Vermonters Give a Hoot

Alek Wolfe, Writer

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Vermont is a prominent destination for people who live to hunt…

What happens when hunting goes from a seasonal activity to a killing contest?

On Saturday, Feb 11, in Bristol VT, seventy-five people gathered for a peaceful protest to stop a coyote killing contest.

Two protesters share their thoughts on coyote hunting in VT

This planned contest was to see how many coyotes could be killed in four day period, and then award prizes to hunters for largest coyote, most coyotes killed, etcetera.

Opposition from across Vermont gathered to stand against killing coyotes as “entertainment.”

The protest was sponsored by the Vermont Coyote Coexistence Coalition (VCCC), which also is an advocate for regulations using humane methods when killing animals.

One of the most important goals for protesters is to make coyote hunting off limits during breeding season.

This because coyote pups become orphaned by hunters who kill the parents, and then the pups generally suffer and die.

Coyote hunting is legal 365 days a year in Vermont, no matter the time of day, and almost all methods are allowed (not poisoning). Some of the most common methods include drowning, clubbing to death, suffocation, shooting, allowing hunting dogs to maim and kill the coyotes, body crushing traps, and leg-hold traps.

A group of protesters oppose the inhumane killing of coyotes.

All of which are considered by the protesters to be “inhumane ways to kill.”

“A lot of my closest friends, neighbors, and relatives hunt deer and take what they need in a humane way, regulated by Vermont state laws, and they use the meat to feed their families all winter,” said Sophia Parker, one of the people in attendance at the protest.

“With coyote killing, the meat is not eaten, and coyote hunters often leave the bodies to rot. Many coyote hunters kill coyotes because they consider them pests and also because they think coyotes compete for the game that humans want to hunt. But in reality, coyotes eat rodents most of all. Rodents are harmful to farmers and their crops, and they spread diseases to humans, like Lyme disease, so it’s good to have predators keeping rodent populations down. Plus, it has also been proven that the more coyotes you kill, the more they breed. So killing isn’t even an effective way to reduce the number of coyotes.”

“I give a hoot about Apex Predators.” The owl’s sign reads.

Some protesters held up signs that said, “NO KILLING CONTESTS,” STOP THE OPEN SEASON,”and “REGULATE COYOTE HUNTING.”

One gentleman dressed up like a giant owl, and his sign read “I GIVE A HOOT ABOUT APEX PREDATORS.”

“I personally feel that coyote hunting is unnecessary and cruel.

“However, I don’t support making it completely illegal because I do understand that some people feel strongly about wanting and needing to kill coyotes. But even many hunters think killing contests are wrong, and an insult to respectable hunting practices,” Parker said.

When talking to some of the hunters in attendance, Parker said that they even supported increased regulations of coyote hunting.

“They believe that killing should not occur just for “fun” or in a totally unregulated way. They want to be able to hunt, but they want this to be regulated like every other type of hunting,” Parker said.

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