June 3, 2023

Vermont's Coyote Tournament Woes

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Last year Vermont played host to several coyote hunting tournaments. The biggest of those drew over 300 entrants, each paying $20 to enter. There where numerous cash prizes and a total of 46 coyotes were reported killed and brought in for consideration of prizes. It is believed that some coyotes were left in the woods because they would not meet any prize requirements. There is no official proof or documentation of that happening.
These coyote tournaments have sparked a controversty across Vermont and beyond. Rep. Mark Young (R) from Orwell, has introduced a bill that would put a stop to the tournaments. A hunter himself, Young said he introduced the bill because he says a couple dozen landowners complained about the tournaments and began posting their land and closing it to all hunting. This concerns Young. Many of the complaints Young says, come from landowners angry about dogs running their property chasing the coyotes. He says dogs can’t read no trespassing signs. He also says this kind of hunting is giving hunting a black eye.

Don Felion, the organizer of one of the largest coyote tournaments, disagrees with Young’s assessment. He says there are no formal complaints that have been lodged against the tournaments and he also pointed out that stories about the reckless behaviour from tournament entrants is non-existent. Not one charge was brought against any of the hunters, Felion claims.

He also says that any landowners that he has talked to that are posting their land to hunting, is doing so to preserve what few deer are left on their property for family members. He says false stories being passed around by the anti-hunting groups is what is giving hunters and hunting a bad name.

Jim Hoverman, president of Vermonters for Safe Hunting and Wildlife Diversity, said he welcomed the bill that has been introduced by Young. Hoverman describes the coyote hunts as a “wanton waste of wildlife”.

Hoverman hopes the bill makes it out of the Fish and Game committee and gets passed before the March 1 date scheduled for the second annual Howlin’ Hills Coyote Event.

He claims that no landowners have filed complaints against the hunt because they are afraid of hunter retribution. So, instead, they are just posting their land as a way of solving their problems.

Tom Remington