It does not require a very deep dive on social media to find gleeful “attaboys” and detailed sharing of body counts and bloodlust, all directed at coyotes. Now we learn of yet another statewide killing contest that has been scheduled for the entire month of February and hosted by a retailer and gun club in Windham County. And afterwards we will no doubt be treated to triumphant photos of coyote corpses stacked like cordwood.
The joy of killing is nothing new; and coyotes have been a favorite scapegoat as long as humans have been raising livestock. It’s bad enough that Vermont has a perpetual open season on coyotes. But the sheer recklessness of mowing down as many animals as possible, with the goal of winning a prize, is something we should all come together to condemn; not only because it exalts blood sport as something worthy, but because it is a stain on Vermont’s image.
Equally disturbing is the current open season on coyotes, who may be killed 365 days of the year, day or night. The wasteful killing of coyotes, with hunters leaving their bodies to rot in the woods, often sadly goes hand in hand with coyote pups becoming orphaned. This open season is in direct conflict with the Fish & Wildlife Department’s own philosophy that opposes wanton waste killing. While one can always hope that people might find something more constructive to do than to “harvest” as many coyotes as they possibly can, the culpability really lies with the Fish and Wildlife Department. It is the FWD that is tasked with safeguarding and preserving Vermont’s wildlife for all its citizens, most of who object to the wasteful killing of wildlife. A survey performed by University of Vermont’s Center for Rural Studies asked Vermont residents the following: “Should Vermont wildlife policies prohibit the “wanton waste” of wildlife, except when these animals are causing damage to property or agricultural products?” The poll results revealed that 70.5% of Vermont residents opposed the wasteful destruction of our wildlife. The proponents of these contests, and even some members of the FWD, have taken issue with this poll because it clearly undermines their position. It provides powerful evidence that public sentiment is turning away from practices like this and that the time has come for a real paradigm shift.