Wisconsin’s Largest Coyote Killing Contest Exposed by Undercover Activists

Wisconsin is one of the many states that still allow wildlife killing contests, where contestants compete by killing as many coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, rabbits or crows as possible. Most popular among these contests are coyote killing contests of which they are dozens that take place in Wisconsin each winter, usually organized from a bar or restaurant.

Moondog Madness weigh in: Nelsonville, Wisconsin January 10, 2021.

The largest coyote killing contest in Wisconsin is called Moondog Madness and takes place in two rounds in central Wisconsin every January and February. The contest offers thousands of dollars in prizes as well as being a benefit for a veterans organization. Dozens of two-person teams pay an entry fee to the event of $100, and all coyotes killed are given a thorough examination at weigh-in to ensure competition rules restricting hunting to the weekend of the event were obeyed.

Moondog Madness Round Two weigh-in: Merrimac, Wisconsin March 7, 2021.

Proponents of coyote killing contests argue that their competitive killing of coyotes helps reduce their predation on local farmer’s livestock. Yet, in a Wisconsin killing contest every coyote responding to a hunter’s electronic calls is a target, not just those posing a threat to livestock or pets. Coyote killing contests target animals that are ecologically beneficial to the landscape because the vast majority of coyotes prey on mice and other rodents whose populations are held in check by such natural predation .

Many of the coyote killing contests in Wisconsin are small, with hunters taking sometimes as few as a dozen coyotes. Other contests offer higher dollar prizes thus drawing more hunters, often from out of state. Hunters participating in killing contests are sometimes allowed to use hounds or traps, but with larger contests, hunting is restricted to electronic or mouth calls and mostly night hunting with rifles outfitted with thermal imaging scopes to see coyotes at night.

KB Memorial Predator Hunt: Townsend, Wisconsin January 17, 2021.

Coyotes killed during this winter’s Moondog Madness competition were responding to remote-controlled electronic callers hunters place away from their hidden position. The sounds they are emitting are often those of another coyote in distress or a wounded prey animal like a rabbit. Often in this kind of hunting, coyotes are mortally wounded but escape to die an agonizing and slow death. Other times, a shot aimed at the animal’s vital organs results in the leg being broken or even blown clean off. Many of the coyotes at the Moondog Madness weigh-in exhibited such conditions.

A Moondog Madness contestant awaiting weigh-in. Over 100 coyotes were registered in Round One.

All that is required to kill coyotes in Wisconsin is a small game license. The season on coyotes is year around with no bag limit, giving some hunters plenty of opportunities at hunting in what would normally be the off-season. Coyote killing contests aren’t always about utilizing the animals they kill. Fur quality late in the winter combined with damage to the pelt by the rifle round mean that most coyotes killed in late winter contests are commercially worthless.

Blocks are placed in the mouths of dead coyotes and tied to confirm time of kill before rigor mortis sets in.

Wolf Patrol sent an undercover group of activists to Moondog Madness Round One in Nelsonville, Wisconsin on January 10, 2021 to document the weigh-in and observe the condition of the coyotes killed in the two-day round of hunting. We believe that wildlife killing contests for money and prizes encourages the worst kind of hunting at the expense of our public trust wildlife.

Moondog Madness organizers inspect coyotes at weigh-in to ensure no rules were broken, Nelsonville, Wisconsin January 10, 2021.

Please join Wolf Patrol in calling on the state of Wisconsin to end wildlife killing contests. Wisconsin’s Conservation Congress has repeatedly dismissed citizen resolution’s to end the contests, we need to fight legislatively. If you are a Wisconsin resident, please contact your elected officials and let them know that killing wildlife for fun and prizes is a cruel and wanton waste of wildlife.

Let Governor Evers know it’s time to end wildlife killing contests in Wisconsin!

https://appengine.egov.com/apps/wi/governor/voice-an-opinion

If you are a Wisconsin resident and would like to find out who your elected officials are, please visit:

https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/MyElectedOfficials

You can also email Wisconsin’s Natural Resources Board via their liaison:

Laurie.Ross@wisconsin.gov

To find out more about ending killing contests:

projectcoyote.org