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Posted on June 4th, 2024

The Soft Core of the Earth – Humans Are the Real Beasts

This past February, the 11th Annual Coyote Classic took place in Stanly County, North Carolina, an event that has been “strongly supported” by the Stanly Chamber of Commerce, according to the website Carolina Sportsman.

What is the Coyote Classic, you’re wondering?

It is a coyote killing contest.

That’s right. People are encouraged to come out for the “Coyote Derby” and kill as many coyotes as they can over a long weekend in February every year. This abomination doesn’t just take place in North Carolina; these contests can be found across the country.

Coyote killing contests can be traced back to at least the early 1900s, when they were officially sanctioned by the federal government. Between 1915 and 1971, the most active period of state-sanctioned mass murder, close to six million coyotes were killed. Early eradication methods primarily relied on poison, the two most common being strychnine and “compound 1080,” both of which result in unimaginably painful deaths, and a lot of collateral damage to other species that encountered these death traps.

Humans are arrogant and cruel, and don’t respect the lives and wellbeing of important and sentient creatures. (Image retrieved from here and comes courtesy of Brett Sayles)

Outcries against these brutal practices have resounded through the decades. But it probably wasn’t until the far-reaching implications of the impact of poisons on humans became more obvious that the cultural sentiment started to shift.

Most notably this began with Rachel Carson’s 1962 book “Silent Spring,” which chronicled the toxic effects of DDT on the environment and humans. And while she didn’t write about eradication campaigns of coyotes or other species, her efforts helped to shine a light on the numerous ways we imperiled our environment and its inhabitants, including ourselves.

But no amount of journalistic disinfectant could scrub away the stains left by the indiscriminate killing of coyotes, and so the dispersal of poison turned into the pulling of triggers.

And it’s not simply that people are encouraged to come out and find joy in the indiscriminate killing of coyotes today, but also that they are encouraged to do so through payouts and prizes. The Coyote Classic offers a $3,000 cash payout to the winning team, as well as prizes ranging from hunting rifles to camouflage.

The “hunters” participate using different devices to gain unfair advantages over their unsuspecting prey, such as scopes and trail cameras. Additionally, it is common practice to bait coyotes with animal remains, as well as the use of electronic calls that mimic wounded animals or distressed pups.

This is all in the name of good fun.

There are only 10 states that ban coyote killing contests, but as more people become aware of this barbaric practice, there is hope that other states will follow suit.

The non-profit, Project Coyote, recently released a documentary about these contests, and while it details the progress made in some states, it also demonstrates we have a long way to go to eliminate this inhumane practice.

The film can be watched for free on their website and shows very graphic imagery of what takes place during these “contests,” including pictures of hundreds of coyotes laid out for the count, and footage of what a coyote looks like when it’s shot with a high-powered rifle from long range. In short, it depicts the human knack for bloodthirst, and the sickness that is killing for “sport.”

In his book, “Coyote America,” Dan Flores chronicled the history of coyotes in America, including their mythology, the decades-long attempts at eradication, and their resilience in adaptation and survival against all odds. Near the conclusion of his book, Flores states that he’s lived near them all his life, and never felt threatened. He notes that they are one of the “iconic life-forms birthed in our part of the globe, an American original that makes us even more American the more we know them.”

And that’s what we should be doing instead of killing them arbitrarily – attempting to understand and live with them, as these lands are just as much theirs as they are our own.

Aldo Leopold, author of “A Sand County Almanac,” famously gave his “Golden Rule of Ecology,” saying that “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”

Coyote killing contests tend otherwise. That North Carolina and other states allow them, that businesses and municipalities promote them, and that people still think there’s nothing immoral with participating in them, demonstrates a lack of respect for life, and a cruelty that is uniquely human.

Marco Esquandoles
Disgusted by My Species

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