Letter to the editor:
The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL), with an Animal Care & Adoption Center in Brewster, MA, is deeply troubled by the spectacle of killing coyotes for contest on Cape Cod. We are horrified to see people compete for cash prizes to see who can kill the heaviest of these animals. Contests like this are harmful for numerous reasons, including child health, public health, and wildlife management.
First, public hunting contests negatively affect children who witness these displays. Children who witness animal violence may become desensitized to animal abuse, which is often a precursor to other forms of abuse toward the elderly, the disabled, and family. Organizations such as the National Link Coalition research, document, and evaluate the link between violence toward animals as a predictor of future violence affecting both animals and humans. With a rise of violence in our nation’s schools, now, more than ever, we should protect children from witnessing or seeing harmful images or bodies of animal slaughter, especially for money.
Second, coyote hunting contests presented as management strategies for species overpopulation are unsupported by population counts or research. In fact, articles such as Megan Draheim’s, “Why Killing Coyotes Doesn’t Make Livestock Safer”published in the Scientific American, argue that the wide-spread killing of coyotes could actually result in a larger and unmanageable wildlife population because when coyotes are killed, they breed more rapidly and disrupt remaining wildlife.
Third, coyote hunting overlooks the role that coyotes have in the Massachusetts ecosystem. Coyotes control species and disease populations because their diet consists of rodents, rabbits, deer, birds, insects, and reptiles. They keep diseased animals from reproducing. By controlling rodent populations, coyotes protect crops and agriculture in Massachusetts.
The Animal Rescue League of Boston notes that the etymological meaning of the word “contest” is “together to witness.” As we, united with advocates on behalf of animals and children, bear witness to the contest that unfolds on Cape Cod, hope that Massachusetts legislators and citizens look to states like California and Vermont that have recently passed laws prohibiting coyote hunting tournaments.
A radical kill of animals for a cash prize is not consistent with sentiments of Massachusetts citizens and is inhumane for animals. It is harmful to children exposed to the unethical slaughter of animals for a cash prize.
President, Animal Rescue League of Boston