ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — New York lawmakers are taking steps to protect wildlife with a bill that would make it illegal to kill wildlife for prizes in contests and competitions. That bill was passed in the legislature, but still awaits the Governor’s signature.
“There’s been a huge public outcry about this, these are animals that quite often get thrown in the dumpster afterwards,” said Brian Shapiro, New York State Director for the Humane Society of the United States. He said killing wildlife for cash prize is a practice that’s been used since the fifties. “Contestants get involved and kill the most, the heaviest, even the smallest wild life, this could be a squirrel, it could be a bobcat, it could be a fox even.”
Shapiro told Capitol Correspondent, Amal Tlaige, the events are advertised in secrecy, using chat rooms and social media to get the word out. The prize money is pooled together from contestants entering the competition. “The reason why eight states have already passed this legislation is because it serves no wildlife management purpose whatsoever. It’s just about killing wildlife for cash and prizes,” he explained.
But Senator George Borrello said this legislation came out of urban areas that don’t represent farms. And there are some misunderstandings when it comes to these contests, “DEC does use these contests as part of their wildlife management program. These contests must abide by the bag and limits and the seasons of any animal.” Additionally, Borrello said the idea that the animals are just thrown into dumpsters after the contests is not the case. “Most people – at least where I live and the people that I represent – these animals are harvested, and they are eaten, but the bottom line is people hunt in our areas, also consume what they hunt.”
He said these contests do help farmers who deal with coyotes, wolves and fox taking out their livestock. It’s also helps protect pets. “Domestic dogs, and cats are often the victims of things like coyote and a fox, and they die vicious deaths,” said Borrello. Those contests do not include the killing of bears, deer or turkey. I reached out to DEC for comment on the bill, but they cannot comment on pending legislation.