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February 20, 2020

The Trust supports the end of wildlife killing contests in Maryland

Members of the House Environment and Transportation Committee,

On behalf of our Maryland members and supporters, the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust requests your support for HB 863 to prohibit killing contests for furbearing and unprotected mammals in Maryland.  

On our 117 sanctuaries across the U.S. and Canada, spanning over 21,085 acres, the Trust works to permanently preserve and connect habitat, protecting the homes of all species of wildlife. All of those species, including carnivores such as foxes and coyotes, play their own, uniquely important role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. In particular, coyotes provide trophic cascade benefits such as indirectly protecting ground‐nesting birds from smaller carnivores, and increasing the biological diversity of plant and wildlife communities.[1] In addition, by keeping rodent populations in check, foxes—a frequent target of killing contests in Maryland—help to protect crops and control tick-borne diseases such as Lyme.

In addition to our work to protect wildlife habitat, we strive to create a world in which wild animals are respected for their intrinsic value and humane solutions are sought to human-wildlife conflicts. Scientific studies have amply demonstrated that the random killing of coyotes, such as in these killing contests, is not an effective method of mitigating potential conflicts with livestock, pets, and humans. In fact, it can increase problems.  By disrupting the stable and limiting breeding structure of coyote packs, more reproduction will occur—in other words, more coyotes than there were to begin with. USDA studies have also found that the random killing of non-predating coyotes, who were living in proximity to livestock herds and not causing problems, can trigger conflicts where there were none previously.[2] Nonlethal livestock protection methods, including the use of fencing, fladry, and guard animals, have proven very effective in preventing conflicts with wild carnivore species.[3]

The Maryland members and supporters of the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust ask for your support of HB 863 to prohibit killing contests for furbearing and unprotected mammals in our state.

Thank you,
Linda Winter
Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust Program Coordinator and Maryland resident

[1] S. E. Henke and F. C. Bryant, “Effects of Coyote Removal on the Faunal Community in Western Texas,” Journal of Wildlife Management 63, no. 4 (1999); K. R. Crooks and M. E. Soule, "Mesopredator Release and Avifaunal Extinctions in a Fragmented System," Nature 400, no. 6744 (1999); E. T. Mezquida, S. J. Slater, and C. W. Benkman, “Sage‐Grouse and Indirect Interactions:  Potential Implications of Coyote Control on Sage‐Grouse Populations,” Condor 108, no. 4 (2006); N. M. Waser et al., “Coyotes, Deer, and Wildflowers: Diverse Evidence Points to a Trophic Cascade,” Naturwissenschaften 101, no. 5 (2014).

[2] Randy Comeleo, “Using Coyotes to Protect Livestock. Wait. What?” Oregon Small Farm News, Vo. XIII No. 2.

[3] Adrian Treves et al., “Forecasting Environmental Hazards and the Application of Risk Maps to Predator Attacks on Livestock,” BioScience 61, no. 6 (2011); Philip J. Baker et al., “Terrestrial Carnivores and Human Food Production: Impact and Management,” Mammal Review 38, (2008); A. Treves and K. U. Karanth, “Human‐Carnivore Conflict and Perspectives on Carnivore Management Worldwide,” Conservation Biology 17, no. 6 (2003); J. A. Shivik, A. Treves, and P. Callahan, “Nonlethal Techniques for Managing Predation: Primary and Secondary Repellents," Conservation Biology 17, no. 6 (2003); N. J. Lance et al., “Biological, Technical, and Social Aspects of Applying Electrified Fladry for Livestock Protection from Wolves (Canis Lupus),” Wildlife Research 37, no. 8 (2010); Andrea Morehouse and Mark Boyce, “From Venison to Beef: Seasonal Changes in Wolf Diet Composition in a Livestock Grazing Environment,” Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 9, no. 8 (2011); and Fox, C.H. and C.M. Papouchis. 2005. Coyotes in Our Midst: Coexisting with an Adaptable and Resilient Carnivore. Animal Protection Institute, Sacramento, California.


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