- Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
Media Contact for MassWildlife proposes regulations to ban predator contests and prohibit wanton waste
Marion Larson, MassWildlife
Update: On December 18, 2019, the Fisheries and Wildlife Board voted to approve regulations prohibiting the waste of certain game animals, prohibiting contests for certain predator and furbearing animals, and changing the harvest reporting requirements for fox and coyote.
In response to public concern related to coyote hunting contests, MassWildlife and the Fisheries and Wildlife Board conducted a review of policies and regulations associated with coyote hunting and contests. Public feedback was collected at four listening sessions held from April through June and received through phone calls, letters, and emails. In addition to gathering and considering input from stakeholders, MassWildlife professionals examined the best available science and consulted with wildlife professionals from other state agencies. On July 17, MassWildlife staff made a regulatory recommendation to the Fisheries and Wildlife Board based on this comprehensive review. The proposal addressed public concerns that these hunting contests are unethical, contribute to the waste of animals, and incentivize indiscriminate killing of wildlife, inconsistent with the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. Further, recognizing that public controversy over this issue has the potential to threaten predator hunting and undermine public support for hunting in general, MassWildlife recommended the following regulatory changes:
- Prohibit hunting contests for predators and furbearers.
- Prohibit “wanton waste” of game animals taken during regulated hunting and trapping seasons.
- Change harvest reporting requirements for fox and coyote to be reported within 48 hours, consistent with current reporting requirements for deer, turkey, and bear.
The Fisheries and Wildlife Board voted to hold public hearings on MassWildlife’s recommendations. Public hearings were held on October 22 in Lenox and October 29 in Westborough.
- Do not reduce opportunity for hunting coyotes or other furbearers.
- Fulfill one of MassWildlife’s core functions to develop and maintain hunting, fishing, and trapping opportunities in Massachusetts.
- Address public concern that certain contests contribute to the waste of animals.
- Recognize and address that public controversy over this issue has the potential to threaten predator hunting.
- Discourage the waste of wildlife and reinforces a core principle and expectation that all animals taken during the regulated seasons are utilized to the greatest extent possible, as taught in Hunter Education.
- Recognize that coyotes and other furbearers are managed as a valuable natural resource.
Summary of changes
Prohibition on contests for predators and furbearers
- A predator or furbearer contest is where participants compete for prizes of cash value or other inducements in the capture or take of predatory or furbearing animals.
- It shall be unlawful for any person to organize, sponsor, promote, conduct, or participate in a contest for take of coyote, bobcat, red fox, gray fox, weasels, mink, skunk, river otter, muskrat, beaver, fisher, raccoon, and opossum. (Animals regulated under 321 CMR 3.02(3) or 3.02(5)(b)(2, 5-11)).
Prohibition of wanton waste
- “Waste” means to intentionally or knowingly leave a wounded or dead animal in the field or the forest without making a reasonable effort to retrieve and use it.
- It is unlawful for any person while hunting or trapping in accordance with 321 CMR 3.02 to waste an animal. Each retrieved animal shall be retained or transferred to another until processed or used for food, the pelt, feathers, or taxidermy.
- The waste regulation does not apply to:
- Animals “unfit for consumption or use” – animals or birds and their parts that are damaged, destroyed, decayed, rotting, diseased, or infected.
- Defense of people or property (M.G.L. Ch. 131 Sec 37).
- Problem wildlife, such as Beaver Emergency Permitting (321 CMR 2.08) and Problem Animal Control (321 CMR 2.14).
- Certain animals listed in M.G.L. c. 131 Sec. 5: English sparrow, starling, crow, chipmunk, flying squirrel, red squirrel, porcupine, skunk, weasel, or woodchuck.
- Wounded or dead animals that cannot be retrieved after a reasonable effort has been made.
Change harvest reporting requirements for fox and coyote
- Fox and coyote shall be checked within 48 hours of harvest, consistent with deer, bear, and turkey requirements. Fox and coyote may be checked online or in person.