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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.


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.


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.