Arizona considers banning 'predator killing contests' for cash prizes

Authorities in Arizona could clamp down on "predator killing contests" that critics say allows for the indiscriminate killing of wildlife.

So-called “predator killing contests” allow private companies to host events that challenge hunters to kill the most coyotes, bobcats, foxes or mountain lions in a set amount of time for a cash prize.

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission proposed a state-wide rule to ban “predator killing contests” after several state and local jurisdictions pushed to make killing contests illegal over the past few years.

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“I think the contests are, well, I think they’re pathetic and grotesque,” Matt Francis, an animal rights activist with the organization Project Coyote, told Phoenix’s KTVK. “I don’t think it’s indicative of a civilized society to be doing this.”

Supporters of predator killing contests defend the practice as a form of managing wildlife populations. But the commission argues that predator killing contests go against hunting ethics.

“Hunting is a very important part of managing wildlife, but there’s also an ethos related to how you pursue wildlife,” Arizona Game and Fish Commissioner Kurt Davis told the station.  He explained that commissioners follow guidelines set out by the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, including one that says “you don’t profit off of hunting of wildlife.”

“These contests bleed into that area because you pay an entry fee – there can be prizes or cash associated with it,” Davis told Arizona’s Cronkite News. “And so from my perspective, it bled into violating that tenet.”

Some hunters fear that banning killing contests would set a dangerous precedent in moving to threaten hunting rights.  Nicole Shores, who organizes predator hunting events with her husband, said she supports regulation but to outlaw killing contests completely would be the “demise of hunting as we all know it.”

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“We can all agree, I believe, that these tournaments should be regulated. So instead of doing an all-out ban, it would make more sense for Arizona Game and Fish Department to just start regulating the tournaments,” she said.

The commission is set to make a final decision on the proposed ban by the end of the month.