The $50-per-person Wyoming Coyote Classic took place just outside of Rock Springs, Wyoming on Saturday, January 7th.
The point of the competition is to kill as many coyotes as possible, which includes pups and nursing moms. Cash prizes are often awarded for the team that kills the most coyotes, the team that kills the biggest coyote, etc., according to Andrea Santarsiere, senior attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity.
The hunters often seek to kill females in their attempts to "control the population," something they've been led to believe is necessary.
Eric Adams, a longtime participant said, “This thought that we’re just a bunch of cold-blooded killers is nonsense. This is really, in my mind, no different than a fishing tournament.”
Others see it differently, including Wyoming Untrapped Program Director Kristin Combs. She remarked, “This is a concentrated effort involving cash prizes and betting that looks to terminate as many a number of a species as possible in one day."
Wyoming isn't the only state this "contest" is held.
they are widespread across the west and midwest, and some also take place on the East Coast. Because hunting coyotes isn't regulated in many states, the animals are an easy target.
Last year's participants in the contest took the lives of 91 coyotes, according to the contest's Facebook page. The Dodo notes that "studies have shown that killing predators to control the population can actually backfire, increasing the population. After a coyote pack's dominant male is killed, the number of pups born to the pack can double, researchers have observed."
Underlying the dispute around coyote derbies is fundamental disagreement about how the animals ought to be managed. In Wyoming and many states, coyotes are classified as a varmint that can be killed anytime, without limitation and by any method.
With the intention of curbing livestock depredations, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program also wages a steady war on coyotes, Combs says. Over a recent 5-year period, federal agents killed an average of 7,042 coyotes annually in Wyoming alone.
“It’s pretty egregious what happens to coyotes in this state,” she added. “We’ve heard reports of them being run over by snowmobiles, beaten with hammers, drowned. And the law allows for that.