The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to ban hunting contests targeting coyotes and other unprotected animals in the state. The landmark vote followed an extensive public hearing in Bend, where over 40 concerned citizens voiced their opinions.
The newly enacted rules define what hunting contests are and are not. These rules now make it illegal to organize, sponsor, participate in, or conduct contests with the aim of killing unprotected mammals indigenous to Oregon. According to the Commission, these regulations are aimed at protecting vulnerable species in the state.
However, the Commission’s jurisdiction has its limits. State statutes categorize coyotes and some other unprotected animals as predatory animals when they pose a threat to private agricultural lands.
Predator Hunting in Oregon
The Oregon Department of Wildlife identifies predatory animals as “coyotes, rabbits, rodents, feral swine, starling, house sparrows, and Eurasian Collared Doves, which are or may be destructive to agricultural crops, products, and activities.”
Under these state statutes, the Fish and Wildlife Commission lacks the power to regulate the hunting of predatory animals, with the law stating that “the commission shall not prescribe limitations on the times, places, or amounts for the taking of predatory animals” and reaffirming that “nothing in the wildlife laws is intended to deny the right of any person to control predatory animals.”
Mary Wahl, Chair of the Fish and Wildlife Commission, acknowledged the limitations of their regulatory authority. However, she emphasized that the new rules represent “a step we can take that is within our authority.”
So, while the Commission’s decision means that hunting contests targeting coyotes and other unprotected animals cannot occur within the state, it has no ability to regulate the already established predator hunting outside of a contest setting.
The move comes after the Commission initially considered banning the contests back in December 2022.