Challenging Smoky Hill Calling Contest

The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit on behalf of Western Plains Animal Refuge against the hosts of a coyote-killing contest.


October 20, 2016

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In August 2016, the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a complaint on behalf of Western Plains Animal Refuge (WPAR) against the hosts of the “Smoky Hill Calling Contest,” a coyote-killing competition in which participants paid money for the chance to win prizes by killing the most coyotes in a day-long event.

The complaint alleged the contest was an illegal nuisance, since it met the state’s definition of illegal commercial gambling, caused WPAR to suffer special damages, and severely disrupted the local ecosystem.

The Smoky Hill Calling Contest, based in WaKeeney, Kansas, was first held in January 2016. Contest promoters encouraged people of all ages, including children, to enter. The contestant who killed the most coyotes won $500 and a rifle.

Western Plains Animal Refuge suffered substantial economic damages as a result of the contest. By incentivizing anyone with an entry fee to shoot as many coyotes as possible, some coyotes were injured but not killed. WPAR is the local agency that rehabilitates sick or injured wild animals so they may be released back into the wild, and they directly incur the associated costs. The contest also caused a serious disruption in the ecosystem leading to an unbalanced and unhealthy population dynamics.

The parties reached a settlement in October 2016, putting an end to the lawsuit. In the settlement, the contest organizer agreed to never host or organize another a killing contest in Kansas ever again and agreed to pay the Animal Legal Defense Fund more than $2,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs.

In accordance with the settlement agreement, the contest has not been held since.

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