From Mass Wildlife:
In response to public concern related to coyote hunting contests sponsored by private entities, MassWildlife and the Fisheries and Wildlife Board conducted a review of policies and regulations associated with coyote hunting and contests. To gather public feedback, MassWildlife held 4 listening sessions from April through June in Barnstable, Shelburne Falls, Westford, and Bourne. Phone calls, letters, and emails from the public were also reviewed and factored into MassWildlife’s analysis and review. In addition to gathering input from stakeholders, MassWildlife professionals considered the best available science and consulted with wildlife professionals from other state agencies.
On July 17, MassWildlife staff made a regulatory recommendation to the Fisheries and Wildlife Board based on this comprehensive review. The recommendation addresses public concerns that these hunting contests are unethical, contribute to the waste of animals, and incentivize indiscriminant killing of wildlife, inconsistent with the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. Further, recognizing that public controversy over this issue has the potential to threaten predator hunting and undermine public support for hunting in general, MassWildlife recommended the following regulatory changes:
The Fisheries and Wildlife Board voted to hold a public hearing on MassWildlife’s recommendations. Details about the public hearing and proposed regulatory language will be available soon on Mass.gov/MassWildlife-Public-Hearings.
Q: Have other states banned similar contests?
A: Yes. Since 2014, California, Arizona, Vermont, and New Mexico have banned coyote, predator, or furbearer contests. New York and Oregon are currently contemplating laws on this matter.
Q: Are hunting contests or coyote hunting regulations threatening the current coyote populations?
A: Coyote populations are stable, healthy, and abundant. MassWildlife estimates the statewide population of coyotes is between 9,500 and 11,500 animals. Over the past 10 years, the annual coyote harvest has ranged from 400 and 750—less than 10% of the statewide population. Due to the coyote’s unique reproductive biology, it would take an annual 70% harvest to reduce coyote populations. The current harvest from coyote hunting does not reduce the coyote population.
Q: Coyotes kill deer; shouldn’t coyote populations be controlled in order to maintain the deer population in the state?
A: With a historic high of 95,000 deer estimated in Massachusetts combined with recent record deer harvests, deer populations are thriving despite the presence of coyotes. Recent research shows that coyote predation on fawns and adult deer does not impact deer populations. Annually, biologists estimate that coyotes kill about 20–30% of fawns. Scientific studies have shown that fawn survival rates are similar with or without coyote predation. Coyotes rarely kill adult deer and in Massachusetts, adult doe survival rates are very high. High adult female survival translates into more fawns produced over a number of years, contributing to a flourishing statewide population.