Eight Oregon legislators have sponsored a bill to end wildlife killing competitions in the state.
Senate Bill 723, which was filed on Tuesday, would prohibit people from "organizing, sponsoring, promoting, conducting or participating in contest, competition, tournament or derby that has objective of taking wildlife for prizes or other inducement or for entertainment."
One of the bill's chief sponsors, Sent. Jeff Golden (D-Ashland) says he decided to support the legislation after being approached by the Humane Society of the United States.
"I didn't know about the practice before the Humane Society came to me early in the session," Golden tells WW. "After reading up on these competitions, I decided to become a sponsor."
On Wednesday, the Humane Society of the U.S. released findings from an "undercover investigation" into a coyote killing tournament in the eastern Oregon town of Burns.
Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the U.S., wrote in a blog that organization members went undercover to observe a coyote hunt weigh-in for a tournament hosted by the nonprofit the Oregon Farm Bureau.
From a HC Sporting Goods store parking lot in Burns, outside of the Malheur National Forest, Block writes, "trucks pulled into the parking lot one after the other to unload the bodies of the animals. The contestants laughed and joked about their kills as they tossed dozens of bloody carcasses from the trucks and dragged them across the parking lot so they can be weighed."
Video of the event shows camo-clad hunters dragging dozens of dead coyotes around the snowy parking lot to be weighed.
Block writes that investigators were told the carcasses would be sold to a fur buyer.
In the event rules, the OFB notes that the coyote-killing tournament winners would take home cash prizes. The hunt, it reads, was measured "by weight only." Rules included prohibitions on aircraft hunting, coyote carcass pooling and of weighing "coyotes that have been run over with a motorized vehicle."
According to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations, it is legal to hunt and kill coyotes year-round with an appropriate furtaker's license. Seasonal licenses are required only for fox, bobcat, marten, mink, otter, raccoon and beaver hunters.
But Kelly Peterson, the Oregon senior state director for the Human Society, says "wildlife contests are the antithesis of sportsmanship, good stewardship and respect for Oregon wildife."
Peterson says the bill to ban the competitions has received "overwhelming support so far."
In its investigation, Peterson says the Humane Society has found at least five other hunting contests had been conducted around the state in recent years.
Under SB 723, participants of wildlife killing tournaments would face jail time of up to 364 days and a fine of up to $6,250.
A spokesperson for Oregon Farm Bureau did not respond to requests for comment.
The bill is sponsored by Senators Golden, Sara Gelser (D-Corvallis), Michael Dembrow (D-Portland), Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (D-Portland/Beaverton) and Kathleen Taylor (D-Milwaukie), and Representatives Alissa Keny-Guyer (D-Portland), Courtney Neron (D-Aloha) and Rob Nosse (D-Portland).