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Bill Would Ban Wildlife Hunting Contests In Oregon

Oregon lawmakers are considering a measure that would ban wildlife hunting contests. Backers of the bill include animal rights organizations and conservation groups. They say at least five such events have been held in recent years in Oregon, mostly in Harney and Lake Counties. Usually, contestants try to kill as many coyotes as possible over a weekend. Prizes have included cash and hunting rifles.

Critics call the contests "unethical" and inneffective at reducing the rate of livestock killed by predators. “Wildlife killing contests are cruel, unnecessary, and environmentally destructive," said Kathleen Wood, a Portland-based attorney with the Animal Legal Defense Fund. "Like any blood sport, they necessarily desensitize the participants to violence, particularly adolescents, who are taught at a young age that lives can be discarded just for fun.”

Coyotes can be hunted year-round in Oregon, and current regulations do not limit the number of coyotes hunters can kill. The propsal in front of lawmakers would not change that, but it would ban the use of prizes as an incentive to take part in a hunting competition.

The Oregon Farm Bureau, which sponsored a coyote hunting tournament in Burns earlier this winter, did not respond to a request for comment on the bill. But the Oregon Hunters Association issued a statement calling the measure "an attack on our hunting traditions."

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