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2 the Outdoors: Wildlife contest controversy in NYS

A state bill, if passed, would ban wildlife contests in New York.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — These contests award prizes for killing wildlife, in particular predators such as coyotes, foxes, and bobcats, but can also include squirrels, crows, and other small animals. 

The bill does not include events such as deer, turkey and bear hunting and fishing derbies. Senator Tim Kennedy is one of the bill's sponsors. 

"It is not a sport, it is not hunting, it is the killing of wildlife, and that needs to be stopped."

The bill is igniting passion from both hunting and wildlife groups. Hunters assert that the contests fall within regular hunting seasons, and in the case of coyotes, provide needed population control, as well as deterring cattle predation and preserving deer populations.

Credit: NYSHA
Predators are a main target for contests.

Dale Dunkelberger is the Niagara County Representative for the State Fish & Wildlife Board.

"As far as the derbies and stuff, there is, some people have a downside to it, but in all essence, it's helping control the population."

Wildlife coalitions refute the claims and say extensive research backs them up. Patrick Battuello is a board member of the NYS Humane Association

"The DEC says that these contests do not do anything to affect the coyote population, They do not reduce or eliminate predation on livestock, and they do not increase deer densities."

Supporters of the bill also want it to be clear that this is not about banning regulated hunting, but Dunkelberger says that hunters are concerned that this is a slippery slope to erosion of hunting rights.

Credit: Dennis Money
Hunters claim the contests keep populations in check. Wildlife advocates disagree .

"It's an uphill battle for the sportsmen all around, every year they're trying to nip away at the different rules and regulations and laws. "

Battuello says that's not true. 

"These contests, these killing contests, accord zero intrinsic worth to the targeted animals, zero. Their lives simply do not matter, and again, this is an affront to true hunters and traditional hunting."

There is one thing both groups can agree on. "Education is the whole thing in a nutshell. A lot of people don't know or don't realize, the ramifications of not hunting," Dunkelberger says.

Battuello also thinks education is important. 

"It's a matter of educating the public, making the public aware, so they can in turn pressure their lawmakers to pass this crucial piece of legislation."


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