Yesterday during a virtual meeting, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission approved a prohibition on certain organized hunting contests by a vote of 8-3. Hunting contests are privately organized competitive events where participants compete for cash or other prizes for harvesting animals in a specified location during a specified time period, typically in an effort to alleviate damage caused by wildlife in the area.
The decision the Commission made outlaws hunting contests that offer cash prizes for black-tailed, white-tailed and Gunnison’s prairie dogs, Wyoming (Richardson’s) ground squirrels and all other species of furbearers. The ban will take effect beginning June 30, 2020.
During the meeting, a petition to ban predator hunting contests lead by the Human Society of the United States was also considered, but thanks in parts to grass roots efforts lead by Safari Club International, the petition was denied by the Commission. Leveraging the power of the Hunter Advocacy Action Center (HAAC), SCI was able to mobilize the hunting community in Colorado to submit thousands of public comments to members of the Commission, urging them not to support the petition.
The petition argued that holding and participating in predator hunting contests throughout Colorado “undermine wildlife management”, violate ‘hunting ethics” and may even “put threatened or endangered wildlife species in peril.” Nothing could be further from the truth, though. Hunting contests, especially those centered around predator species, follow ALL applicable rules and regulations set forth by Colorado Parks and Wildlife and their Commission and serve as a useful tool in wildlife management and prevent predator-human conflict and even predator-livestock conflict.
The recent ban was set in motion back in November of 2019 when the Commission ordered agency staff at Colorado Parks and Wildlife to compile information related to the regulation of hunting contests in other states. The analysis revealed that Arizona, California, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Vermont currently have some form of a ban on wildlife killing contests, all of which focus on predators and furbearers.
A partial ban on hunting contests has already been implemented in Colorado, but it focuses only on big game like deer, elk, and other more common game species. However, the recent decision expands that prohibition to include small game and furbearers as well. Idaho, Montana, North Carolina, Utah and Washington also have implemented partial bans of hunting contests as well, although those bans do not apply to lawful hunting of predators or fur-bearing animals.
SCI will continue to monitor the situation in Colorado, and we will stay vigilant to ensure that this recent effort to restrict the freedom to hunt in Colorado does not expand and gain momentum in other states.