Inhumane and ethically indefensible

EDITOR: I am writing to comment on the coyote killing contest that is being organized by the Ridgebury Fire Company and is scheduled to begin next weekend.

My husband and I run 300 mother cows that calve peacefully in pastures alongside coyote packs. We use only non- lethal livestock protection methods and allow the coyotes to do their job, which is keeping out rodent populations in check and our ranch lands healthier.

I am also on the advisory board of Project Coyote, a national coalition that promotes coexistence between people and wildlife.

Wildlife killing contests have nothing to do with hunting, or sport. They are not about enjoying the outdoors, saving deer and livestock, or raising money for charity. They are about killing and the wanton waste of wildlife, and they are a black eye on any community that participates in them.

To award prizes to the person who kills the most animals is reprehensible. And killing animals only to then dump their carcasses in a pit to bury, is disrespectful, environmentally reckless, and morally bankrupt.

Furthermore, there is zero evidence that the indiscriminate killing of coyotes increases deer numbers or lessens the number of attacks on livestock. In fact, most experts agree the exact opposite is probably true. Coyotes biologically respond to hunting pressures by increasing their populations, which is why despite our war against them, there are now more coyotes in North America than at any time in history. Furthermore, coyote packs that are fractured by hunting leave adolescents orphaned, hungry and ill prepared to successfully hunt their normal prey. This forces these animals to find an easier meal which is often our pets and livestock.

Finally, these killing contests are inhumane and ethically indefensible. Coyotes have strong family bonds, they mate for life and are completely monogamous. The males raise the pups right alongside the females. They are loyal, loving and highly adaptable and intelligent. They are capable of feeling fear, love, loss and pain, just as our pets are. Coyotes help prevent the spread of diseases by controlling rodent populations. In fact, a single coyote can eat 1,800 rats a year, helping to lower the use of poisons that are responsible for killing thousands of raptors and other animals that feed on these rats and mice all the way up the food chain.

It is time for killing contests to go the way of dog fighting and other barbaric practices that civilized societies refuse to tolerate.

There are many other ways to raise money for the volunteer fire department that don't involve promoting violence and the senseless destruction of wildlife.

I hope the Ridgebury Fire Company realizes that their company should not be funded by killing contests, and that they do the right thing and stop supporting these archaic contests.

Keli Hendricks - Advisory Board

Project Coyote