Thursday, February 5, 2015

Alberta's Coyote Killing Contests

WARNING: Extremely graphic images included below.

After my recent posts about British Columbia and Alberta basically having an open season on wolves these days, perhaps it comes as no surprise to anyone that Alberta is playing host to a number of legal coyote-killing contests this winter.

Kodiak Lake Hunting & Fishing's 10th Annual Furbuster Coyote Derby in Barrhead is this weekend

Alberta Beach, Grande Prairie, Leslieville, and Barrhead are all communities within Alberta taking part in these barbaric contests -- Grande Prairie just hosted the "3rd Annual Whack 'Em 'N Stack 'Em Coyote Derby" last weekend (if the name of this contest doesn't sum up the collective mentality of these contests and their participants, then I don't know what will!), while Barrhead is hosting their 10th Annual Furbuster Coyote Derby this coming weekend on February 7th, 2015.

The Grande Prairie coyote-killing contest ran last weekend

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi was talking about gay and lesbian issues when he was recently quoted nationally and internationally as saying that he was fearful Albertans were going to be portrayed as "hillbillies," and one can't help but think that his words couldn't possibly be any more applicable than they are to these wildlife killing contests across the province, in which the sole aim of the contest is have a bunch of rednecks get together and gun down wildlife like coyotes and red foxes so that they can stack them up and take a bunch of pictures afterwards.

Last year's Furbusters 'harvest' -- http://www.kodiaklake.com/photos/coyote-derby-photos

To date the Alberta government has been decidedly silent on the topic despite a rash of negative publicity that Coyote Watch Canada was able to drum up surrounding the Alberta Beach coyote-killing contest near Edmonton three weeks ago ("Coyote Kill Contest in Alberta Provokes Environmentalists' Anger" and "Hunters, Conservationists Square Off Over Coyote Hunt").


"Hillbillies" indeed. Wolves, coyotes and foxes killed in the 2012 Furbusters Derby

So let's break this down and be very clear about what is going on in these contests: men, women, and children are going out onto public and private lands and are slaughtering our coyotes, foxes, and even wolves. They are doing this out of hatred for predators. And they are doing this because they love to kill. These contests have absolutely nothing to do with population control, livestock protection, pet protection, or game management, as many of these hunters would have you believe, and they most certainly have nothing to do with hunting to put food on the table. Which begs the question, why is the rest of the hunting community not coming down full-force on these unethical contests? Why are the same people who spend hours telling me how much hunters put into conservation and wildlife management not up-in-arms about these murdering contests? Much like last year's Wolf Kill Contest in Fort Nelson, British Columbia, the hunting community by-and-large has disappeared from the scene, with very few hunters stepping forward to express their concern that our province still allows these contests and that this kind of hunting behaviour is still legal in Alberta.

So that leaves it up to you and me to do the dirty work and get these contests halted immediately.

See below for what you can do to help bring an immediate end to wildlife killing contests in Alberta

Here's what you can do to help put an end to wildlife killing contests in Alberta:

Sign the online petition, we need to get to 10,000 signatures, so please share this far and wide in your social media networks: https://www.change.org/p/honourable-kyle-fawcett-ban-wildlife-killing-contests

Write an EMAIL to Premier Jim Prentice (addresses and sample email below):
CC Coyote Watch Canada, as well as the Minister of Culture & Tourism, the Honourable Maureen Kubinec, the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, the Honourable Kyle Fawcett, the Wildlife Manager at Alberta Sustainable Resources & Development, Matt Besko, and Alberta Public Affairs Officer Duncan MacDonnell.

To: Premier@gov.ab.ca
Cc: coyotewatchcanada@gmail.com, barrhead.morinville.westlock@assembly.ab.ca,
duncan.macdonnell@gov.ab.ca, esrd.minister@gov.ab.ca, Matt.Besko@gov.ab.ca

I've included excerpts from an email Calgary wildlife photographer Colleen Gara sent to Minister Fawcett on January 10th in response to the Alberta Beach coyote-killing contest. Please feel free to use similar wording for your own emails to the Premier (and thank you to Colleen for providing permission to reprint portions of this email):

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Dear Minister Kyle Fawcett,

I am writing to express my concerns over the DKD Coyote Tournament that occurred today, January 10, 2015 in Alberta Beach, Alberta. I do not believe that this event should be allowed in our Province. I believe that all contests or other similar tournaments which offer prizes or other inducements for the taking of mammals (such as coyotes), and other animals, for an individual contest or tournament should NOT be allowed. This practice is archaic, unethical and not in line with modern day views on wildlife conservation.

The offering of cash prizes in a contest setting is distasteful and unethical. It has also been shown that random, indiscriminate killing of animals such as coyotes (and wolves) alters pack behaviours and does not lead to a reduction of problem animals (which is what the contest organizer states to be one of the main reasons for holding the contest). In fact, evidence has shown that populations increase as a result of indiscriminate killing.

I note that California's Fish and Game Commission passed a decision on this same issue this past December. The Commission found that "permitting inducements for the unlimited take of furbearers and non-game mammals was unsportsmanlike". As a consequence of this finding, they are amending their regulations to prohibit such contests. They believe that by limiting this practice, it promotes respect for California's environment and provides for "conservation, maintenance and utilization of the living resources of the state’s wildlife for the benefit of all of the citizens of the state." This is a very important statement: Such contests are directed at a minority of the population. I believe that a far greater number of people in our Province believe in conservation and wildlife sustainability and would support the banning of such contests offering inducements such as cash prizes. These contests are archaic and the goal is not proper conservation and wildlife management. The prizes, such as those offered at the DKD Tournament, are offered for random reasons: the greatest number of coyotes killed and also for the smallest, largest and mangiest coyote brought in (http://coyotecontest.com/contest/4th-annual-dkd-coyote-tournament). It's reprehensible! In the Commission's decision, it was stated that "the introduction of prizes changes hunting behaviour by inducing competition beyond that which would normally occur" and I agree with this statement.

In several articles I have read on this subject, the Government of Alberta consistently states that they do not condone these contests and don't support them. In an article by CTV in April 2010 (http://calgary.ctvnews.ca/41-coyote-carcasses-discovered-in-southern-alberta-1.505298) a number of coyote carcasses were found in Southern Alberta that were likely the result of a bounty being offered by the Government of Saskatchewan at the time. When questioned about this activity, the Alberta Government stated that "...although it's legal to kill coyotes for a cross-province bounty, the Alberta government doesn't support it." When questioned about this month's DKD Tournament, Duncan MacDonnell, a public affairs officer with Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, said the coyote shoot is legal as long as participants have a licence and obey hunting regulations. He was quoted as saying: “We don’t endorse or condone these hunts, but also realize they are not illegal...but I’d hate for people to think this is a government policy. We are not involved...From our perspective, every animal has a place, and coyotes are part of the natural ecological balance."

But I argue that the Government is involved. By remaining silent in the Province's hunting regulations and environmental policies, the Government is being complicit in this mass killing. You are essentially condoning these types of contests and the indiscriminate killing of wildlife. This practice continues to occur year after year

and I think that it's time that the Government of Alberta stand up against these practices and calls them what they are - unethical and contrary to conservation practices. Follow California's lead and be a leader in this country in this important area!

The Wildlife Act allows the Minister to establish regulations relating to licenses and permits and to hunting in the Province in general. The Minister may specify activities authorized by or under such licenses. Therefore an amendment banning such contests can be enacted by the Minister. I would suggest that our hunting regulations be amended to disallow the practice of allowing these types of contests, similar to what has been done in the State of California.

On a side note, I also note that the regulations allow for the pelts of these animals (shot on private land) to not be recovered. Therefore, under the current legislation, a contest such as the DKD Coyote Tournament could allow for the killing of an unlimited number of coyotes and their pelts could all be wasted. There is no requirement for them to donate the pelts. I realize that the organizer of the DKD Tournament says that they will be donating the pelts, but they don't have to and who will be confirming that this was in fact done? It's wasteful on so many levels.

I believe this practice should be banned in order to provide Alberta's citizens with the enjoyment of its natural resources. The Government should be respecting ethical hunting and proper conservation.

I would very much like to hear what the Government's views are in light of what I've outlined above.

Thank you,

Colleen Gara
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Thank you everyone for helping put an end to wildlife killing contests in Alberta.

John

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