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MassWildlife bans predator hunting contests, wanton waste of game

A coyote walked across fresh snow in Boulder, Colo.Brennan Linsley/AP/Associated Press

The board of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife voted to implement new regulations banning hunting contests for certain predators and fur-bearing animals, the state announced on Friday.

The regulations, which are expected to go into effect sometime before the fall hunting season, make it unlawful for individuals to compete, organize, and support competitions that promote the hunting of about a dozen game species, including coyotes, bobcats, mink, skunks, beavers, and opossums, according to a statement.

The ban also prohibits the wanton waste of animal hides and carcasses from hunters who knowingly leave dead or wounded animals behind without making a reasonable effort to retrieve them.

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The regulations were approved at the agency’s headquarters in Westborough on Dec. 18, according to the MassWildlife site.

Hearings on the ban began after the agency heard from several concerned citizens about a coyote hunting contest held by a private citizen on Cape Cod, Marion Larson, the chief of information and education at MassWildlife, said in October.

“People were concerned that this was providing an incentive that could promote indiscriminate killing of coyotes,” she said.

MassWildlife began gathering feedback on the proposal for the ban back in September, when draft regulations were posted on the organization’s website, according to the statement.

Between October and November, state officials received nearly 1,000 letters and e-mails — about 900 of which supported the new regulations — as well as dozens of comments at public hearings, they said.

Some expressed concern that the ban placed an unreasonable burden on hunters and trappers to use animal pelts and bodies, and negatively impacted livestock farmers affected by coyote populations, state officials said.

In their statement, MassWildlife officials stressed that farmers would still have the option to invite hunters onto their property during the regulated season, and would still be entitled to protect their property by killing animals that cause damage. They also argued that hunters could take advantage of free classes provided by MassWildlife, as well as information online, to learn how to properly skin game for their pelts.

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Coyotes already reside in every municipality in Massachusetts, and hunting has not prevented them from entering new areas, officials said.

The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals applauded the measure in a statement released Wednesday, calling the contests “cruel and unethical.”

“Winners of wildlife killing contests often proudly post photos and videos on social media that show them posing with piles of dead animals, often before disposing of the animals in “carcass dumps,” away from the public eye,” the statement said.

The regulations also require hunters to report coyote or fox kills within two days of hunting, MassWildlife said. Hunters are currently allowed to report their killings as late as four days before the end of the hunting season.


Abigail Feldman can be reached at abigail.feldman@globe.com.