Ban Wildlife Killing Contests.

After 9 months of deliberation, on December 3 in Van Nuys, the California Fish and Game Commission (FGC) will decide on new regulations banning killing contests. If adopted, these regulations will apply to nongame animals and furbearing animals. Coyotes will be covered under these rules. Your voice is needed.

Below is our letter to the FGC on behalf of Coyote.

California Fish and Game Commission
Michael Sutton, President,
Richard B. Rogers, vice-President
Jim Kellogg, Jack Baylis, Jacque Hostler-Carmesin

Dear Commissioners,

Thank you for engaging in the hard work of bringing the will of Californians as expressed in Assembly Bill 2402 to bear on the California Fish and Game Code.

BIrd Ally X fully supports the advances being made in our state’s relationship with, and regard for, our wild neighbors. The change in Californians’ appreciation for wildlife, wild lands, and wild systems over the decades is very encouraging. As advocates for our patients – injured and orphaned wild animals – we also support the Commission’s commitment to employ ecosystem-based management and use credible science in decisions regarding the wildlife with whom we share our beautiful state.

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Coyote pup in care at Bird Ally X/Humboldt Wildlife Care Center (photo: Laura Corsiglia/BAX)

Coyote killing contests are one example of an activity that serves no scientific purpose. They are contrary to the best available science regarding coyote management. We stand with Project Coyote, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife and others in calling for an end to these contests. We recommend that you give serious consideration to the credible, peer-reviewed science these groups have presented that demonstrates the need for a management plan for coyotes and all predators that takes a rational, effective approach which promotes co-existence.

Natural systems depend on this advance, as do individual animals who are orphaned by the careless disregard for life exemplified in these killing contests.

Non-lethal methods of coyote control (e.g gaurd dogs, lambing sheds, predator lights, etc.) have been shown to be more effective at protecting livestock. Eradication efforts and lethal measures to control coyote populations have been shown repeatedly over decades to fail. Poisons, leg-hold traps, guns, explosives, fire and flood have all been used in gruesome and barbaric attempts to extirpate this animal, iconic and revered in North America for millenia. Adaptable and resilient, coyotes’ population has exploded. As Wyoming folk-wisdom has it, “kill one coyote, two appear.”

Lethal means have been known to be cruel and productive of the opposite of their intended results for nearly as long as they’ve been employed. Still, there are virtually no limitations placed on coyote killing in California. Coyote hunting has rightfully earned a reputation as an irrational blood sport.

There is no legal, scientific or moral justification for killing contests. What constitutes a proper relationship with the natural world is poorly represented in such a contest. The posture of respect that is the hallmark of a true hunter is absent. Now that the spotlight is shining on these gruesome contests we urge the Commission to ban them. To not do so now would be to sanction wanton, senseless killing and set California back in its commitment to science and good stewardship.

California’s wildlife rehabilitators work hard on behalf of our state’s wild animals, supported almost solely by our communities. Our patients are almost exclusively victims of our modern world. Our neighbors largely share our concerns, as do thousands and thousands of others, from all walks of life – it’s commonly perceived that wildlife killing contests are repugnant and must, in the face of true understanding and scientific knowledge, be seen as outdated, outmoded and an out and out travesty.
Coyotes and all wild animals deserve respect. As wildlife care providers, it is our duty and our mission to work to modify those aspects of our lives that cause unnecessary injury and are unnecessarily cruel.

Co-existence is the only humane future, especially since so much has been lost through negligence, cruelty and inaction. The eras of wild animal killing contests are past. That previous generations have decimated or extinguished so many other populations – bisons of the great plains, eskimo curlews, passenger pigeons – in similarly wanton displays is a shame and disgrace yet to be lived down. 

The natural world needs people who are compassionate, who are kind, who prefer life over cruelty. Killing contests foster none of these qualities.

We urge you to carry through and help California lead the way into a more rational, civil and humane world. Please end these wanton wastes of real lives. Ban killing contests. 

Thank you again for taking up this issue and for the hard work that each of you do.

Project Coyote has started an online petition to put an end to this wantonly cruel, environmentally stupid bloodsport. Read it, sign it, share it here.

Resources and Literature

Fox, C.H. (2006) Coyotes and Humans: Can We Coexist? Animal Protection Institute, Sacramento, California

on the success of non-lethal management that promotes co-existence:
Fox, C.H. (2008) Analysis of The Marin County Strategic Plan for Protection of Livestock & Wildlife: An Alternative to Traditional Predator Control. Master’s thesis. Prescott College, Prescott, AZ. 112 p.

on the importance of keystone predators such as coyote in an ecosystem:
Henke, S.E., and Bryant, F.C. (1999) Effects of coyote removal on the faunal community in Western Texas, Journal of Wildlife Management 63, 1066–1081.

on the failure of indiscriminate coyote killing to protect livestock:
Berger, K.M. (2006) Carnivore-Livestock Conflicts: Affects of Subsidized Predator Control and Economic Correlates on the Sheep Industry. Conservation Biology 20:751-761.


Did an open dumpster marinate this gull?

Western Gull contaminated by food gets emergency bath. Oil spill response techniques can be used on greasy tomato sauce too!

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On a Thursday morning in late October, Eureka PD’s animal control officer, Rob Patton, pulled up in his truck with another patient for us. He’s one of our best repeat customers. Whether a raccoon baby, an opossum, a snake, or a songbird found in the road, Officer Patton does what he can for the wild animals of Eureka who get in harm’s way.

This time he had an adult Western Gull. Elissa Blair, one of BAX/Humboldt Wildlife Care Center’s volunteer staff, had first look at the bird. Before setting eyes on him she knew he smelled like rotten meat. And when she got him out of the box she discovered he was bright orange.

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Western Gull in care, contaminated by pasta sauce?

Sometimes, it’s hard to know exactly what happened to cause an injury to a wild animal. Cat bites, window strikes, being hit by a vehicle – these are relatively easy to figure out. First theories about what had happened to this gull included dyes, paints, food coloring and more, all purposefully done by someone simply to torture this animal. Well, it is certainly true that such people exist. We treat far too may animals who were injured by intentional acts of cruelty.

But this case, a gull found near the restaurants of Old Town Eureka, the smell of rancid meat, and feathers the color of tomato sauce stains, we finally determined that the bird must have been “dumpster-diving” and gotten into somebody’s very old and discarded supper. For wildlife, restaurant grease traps and dumpsters are a source of food that can have a terrible cost. If this gull hadn’t been rescued, as weather got colder, his lack of waterproof feathers would have started to limit his choices, until he was forced to scavenge dumpsters only and rely on them for his only nutrition. Soon he would be thin and in poor health. Soon after that, he would be dead.

Fortunately, perhaps because of his orange feathers, his condition was noted and he was captured before his health had begun to fail. All he really needed was a good warm, sudsy bath.

With our extensive oil spill experience, and the infrastructure we built at HWCC for the 2011 and 2012 fish-oiled Brown Pelican response, we were able to clear up his troubles quickly.

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BAX/HWCC staff Lucinda Adamson and Elissa Blair wash Western Gull.

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It didn’t take long to get his bath water dirty!

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Now that’s a clean tail.

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Rinsing the soap out – the magical moment when clean water appears to make feathers dry!

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Internal code, and some happy talk! (all above photos: Carol Andersen/BAX)

A few days after his bath, his feathers were waterproof and he was flying around the aviary. A short visit to rehab was all he needed. We released him closer to the ocean than Eureka… he’s free, of course to return to the open dumpsters of downtown, but we’re hoping he falls in with a more sea-going crowd and lives the life of a true gull – no lasagne – just fish, crabs, and whatever other tasty treat rolls in on the surf.

Thank you for supporting our work! This gull, and every animal we treat, receives the highest quality care we can provide, thanks to your contribution!

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(All release photos: Laura Corsiglia/BAX)

Remember, we rely on your support to keep on keeping on! Your tax-deductible donation is greatly appreciated!