Wildlife officials in Massachusetts are looking to make organized hunting contests for coyotes and other animals illegal.
Coyote hunting contests have been held in recent years in Granby, Pittsfield and on Cape Cod. The proposal would also cover bobcats, red and gray foxes, and weasels, among others.
Dave Wattles is a biologist with the Massachusetts Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. He said the move comes from what officials heard during listening sessions earlier this year.
"Public perception was that the contests weren't ethical, and that they incentivize the indiscriminate killing of wildlife, and contributed to their waste," Wattles said.
Once the language is finalized, the public will have the opportunity to comment on the draft regulations before they are voted on by the fisheries and wildlife board.
If approved, Massachusetts would join several other states, including California, Arizona, Vermont and New Mexico in banning similar contests. New York and Oregon are considering laws on the issue as well.
The hunting contests do not have a negative impact on the size of coyote populations. In the last 10 years, the annual coyote harvest has been less than 10 percent of the state's population. To reduce coyote populations, the annual harvest would have to be at least 70 percent.
Other proposed changes to regulations would also ban wanton waste, or knowingly leaving a dead or wounded animal without making a reasonable effort to retrieve and use it. This would not apply to defense of people or property, animals "unfit for consumption or use," problem wildlife, or certain animals listed in Massachusetts law, such as crows, chipmunks or skunks.
Lastly, the regulations would require that fox and coyote must be checked within 48 hours of harvest, online or in person, to match the requirements for deer, bear and turkey.
This report includes information from State House News Service.