California Fish and Game Commission votes 4-1 to stop prizes for killing-

VAN NUYS, Calif. The current plans for a killing contest of non-game wildlife plus wolves, a “predator derby,” set for Salmon, Idaho might have been the key to lock the door to such things in California. The effort to renew this would-be annual contest has raised much controversy, and the controversy caps a growing trend of opposition. The growing opposition might also be due in part to a growing number of these “hunts” of non-game animals and sometimes, birds.

Now today, the California Fish and Game Commission has voted 4-1 to stop prizes for killing animals that are often called “vermin” or “varmits” because they are not protected by game laws, seem to some to be pests,  and require no license.  The California commission (CFG) specifically stopped prize giving hunts for coyotes, foxes and bobcats. At the commission meeting, the CFG president said that these contests were “unethical,” “anachronistic,” and conflicted with how we now understand natural systems to work.

Most of the defense of the contests before commission focused on the damage caused by coyotes, but there are differences in contests. Some are “coyote roundups” or similar names. Others, like the Salmon, Idaho contest target many species — a “predator” derby, and some states have unusual ideas as what predators are.  For example, Oregon law defines predatory animals “As used in this chapter, predatory animal or predatory animals includes feral swine as defined by State Department of Agriculture rule, coyotes, rabbits, rodents and birds that are or may be destructive to agricultural crops, products and activities.”

In Wyoming it is “Coyote, jackrabbit, porcupine, raccoon, red fox, skunk or stray cat,” and wolves in most of the state.  Idaho law says “Animals  classified as predators in Idaho include coyotes, raccoons,  jackrabbits, skunks, weasels, and starling.” The Idaho Fish and Game web page reads “The most  frequently hunted unprotected animals include marmots,  fox, squirrels, porcupines and Columbian ground squirrels, English sparrows, Eurasian-collared doves, and feral pigeons. These species may be taken in any amounts and at any time by holders of the appropriate valid Idaho hunting, trapping  or combination hunting license, . . .”

So animals that do not eat meat are sometimes classified as predators, e.g., jackrabbits and other often nonspecified rodents and birds.

Decisions by federal land management agencies and state fish and game commissions do not stop people from killing non-game animals in any number they want, but the can ban or regulate the awarding of prizes for such activities.

The Idaho contest is expected to continue on U.S. Forest Service and private land, but not public lands administered by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

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See The Wildlife News for earlier articles on this issue. Search the site with the term “coyote contests.”


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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

10 Responses to California to stop kill-fests of wildlife

  1. A Rock Chuck (Marmot) killing contest is held in Bliss, Idaho in May of each year:

    • Ed Loosli says:

      Larry T.;
      Thanks for this reminder that killing contests still continue…

      From the Rock Chuck killing contest site – age 8. — so disgusting!!

      “Notice: If you have never hunted before you can get a Passport from any Fish and Game vendor for $1.75 . This allows anyone 8 years or older to hunt Rock Chucks with an adult mentor. Look up Idaho Fish and Game Hunting Passport for more information. Get your kids a passport and come and sign them up for the Derby”

      • Barb Rupers says:

        And it’s all about having fun. How sad wanting to kill living creatures for personal pleasure.

  2. Louise Kane says:

    Killing contests, repugnant as they are, are less repugnant than the fact that state wildlife agencies define wildlife in such negative terms and allow, promote, and legalize wanton waste and ignorant consumptive behaviors through these definitions.

    Some people are violent, mean spirited and sociopathic. They like to kill. So we can anticipate that violence against other beings could occur but when evidence exists that unprotected species are targets of these sociopaths and our agencies don’t step up to the plate and regulate against it, thats negligent and criminal in my mind.

  3. WM says:

    Here is the new regulation – simple and clean.

    I gather the language is broad enough to include a contest between a couple of yahoos back at the trailer park betting a case of beer over who gets the most coyotes [or fill in the blank] – no individual contests. Good luck enforcing that one, though.

    A good step forward, and a way to stop these stupid events without feds usurping power from states. In ID, is this something their Commission could do, or would the legislature reserve such micromanagement for itself? Inquiring minds want to know.

    • Ed Loosli says:

      your wrote: “A good step forward, and a way to stop these stupid events without feds usurping power from states.”

      My reply is that sometimes the feds must usurp power from the states. I am a Californian, and also a land owner in Idaho, and when I think the state of Idaho (or any other state) is negligent in carrying for our natural lands and wildlife, then I will do all I can to bring in the “feds” to get justice for wildlife. On the other hand, if the “feds” are trying to weaken the way some state enforces their state environmental/wildlife laws, I will fight like hell to keep the stronger state laws in tact.
      Unfortunately in today’s world, it is often hard to tell who is weaker in protecting and preserving our wildlife, the states or the feds.

      • WM says:

        So, if the feds assert power in one state that means they could and would assert the same power in all. And, once the federal government has a newly discovered/articulated power, there is the risk of abusing it. There would be no hope of ever turning back the wheels of power to reverse it. I am afraid I don’t have that much confidence in a stronger and bigger federal government with less accountability, as we inch our way toward socialism. I don’t think I want more decisions made on the East Coast in a city of 26 square miles, surrounded by reality. Comrade, that is too much like old Moscow. That is the problem with some wildlife advocates. They think that is all there is to the complex world we live in.

        No thanks!

        And, to think I was once a believer in a strong federal government when I was young and full of optimism, fresh out of college with ideas put into my head by professors that had never really worked in the private sector. They just drew that paycheck every month, health care and good retirement plan included, along with tenure.

        • Ed Loosli says:

          Just think if the USA’s public lands were now being managed by the State of Idaho – No Thanks is right. I can’t even imagine the horror of how this country’s wild lands would be lessoned and our wildlife destroyed without the federal laws and agencies sworn to protect our fish, birds, and wildlife: The Lacey Act, Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, NEPA, Antiquities Act, Organic Act, Wilderness Act, and etc.

          And, as I stated before, I will fight for state laws that give stronger protections to wildlife and wildlife habitat, than do the federal standards.

          • Elk375 says:


            Is there a shortage of wildlife in Idaho? Hunters say the wolves have killed all of the elk. Wildlife watchers say that the hunters have killed all of the wolves.

            The wolves have not killed all of the elk and hunters have not killed all of the wolves. There seems to be plenty of wildlife for those who will get off the beaten path and use binoculars and spotting scopes.

            I was hunting this last weekend with the former chairman of the Wild Sheep Foundation and he make an interesting remark. “Things are different than they were 10 years ago and things will be different in 10 years from now. Every 10 years thing change.” I thought about it for a minute and thought back 10, 20, 30 and 40 years ago, things do change every 10 years.

        • Nancy says:

          “They just drew that paycheck every month, health care and good retirement plan included, along with tenure”

          And that differs how WM? When it comes to what’s running our government (for the people) these days?


December 2014


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey