).

To implement that final, additional principle, two proposals for Minnesota hunting-contest regulations (Slocum, 2016a; Slocum, 2016b) have been developed in response to the Petition to Prohibit Wildlife-Killing Contests in Minnesota (Petition, 2015). Enacting them would be a step in the right direction, to avoid at least some of the violations of the NAMWC that are currently being promoted by wildlife-killing contests.


References

Amundson, Courtney L., Matthew R. Pieron, Todd W. Arnold, and Laura A. Beaudoin. 2013. "The Effects of Predator Removal on Mallard Production and Population Change in Northeastern North Dakota." Journal of Wildlife Management 77 (1): 143–52. doi:10.1002/jwmg.438.

AZGFD. 2016. North American Model of Wildlife Conservation (a novel interpretation by the Arizona Game & Fish Department). http://www.azgfd.gov/h_f/northamericanmodel.shtml

Duda, Mark Damian, Marty Jones, and Tom Beppler. 2016. "Hunters' Contributions to U.S. Wildlife Conservation." NRA Hunters Leadership Forum. September 13. https://www.nrahlf.org/articles/2016/9/13/hunters-contributions-to-us-wildlife-conservation/

Fahy, Brooks. 2014. "Why the NRDC's Montana 'Wolf Stamp' Must Be Stopped." Wildlife News. August 14. http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2014/08/14/why-the-nrdcs-montana-wolf-stamp-must-be-stopped/

Hart, David. 2016. "Coexist with Predators." National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF). http://www.nwtf.org/conservation/article/coexist-predators

Jordan, Larry. 2014. "The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation and Who Pays for It." Ten-Thousand Birds. December 17. http://10000birds.com/the-north-american-model-of-wildlife-conservation-and-who-pays-for-it.htm

Kennamer, James Earl. 2016. "Wild Turkeys and Predators: What's the Real Problem?" National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF). http://www.nwtf.org/conservation/article/wild-turkeys-predators-problem

Petition. 2015. "Prohibit Wildlife Killing Contests in Minnesota," December 24. https://www.change.org/p/mn-dnr-commissioner-tom-landwehr-prohibit-wildlife-killing-contests-in-minnesota

Petrie, Chuck. 2003. "Ducks, Habitat Conservation, and Predators." Ducks Unlimited, November 1. http://www.ducks.org/media/Conservation/Conservation_Documents/_documents/Ducks%20and%20Predators%20low%20res.pdf

Pheasants Forever. 2016. "Effects of Predators: Habitat Management Decreases Predation." https://www.pheasantsforever.org/Habitat/Why-Habitat/Pheasant-Facts/Effects-of-Predators.aspx

"Save the Birds." 2017. Coyote Hunting Tournament, Marshall, MN. 1/13/2017. http://coyotecontest.com/contest/2017-save-the-birds

Simeo, Jennifer. 2016. "Sportsmen-Driven Wildlife Agencies Ignore Opposing Opinions." Reno Gazette Journal, May 26. http://www.rgj.com/story/opinion/voices/2016/05/26/one-view-sportsmen-driven-wildlife-agencies-ignore-opposing-opinions/84987026/

Slocum, Scott. 2014. "Who Are the MN DNR's Primary Clients? Sources of Funds in the MN DNR Budget." SS-Slocum. February 20. http://www.ss-slocum.info/home/wolves/blog/mn-dnr_payers_vs_constituents

Slocum, Scott. 2016a. "Should Minnesota adopt hunting-contest regs based on its fishing-contest regs?" SS-Slocum. February 27. http://www.ss-slocum.info/home/WKCs/blog/draft-mn-hcb

Slocum, Scott. 2016b. "Should Minnesota adopt California hunting-contest regs?" SS-Slocum. March 3. http://www.ss-slocum.info/home/WKCs/blog/mn-adopt-ca-wkc-regs

Slocum, Scott. 2016c. "Action Alert: 2017 Coyote-Hunting Contest in Marshall, Minnesota." December 17. http://www.ss-slocum.info/home/WKCs/blog/update-2016-12-17-please-write

Smith, Mark E., and Donald A. Molde. 2014. "Wildlife Conservation & Management Funding in the U.S." Nevada Wildlife Alliance. http://www.nvwildlifealliance.org/wildlife-conservation-management-funding-in-the-u-s/

State of Oregon. 2012. "Oregon Habitat Conservation Stamp." Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). http://www.dfw.state.or.us/conservationstrategy/habitat_conservation_stamp.asp

State of MN. 1988. "Minnesota Environment & Natural Resources Fund." http://www.legacy.leg.mn/funds/environment-natural-resources-trust-fund

State of MN. 2009. "Minnesota Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment." http://www.legacy.leg.mn/

State of MN. 1986. Minnesota Statutes Section 97B.651: "[Taking] Unprotected Mammals and Birds." https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=97B.651

Strong, Zack. 2014a. "Montana Announces Wolf Conservation Stamp!" Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). May 21. http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/zstrong/montana_proposes_wolf_conserva.html

Strong, Zack. 2014b. "Montana Rejects Wolf Stamp." Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). October 17. http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/zstrong/montana_rejects_wolf_stamp.html

U.S.A. 1937. "U.S. Wildlife Restoration Act (Pittman-Robertson Act)." http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/Subpages/GrantPrograms/WR/WR_Act.htm

U.S.A. 1950. "U.S. Sport Fish Restoration Act (Dingell-Johnson Act)." http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/Subpages/GrantPrograms/SFR/SFR_Act.htm

Villagran, Lauren. 2015. "Nearly 40 Dead Coyotes Dumped near Las Cruces." Albuquerque Journal, January 1. http://www.abqjournal.com/519815/news/dead-coyotes-dumped-near-las-cruces.html

Weiner, Jay. 2008. “Voters to Write the Ending on a 10-Year Capitol Tale about the Future of the State’s Quality of Life.” MinnPost. October 30. https://www.minnpost.com/politics-policy/2008/10/voters-write-ending-10-year-capitol-tale-about-future-states-quality-life

Wildlife Society. 2014. "The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation": a technical review by The Wildlife Society and the Boone & Crockett Club. http://wildlife.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/North-American-model-of-Wildlife-Conservation.pdf



NASA: North America satellite orthographic
NASA: North America satellite orthographic.

Correspondence with an Opponent

posted Dec 20, 2016, 7:31 PM by Scott Slocum   [ updated Dec 21, 2016, 8:56 PM ]

This blog entry provides material to accompany the Petition to Prohibit Wildlife-Killing Contests in Minnesota.

Letter from an opponent, in support of the coyote-hunting tournament. 

(Included here with the permission of the writer.)

Scott, I recently came upon your blog and petition to stop coyote hunting contests. While you do have good points, you are also missing out on some of the main points to have such a contest.

You mentioned how it affects the businesses nearby to have it at Brau Bros in Marshall, but it also increases local business sales, especially for Brau Bros, which in turn benefits the local economy within Marshall.

If you are against this tournament, how would you suggest the coyote population be managed? I have heard numerous stories of coyotes taking down livestock, or even house pets.  There needs to be a management practice. These coyotes are not just pointless kills either. Each pelt is donated to the tournament, which in turn makes jackets, gloves, etc.

Next I would like to point out that if you are against such pointless killing you should be against "slug season" during the peak of the deer hunting rut. Over 100,000 deer each year are taken by firearms in MN largely because of the timing of the hunt. Thousands of hunters push groves and scare deer away not even giving them a chance to use their senses, creating, basically, a mass exodus of deer every November. Killing young deer reduces the chances to have adult deer in the future. Yes, deer do need to be managed, but in the right way, not this way. If you find coyote tournaments inhumane, this is in every shape and form just as inhumane, and you should have a petition for that. Consider this tournament the "slug season" for coyotes.

Now, coyotes actually aren't the main predator of pheasants, so I understand the misconception the poster may portray. However, they do their fair share of dwindling down the pheasant population, as well as fawns in the deer population. There have been studies about the effects of coyotes on fawns, and how they reduce the population tremendously. If you are like me and love seeing deer of all shapes and sizes, then there needs to be an answer to the coyote problem. You mentioned that you thought the pheasant had to be injured not to get up out of the snow, and that the coyote was doing its part to help the animal world. Oftentimes, pheasants have tremendous difficulties getting up out of snow which would explain this photo. Or other times, pheasants will hunker down until the last possible second, hoping that whatever is nearby will simply walk away.

I also would be willing to bet the majority of the signatures on your petition are suburban residents who are not often exposed to coyotes. I would also bet they would erase their signatures if their dog or cat was killed by a coyote sneaking into their yard. I have seen news articles about that, and I have a friend whose pet killed was by a coyote. I have yet to come across someone living in the rural parts that would advocate against this tournament, or against coyote hunting in general. Most people can't stand coyotes, and are a little spooked by the idea that there may be a pack in their grove.

Yes, to many, a coyote tournament may sound inhumane. But the tournament rules are as humane as they can get. Participants cannot use dogs, vehicles, or traps. This means it's up to you and the coyote--between wits and senses--whether the coyote will be harvested or not. Lots of times, coyotes remain hundreds of yards away when you are trying to call them in. There will be no slaughter of coyotes, by any means, as it proves very difficult to get them into shooting range. At last year's tournament, there were over 60 teams, I believe. I think only 11 or 12 coyotes were shot total! That means an average of only 1 out of every 5 teams got one, while the rest were skunked. In 2012, there were over 40,000 coyotes in the state of MN, and my guess is that there are even more now. The taking of 12 coyotes out of the whole state is .0003% of the entire population. If that is a slaughter, that is news to me. Consider, too, that a typical litter of pups every spring is 5-7 pups. That means that two females giving birth could replace the 12 that were taken.

In short, I see no issue with such a tournament. I live in the Marshall area, and I see first-hand the affect coyotes have. The tournament is a management practice, and does boost local businesses. Yes some may be opposed, but like I mentioned, the tournament mainly creates interest versus a distraction or disapproval.

Open letter in reply (on behalf of the Petition, in opposition to the coyote-hunting tournament). 

Josh, thanks for writing with your perspective on the "Save the Birds" coyote-hunting tournament in Marshall, MN.


I agree that it's important to acknowledge other perspectives on how people prefer to live with and manage wildlife, what kind of outdoor-recreation activities they prefer, etc. Although I might not fully acknowledge them as I write for this Petition, I continue to examine and consider them. 

In other circumstances (when I'm not writing for this Petition), I discuss other perspectives with people who I think might not have heard them. For example, I talk with non-hunters about the differences between responsible hunting and other activities that involve the taking of wildlife. They range across a wide spectrum, and it doesn't help to lump them all together. Unfortunately, they're sometimes lumped together when people on opposite sides of an issue like this exchange insults like "trophy hunters are scum" vs. "antis are idiots."

Let me respond to your points, in specific.

I realize that contest participants come to Brau Brothers Brewing Company for refreshments before and after the event, and that this contributes to the company's revenues. However, there's also a loss of potential customers who oppose this event and the company's support of it. Consumers want to know the companies they're patronizing, and they should be informed that this company is sponsoring this event. That's one of the goals of this Petition.

I agree that wildlife management (in addition to animal husbandry) is necessary to protect livestock and pets from depredation. Of course, wildlife management involves more than killing coyotes. Vulnerable livestock (e.g. cows with calves) need to be protected from predators by physical barriers and behavioral deterrents. Predator attractants need to be minimized. Lethal force is most effective when it's targeted at individual predators that have approached, harassed, or attacked livestock. 

A lot of those guidelines apply to pets, too. Urban and suburban residents with pets are learning to be more aware of coyotes, and how to keep their pets safe. The expert advice is to keep garbage, pet food, etc. out of reach; to haze coyotes that might become food-conditioned to humans (not just habituated, but expecting food); to respect den sites in spring and early summer; etc. One of the benefits of taking that advice, and doing those things, is our improved security. Another is our enhanced appreciation of nature, and our coexistence in it. In the big picture, we're all in it together, we and the coyotes, and the rest of nature. Our lives have purpose and meaning--to ourselves and to each other.

By "slug season," I assume you're referring to the Minnesota firearms and muzzleloader deer-hunting seasons (in southern and western portions of Minnesota, only slugs or handguns are allowed for deer hunting). 

Of course, deer hunting is a very popular pursuit, and every sportsmen's group has opinions about how deer, and deer hunting, should be managed. There are some major controversies over the feeding, baiting, farming, pursuit, and taking of deer. Will I be organizing a petition against them? No. But you seem to have a special interest in it. Maybe you'll give it a try.

Of course, deer are very different than coyotes, and it's almost always a mistake to try to equate deer management with coyote management.

Your statement that "coyotes do their fair share of dwindling down the pheasant population, as well as fawn numbers in the deer population" needs to be addressed in the context of population dynamics, including the tendency of prey populations (and predator populations) to reproduce in excess, and including the tendency of predators to take the most vulnerable individuals from prey populations. Yes, that often includes the young; but it also includes the aged, the weak, and the sick. That's the nature of predator/prey systems: predators selectively thin prey populations, tending to leave the stronger, more fit, individuals to live and reproduce.

About the photo of the coyote and the pheasant on the event poster, I wrote about the question of why the pheasant wasn't flying away as follows: "... one answer might be that the pheasant was injured and/or diseased". However, you misquoted me as follows: "you thought the pheasant had to be injured not to get up out of the snow." Straw man fallacy: look it up. Yes, there are variations in pheasant behavior; such that some pheasants in some conditions will hide from a predator rather than fly to escape it. And there are natural consequences for those behaviors. They're all balanced in the big, ecological picture. 

And as for the low take of coyotes during the 2016 event: that hunt was hampered by warm weather and a lack of snow cover on the ground (coyotes are easier to spot against a white background). As a consequence, only about ten coyotes were taken. The date of the 2017 event has been moved up a month, apparently to improve the chances of better conditions for hunting. Contestants who want to win the $1000 prize will kill as many coyotes as they can. Although that's not expected to cause statewide population numbers to rise or fall, it can be expected to have significant social, biological, and ecological effects on coyotes, and their ecosystems, in the targeted areas. The $1000 prize is awarded for killing in numbers.

Yes, another goal of the event is to "create interest" in predator hunting (and in the purchase of high-performance weaponry and gear promoted by the event sponsors). But this won't be accomplished without a loss of credibility by the event and its sponsors. Petitioners are writing to the only remaining, credible sponsor--Pheasants Forever--to warn them away from this.

The Petition, on the other hand, is accomplishing its goals while maintaining its credibility. It's providing solid information about how to really "Save the Birds"--and how to avoid the unnecessary, ineffective, and unethical errors in judgement that are being promoted by this event--and all events like it.


Coyote Taking a Break. Photo by Lori Iverson, 2013.

Photo by Lori Iverson, 2013.
From the U.S. National Digital Library. A coyote on the National Elk Refuge in Wyoming takes a break from hunting on a sunny winter morning.

Action Alert: 2017 Coyote-Hunting Contest in Marshall, Minnesota

posted Dec 17, 2016, 4:30 PM by Scott Slocum   [ updated Dec 25, 2016, 3:21 PM ]

12/17/2016 update to the Petition to Prohibit Wildlife-Killing Contests in Minnesota.


The third annual "Save the Birds" Coyote Hunting Tournament is set to take place January 13-14, 2017 in Marshall, MN.

Talking points in opposition to this event:

  1. Killing predators is not an effective or ethical way to improve prey populations or hunting.

  2. No organization with a scientific predator-management policy should be sponsoring this event.

  3. This event is not appropriate for a public place.

Organizations to talk with or write to:

  1. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

  2. Pheasants Forever.

  3. Brau Brothers Brewing Company and the City of Marshall, MN.

Their addresses are provided below. Sample letters are attached (scroll all the way down).

Talking point #1: killing predators is not an effective or ethical way to improve prey populations for hunting.

The poster for the 2017 "Save the Birds" Coyote Hunting Tournament--in addition to the misleading slogan across the top--features a photo of a coyote with its jaws open, closing in on a pheasant that, for some reason, isn't flying away. The first question that probably occurs to conservationists, birdwatchers, biologists, and wildlife managers is "why isn't the pheasant flying away?" Assuming that the photo depicts a natural event, one answer might be that the pheasant was injured and/or diseased. In that case, the coyote would be providing one of the ecological services that predators and scavengers provide--removing injured and diseased animals from the prey population (thus making the population stronger), and removing carrion from the landscape (thus facilitating its return to the earth).

The event organizers, however, seem to be posing a different question: "why are we letting this coyote steal our game?" They're ignoring the science, and in its place they're promoting misinformation, trying to make it look more appealing by lacing it with cash and merchandise from vendors and sponsors of the event. There's money involved, from the marketing of the event, to the awarding of door prizes and tournament awards, to the vendor promotions, and finally to the operation of a raffle in the guise of charitable gambling. In other words, the organizers and sponsors are selling firearms and ammunition, optics, lights, acoustic and electronic calls, clothing and accessories, and other supplies--as if they're recruiting hunters to some kind of elite tactical unit. But they're not, of course; they're just out there engaging in a cruel and biologically-pointless event.

The information gap between what we know from science and what we're told by the promoters of this event needs to be addressed among conservationists, wildlife managers, and legislators. That's one of the goals of the Petition to Prohibit Wildlife-Killing Contests in Minnesota.


See the Event Poster

The event poster can be viewed on the facebook page SaveTheBirdsCoyoteHunt and through the "forms & docs" link on the event listing at CoyoteContest.com. The photo is catalogued at Shutterstock.com.

Good news!

Thanks to these two organizations for withdrawing their support from this event:

  • National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF).

  • Marshall MN Visitors Bureau.

Thanks to the petition signers who wrote to the NWTF last season to ask them to follow their own good advice on how to promote turkey populations and turkey hunting. Their advice: to focus on restoring and maintaining high-quality turkey habitat (and to leave the predators alone).

And thanks to those who wrote to the Marshall Visitors Bureau last season to point out how its sponsorship was detracting from its mission of promoting local tourism--for people in general, not just for one special interest.


Talking point #2: No organization with a scientific predator-management policy should be sponsoring this event.

For some reason (maybe we haven't reached them yet), Pheasants Forever (PF) has continued its sponsorship of this event this season. Now it's time to write to them again, to ask them to follow their own good advice on how to promote pheasant populations and pheasant hunting. Their advice is the same as that of the NWTF: focus on restoring and maintaining high-quality pheasant habitat (and leave the predators alone).


See the NWTF and PF Recommendations on Habitat and Predator Management

The published recommendations of NWTF and PF on habitat and predator management are available online by searching their websites for the keyword "predator", or by following the references provided in last season's petition update MN coyote-killing contest deceptively labeled to "Save the Birds."


Talking point #3: This event is not appropriate for a public place.

Brau Brothers Brewing Company is a taproom in the City of Marshall, MN. The neighborhood includes mixed retail, residential, school, and other community properties. This an not an appropriate site for the handling, weighing, and public display of blood-soaked coyote carcasses. After the contestants have gone in for supper, the carcasses are still out in the open trailer in the parking lot, to be disposed of, later, by the event organizers. No guidelines have been published on the personal hygiene of contestants entering the taproom from the carcass check-in area. This might not be the most appetizing image for customers at the Brau Brothers' taproom or the Perkins Restaurant and Bakery across the parking lot, or for the residents and visitors to the City of Marshall.


Please write!


Point #1: please write to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR) and the Governor's Office about the following issues:

  • Killing predators is not an effective or ethical way to improve prey populations for hunting.

  • Killing for fun and prizes is bending the rules of sportsmanship.

  • Petitioners have submitted a proposal for Minnesota hunting-contest regulations.

  • Petitioners are still waiting for a response from the MN DNR.


Mr. Bob Meier

Assistant Commissioner for Policy & Government Relations

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Box 37

500 Lafayette Rd

Saint Paul, MN 55155-4037

Telephone: 651-259-5024

Email: bob.meier@state.mn.us

The MN DNR has nothing to do with this event, but has so far declined to take a position against it, or to take a position in support of the regulation of hunting contests in Minnesota. The MN DNR is fully aware of this event, and has sent Conservation Officers to the event, to counsel event participants in legal coyote-hunting practices.


Governor Mark Dayton

Office of the Governor and Lt. Governor

116 Veterans Service Building

20 W 12th Street

Saint Paul, MN 55155

Telephone: 651-201-3400

Toll Free: 800-657-3717

 Contact form: http://mn.gov/governor/contact-us/form/

The Office and staff of the Minnesota Governor and Lieutenant Governor have nothing to do with this event, but have so far declined to take a position against it, or to take a position in support of the regulation of hunting contests in Minnesota. The Office and staff are fully aware of this event.


Point #2: please write to Pheasants Forever to ask them to follow their own scientific recommendations on predator management, and to end their sponsorship of this event:


Pheasants Forever, Inc.

1783 Buerkle Circle

Saint Paul, MN 55110

Local telephone: 651-773-2000

Toll-free telephone: 877-773-2070

Contact form: https://www.pheasantsforever.org/Contact-Us.aspx


Point #3: please write to the Brau Brothers' taproom to point out that this is not an appropriate event for a public venue in the city:


Brau Brothers Brewing Company

910 East Main Street

Marshall, MN 56258

Telephone: 507-929-2337

Contact form: http://braubeer.com/contact-brau-bros/


Point #3: please write to neighboring businesses and public officials--making it clear that we understand that they are not associated with this event--but voicing our concern for the negative image that this event might give to neighboring businesses and the community as a whole.


Concerned Local Organizations--not involved with this event.

The owner of the Marshall, MN Perkins Restaurant & Bakery called this morning, 12/19/2016, to remind petitioners "to be very clear, Perkins has nothing to do with this."

He's concerned, and grateful that petitioners have let him know about the coyote-hunting event that's coming up again in 2017 in the parking lot that the restaurant shares with the event host Brau Brothers Brewing Company.

He'll be calling Brau Brothers to talk about this, and he'll be looking into it further.

As always, petitioners are asked to be on their best behavior when contacting people and organizations about this event, and this Petition against it.

Perkins Restaurant and Bakery

1020 East Southview Drive

Marshall, MN 56258

Telephone: 507-532-7381

Contact form: http://www.perkinsrestaurants.com/feedback/

Perkins has nothing to do with this event. They are located across the parking lot from the site of the event at Brau Brothers Brewing Company.


Dollar Tree

1000 East Southview Drive

Marshall, MN 56258

Facebook Contact: https://www.facebook.com/pg/dollartree/about/

Dollar Tree has nothing to do with this event. They are located adjacent to the site of the event at Brau Brothers Brewing Company.


Hy-Vee (store, clinic, floral, fuel, Market Grille, and pharmacy)

900 East Main Street

Marshall, MN 56258

Telephone (store): 507-532-2247

Contact form (corporate): https://www.hy-vee.com/contact.aspx

Hy-Vee has nothing to do with this event. They are located across East Southview Drive from the site of the event at Brau Brothers Brewing Company.


Dr. Steven Meister

Marshall MN City Council, Ward 2

344 West Main Street

Marshall, MN 56258

Email: steven.meister@ci.marshall.mn.us

The City of Marshall has nothing to do with this event, but could look into an Ordinance against the indecent public display of animal carcasses.


Mr. Larry Doom

Marshall MN City Council, Ward 2

344 West Main Street

Marshall, MN 56258

Email: larry.doom@ci.marshall.mn.us

The City of Marshall has nothing to do with this event, but could look into an Ordinance against the indecent public display of animal carcasses.


Mr. Robert J. Byrnes

Marshall MN Mayor

344 West Main Street

Marshall, MN 56258

Email: robert.byrnes@ci.marshall.mn.us

The City of Marshall has nothing to do with this event, but could look into an Ordinance against the indecent public display of animal carcasses.


Please write to any or all of the following organizations to address points that are important to you (in a polite and respectful manner, please):

  • Marshall Independent

508 W. Main Street

Marshall, MN 56258

Email: news@marshallindependent.com

The Marshall Independent has promoted this event in the past, and been critical of the Petition to Prohibit Wildlife-Killing Contests in Minnesota.


  • Your local newspaper.

  • Your City Officials.

  • Your sportsmen's organization.


Thank you!

Scott Slocum

Organizer of the Petition to Prohibit Wildlife-Killing Contests in Minnesota



Coyote Ready to Pounce. Photo by Lori Iverson, 2010. From the U.S. National Digital Library.

Coyote Ready to Pounce.

Photo by Lori Iverson, 2010.

From the U.S. National Digital Library. A coyote on the National Elk Refuge in Wyoming listens intently as it detects movement under the snow. Seconds after the picture is taken, the coyote pounces and catches a small animal.


Should Minnesota adopt California hunting-contest regs?

posted Mar 3, 2016, 11:42 AM by Scott Slocum   [ updated Oct 17, 2017, 10:32 PM ]


California is the first State in the U.S. to significantly regulate wildlife-killing contests (WKC). In California, in the 1980s, a $499 limit was put on prizes for contests targeting "game" animals; and in 2014, prizes in contests targeting "furbearers" or "nongame animals" were prohibited.

It should be noted that at least one California contest seems to have continued even after the California ban on hunting-contest prizes. Maybe that was just temporary the first year, out of stubbornness. But maybe some contests would go on, even without hunting-contest prizes? In 2015, the contest referred to above continued with a random drawing for door prizes, which was apparently still considered separate from the hunting contest, and which was apparently still allowed. That's a loophole that should be considered, and probably closed.

Minnesota could adopt regulations like this. They wouldn't be exactly the same, because wildlife are categorized slightly differently in Minnesota; but the regulations regarding "game" and "nongame" animals could be adopted directly from the California model. For example, Minnesota could put a $499 limit on prizes for a "big buck" contest, but prohibit prizes in all coyote-hunting contests. Or put a different variation on it.

What do you think Petition signers, MN voters, MN DNR, MN Governor's Office, and MN Legislature?


Here's a summary of the California regulations:

  • "Except as specified in subdivisions (b), (c), and (d), it is unlawful to offer any prize or other inducement as a reward for the taking of any game birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, or amphibians in an individual contest, tournament, or derby."
  • b: CA DFW may issue permits for game fish tournaments. 
  • c: frog-jumping contests and fish contests in the Pacific Ocean are allowed. 
  • d: contests with total prizes less than $500 are allowed
  • Section 3950, item (a) categorizes the following animals as "game mammals": deer, elk, prong-horned antelope, wild pigs, black and brown or cinnamon bears, jackrabbits and varying hares, cottontails, brush rabbits, pygmy rabbits, and tree squirrels.
  • CCR Subdivision 2, Chapter 5, Section 465: "... (b) Pursuant to Fish and Game Code Section 2003, it is unlawful to offer any prize or other inducement as a reward for the taking of furbearers in an individual contest, tournament, or derby."
  • CCR Subdivision 2, Chapter 6, Section 472: "...(e) Pursuant to Fish and Game Code Section 2003, it is unlawful to offer any prize or other inducement as a reward for the taking of nongame mammals in an individual contest, tournament, or derby."
  • CCR Subdivision 2, Chapter 5 categorizes the following animals as "furbearers": Fisher, Marten, River Otter, Desert Kit Fox, Red Fox, Badger, Gray Fox, Muskrat, Mink, Beaver, Raccoon.
  • CCR Subdivision 2, Chapter 6 lists some of the animals that are categorized as "nongame animals," including the following: english sparrow, starling, coyote, weasel, skunk, opossum, moles and rodents (excluding tree and flying squirrels, and those listed as furbearers, endangered or threatened species). This is a "catch-all" category that includes any animal that's not listed in another category.


California Dept. of Fish & Game: Mammal Hunting Regulations. Website snapshot.

Should Minnesota adopt hunting-contest regs based on its fishing-contest regs?

posted Feb 27, 2016, 10:38 AM by Scott Slocum   [ updated Mar 11, 2016, 9:24 PM ]

A single-page "California" version of a Minnesota Hunting-Contest Bill is being proposed as an alternative to this three-page proposal.

The Petition to Prohibit Wildlife Killing Contests in Minnesota identifies problems and calls for solutions. 

This draft of a Minnesota Hunting Contest Bill proposes solutions. Please ask your MN legislators to author or co-author a bill like it.

Problem 1: Charitable Gambling Statute does not use standard terminology.
  • Solution 1 summary: Use Game and Fish terminology in Charitable Gambling Statute.
  • Solution 1 detail (Section 1 of the proposed legislation): 
    • Clarify Section 349.173: Conduct of Raffles using terms defined in Section 97A.015: Game and Fish Definitions.

Problem 2: Fishing contests are regulated, but hunting contests are not.
  • Solution 2 summary: Regulate hunting contests in the same way as fishing contests.
  • Solution 2 detail (Section 2 of the proposed legislation): 
    • Establish regulations for "Public Hunting Contests" in Chapter 97B: Hunting, based upon existing regulations in Section 97C.081: Fishing Contests.

Letter to the Marshall City Council

posted Feb 26, 2016, 10:54 PM by Scott Slocum   [ updated Feb 26, 2016, 10:54 PM ]

2/24/2016

To: Marshall MN Mayor and City Council

From: Scott Slocum.

Re: The Petition to Prohibit Wildlife-Killing Contests in Minnesota

Mr. Mayor and Council Members,

A lot has been written lately about the "Save the Birds" Coyote Hunting Tournament vs. the Petition to Prohibit Wildlife-Killing Contests in Minnesota.

Unfortunately, most of what's been written about the Petition hasn't referred to the Petition itself, but to comments by petition signers--some of them selected by supporters of the tournament in order to make the Petition look like something that it's not.

Here are some of the things that the Petition is, and is not, about:

  • It's about hunting contests; not about hunting.

  • It's about the public promotion, by a few, of contests to kill wildlife for "fun" and prizes; not about the character of the people of Minnesota.

  • It's about killing wildlife in quantity, in a gambling atmosphere.; not about banquets and charitable raffles.

On the following pages, I've attached a copy of the plain text of the Petition, and a list of petition signers in your range of zip codes in Southwest Minnesota.

Although the Petition is not addressed to the City of Marshall, it's likely that you'll be consulted about it. I hope that when you respond to questions about the Petition, you'll refer to the Petition itself, not the feelings that seem to have erupted around it.

Sincerely,

Scott Slocum


Attached: Petition letter and list of area petition signers.



Marshall, MN Post Office.

Marshall, MN Post Office.

News from the Coyote-Hunting Tournament, 2/20/2016

posted Feb 26, 2016, 10:42 PM by Scott Slocum   [ updated Feb 26, 2016, 11:12 PM ]

The weigh-in ceremonies for the "Save the Birds" Coyote-Hunting Tournament took place as scheduled in Marshall, MN on 2/20/2016.

According to the 2/22/2016 Marshall Independent article "Hunt takes some heat but goes on" the weather wasn't favorable for predator hunting, so the 62 two-person teams only took ten coyotes combined. About seven of the coyote carcasses were "donated" to the tournament proceeds and sold to a fur buyer for an undisclosed sum. In other words, they were dumped in a trailer at the "finish line." Because it would have been a lot of work to skin and process them, without much to show for it--what with the exit wounds torn out of their fur, and the meat septic and tainted with lead.

The Petition itself was hardly mentioned; but some "uninformed" and "nasty" comments by animal advocates were featured--apparently because they "hurt people's feelings." The poor, under-appreciated tournament hunters got their feelings hurt. Or they wanted people in the community to know that all of their feelings should be hurt. It's hard to tell with these guys. 

The coyote-killing mythology was bolstered for another year, and the science was ignored--at least on the surface. It's hard to tell with these guys. They'll stick to what they think is right, until maybe something changes one day, like someone they respect saying "improve the habitat and tolerate the predators." That might happen one day.

A Southwestern MN landscape. Photo by Scott Slocum.

Southwestern MN landscape.

MN Political-Party Resolution

posted Feb 26, 2016, 12:45 PM by Scott Slocum   [ updated Feb 26, 2016, 12:55 PM ]

Attached, a Resolution for MN Hunting Contest Regulations to bring to your Precinct Caucus!

It's available in three formats:
The instructions on the GOP and DFL forms give you an idea of how they work. Basically, you bring two copies to your precinct caucus, hand one to the caucus officer, and keep one for yourself to refer to later as you explain it to your neighbors and ask for them to vote for it. When you and your neighbors vote on it and pass it, it goes on to the next level (which you'll learn more about at the caucus, too).

This year's Minnesota Precinct Caucuses will be held on Tuesday evening, 3/1/2016 at 7:00 pm.

For more information, please refer to your party's website or the MN Secretary of State's Caucus Finder.

MN Secretary of State's Caucus Finder.

Talking Points

posted Feb 26, 2016, 12:15 PM by Scott Slocum   [ updated Mar 2, 2016, 9:30 AM ]

Talking points opposed to wildlife-killing contests--on a business card with the image of a raffle ticket.

Front of card: talking points the Petition to Prohibit Wildlife-Killing Contests in MN.


The attached PDF file (link below) prints to a page of eight two-sided business cards (e.g. Avery template 8373, or Two-Sided Clean Edge Business Cards 88221)..

Time to call the MN Governor's Office

posted Feb 26, 2016, 12:03 PM by Scott Slocum   [ updated Feb 26, 2016, 12:04 PM ]

Update, 2/19/2016, Petition to Prohibit Wildlife Killing Contests in Minnesota. 

On 2/19/2016, petition signers were asked to call the Minnesota Governor's Office, in a final-hour attempt to halt the raffles associated with the upcoming coyote-hunting tournament--and ideally, as requested by Dr. Maureen Hackett of Howling for Wolves, to halt the tournament itself.

Office of the Governor & Lt. Governor of Minnesota:
  • Telephone: 651-201-3400 (please leave a voicemail)
  • Toll Free: 800-657-3717 (please leave a voicemail)
  • Minnesota Relay: 800-627-3529 
  • Fax: 651-797-1850 
Please call to ask Governor Dayton to stop the raffles that are planned in conjunction with the "Save the Birds" Coyote Hunting Tournament in Marshall, MN this weekend, 2/20/2016.

MN Statutes (Section 349.173) allow a raffle in conjunction with a "wild game or fish taking event." Coyotes are not "game" animals, therefore MN Statutes do not allow a raffle in conjunction with a coyote-taking event. Any raffle that is held at the event site during the event should be considered "in conjunction with" the event.

The MN Gambling Control Board has neglected to act. Governor Dayton, please act now to stop these raffles.

Thanks to Howling for Wolves and Maureen Hackett for pressing this issue with the Governor's Office. 

Here's an excerpt from Dr. Hackett's letter.

"Minnesota leaders must not turn a blind eye when these activities occur under their watch and under the authority of the departments they oversee... Our legislators must take action to make Minnesota the next state to prohibit recreational killing contests... Right now, however, we call on you, our Governor, to suspend this weekend's coyote killing contest, provide the legislature the opportunity to review this senseless practice, and allow reasoned, ethical wildlife policies to prevail in Minnesota."



Snapshot of the Howling for Wolves letter to Governor Dayton, 2/19/2016.

Snapshot of the Howling for Wolves letter to Governor Dayton, 2/19/2016.

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