Contact: Keely Hopkins, Pacific States Assistant Manager
Why It Matters: In recent years, hunting and fishing tournaments have come under fire by “animal rights” organizations who don’t like the idea of animals being taken for a prize or reward. These groups, such as the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and Project Coyote, have been organizing in numerous states against these tournaments, despite the positive impact tournaments have on local economies and the role that sportsmen play in conservation. The debate over these tournaments has drawn increased attention in Nevada, since the nearby states of Arizona, California, Colorado, and New Mexico have passed similar bans.
Hunting tournaments, particularly coyote calling contests, are a time-honored tradition in Nevada that provide opportunities for Nevada’s sportsmen and sportswomen to participate in the outdoors, while also contributing to effective wildlife management and supporting local economies. Contrary to the misinformed narrative that often circles the topic of hunting contests, parties to these tournaments are not exempted from following the same honorable wildlife laws and regulations as other sporting pursuits – especially regarding methods of take, hunting hours, and rules pertaining to license requirements and/or certain uses of the pelt after the harvest.
Furthermore, hunting tournaments may be an effective management tool for specific species, such as coyotes, where localized issues of overabundance may result in increased human-wildlife conflicts and attacks. It has been proven that short-term removal mechanisms, such as tournaments, can provide immediate relief to farmers and ranchers by helping reduce livestock losses due to varmint species. Numerous accounts of conflicts between coyotes, humans, and their pets have been well-documented in the media, and it stands to reason that the frequency of these occurrences are likely to increase if hunting opportunities are limited.
Tournaments can also support local economies through increased expenditures and tourism. Increased tourism associated with hunting tournaments provides revenue for Nevada’s rural communities, where participants contribute through the purchase of gas, hotel rooms, supplies and gear, and by dining at area restaurants.
On March 20, the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners debated a statewide ban on all hunting tournaments, including coyote calling contests, and ultimately postponed the vote until a date later this summer. This debate comes on the tails of two Nevada counties passing their own resolutions on the subject. Urban Clark County urged “immediate action” to ban the contests, while rural Elko County took the opposite position, stating that “Clark County should not be able to dictate what is legal in the rural counties.”
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation submitted written comments to the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners during their March 20 meeting in opposition to the ban on hunting tournaments and will continue to engage in efforts to advance and protect Nevada’s hunting opportunities.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?