Public calls and messages needed on bill that prohibits Wildlife Killing Contests

In June 2023, the State Legislature passed legislation carried by Deborah Glick, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Conservation and by Senator Timothy Kennedy, in the NYS Senate, to ban wildlife killing contests in New York State. The legislation is waiting to be signed into law by Governor Kathy Hochul. Once the law is effective, New York State will become the ninth state to ban wildlife killing contests. Public messages to the Governor are needed to urge her to sign the bill.

Public calls and messages to Governor Hochul are needed as soon as possible!

This bill (S.4099/A.2917) amends the Environmental Conservation Law to make it unlawful for any person to organize, sponsor, conduct, promote or participate in any contest, competition, tournament or derby with the objective of taking or hunting wildlife for prizes or other inducement, or for entertainment. Contests for taking or hunting white-tailed deer, turkey and bear are exempted, which are already regulated by season and bag limits, as are special dog training areas or field trials or similar canine performance events.


Bill Stops Indiscriminate Killing of Wildlife

This legislation protects coyotes, small mammals, and fur bearers by prohibiting wildlife killing contests that offer cash and other rewards for the highest number of animals killed in a certain period of time, or the biggest animal killed.

Regulated Hunting for White-Tailed Deer, Turkey or Bear Exempted

The bill does not affect contests for white-tailed deer, turkey, or bear. Hunting of these animals is regulated by seasons, bag limits, and reporting requirements. This does not impact, for instance, a big buck contest for a certain county.

Special dog training areas or field trials or similar canine performance events are also exempted.  Fishing contests are also exempted.

Inhumane Wildlife Killing Contests Take Place in NYS

According to the Humane Society of New York, there are currently at least 29 annual wildlife killing contests in New York State, of which 17 are coyote killing contests and the remainder are contests to kill foxes, squirrels, woodchucks, raccoons, and crows.


Wildlife Contests Do Not Suppress Coyote Populations

One faulty argument for keeping these wildlife killing contests is that they are used to control coyote populations.  However, the scientific literature demonstrates that coyotes regulate their reproduction to match population densities. During periods of population stability, coyotes have smaller litters, and when populations decline, they have significantly larger litters. Wildlife killing contests in which large numbers of coyotes are killed cause temporary population declines that cause the surviving coyotes to increase their reproduction rate. Thus, killing contests are not an effective means of managing coyote populations and in fact trigger surges in coyote populations.

Coyote Killing Contests are Particularly Destructive

Coyote killing contests are particularly destructive because of the similarities between large Eastern coyotes and wolves, both of which are present in New York State. Wolves are listed as an endangered species under both federal and New York State law and the killing of wolves is prohibited under both federal and State law. There have been several documented instances in New York of hunters killing what they thought was a large coyote, but which DNA analysis proved to be a gray wolf. The most recent incident involved a large canid that was shot near Cooperstown in December 2021. The hunter believed it was a large coyote, but subsequent DNA analysis proved it to be 98% gray wolf. The Department of Environmental Conservation website states that “[a]ny canid 50 pounds or greater may be a wolf” and that “wolves are present in Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario and it is possible for these animals to travel into New York.” Coyote killing contests award prizes for the largest “coyote” killed, thereby increasing the chances that endangered wolves may be killed. 

Wildlife Killing Contests are Not Consistent with the “Fair Chase” Hunting Ethic

Wildlife killing contests are contrary to sound principles of wildlife management and to fundamental principles of hunting ethics because they promote killing the largest number of target animals in the shortest time, often by large groups of people. To do this, participants often use unethical means such as fake distress calls, lures, and baits. In addition, the carcasses of the killed animals are often treated as trash and scores of killed animals are disposed of in dumpsters.

A fair chase is the ethic of a hunter who tracks a deer for miles in the Adirondacks or who sits patiently in a treestand with a bow and arrow or a rifle waiting for a deer in an area that they have scouted. A fair chase is a carefully camouflaged turkey hunter who patiently calls out and lures in a male turkey.  In these instances, the wildlife are treated with respect and their meat is consumed by the hunter rather than disposed of as waste.

Eight Other States Have Banned Wildlife Killing Contests

Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Washington, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maryland have banned wildlife killing contests. Oregon is also expected to act to prohibit killing contests this year.


We Need You to Make Calls and Send Messages to the Governor Today!

Public calls and messages to Governor Hochul are needed as soon as possible! Call, email or write a letter to Governor Hochul.

Send the Governor a phone message: Call (518) 474-8390 (Office hours: 9:00am to 5:00 PM). Please remember to be respectful and polite with the staff.

Send the Governor a Letter to this address:

The Honorable Kathy Hochul
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224

Send the Governor an email: Unfortunately, we can’t send a direct email to Governor Hochul because she does not have a public email address. The Governor’s Office does maintain a public comment form. Click here to send Governor Hochul and email.

The Governor’s public comment form asks you to fill out your name and address. There’s space to write a comment. Below is a sample comment that you can easily cut and paste or you can write your own message.

Here’s a sample message for Governor Hochul:

Dear Governor Hochul,

I urge you to sign the Wildlife Killing Contest bill (S.4099/A.2917) into law to end wildlife killing contests. These extreme competitions are an unacceptable waste of our wildlife resources, shared by all New Yorkers.  New York State must no longer allow killing of fur-bearing wildlife in organized contests for prizes or entertainment.  Also, prohibiting coyote killing contests that award prizes for the largest “coyote” killed will decrease the chances that endangered wolves may be killed as part of these contests.

Hunters will still have opportunities to hunt coyotes and other wildlife, and organizations will be allowed to hold big buck competitions and fishing tournaments.  Farmers are still allowed to kill wildlife to protect farm animals. This bill will simply prohibit the competitive killing of wildlife for cash and prizes. All wildlife species play an important role in healthy ecosystems and are natural resources that should be protected from wanton killing.

Thank you very much.