ANNAPOLIS—Today the Maryland General Assembly passed a bill that prohibits gruesome wildlife killing contests, in which participants compete to kill the most, the heaviest and the smallest animals for cash and prizes.
In February 2020, the Humane Society of the United States released an undercover investigation that exposed wildlife killing contests in Maryland, revealing participants and their young children hauling in bloody piles of dead foxes, raccoons and coyotes to be weighed and counted for prizes.
Last month Maryland’s Senate and House of Delegates passed SB 200, sponsored by Senator Ron Young, and HB 293, sponsored by Delegate Dana Stein, by landslide votes. The measure passed in a final vote today and now heads to the desk of Governor Larry Hogan, who is expected to sign it or allow it to pass into law. Once enacted, the law would take effect on July 1, 2021.
Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said, “It is clear that Maryland cares about animals. The move to ban wildlife killing contests and protect its victims from such a lurid and utterly pointless ‘game’ of slaughter is the right one. We commend lawmakers for stopping this spectacle.”
Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, Maryland state director for the Humane Society of the United States, said, “Delegate Dana Stein, Senator Ron Young and Senator Bryan Simonaire fought for this bill’s passage and put Maryland on track to become the eighth state to end this gruesome and unsporting activity. Marylanders value and treasure wildlife and don’t want to see animals lured by electronic calling devices and gunned down with assault rifles for prizes. Our state is better than that.”
Governor Hogan’s signature would make Maryland the eighth U.S. state to outlaw these events, following California in 2014, Vermont in 2018, New Mexico, Arizona and Massachusetts in 2019, and Colorado and Washington state in 2020.
Bill author Delegate Dana Stein said, “Wildlife killing contests—staged for cash prizes or other monetary rewards—have no place in our state. They involve the wanton killing of animals and are inconsistent with the state’s hunting traditions and policies. I hope Maryland will join the seven other states that have already banned this cruel practice. I am pleased that HB 293, which will ban these contests, has passed both chambers with bipartisan support.”
The Humane Society of the United States’ coalition partners, including Maryland Votes for Animals, Sierra Club Maryland Chapter, Animal Welfare Institute, In Defense of Animals and Project Coyote helped support the effort. The HSUS and coalition partners are also working to ban wildlife killing contests in other states in 2021 including New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
The wildlife killing contest ban in Maryland is one of several recent animal protection measures approved by state legislators. Others include banning the cruel shark fin trade, halting competitions for killing cownose rays in the Chesapeake Bay, prohibiting the pet store sale of puppies bred in puppy mills, and ending cosmetics testing on animals.