Originally published Thursday, October 4, 2018 at 07:59p.m.

Contestants in the “Big O Coyote Hunt” in Golden Valley this weekend will receive 1 point for every fox they kill, 2 points for a coyote, 3 points for a bobcat, and 4 points for every mountain lion. And there have been at least 25 such contests in the Grand Canyon State in recent years, including the Arizona Coyote Calling Championship, the World Championship Coyote Calling Contest, the Tonopah Valley Future Farmers of America Alumni Coyote Hunt, and even the “Santa Slay” Coyote Calling Tournament to ring in the holidays in Dewey-Humboldt.

Participants in wildlife killing contests compete to kill the most or heaviest animals for cash, prizes, and bragging rights. A recent undercover investigation by the Humane Society of the United States showed contest participants piling up coyotes and foxes they had killed to be judged for prizes, and laughing and posing for photos in front of the dead animals.

Science has amply demonstrated that randomly killing coyotes will not reduce their populations, will not increase populations of game species like deer, elk, or antelope, and will not mitigate conflicts with livestock. And according to U.S. government statistics, mountain lions and all other native carnivores combined are responsible for only a negligible percentage of livestock mortality nationwide. What’s more, randomly killing stable adults in those native carnivore populations may lead to instability, thereby increasing conflicts.

Arizona has a longstanding hunting tradition of sportsmanship, fair chase, and respect for the environment. But wildlife killing contests reflect none of those principles. The Arizona Republic editorial board has said, “The state has professional wildlife managers to deal with predator issues in the wild and in urban settings. But shooting large numbers of animals for entertainment serves no good purpose. It is reckless, cruel slaughter. Arizona should ban such contests.” Pima County and the city of Tucson have similarly condemned these cruel, pointless, and unsporting events. Time for them to end.

Betsy Klien

Sedona resident