MassWildlife Holds Hearing in Response to Local Coyote Kill Contest

Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife

WEST BARNSTABLE – The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) held a public listening session on coyote population management, coyote hunting, and coyote hunting contests on Thursday at Cape Cod Community College.

The session, in response to concerns raised from a local coyote hunting contest, included a short presentation by MassWildlife staff, followed by an opportunity for those attending to comment or ask questions. Requests for initiating policy changes were also permitted.

Provincetown State Representative Sarah Peake kicked off the session by addressing the packed auditorium inside the community college lecture hall.

“The way we work here in Massachusetts, that has really stood us in good stay for many many decades, is that thankfully the Legislature does not get involved in stuff like fish quotas, when a season opens and closes, how many striped bass you can take, what the bag limit is for particular species when the hunting season opens and closes,” Peake said.

“But, what we do have is scientists and experts who, with public input, make those management decisions to the best of their ability. Which is why it’s so important that the Division is here this evening to hear from all of you.”

In 2017, Hyannis-based gun shop Powderhorn Outfitters launched a coyote killing contest in 2017, followed by the second such contest this year on March 10. Fairview Sportsmens Club, out of Granby holds similar coyote kills each year.

During these kill contests, awards are given to hunters that bring back kills of the heaviest and largest coyotes. Men, women and children participate in the kills.

“What I have heard from people is not so much that people are upset about hunting per se, but it is the contest nature of the hunting with no bag limit and no seen parameters around the hunting of coyotes,” said Peake.

MassWildlife Head of Information and Education Marion Larson says the agency has heard the same concerns as Peake. She says the goal of the first meeting was to present the basic biology of coyotes and wildlife management, then field questions from the public.

Larson also says that there is a misconception that coyote kill contests are a method of managing local populations.   

“The contest is being offered by a private business, it has nothing to do with managing wildlife. That’s one thing that needs to be clear is that they’re offering a contest, but it has nothing to do with managing coyotes,” Larson explained.  

“Our agency is in charge of managing wildlife and the regulations that are in effect for hunting wildlife, including coyotes, take into account coyote biology, public safety, the ethics and methods that are felt to be fair and reasonable for hunting, fishing and trapping. I do want to make it clear, coyote contests are not a management tool by any stretch of the imagination.”

The MassWildlife Board is also planning to hold its June monthly business meeting on Cape Cod on June 18 with the location and time yet to be determined.

Public comment will not be accepted during the board meeting, however, the board will hold a separate public listening session after the board meeting concludes where public comment will be accepted.

By TIM DUNN, News Center 

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