Callous Attitude Toward Wildlife Pervasive Among WY Elected and Appointed Decision Makers

Recently, a supporter sent an email to Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon inquiring with him about how he feels about people running over coyotes with snowmobiles and the Wyoming Best of the Best killing contests being held in the state. The response he received from Governor Gordon’s Natural Resource and Agriculture Advisor, Joe Budd, was this:

“Coyotes are considered a predatory animal under Wyoming law and can be taken at any time of the year without a permit (see Title 11). This particular hunt appears to be a private club/chapter organization’s event and would not involve any state agency that I am aware of.”

A couple of years ago, Albert Sommers, legislator from Sublette County, WY said in a committee meeting, “I’ll take my predators any way I want.” And the Game and Fish Commissioners continually are dismissive and rude to anyone who wants to improve the welfare of carnivores in the state. Where is their moral compass? How can anyone stand by and allow animals to be gunned down in large numbers for no purpose so someone can win prizes and money? Is it so easy to say that our department isn’t in charge of that, so take your argument elsewhere?

In addition to the flippant attitude about our wildlife, we have increasingly been hearing from supporters who get no response back from either legislators or the Governor. Indeed, we have had letters ignored as well. Wyomingites have the unique distinction of living in the least populated state in the nation. With fewer than 600,000 people, Wyoming is a small enough state that any communication between citizens and elected officials should be easy enough to answer. This is unacceptable that our elected officials who are supposed to represent the people are, in fact, ignoring those very people they have sworn to serve.

Does Wyoming have a heart? Why is it so difficult for our leaders to listen to science? Why is running over any animal with a snowmobile or vehicle allowed just because it’s legal? Would our legislators or the Governor want someone to do that to their dogs, horses, or other pets or livestock? When will we stop the cultural hatred of coyotes, wolves, and foxes and allow them to fulfill the ecological niche they have evolved to fill? Animals shouldn’t have different protections based on an arbitrary law that was enacted when we didn’t understand the benefits carnivores and other animals listed as “predators” provide to ecosystems and humans.

If you are concerned about the lack of caring about our wildlife and other animals in the state and want to see killing contests and mistreatment of coyotes stopped, please send an email to Governor Mark Gordon and his Natural Resources and Agriculture Advisor Joe Budd. Currently, any efforts to pass new laws prohibiting killing contests or making coyotes a game animal so they can’t be killed en masse at will are derailed by those from the agricultural industry who have a cultural bias against coyotes with no science to support their arguments. This is not strictly a scientific argument however. This involves ethics, morals, and decency as a human species. This is also an economic argument. Tourism in Wyoming is the second largest industry and fuels jobs and prosperity to many communities.

Compassionate treatment to all wildlife should be our standard in Wyoming. Whether it’s the principle of fair chase, one shot, one kill, or just allowing animals to exist, our wildlife deserves ethical and fair treatment from us. With the Governor’s support, we could potentially get bills outlawing killing contests through the legislature and make a difference for wildlife in Wyoming.

Addresses are below. They need to hear from us, the majority who oppose these actions.

Coyote Photo: Ashley Noble Wild Photography

Governor Mark Gordon

Natural Resource and Agriculture Advisor Joe Budd

Here are the full letters that Scott Johnson sent to both Joe Budd and Governor Gordon:

Governor Gordon, Can you please explain why at a time when our earth is facing so many environmental problems and such a loss of biodiversity, Wyoming allows Wildlife killing Contests. A contest like this serves no purpose other than to quench the blood lust of those that like to kill animals for fun.

No one that understands or appreciates all the animals God has given us would ever participate in something so barbaric. You should be ashamed and ask God for direction.

Please give me an answer

Scott Johnson

Joe Budd’s response:

Coyotes are considered a predatory animal under Wyoming law and can be taken at any time of the year without a permit (see Title 11). This particular hunt appears to be a private club/chapter organization’s event and would not involve any state agency that I am aware of.

Scott’s reply:

Joe, I know the law, at one time it was legal to own people and kill 50 million bison. We have all seen the pictures on social media of the carnage that takes place at a Wildlife Killing Contest. The fact that people do this for fun is a crime against nature and embarrassment to Wyoming. Killing contests do not belong in our world today. We have plenty of coyotes on our place and they eat rodents, I don’t think they were put here for grown men to shoot for fun and stack up like cordwood then brag about who killed the most. Nothing for Wyoming to be proud of.

Will the Governor help those of us that would like to see Wyoming modernize its archaic laws regarding wildlife? He will get a lot of support and also be on the right side.

Here is one of the many coyotes that lives on our ranch, he stops by my office window with others from his pack a few times a week. Wyoming would be much better off promoting itself as a great place to photograph beautiful animals instead of killing them for fun.

Thanks, Scott Johnson

Photo: Scott Johnson