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Arizona Officials Consider Ban on Hunting Contests

A proposed rule change by the Arizona Game and Fish Commission would end hunting contests that often target such apex predators as coyotes, bobcats and foxes. (GabrielAssan/AdobeStock)
A proposed rule change by the Arizona Game and Fish Commission would end hunting contests that often target such apex predators as coyotes, bobcats and foxes. (GabrielAssan/AdobeStock)
May 1, 2019

CAREFREE, Ariz. - The Arizona Game and Fish Commission is considering a ban on wildlife-killing contests.

More than 20 of these events, also known as "targeted hunts," currently are held each year in Arizona. The targeted species usually include coyotes, bobcats and foxes but sometimes focus on mountain lions, coatimundis, badgers and jackrabbits.

Sandy Bahr, who heads the Sierra Club's Grand Canyon Chapter, said the contests often go after predator animals but serve no conservation function.

"These wildlife-killing contests do not serve wildlife management," she said. "They focus on killing the most animals or the biggest. They really are more about killing a lot of animals. It's not hunting."

Typically, Bahr said, the participants join for a fee and spend the weekend shooting as many animals as they can for a cash prize. Hunters get points for the different animals killed or the highest number, and sometimes win other prizes.

The state Game and Fish Commission is taking comments from the public about the possibility of banning the rule. Bahr said there's been a groundswell of support for the change from conservation and animal-rights groups, as well as some cities and counties across the state.

"It's something that we all can come together on and say, 'No, this is wrong,' " she said. "This is not something that serves the interests of the people of Arizona - and certainly, not the wildlife."

Bahr said the rule change originally was proposed in 1999 but has languished until this year, when pressure forced the state to revisit the ban. The Arizona Game and Fish Commission will take comments on the rule change through May 12. To post comments, go online to azgfd.gov and click on the "Send Comments" tab at the bottom of the page.

Information about the rule is online at azgfd.com.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AZ