No. This legislation would prohibit contests, defined as “any organized or sponsored competition among 2 or more participants where prizes of cash, goods, or other inducements are awarded for the taking of non-fish wildlife,” that target “fur-bearing animals, game animals, and migratory game birds” in New Hampshire. But importantly, section III of the bill states:
This section shall not apply to any lawful manner of taking, open season time limits, permitted scientific investigations, or wildlife management practices authorized under title XVIII or administrative rules adopted pursuant to RSA 541-A.
Therefore, this legislation would not prohibit the lawful taking of white-tailed deer or other regulated game species during open season that may then be submitted for judging.
Additionally, The Wildlife Society, whose mission is “To inspire, empower, and enable wildlife professionals to sustain wildlife populations and habitats through science-based management and conservation,” recently addressed this issue in their policy statement about wildlife killing contests:
Killing contests differ from typical regulated hunting by the very nature of the organized public competition and prizes being given specifically for killing the largest, smallest, or most animals. “Big Buck” pools or organized record books differ from killing contests because the animals recognized in these competitions are harvested consistent with ordinary and generally accepted hunting practices and then introduced to the competition.
No. The bill would prohibit only contests that target fur-bearing animals, game animals, and migratory game birds. It does not affect fish or fishing activities as licensed and regulated by New Hampshire Fish and Game. The bill also does not apply to any lawful manner of taking, open season time limits, permitted scientific investigations, or wildlife management practices authorized under title XVIII or administrative rules adopted pursuant to RSA 541-A.
No. Field trials are authorized under the NH Revised Statute Title XVIII, Chapter 207, Section 207:13, and therefore would fall under the bill’s exemption for wildlife management practices authorized under title XVIII.
No. A recent study of several eastern states found that coyotes are not adversely impacting deer populations in eastern U.S. states. And even though New Hampshire has a robust and healthy coyote population, its deer harvest numbers have steadily increased in the last decade. New Hampshire’s 2018 statewide deer harvest of 14,113 was an increase of 15% from the total harvest of 12,309 in 2017, and is 27% above the state’s 20-year average of 11,150. About the 2019 deer season so far, New Hampshire Fish and Game recently reported in November, “The 2019 total estimated kill to date is 9,217, similar to the 9,262 taken last year at the same point. The 2019 total at this point in the season is the second highest in the past 9 years.”
With regard to turkeys, the National Wild Turkey Federation says, “Removing a random predator from the landscape has no impact whatsoever on widespread turkey populations.” It goes on to say that instead of worrying about predation, the focus should instead be on improving habitat. “Without good nesting habitat, eggs and poults are simply more vulnerable. Turkeys evolved to cope with predators. As long as they have a place to hide their nests and raise their young, they’ll do just fine without predator control.” And concurrent with a robust and healthy coyote population, New Hampshire Fish and Game has reported consistently high turkey harvests over the past decade.
These wildlife killing contests have been held in New Hampshire in recent years:
Coyote Contest – Sponsored by Pelletier’s Sport Shop in Jaffrey
- Most recent contest: January 1 – March 31, 2019
- Judged by weight
- The contest’s ad states, “No entry fee! Just bring in your coyote and the heaviest coyote entered between now and March 31st wins a Savage 17 HMR Rifle.”
Hawkeye Coyote Hunt
- Contest is a random drawing of photos sent in of coyotes that have been shot. Ad states, “Shoot a coyote during the months of January, February, and March for a chance to win a $500 Gift Certificate to The St. Lawrence Experience,” “a full time outfitting business located on the banks of The St. Lawrence River in Waddington, NY.”
- Most recent contest: January – March, 2018
Coyote Killing Contest
- Sponsored by Coyote Creek Outfitters in Rochester
- Most recent contest: April 2017
- Judged by point system of animals killed: Red/gray fox = 1 point, coyote = 2 points
No, the sole objective of the proposed legislation is to prohibit inhumane, unsporting, and wasteful wildlife killing contests, which do not reflect well on New Hampshire’s ethical sportsmen and sportswomen and are opposed by a growing number of wildlife management professionals and state wildlife commissions and agencies. This legislation would not at all affect lawful hunting and fishing as licensed and regulated by New Hampshire Fish and Game.
For example, Jim Posewitz, a retired biologist with Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, and author of the books Beyond Fair Chase and Inherit the Hunt: A Journey into American Hunting, has said, “Competitive killing seems to lack the appreciation of and the respect for wildlife fundamental to any current definition of an ethical hunter.” And Mike Finley, chair of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission, recently said to a state legislative committee, “Killing large numbers of predators as part of an organized contest or competition is inconsistent with sound, science-based wildlife management and antithetical to the concepts of sportsmanship and fair chase.”
No. The random killing of wild predator species, such as in killing contests, will do little to prevent conflicts with livestock. It is more effective to practice good animal husbandry and use strategic nonlethal methods to protect livestock, such as birthing cattle and sheep in barns or sheds and employing electric fences, guard animals, and prompt removal of dead livestock.
The best remedy for depredations of livestock is good animal husbandry, as has been practiced by countless livestock owners across the state. Proper fencing, guard animals (dogs or mules), motion-activated lights, and proper storage or removal of potential food sources will prevent problems with coyotes, bears, or other predators.
 The Wildlife Society: “Issue Statement: Wildlife Killing Contests,” March 7, 2019 at https://wildlife.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/TWS_IS_WildlifeKillingContest_ApprovedMarch2019.pdf.
 Dana Kobilinsky: “JWM: Coyotes don’t reduce deer populations.” By The Wildlife Society, March 21, 2019 at https://wildlife.org/jwm-coyotes-dont-reduce-deer-populations/.
 New Hampshire Fish and Game Deer Season Harvest: Comparison by County at https://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/hunting/deer-harvest.html.
 David Hart: “Coexist with Predators” by the National Wild Turkey Federation at http://www.nwtf.org/conservation/article/coexist-predators.
 New Hampshire Fish and Game: “2018 New Hampshire Wildlife Harvest Summary” at https://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/hunting/documents/2018-harvest-summary.pdf
 In 2017, Vermont Fish & Wildlife said, “Coyote hunting contests are not only ineffective at controlling coyote populations, but these kinds of competitive coyote hunts are raising concerns on the part of the public and could possibly jeopardize the future of hunting and affect access to private lands for all hunters.” See https://vtfishandwildlife.com/sites/fishandwildlife/files/documents/Hunt/trapping/Eastern-Coyote-Position-Statement.pdf. In its May 2019 proposal to ban killing contests for predator and furbearer species, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission said, “To the extent these contests reflect on the overall hunting community, public outrage with these events has the potential to threaten hunting as a legitimate wildlife management function.” See https://s3.amazonaws.com/azgfd-portal-wordpress/azgfd.wp/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/25093742/R12-4-303-NPRM.pdf. And on July 25, 2019, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife stated that it proposed its ban on killing contests for predator and furbearer species by “…recognizing that public controversy over this issue has the potential to threaten predator hunting and undermine public support for hunting in general…” See https://www.mass.gov/news/masswildlife-proposes-regulations-to-ban-predator-contests-and-prohibit-wanton-waste.
 Karen E. Lange: “Better off alive” in the Humane Society of the United States All Animals magazine, September 1, 2018 at https://www.humanesociety.org/news/better-alive.
 Testimony by Mike Finley to the Oregon Senate Judiciary Committee, March 18, 2019 at https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2019R1/Downloads/CommitteeMeetingDocument/200547
 Adrian Treves et al., “Forecasting Environmental Hazards and the Application of Risk Maps to Predator Attacks on Livestock,” BioScience 61, no. 6 (2011); Philip J. Baker et al., “Terrestrial Carnivores and Human Food Production: Impact and Management,” Mammal Review 38, (2008); A. Treves and K. U. Karanth, “Human-Carnivore Conflict and Perspectives on Carnivore Management Worldwide,” Conservation Biology 17, no. 6 (2003); J. A. Shivik, A. Treves, and P. Callahan, “Nonlethal Techniques for Managing Predation: Primary and Secondary Repellents,” Conservation Biology 17, no. 6 (2003); N. J. Lance et al., “Biological, Technical, and Social Aspects of Applying Electrified Fladry for Livestock Protection from Wolves (Canis Lupus),” Wildlife Research 37, no. 8 (2010); Andrea Morehouse and Mark Boyce, “From Venison to Beef: Seasonal Changes in Wolf Diet Composition in a Livestock Grazing Environment,” Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 9, no. 8 (2011).