Animal Rights Groups File Restraining Order to Stop Oregon Coyote Killing ContestPosted on January 16, 2014
Animal Legal Defense Fund, Project Coyote Take to Courts to Stop Illegal Gambling, Shut Down Coyote Hunt
For immediate release:
Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Megan Backus, Animal Legal Defense Fund
BEND, Oregon —Today, the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund, along with Project Coyote and an individual Oregon resident, asked the Harney County, Oregon Circuit Court for a temporary restraining order to stop the JMK Coyote Hunting Contest scheduled this weekend. Although the judge did not grant the emergency relief, he agreed that the “Calcutta” aspect of the weekend’s events in particular constituted an illegal gambling activity. In this event, participants place cash bets on how well a hunting team will advance through the weekend tournament, similar in style to “March Madness” styles of betting. As gambling is illegal in the state of Oregon, the judge advised that given the lawsuit ALDF filed on January 16, 2014, the co-plaintiffs could be awarded monetary damages if the event proceeds this weekend. Last year’s JMK coyote killing contest killed nearly 150 coyotes and netted cash prizes totaling more than $10,000. Today’s hearing had favorable overtures from the court, despite the denial of emergency relief, and may remove the financial incentive to participate in a killing contest. By taking away the cash prizes—and posing the risk of financial damages—a favorable ruling could dramatically change the structure and incentive of the hunting contest in the future.
Under Oregon wildlife laws, there is little to no bag limit or restriction on the destruction of coyotes, who are legally considered vermin in Oregon. As such, animal and environmental groups have expressed grave concern about the risk to habitat and wildlife posed by hunting contests. Today’s lawsuit takes on the violation of Oregon’s strict gambling laws–in the hunting contest, hunters place bets on winning teams. Last year’s event resulted in the killing of nearly 150 coyotes, and cash prizes totaling more than $10,000. Gambling has been deemed a nuisance by state law, and under Oregon law, a court is enabled with the power to stop illegal gambling events. An ALDF representative will be available for questions after the hearing Friday.
Where: Harney County Circuit Court, 450 N. Buena Vista #16, Burns OR 97720
When: 3:00pm Friday, January 17, 2014
“Predator killing contests have no place in the 21st century,” said Camilla Fox, founder and executive director of Project Coyote. “Killing coyotes for fun and prizes is ethically repugnant, morally bankrupt, and ecologically indefensible. Such contests demean the immense ecological and economic value of predators, perpetuating a culture of violence and sending a message to children that life has little value.”
“This event –which even encourages children to participate in a bloodbath for sport—is a nuisance to the community,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “Trivializing the killing of animals for cash prizes is a terrible tarnish on the state of Oregon, and the court has a duty to uphold state law for the good of all its inhabitants.”
Copies of the complaint are available upon request.