FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 3, 2014
Historic Vote Sets Precedent for the Nation
VAN NUYS, CA — Today the California Fish and Game Commission voted 4 to 1* in favor of a proposed rule that effectively closes the loopholes permitting wildlife-killing contests that allowed coyotes, foxes, bobcats and other animals to be killed in California for prizes and inducements.
Wildlife conservationists hailed the vote as a victory for California’s wildlife. “We commend the commission for this enlightened decision and for setting a precedent for the nation,” said Camilla Fox Founder and Executive Director Project Coyote. “We should not be killing wildlife for fun and prizes in the 21st century.”
Project Coyote petitioned the Commission earlier this year when a controversial coyote-killing contest in Modoc County threatened the survival of the one known wolf in California. Known as “ Journey” or OR-7, the wolf was traversing through Modoc and surrounding counties. In June, the Commission voted to protect wolves under the California Endangered Species Act thereby providing safeguards for wolves returning to California. “As wolves inevitably recolonize the state, it is another compelling reason why killing contests should be prohibited to protect this listed species,” Fox said in her testimony before the Commission today.
Project Coyote has documented multiple killing contests targeting a variety of predators, which are not monitored by the state because the species targeted are not protected by state law. California is the first state in the nation to explicitly ban wildlife-killing contests. Just last week, Project Coyote and allies declared victory when the Bureau of Land Management rescinded a permit to a predator-hunting club that would have allowed the killing of a multitude of wild animals – including wolves – on more than 300 million acres of BLM lands in Idaho. The controversial issue generated more than 90,000 public comments in opposition to the proposed “predator derby.”
“Awarding prizes for wildlife killing contests is both unethical and inconsistent with our current understanding natural systems,” said Michael Sutton, President of the California Fish & Game Commission. “Such contests are an anachronism and have no place in modern wildlife management.”
“As ranchers who know that livestock and wildlife can coexist, we feel it’s important to do what we can to help end this unnecessary war on wildlife,” said Keli Hendricks, predator friendly rancher from Petaluma and advisory board member of Project Coyote. “It angers us when these contests are promoted as a way to help ranchers protect their livestock. The reality is, there is no noble purpose behind a killing contest.”
“Wildlife prevailed at this historic meeting and the public made it clear through thousands of letters and thoughtful testimonies that they want to see predators protected in California,” Fox said. “We hope that this is a first step in reforming the state’s predator management regulations, policies, and codes,” Fox said
(*Commissioners Richard Rogers, Michael Sutton, Jim Kellogg and Jack Baylis voted in support of the proposed rule. Commissioner Jacqueline Hostler-Carmesin voted against.)
Project Coyote is a North America coalition of wildlife educators, scientists, predator friendly ranchers, and community leaders promoting coexistence between people and wildlife, and compassionate conservation through education, science, and advocacy.