The Need to Reform Wildlife Management


About this image …
Some men can’t kill enough; a quick search of trapping, hunting or penning websites illustrate how commonplace this kind of abuse is. Without proper laws, mass killing,  abusive and inhumane practices are left unchallenged and are presented as “traditions” to be protected. 

As a society great scientific, technological and humanitarian advancements that allow people to live happier, better and longer lives have been achieved. Yet when it comes to wildlife,  the laws that govern wildlife management are based in medieval presumptions. Nationally, most wild animals have little if any protection from wildlife abuse. Internet sites and television programming glorify killing wildlife and readily illustrate that for some, wild animals exist mainly as a form of target practice. Most people abhor this violence yet trophy, sports hunters and lobbyists have a stranglehold on wildlife policy. Even today, excessive and unnecessary killing of wild animals  (especially carnivores) occurs under the guise of wildlife “management”.  Abuse and suffering occur because laws allow trapping, penning, hounding and trophy hunting of wild animals with little or no limitations.  For most of us, it is difficult to comprehend the type of cruelty depicted in this image, yet the website that this was found on indicated that this one man killed hundreds, if not thousands), of wild animals. Aside from coyotes, the other victims included beaver, bobcats, red and grey fox, bears, otters, raccoons and thousands of opossum. As you can see, often the killers enjoy taunting, handling and photographing their terrified victims. For coyotes, foxes and raccoons the species most commonly penned, penning involves first being trapped and injured. Once captured they are crammed into cages where they may be left for weeks at a time, in some instances, to be sold to penning facilities. At the penning facility,  they are let loose  in an enclosure only to be hunted and killed by packs of vicious dogs.

What drives this insanity. Some wild carnivores are killed for fur, but increasingly predators are killed for “fun” in killing “contests or derbies” or by people that shoot them in the wild as they would targets in hunting practice.  Many hunters hate animals who they perceive as competition for deer or other prey hunters like to hunt. Often when predators like coyotes are killed the dead are left in carcass piles to rot violating all wanton waste provisions that apply to other wildlife . Instead of providing protection to these species, many state laws ignore their citizens voices and allow these inhumane and scientifically indefensible practices to continue.

 Far too often our federal and state tax dollars are used in programs that are euphemistically entitled “wildlife management” but are actually killing programs funded by an unknowing and thus non-consenting public. Wildlife management is driven by greed, ignorance, intolerance and unwillingness to coexist with wildlife.  Wildlife are supposed to be protected as public trust resources but management is far too often funded by special interest money that is directed largely by hunting revenues, leaving the majority of Americans voiceless to protect wild animals from excessive killing practices. Legislators receive tremendous pressure through lobbyists like the NRA or trophy-hunting groups like Safari Club International. Meaningful reform is generally squashed by the power of these minority interests.

Many states still allow the use of steel leg hold traps and snares that kill and maim millions of wild animals even on state and federal public lands. Some states allow the capture and transport of live animals to penning facilities where packs of dogs are used to chase down and tear apart their terrified victims. And contrary to the North American Model of Wildlife Management that subscribes to fair chase and harvest methods, most states ignore the tenants of NAM. Most states allow extended hunting of carnivores that run through mating and rearing of young seasons; many states allow animals to be lured by distress calls, killed over bait piles and hunted with increasingly advanced technology like semi automatic rifles and suppressors.

Under current laws individual animals suffer relentless persecution and management strategies are inconsistent with ecologically responsible or humane objectives. It is up to all of us to demand an equal voice and wildlife laws that do not allow special interests, greed, fear, superstition, and intolerance to override science, evolution, and common decency. Like all reform, change may be slow but it is vital. We hope the MA Carnivore Conservation Act is the first step toward other states adopting similar legislation and toward a national comprehensive law that will protect carnivores and promote protected corridors and responsible ecosystem wide management of all wildlife.

 Our wild animals deserve better. Please visit to see a repository of images that illustrate images like this are not isolated instances. Please contact your state representatives to complain and to show them these abuses. In some places trophy hunting groups like Safari Club International are pushing to make these heinous practices legal in additional states. Help protect wildlife in your states and on a national level by supporting our first ever Carnivore Conservation Act and look for a proposed national law coming soon…