I favor proposed legislation to prohibit killing contests.
I am a hunter, hunting since a young age for 70-plus years, from a family of hunting ancestors. I now mostly volunteer for wildlife activities including hunter education.
Department of Wildlife Resources hunter education curriculum emphasizes ethics that respect wildlife, other hunters, what the public thinks and that hunting is not a competitive sport. To teach young hunters these ethics and then expose them to killing contests sends the wrong contrasting message. We as hunters, at less than 5% of the population, enjoy a favorable approval from the public at nearly 80%, but the public and many hunters are outraged by killing wildlife for only money or prize. If hunters are to hold a favorable public rating, then it is our duty to stop killing contests, to respect ethical hunters and our wildlife by preserving biodiversity.
Killing contests clearly violate the North America Model of Wildlife Conservation by commercializing killing events and killing wildlife for no legitimate purpose. This regulation is necessary for DWR to enforce.
The Roanoke Times reported ("Hunting game," Jan. 16, 2017) about a contest in Wytheville attracting 300 contestants for a three-day period. Participants use new high tech night vision equipment including telescopic sights on guns and electronic calling equipment. The object is to kill as many predators as possible from Friday to Sunday. Predators respond to a call quickly if they are to respond at all, thus requiring the contestant to move several times a night to be competitive. Where do this many contestants, requiring multiple permits per night, go to hunt? The hype and lust to be competitive leads to trespassing and a dangerous formula with guns. At least 18 of these contests happen in Virginia each year; the big one in Wytheville is scheduled to return in January 2022.
On March 18 DWR received public comments to ban contests, which would not change any hunting of predators. Please consider the reputation of ethical hunters like myself and let DWR board (https://dwr.virginia.gov/about/board/) know what you think about this issue.
Ben Shrader, Bedford