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New Bill Would Ban All Hunting Contests in Wisconsin

Wisconsin hunting tournaments

This proposed law seeks to promote "ethical hunting" and eliminate "killing wild animals for entertainment."

Earlier this month, a bill aiming to end all hunting contests made its way to the Wisconsin Senate.

Authored by Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, this bill primarily addresses organized coyote hunting competitions.

Coyotes are legal to hunt year round and often demand population control from the Department of Natural Resources. But, while predator control has proven useful in terms of conservation, hunters rarely eat the canines, which tends to draw some negative attention.

"We've heard some people that are very strongly in support of it, and on the same handle, we've heard some very strong objections to it," Risser told WSAW in an interview. "We don't attack any kind of legitimate hunting at all. What we do is try to outlaw the hunting where there's sponsored competition with the objective of killing wild animals for entertainment and for the chances of winning prizes and then discarding the carcasses, this is not ethical hunting."

Retired wildlife biologist Adrian Wydeven went on record backing the bill, telling WSAW the competitive nature of a hunting contest can be harmful to wildlife management.

"There are a ton of people who hunt and trap coyotes for their fur and have intent to make use of the animals," he said. "That would be different than these contests where, I guess, potentially, they could be used, but when there are a lot of animals being harvested over a short period of time by a lot of people who otherwise normally wouldn't be for fur harvesting, there's probably a greater chance that they're just going to be discarded."

He also pointed out the risk of losing protected wolves, which have seen a successful population recovery in the upper Midwest. He stressed the dangerous nature of offering an incentive to shoot to largest coyote, as people could mistakenly shoot a wolf in the heat of the moment.

Opposing the proposed legislation was Matt McHughs, an organizer of the Moondog Madness coyote tournament, who told WSAW the tournaments aren't nearly as barbaric as people think.

In response to comments surrounding protected wolves, he stressed the obvious, distinct differences between the two, and that no one shoots a wolf by mistake.

Additionally, countering the complaints about the waste of animals, he said hunters either take their harvested animal with them, or he personally delivers the furs and buries the carcasses in a safe place.

There are many people on McHughes' side of the fence, although Risser told WSAW he welcomes all opinions on the matter.

"So it's a controversial matter, which I think deserves discussion," he said. "That's one reason we have a legislature is to review matters of interest to various persons and we'll see what happens."

The bill would exempt fishing tournaments since they're already regulated by the DNR.

What do you think? Should hunting tournaments be banned?

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New Bill Would Ban All Hunting Contests in Wisconsin