A coalition of national and state groups are calling for an end to a coyote-hunting tournament in northern Maine.
The Jackman-Moose River Region Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring the Somerset County tournament, which includes prizes of up to $500 for the hunter who kills the most coyotes and the hunter who kills the largest. The tournament opened Dec. 16 and continues until Jan. 30.
Coyote hunting has become popular, especially among deer hunters who consider the predators a threat to the state’s whitetail deer herd. Biologists, meanwhile, say coyotes do have an impact on deer numbers although severe winters and loss of habitat are mostly to blame for declining deer populations and reduced hunting opportunities.
Organizations opposing the tournament include Project Coyote, the Animal Welfare Institute, the Wildlife Alliance of Maine, The Humane Society of the United States, The Maine Wolf Coalition, and Friends of Merrymeeting Bay. They argue the contest is an unethical and “ecologically reckless” blood sport.