By a Utah wildlife protection activist
Three Utah wildlife protection activists traveled to Beaver, Utah, on November 28, 2015, to see if we could get some photographs of the goings on and results of the “9th Annual Coyote Calling Contest” (aka coyote killing contest). We arrived in mid-afternoon and a quick drive around the advertised check-in location did not reveal any action. It was damn cold, so we drove the scenic drive up the canyon into the Tushar Mountains where the wolf Echo was shot last year.
Upon returning to town, we waited in the car across the street from the presumed check-in location for about two hours – again, no action. Then we received a call from a friend informing us that the check-in location had been changed to the middle of a nearby block. By then it was dark, but we parked and walked the alleys that led to the location. The first time we walked by, there were about six guys in camouflage hunting attire standing in a circle with no coyotes in sight. So we went to a restaurant to eat and wait for more hunters to arrive. When we walked through the dark alley again, there were flood lights and a set-up for weighing the dead coyotes from a hook hanging from the crossbar of two A-frames, like a swing set. About 20 pickup trucks were parked and a group of youngish men, all in camo, were gathered about.
Coyote bodies were strewn on the ground in groups of one, two, three. Others were in the beds of pickups. An inch of snow beneath the hook where the carcasses were weighed was saturated with a foot-wide circle of blood. We don’t know how exactly many dead coyotes there were. We saw about a dozen bloody coyote carcasses on the ground and pickup trucks parked in the dark held more. We didn’t see any foxes (another target species for the killing contest). Nearby was an open door to the back of a building where the results were announced and prizes given. We did not venture inside.
Two of us took several pictures, at first surreptitiously and later with flash. No one accosted us until we began to leave, when two men in camo walked up and asked us where they were going to see the pictures “in the newspaper?” We finessed the situation with questions about coyotes and ranching and left. We sent the photos to media contacts and wildlife protection activists.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the coyote killing contest was the indoctrination of children into the killing culture. Surrounded by dead coyotes, a little boy kept asking his mother “Is that a dog, mommy? Mommy, is that a dog? Mommy?” I did not hear her response. It seems that cruelty to animals is a learned behavior and empathy towards animals has to be repressed for the killing contests to continue into the future.
The best way to end animal killing contests is to expose them. Even in Utah, animal killing contests cannot long stand the light of day. The two hunters who approached us concerned about our photos know this as well.
Action Alert – How you can help
Protest coyote killing contests in Utah:
This coyote killing contest was held in Beaver, Utah, on November 28, 2015. Inhumane and ecologically destructive, animal killing contests are inexcusable in the 21st century. There is a national movement to ban coyote killing contests, such as was recently achieved in California. It is time to ramp up the pressure against this atavistic practice in Utah.
Please write to the Beaver Valley Chamber of Commerce with complaints about coyote killing contests. Their email is:
Sample message: I was disturbed to learn that a coyote killing contest was held in the Beaver area on November 28. Knowing that a blood sport is taking place in the Beaver area makes me disinclined to visit a part of Utah that is otherwise beautiful. Please end this barbaric practice so I can feel good about visiting Beaver.
Sample message to Utah Office of Tourism from out-of-state residents:
Utah is a magnificently beautiful state, but blood sports on the landscape such as the coyote killing contest on November 28 in Beaver, Utah, makes me queasy about visiting. Please end this barbaric practice so I can feel good about visiting Utah.
Photo: © Mircea Costina / Dreamstime.com / A female coyote resting – not part of the coyote killing contest.