This blog entry is in response to the article "Coyote hunting contest draws complaints from groups" by Lee Bergquist, Journal-Sentinel, 1/21/2016
That article covered the controversy over wildlife-killing contests and the Argonne, WI Predator Hunt at Main Street Ed's on 1/23/2016. The actual theme of the contest: "Come for the bloody carcasses, stay for supper!"
They way the houndsmen's spokesmen describe it, though, it seems far-off and wonderful. They love the chase, following their hounds across the countryside through their cries, barks, and bays. For someone who loves their dogs and doesn't give a thought to the wildlife, apparently there's nothing like it. The houndsmen can follow the location, direction, speed, proximity to target, stage of the chase, and conclusion, in which the quarry is treed. They say they don't know anyone who wants to see an animal die inhumanely; or see a wolf be shot. If a stranger tries to bursts their bubble, they try to denounce the stranger. They say he'll never understand, and they settle back into their comfortable ways of thinking (and lack thereof).
But the "world" they describe only exists in their minds. Wildlife live in reality, and in that reality, the wild families are being terrorized. For those who know them, they're not "quarry," but mother, father, family member--ally in a wild struggle to survive. They're tracked and run to exhaustion by hounds, mauled if caught, killed if necessary, or released to recover or die. If they're spared, they're chased another day. If they're killed, they're killed inhumanely; if they're wounded and left to live or die, they're wounded inhumanely. If they're misidentified as "coyotes," they're shot without caring that they're wolves. If they're not identifiable, they're shot without knowing that they're dogs, or men. If their movements, from a distance, looked like coyotes, or if they ended up by dumb luck in the line of fire of high-powered rifles and low-recognition minds.
Taking things even farther, contest promoters enter the scene, encouraging participants to gear up, take those long shots, and bring in those prizes. They puff-up their participants' pride to the point that they see themselves as--who knows--deputies in "predator management?"
Here's the reality, stated in this article by spokesmen not for themselves or their own lives, but for the reality of wildlife: "This is gratuitous killing." "Killing for prizes or trophies is unjustified and unsportsmanlike." "Indiscriminate killing is ineffective" in controlling livestock losses or regulating deer populations.
We need to know the reality, and we need to act accordingly. We're won't be able to do that as long as we subscribe to the fantasies of these houndsmen's spokesmen, of these contest organizers and weapons salesmen, of these contest participants, so easily flattered and convinced.
We need to end these contests, reform these hunts; and address our wildlife and agricultural programs to the job of effective predator management. In doing so, we'll be both more effective and more humane. We can still spend the money on weapons if we want, on shooting ranges, with targets in our sights instead of living beings.
Announcement of Argonne Predator Hunt at Main Street Ed's, Argonne, WI, 1/23/2016.