End wildlife killing contests in Illinois

Wildlife is not owned by the small percentage of those who participate in killing contests. Wildlife is important to everyone, and our public policies should reflect that.

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A coyote searches for food in California, one of the states that has banned wildlife killing contests. Illinois should ban such contests too, readers write.

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Disdain for wildlife killing contests is an area of common ground for Illinoisans who hunt and those who don’t. During these grisly events, which commonly take place in January and February, competitors kill coyotes and foxes by the hundreds for frivolous prizes.

Once the killing ends, participants pile up the bloody bodies for photos. The animals are then dumped — they aren’t killed for their meat, and the high-powered rifles render the fur valueless.

Remington Research Group, a respected bipartisan firm, recently conducted a poll that showed 73% of Illinois residents support a ban on killing contests. Illinoisans throughout the state do not tolerate senseless activities precipitated upon wildlife. Competitors ignore the ethics of fair chase, sportsmanship and respect for wildlife. These events are a disgrace and damage the reputation of Illinois.

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Hunters and wildlife agency professionals across the country have condemned the contests as unethical, scientifically indefensible and a threat to the hunting community. When Washington state prohibited contests, Kelly Susewind, the director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said: “Part of my job, and frankly part of my soul, is to promote hunting, to get our youth hunting, to really have this be a core piece of what our society supports. And frankly, that job is a lot harder if we’re condoning these types of contests.”

Wildlife is not owned by the small percentage of those who participate in killing contests. Wildlife is important to everyone, and our public policies should reflect that. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources must end these wasteful events.

Christine Pado, Third Lake

Follow other states on hunting contests

I was dismayed to learn wildlife killing contests occur right here in our state. These competitions portray hunters, the vast majority of whom do not compete in these events, in a bad light.

Participants perpetuate baseless myths to justify their activities. Killing contests are out of step with science and are counterproductive to sound wildlife management. Randomly killing coyotes will not prevent conflicts with farm animals and may even increase them. It also won’t reduce coyote numbers or result in more deer or turkeys for hunters.

It’s just killing for “fun,” bragging rights and cash, which is unacceptable to most people. Let’s join other states — including Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Washington, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maryland and California — that have banned the events. Urge the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to outlaw this callous bloodsport.

Shari Dove, Kildeer

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