Project Coyote is joining forces with other organizations to put an end to wildlife killing contests, which result in the cruel and senseless killing each year of thousands of coyotes, foxes, bobcats, prairie dogs, crows, and wolves. These “tournaments,” or “derbies,” are held throughout the United States and often occur on public lands. Children as young as ten are encouraged to participate, and social media pages show them posing with assault rifles beside the bodies of the animals they killed. These contests send a chilling message that killing is fun, wild animals are disposable, and life is cheap. The contests serve no ecological purpose and are instead at odds with all principles of conservation biology and ecosystem-based management. As such, Project Coyote and its partners are turning to the courts as part of their broader efforts to end these killing contests.
On November 13, 2014, Project Coyote and other wildlife conservation organizations filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Idaho against the United States Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management over its issuance of a Special Recreation Permit to a group called Idaho for Wildlife. The five-year permit provides that Idaho for Wildlife may conduct an annual three-day hunting contest targeting predators on 3.1 million acres of federal land in Eastern Idaho. The permit further allows for up to 500 participants in the derby each yaer. Cash and prizes will be awarded for the most coyotes and wolves and other predators that are killed. On August 20, 2018, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the case as moot based on the lack of pending permit applications for future killing contests. Attorneys at the Center for Biological Diversity represented Project Coyote in this matter.
In January 2014, Project Coyote joined with other animal-rights activists in a lawsuit against Duane Freilino, d/b/a Shooters Services Unlimited and JMK Farms in an effort to end the annual JMK Coyote Hunting Contest in Crane, Harney County, Oregon. The contest, organized by Freilino, required hunters to “buy in” to the contest and top teams won cash prizes totaling more than $10,000. The lawsuit alleged that the killing contest and associated betting competition constituted a gambling enterprise, which is illegal and deemed a public nuisance in the state of Oregon. The case settled in July 2014 with an agreement from Freilino to never host another hunting contest in Oregon and to pay attorneys' fees. Attorneys at the Animal Legal Defense Fund represented Project Coyote in this matter.