Las Vegas (CN) - A bill that would prohibit wildlife killing contests elicited plenty of testimony - for and against the measure - in front of the Nevada Assembly's Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday.
"I come from a family of hunters," Nick Christenson of the Sierra Club told the committee. "These are organized events where animals are killed only for the sake of killing them, with no intent to use them for food, fur or any other practical purpose."
Coyote killing contests dominated the subject matter, although beaver, bobcat, fox, mink, muskrat, otter, rabbit, skunk and weasel are the other wildlife included in Assembly Bill 102.
"I've trapped in Southern Nevada for over 45 years, and I've caught many coyotes with mange," Dave Stillwater told the committee. "This year I caught my first gray fox with mange. To make a long story short, we need all the help we can get to manage our wildlife.
Stillwater went on to say that the killing contests were "nothing but helping us."
Other people who were against the bill said the killing contests were "cost effective" and that "it needs to be done."
Neil Cheeney, vice president of the Nevada Trappers Association, informed the committee that the killing contests remove predators at no charge, so the state is getting a "service for free." He told the committee by phone that he had 60 people with him during the call, and they were all against the bill.
Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Washington in the west have banned or restricted killing contests. Other states joining that list include Maryland, Massachusetts and Vermont. Federal legislation to ban wildlife killing contests on federal public lands was introduced last year.
"Wildlife killing contests are a barbaric spectacle that are totally out of step with our common moral code," Patrick Donnelly, Great Basin director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. "During an extinction crisis, with wildlife populations around the world plummeting, indiscriminate killing of wildlife for prizes is simply unacceptable. This important legislation will help bring Nevada's wildlife management into the 21st century."
Rebecca Goff, Nevada state director for the Humane Society of the United States, was in lockstep with Donnelly.
"Slaughtering our native wildlife for fun and prizes is a disgrace to our state. Killing contests treat animals as nothing more than disposable pieces in a game," Goff testified.
"The proposed legislation is a step in the right direction for Nevada," said Cheyanne Neuffer, Nevada wildlife engagement coordinator for WildEarth Guardians, in a statement. "Nevadans and the American west only benefit from more ethical and scientific wildlife management decisions."
If passed by the Natural Resources Committee, AB102 would continue to an Assembly floor vote and, should it pass the full Assembly, then head to the Senate Natural Resources committee.
If AB102 becomes law, violators will be subject to fines for organizing or participating in killing contests.
Source: Courthouse News Service