Predator Hunting Contests Could be Banned in Virginia

Contact: John Culclasure, Southeastern States Assistant Director

Highlights

  • On May 27, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources Board (Board) discussed a regulation proposal that would ban coyote and furbearer hunting contests when a prize of any monetary value is offered.
  • Like most states, Virginia does not prohibit predator hunting tournaments.
  • Sportsmen and women that participate in predator contests are subject to the same laws and regulations, including bag limits, methods of take, and licensing requirements, that apply to predator hunting regardless of whether they are engaged in a tournament.

Why It Matters: “Animal rights” groups advocate for the eradication of predator hunting tournaments and other fish and wildlife contests despite participants’ adherence to wildlife laws and regulations and the importance of these events to local economies and conservation funding. 

Predator hunting contests are held annually across the Commonwealth and have a successful track record following the law. These events build comradery among participants, support hunter recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) efforts, and benefit the state’s economy. Hunters also purchase licenses and firearms, ammunition, and other hunting-related equipment that support conservation funding for the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR).

The DWR’s rationale for the rule proposal largely rested on concerns about negative optics for the hunting community and the introduction and transmission of a non-native tapeworm with health implications for humans and pets. There were no stated concerns about coyote or furbearer populations being negatively impacted by hunting tournaments.

During the Board’s public comment period, more than 20 people spoke in opposition to the proposed regulation while representatives from Project Coyote and the Humane Society of the United States spoke in favor of it. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted a letter to the Board opposing the rule proposal as well as offering alternatives to consider in lieu of instituting an outright ban.

Following the public comments, the Board voted to move forward with the rulemaking process. While that decision was not popular with most of the hunters that spoke to the Board, the public will have another opportunity to provide input on the rule before it is finalized. CSF appreciates its working relationship with the DWR but will continue to oppose the rule in its current form to protect the interests of hunters in the Commonwealth.

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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?

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